Are electric cars better for the environment?

Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?

Electric cars’ tailpipes emit no CO2 when on the road. Research states that an EV emits fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants than a petrol or diesel car in its lifespan, even considering the electricity generation needed to charge them and the higher CO2 levels involved in EV production.

Pros and cons of electric cars on the environment

Pros

  • BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) emit no CO2 from the tailpipe when on the road - a monumental reduction in emissions. Swapping to an EV saves an average of 1.5 MILLION grams of CO2 annually!

  • Any emissions produced tend to be in production. Once an EV gets on the road it’s emissions are complete - whereas a petrol or diesel engine has a lifetime of CO2 emissions ahead.

  • EVs also tackle noise pollution - the reduction in engine noise can truly contribute to a better environment, particularly in cities

Cons

  • Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) take more emissions to create, mostly due to the production of their lithium batteries, but these emissions are more than offset by lower EV emissions in use on the road.

  • EVs aren’t emission-free, as even EVs emit particulates - from road, tyre, and brake wear and tear.

  • Most EV car batteries are manufactured in China, South Korea and Japan. These are economies where the use of carbon in electricity production (rather than renewable sources) is generally still quite high.

Do electric cars produce emissions?

As mentioned above, even BEVs, fully electric vehicles, will emit particulates from the wear and tear of use on the road surface, their tyres, and their brakes. But they emit no CO2 from their tailpipes. They are a crucial part of the government’s efforts to reach carbon zero by 2050, with the government banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. The UK government is incentivising the switch, with road tax cheaper on an EV and offering EV grants - Find out how you can apply for government grants for electric cars here.

Hybrid electric vehicles of course still emit CO2 from the use of their petrol or diesel engines.

What about EV charging?

Recharging an EV of course has an environmental impact. When charging at home, this is down to the energy provider you choose. It is in fact doable to plug your car straight into solar panels, or a wind turbine (there’s a charge point in Sheffield described as “the first fully integrated solar PV, storage and EV charging hub” in the UK).

Your timing is important, too. Use a smart charger and set your car to charge at the times when the electricity grid is greenest. When the grid is in high demand it uses more fossil fuels. This chart illustrates the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” times for grid use, up to two days in advance.

How does the manufacturing of electric cars affect the environment?

Due to the manufacture of the lithium-ion batteries most EVs use, making electric cars tends to use more energy than manufacturing regular cars. One study estimates that they create 59-60% more emissions in production. Reusing and recycling batteries, and creating batteries for electricity storage are technologies that are being better explored all the time; even so, EVs are already the greener option.

How do electric car batteries impact the environment?

The production of batteries has an onus on the environment as mentioned above, but during their usage they allow us to minimise emissions in comparison to petrol and diesel vehicles.

What happens to old electric car batteries?

This is a problem plenty of businesses are trying to solve. All types of batteries are difficult to dispose of without harming the environment, and EV batteries are no different. EV batteries can be repurposed; hopefully, they can one day create a closed-loop system, powering factories and homes once their lifespan powering a car has come to an end.

The Volkswagen Group has announced plans to begin a battery recycling project, where they assess EV batteries - ones with some power left can be given a second life as mobile vehicle charging power packs, and the ones at the end of their usable lives will be ground to a fine powder to extract their raw elemental ingredients (such as lithium, nickel and manganese), allowing them to be made into new EV batteries.

How long will an EV battery last?

An EV car battery is likely to last the lifetime of the car if it’s used well (ideally you shouldn’t recharge to above 80%, or let the charge fall below 20%, for optimal battery usage). Most manufacturers cover the car in a warranty for which for many is three years or 60,000 miles. The battery is covered with a separate, extended warranty in many cases. BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Nissan and Renault, for example, cover their batteries for 100,000 miles and eight years, whilst Hyundai offers 125,000 miles and Tesla offers eight years or 150,000 miles.

If you want to explore electric and hybrid leasing, contact Rivervale today to discuss the best model for you.

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