Migration from polluting vehicles that burn fossil fuels to electric vehicles, ideally using electricity generated sustainably could significantly reduce the incidence of cardiopulmonary illness due to air pollution, says a study.
This could lead not only to less employee absence from work through illness but also lead to broad improvements in the quality and length of life.
The researchers, Mitchell House and David Wright from the University of Ottawa in Canada, analysed the health benefits associated with driving an electric vehicle, and compared them with the cost of expanding the electric vehicle-charging infrastructure between 2016 and 2021.
The study, published in the International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, found that in the majority of plausible scenarios of balanced growth, when the number of vehicles rises so does the number of charging stations, and there is a positive net benefit to society.
"Since health benefits accrue to governments, businesses, and individuals, these results justify the use of government incentives for charging station deployment," the study said.
"The savings that can be achieved by 2021 are higher than the cost of installing charging station infrastructure over a wide range of scenarios," the researchers added.
The study pointed out that governments have not been keen to support charging infrastructure due to a variety of industry players being involved and their responsibility to carry some of the cost.
This would include electric utility companies who would profit directly from charging vehicles, out-of-town shopping centres that could attract more customers with charging points in their car parks, the manufacturers of vehicles and a new generation of "gas station" operators.