Illinois Clean Cars Program Would Create Jobs and Save Money

A Clean Cars Illinois program will deliver significant benefits to the state, according to two independent consulting reports released today (here and here). The first report, by Shulock Consulting, shows that the program will help Illinois drivers see significant savings, avoid millions of tons of climate pollution annually, and help improve public health through reductions in smog and toxic air contaminants. The second report, by Synapse Energy Economics, finds that the program would lead to benefits to the state’s overall economy including increases in jobs overall.

The program would also be critical in paving the way to achieving Governor Pritzker’s goals, released in August of last year, for comprehensive energy reform including to electrify and decarbonize the transportation sector, increase adoption of electric vehicles (EV), and “become the best state in the country for electric vehicle producers and consumers.”

Increasing EV deployment in the state would also go a long way to attracting potential future investments and electric vehicle jobs, just as the Biden Administration puts forward its American Jobs Plan and a massive $174 billion proposed investments in the EV market.

A triple-win for the state’s economy, public health, and the environment

The two new reports, commissioned by NRDC, analyzed the impacts of Illinois adopting a clean cars program. The Shulock Consulting report finds:

  • The program will save people who buy new vehicles in model year 2025 an average of $840 over the life of their vehicle, thanks primarily to fuel savings, even when accounting for the incremental technology costs. As technology costs decline, under a more aggressive EV program thereafter that meets Governor Pritzker’s goals (Scenario 2 below) people buying new vehicle will save an estimated $2,150 in model year 2030 over the life of their vehicle. Owners of new light-trucks and SUVs will save even more at the pump than owners of passenger cars, given fuel expenditures are generally higher for drivers of larger vehicles.
  • A clean cars program will benefit public health by reducing hundreds to thousands of tons of smog-forming pollutants annually as well as fine particulate matter and other toxic air contaminants.
  • Lower-income families as well as rural families will benefit even more. The study finds that the operating cost savings provide greater benefit to low-income households because they tend to spend a larger proportion of their income on fuel than do higher-income consumers. Similarly, rural drivers tend to have higher operating costs due to the longer distances traveled. 85% of people who buy new vehicles finance them, and most will see savings from day one.
  • The program will also result in automakers increasing the availability of plug-in electric vehicle models in the state. In 2018, only 30 of the 43 electric models offered by automakers were available in Illinois.
  • In total, Illinois stands to save $340 million to $2 billion annually by 2040. The range reflects whether automakers meet or exceed the minimum requirements: more electric vehicles mean more savings. Those savings can be invested locally back into the economy.
Savings to purchasers of new vehicles in specific model year

As estimated by Synapse Energy Economics, which studied the economic implications of a Clean Cars Illinois program as well as scenarios looking at more aggressive targets:

  • The state could see an average net annual increase of approximately $413 million in GDP and 5,682 job-years and up to $2.43 billion in GDP and 29,720 job-years over the 2025 to 2040 time period.
  • Those net positive impacts of cleaner vehicles are expected to grow over time as fuel savings accumulate and ZEVs become cheaper. 

Synapse Energy Economics concludes that “our analysis indicates that Illinois can achieve the health and environmental benefits of vehicle emission reductions while continuing to strengthen its economy.”

Illinois-based businesses in the electric vehicle industry would benefit from these policies, such as the electric truck and SUV manufacturer Rivian.

Illinois Can Be a Midwest Leader

The study provides strong evidence that clean car standards will be a triple-win, aiding Illinois’ economy, environment, and public health. Illinois only needs to shift into “drive” and initiate a clean cars program.

About the Authors

Simon Mui

Deputy Director, Clean Vehicles & Fuels Group, Climate & Clean Energy Program

J.C. Kibbey

Illinois Clean Energy Advocate

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