Electric cars are becoming more popular as drivers seek an eco-friendly way to get around. Concerns about the effect of emission vehicles on the environment have led to a global shift toward electric vehicles.
More electric cars hit the road every year, with more drivers buying or leasing electric cars. Many are switching to electric vehicles to lower their carbon footprint and do their bit to tackle the climate crisis. Governments around the world have announced impending bans on internal combustion engines.
But while many see electric cars as the green alternative to emission vehicles, do they live up to the hype? While EVs are cleaner than petrol or diesel cars, experts say they still produce harmful emissions. So are electric cars better for the environment? Let's find out.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Life Cycle of an Electric Car
Manufacturers, governments and environmental groups are urging drivers to switch to electric vehicles. Electric cars are vital in the fight against climate change and efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption worldwide. The consensus among experts is that electric vehicles are the future. Recently Volvo announced plans to make their entire offering electric by 2030, and General Motors aims to do the same by 2035.
But there's still debate about whether they benefit the environment. The marketing around electric cars claims they are zero-emission. But this only applies to their on-road emissions. To understand the true environmental impact of electric vehicles, we need to look at every stage of an electric car's lifecycle.
The majority of an electric vehicle's environmental impact is during its manufacturing. An EEA report states that manufacturing emissions from an electric car are higher than from fuel vehicles. Another study found EV production emissions to be 59% higher than traditional vehicle production.
The reason behind the higher manufacturing emissions is due to manufacturing batteries. Currently, Japan, China and South Korea make most EV batteries. These countries use mostly carbon to create electricity, resulting in high GHG emissions. In China, between 35 and 50% of electric vehicle production emissions come from battery production.
But it's important to note that electric vehicles are still an emerging industry. Experts predict that production emissions will drop over the next 10 years with new procedures and legislation. China plans to increase its use of renewable energy by 2025, which will see emissions drop. Plus, better battery technology will mean fewer raw materials that need energy-intensive extraction.
Claims that electric cars are zero-emission are valid for tailpipe emissions. When an electric vehicle is on the road, it doesn’t directly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. But while there are no direct emissions from driving, electric cars need charging, which uses energy partly from fossil fuels.
(It's important to point out that plug-in hybrids use a mix of electric power and traditional fuel. This means that hybrids have a better fuel economy and are low emission vehicles rather than zero-emission.)
The exact impact charging has on the environment is tricky to calculate. Currently, the UK uses a mixture of renewable and finite energy sources. This means that only some energy used to charge an electric vehicle is renewable. But this is set to change. The UK plans to reduce its emissions from electricity generation by 90% with renewable energy sources.
On a local level, EVs are better for the environment. Urban areas will be cleaner and more peaceful, with no emissions and quieter engines.
Electric cars have an average life of about 150,000 miles. An EV should last around twenty years if you drive the UK average annual mileage of 7000 miles. At around 150,000 miles, an EV's battery will lose capacity and needs replacing.
One of the environmental concerns about electric cars is recycling batteries. At the moment, there's no standard procedure for battery recycling, and there are fears the batteries will end up in landfills. But this doesn't look likely, and recycling batteries could add to electric vehicles' green credentials.
Material recovery from used batteries can halve energy consumption for battery production and reduce emissions by over 20%. Many manufacturers are putting standardised procedures to reuse as much raw material as possible. Volkswagen plans to use 97% of the raw materials in EV batteries by 2040.
Yes. Electric cars are better for the environment, but there’s still room for improvement. Electric vehicles themselves are environmentally friendly and emit zero emissions. Most of the environmental issues result from developing infrastructure and industry. As these improve, the green credentials of electric cars will grow further.
In 2018, the UK government published The Road to Zero — its plan for reaching net-zero emissions. The project stated that EVs have "lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional vehicles, even when taking into account the electricity source and the electricity used for battery production." Plus, a recent EEA report confirmed that EVs are already better for the climate and air quality.
With increased renewable energy, better manufacturing and improved recycling procedures, EVs will become even more eco-friendly.
Electric cars are the most environmentally friendly cars available. As the market grows, the environmental impact of EVs is likely to reduce. Get behind the wheel of a green car with an electric car lease from Tilsun Leasing. Whether you're looking for a city car for your daily commute, a family car or a large car for longer journeys, leasing an electric car is excellent. The benefits of leasing an electric vehicle include:
Join the electric car revolution with an electric car lease from Tilsun Leasing today. We have a massive range of electric vehicles available, including the Volkswagen ID.4, Tesla Model 3 and Audi’s outstanding E-Tron. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions about leasing an electric vehicle for business or personal use.
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