American electric vehicles reduced gasoline consumption by just 0.54% in 2021 according to new data from Argonne National Lab

Electric vehicles have never been more popular. Just about every automaker is in the midst of an electrification effort, spurred on by impending government regulations around the world aimed at reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. But is the movement having an effect? Here in the US, plug-in vehicles are selling better than ever, despite supply chain shortages and frequent hefty dealership markups. 

According to Argonne National Lab, between 2010 and the end of 2021, the US had bought more than 2.1 million plug-in vehicles, including 1.3 million battery EVs. That sounds like a very impressive number, but bear in mind that's out of a total national vehicle pool of nearly 276 million cars and trucks. Argonne estimates that despite all these plug-ins, national gasoline consumption was reduced by just 0.54 percent in 2021.

In total, Argonne calculates that US plug-in vehicles have driven nearly 70 billion miles since 2010, consuming 22 TWh of energy in the process. That's displaced the use of more than 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and 19 million tons of greenhouse gases, Argonne reports, although for context, the US consumed about 369 million gallons of gasoline a day in 2021. For 2021 specifically, plug-in vehicles saved about 690 million gallons of gasoline—about two days of consumption—and reduced CO2 emissions by 5.4 million metric tons, consuming 6.1 TWh in the process.

Given that plug-in vehicles represent almost 1 percent of all light vehicles on the road in the US, it's disappointing that the reduction in gasoline usage was just more than half a percent.