Are Electric Cars as Green as You Think?

As we all know, the electric car has been an incredible invention and in the last few decades we have seen incredible advancements and leaps in the technology to get to where we are today. EV’s are now capable of over 300 miles on a single charge and without spewing any ice cap melting gases into the atmosphere. Or are they?

From the moment you buy a brand new EV from the showroom floor, the batteries are in the car and ready to go. Great.  Now, over the vehicles life cycle it will be consuming many KW’s of electricity per charge over a 20 – 30 year lifespan. We have to look at how electricity is produced, and also how the batteries going into the car are produced and really wonder if they were helping the environment in the long term, or harming it. In the USA, due to recent cutbacks and tighter environmental laws, less than 40 percent of the country’s electricity is produced by means of coal; this means that your EV will have a less harmful effect on the environment every time you use electricity to charge it up. However in some European countries over 60 percent of the country’s electricity is created by means of coal and this makes your EV much more harmful to the environment that a similar car would be in the USA.

The Electric Car currently is less harmful to the environment than the petrol powered car but in certain countries not by a whole lot only because of how through environmentally harmful processes the batteries and electricity to power the car is produced.  All electric vehicles are for the most part, more expensive to buy brand new than your standard car and dealers are relying on rebates from the government to help boost sales in some places. Given that this article thus far has been mainly focused on the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) we also have to take a look at plug in hybrids. Cars which have electric  motors but also a conventional petrol engine which either powers the car and is substituted by the electric motor or is a small three cylinder engine which keeps the cars batteries charged and only acts as a substitute in case of emergency. Obviously, since you are powering the car by the electric motor and is being part charged by the small petrol engine, less electricity is needed to charge the car and results in less harm to the environment, The petrol side of it cannot be making the car more harmful either because it only uses a small amount of fuel. Having a substituted petrol engine in s plug in hybrid also helps owners stop worrying about range anxiety, given that an electric cars range can drop dramatically depending on how the car is driven, as it would in a petrol car.


Plug in hybrids are being sold at a higher rate than BEV’s currently, and we have to wonder if the electric car will overtake petrol and hybrid cars in the coming years or will we see sales of hybrids go up in comparison. To conclude, Electric cars may be Zero emissions on the road. But the path to getting the car there was not so clean at all.


Daniel Sullivan

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