It depends. If you live in a part of the country that derives most of its electricity from relatively clean sources, an electric car can be far friendlier to the environment than a gas-powered car. But not so much where electricity is produced from a dirtier source like coal. In all cases, though, electric cars are better for the environment than gas-powered cars, according to a just-released report from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Electric vehicles burn no gasoline and have no tailpipe emissions, but producing the electricity used to charge them does generate global warming emissions. The amount of these emissions, however, varies significantly based on the mix of energy sources used to power a region's electricity grid. For example, coal-fired power plants produce nearly twice the global warming emissions of natural gas-fired power plants, while renewable sources like wind and solar power produce virtually no emissions at all.