Electric cars can do more for the environment than cut back on air pollution and fossil fuel use -- they can make sweltering summers more bearable, too. Researchers have determined that EVs create a cooling effect in urban areas, since they aren't producing heat that builds up in traffic jams. That, in turn, reduces the need for air conditioning, which spews out pollution and chews up additional energy. In Beijing, a wholesale switch to electric cars in summer 2012 would have cooled things down enough to eliminate 11,779 tons of air conditioning-related carbon dioxide emissions per day, and 14.4kW of matching electricity use.
The likelihood of getting whole cities to ditch gas-powered cars any time soon is pretty slim, even in eco-conscious areas like the San Francisco Bay. And of course, this effect won't really manifest in lower-density locations where the heat is free to escape. However, the study shows that electric vehicles have side benefits than you might not have considered. Even if you don't believe that they reduce humanity's dependence on oil, they could eventually save you from roasting on a hot July afternoon.