You might think cars with low carbon emissions are expensive. Think again. A newly-publishedstudy by MIT researchers shows that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle’s price, autos emitting less carbon are among the market’s least expensive options, on a per-mile basis. “If you look in aggregate at the most popular vehicles on the market today, one doesn’t have to pay more for a lower carbon-emitting vehicle,” says Jessika Trancik, the Atlantic Richfield Associate Professor in Energy Studies at the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) at MIT, and the study’s senior author. “In fact, the group of vehicles at the lower end of costs are also at the lowest end of emissions, even across a diverse set of alternative and conventional engines.” The study also evaluates the U.S. automotive fleet — as represented by these 125 model types — against emissions-reduction targets the U.S. has set for the years from 2030 to 2050. Overall, the research finds, the average carbon intensity of vehicles that consumers bought in 2014 is more than 50 percent higher than the level it must meet to help reach the 2030 target. However, the lowest-emissions autos have surpassed the 2030 target.
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