The EV market is booming, with total sales increasing by 40% and over 1 in 10 new vehicles on the road falling into the EV or hybrid-electric category as of 2022. While EVs undoubtedly offer a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional combustion engines, how much greener are they in their current form?
Because EVs make use of a closed loop system and don’t rely on fossil fuels, they emit none of the carbon dioxide or tailpipe emissions usually produced by vehicles running on fuel and traditional internal combustion engines – despite this, EVs are not completely green and do in fact produce emissions, which can be generally divided into two categories:
- Life Cycle – Life cycle emissions are associated with the production and disposal of EVs – because they’re relatively expensive and complex to produce (and often reliant on materials like lithium), there are some harmful emissions that invariably arise from the manufacturing and recycling of EVs.
- Beyond Tailpipe – While EVs do not produce carbon emissions as such, using electricity can actually be harmful to the environment, especially if electricity is produced using coal or natural gas in your local area. Beyond tailpipe emissions are generally defined as those associated with electricity production reliant on fossil fuels.
With the EV market still in its infancy, the industry is yet to find solutions for a range of environmental issues posed by the charging and manufacturing of batteries, which can prove even more problematic than the production of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles:
- Charging: Although the majority of charging stations make use of clean renewable energy sources, many are still reliant on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. One of the easiest ways to reduce negative environmental impact as an individual EV owner is by regularly checking and maintaining your car battery with an interim car service to ensure that it’s energy efficient.
- Production: The sourcing and mining of the raw materials required to produce EV batteries (such as lithium) can be carbon-intensive and harmful to the environment – it’s even said that the production of a large EV battery can actually emit 74% more carbon dioxide than the production of a conventional car.
At present, it’s more complex and expensive to recycle EVs than their petrol and diesel-powered counterparts (this is mainly due to materials used), which presents another set of environmental issues for manufacturers and consumers. As the market opens up and the quality and accessibility of batteries improves, it’s likely that the process of disposing of your EV will become easier and more eco-friendly.
While EVs in their current form are far from perfect, they can certainly provide an eco-friendly alternative to conventional cars when used wisely and mindfully. With the UK government racing ever closer to its 2050 zero-emission target and the production of petrol and diesel-powered cars expected to be phased out as soon as 2030, there’s never been a better time to go green and get in on the Electric Vehicle (EV) trend.