Electric vehicles (EV) the buzz word all around that has taken us by a storm. What are electric vehicles? How are these helping the environment? More importantly are electric vehicles really better for the climate? Their ‘clean’ is being scrutinized heavily by the critics.
Electric vehicles as most of us know run on power other than gasoline/Petrol of the fossil fuels. Mostly they run on electricity powered batteries. These batteries do not produce any by-product and hence claim ‘clean for environment’ label. As we human beings grow more responsible towards our environment, governments across the globe are pushing these new age vehicles to save the environment.
Undeniable that an EV eliminates tailpipe emissions. But critics often question about, first the emissions from electricity generation to charge an EV. Second argument to counter the clean label is the emission caused in manufacturing the batteries. Rare earth metals lithium, cobalt, and manganese are used in batteries and their extraction and processing generate carbon emissions.
Comparing manufacturing process of EV to internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) indicate, that environmental pollution in production of batteries is at par or a niche higher than manufacturing process of petrol or diesel-based engines, as per the report by International Council on Clean Transportation (ICTT) so are Electric Vehicles Really Better for the Climate? If compared at a lifetime time frame.
Comparing average efficiency vehicles in the both categories. Emission produced from an average EV of Greenhouse gases will just be equivalent to an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) clocking 88 miles per gallon (mpg) fuel economy. The most efficient (ICEV) clock 58 mpg, hence EV takes the clear advantage even from the most efficient gasoline base engine. 200% better on emission from the average gasoline engine that gives efficiency of 31 mpg.
Impact on environment from Use of EV is also dependent to geography and the energy Mix of the geography. Fossil fuel contribute approximately to 60% of electricity globally. Meaning EV’s are then contributing at par with ICEW in terms of Pollution.
Taking case of Belgium as an example which use zero emission energy sources, the EV will be 3 to 4 times more environment friendly than their gasoline counterparts. In the US the Fossil fuel contribute nearly 65% to the energy Mix so an EV in US emits more into the atmosphere than that in Belgium.
Contrary to the argument and reports quoted above the studies conducted in Germany and Austria conclude otherwise. According to Joanneum Research, a study that is commissioned by the Austrian Automobile Association, OAMTC conclude that, an EV in Germany need to run for 219,000 km to break even and outperforming a similar sized diesel car on CO2 emissions. Current average life of an EV passenger car in Europe is 180,000 km.
Another factor to worry according to the study is short range offered by EV batteries. Unfortunately, owners are apprehensive about the range. This prompt them to frequently recharge the batteries even after a small use and at every opportunity this takes a toll on life and efficiency of the battery leading to higher carbon emission.
So studies are divided and there are some ambiguity which makes the experts differ in their opinion. Used cases combined with hypothesis are used by experts which leads to difference in opinion that Are Electric Vehicles Really Better for the Climate? EVs are sometimes more and sometime less polluting than the combustion engines.
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