A key selling point for many consumers when it comes to eco-friendly cars is the environmental impact. There is a huge back and forth among the general public about whether EVs really are as environmentally friendly as they claim to be. So, in this article we’ll compare the honest environmental impact between EVs and traditional ICE cars. We provide what’s hopefully a balanced view to help you understand where electric cars really stand on the environmental scale—read on!
When discussing the real carbon output of EVs as opposed to traditional cars, the first thing that most critics turn to is their manufacturing emissions. It is true that EVs require much more sophisticated electronics and batteries which contain a collection of rare materials to run. These factors can cause significant environmental impacts when we think about mass-producing these vehicles.
A 2012 study revealed the GWP (global warming potential) of the production of EVs is 87 to 95 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilometre—about twice the amount of CO2-eq/km used in the production of traditional vehicles. This is mainly due to battery production. There is also a range of rare earth metals used in creating an EV’s battery, and the way these metals are collected make a small contribution to total carbon emissions. Finally, EVs are made up of lightweight materials such as aluminium that require a lot of energy to produce and process.
EVs Produce Close to No Running Emissions
Despite the GWP of manufacturing an EV, there is no debating that the lifetime difference in carbon output is extremely skewed in their favour. This is the whole point of an EV, though, isn’t it? It’s no surprise that they produce little to no emissions to run, as they lack a combustion engine and have absolutely nil tailpipe emissions, which is where traditional vehicles consistently fall flat.
To emphasise just how big this environmental difference is between running an EV and a traditional car, a traditional passenger car emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Although most car companies have been working on reducing their emissions, and there are definitely some traditional cars on the market with much fewer emissions than this average, they are still incomparable to EVs as the competing number of emissions to beat is 0—an impossible feat for traditional cars.
EV Batteries are not hazardous waste
A common misconception that we should dispel while we are here is that EV batteries “turn into hazardous waste” after 150,000km. For one thing, EV battery materials maintain value at the end of their life cycle, which is far longer than 150,000km. Lithium-ion batteries are also not officially considered hazardous waste in the US.
Once they do retire, they can be recycled in many places across the EU and USA.
Are EVs Really the Future of Transport?
In conclusion, although EVs are not entirely environmentally-friendly from stage one, they still hold a much better emissions reputation than any traditional car over their lifetime. If you are at all concerned about the environmental impact of your car, an EV is the way to go.
What’s more, new updates and developments are regularly coming out to make these cars even more environmentally friendly than ever. The fact that car manufacturers are aware of EVs fallbacks means that there will always be motivation to improve their emissions status throughout their life cycle.
Invest In The Car of the Future with GVI Electric
As the largest retailer of electric cars NZ wide, GVI Electric is the place to go if you want to invest in a vehicle that will have you set up for the future of transport in NZ. Get in touch today to learn more about our fleet.