Are Electric Cars Really Better for The Environment?

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Are Electric Cars Really Better for The Environment?

Last updated on: July 28, 2023

In recent years, Electric cars have become an increasingly popular choice among car buyers in the UK, as people are becoming more environmentally conscious. 

One question that often arises is whether electric cars are really better for the environment than traditional petrol cars.

The short answer is yes!

However, the long answer requires a more in-depth analysis of the lifecycle of a car to truly understand the environmental impacts.

In this article, we’ll examine the environmental impact of electric cars throughout their entire lifecycle, from manufacturing to end-of-life.

Manufacturing Process for Electric Vehicles (EVs)

The manufacturing process for electric vehicles is more energy and emissions-intensive than the process used to manufacture petrol cars. This is largely due to the production of lithium-ion batteries, which require extracting and refining rare earth metals. 

The process is energy intensive due to the high heat and sterile conditions needed for production. 

It is estimated that manufacturing an EV generates 26.2 tonnes of CO2, whereas manufacturing a conventional petrol car produces 16.1 tonnes of CO2. 

This means that electric cars are more emissions-intensive than petrol cars to produce, but the higher upfront emissions are offset by the lower emissions generated over the lifetime of an EV. 

Battery manufacturers in countries with more renewable energy sources produce less CO2 than in countries with a greater reliance on coal-fired power stations.

Operating and Use Phase

It’s not just about the manufacturing process – once a car is on the road, its journey is far from over. Petrol and diesel cars, though powerful, emit harmful pollutants into the air during internal combustion. This can have serious implications on both our health and our planet. 

Electric cars, on the other hand, are much cleaner – apart from ultra-fine particles emitted from brakes and tyres, they don’t produce any tailpipe emissions while driving, making them a better option for our environment. 

However, we must also consider the source of electricity used to charge electric cars. If it’s generated from non-renewable sources, then the benefits of electric cars may not be as significant. 

That said, it’s still fascinating to know that electric cars are generally less polluting during use compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. 

Clearly, we need to be mindful of the environmental impact of our choices, and perhaps take steps towards switching to more sustainable alternatives.

End-of-Life

One common misconception about EVs is that their batteries will need to be replaced during the car’s lifespan, but that’s not always the case. 

In fact, most car owners will never have to replace their EV battery!

However, when it comes time to dispose of the vehicle, what should be done with the battery?

There are two main options: recycling or repurposing

Recycling is the more environmentally friendly choice, as it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s expected to become more prevalent in the future. However, there’s still uncertainty about the best way to recycle EV batteries. This is an important issue that will require continued research and innovation.

Concluding Thoughts

It’s clear that electric cars have less environmental impact than petrol and diesel cars, if you consider their entire lifecycle. 

During production, they may generate more emissions, but once they’re on the road their clean-running nature and lack of tailpipe emissions offset this. The end-of-life process for electric cars is also becoming more environmentally friendly, with more and more recycling and repurposing options becoming available.

We need to take a holistic view when considering the environmental impact of electric cars, and while they might not be a silver bullet solution for our climate crisis, they certainly provide a viable option for reducing emissions and improving air quality

With the advancements being made in EV technology, we can all help to make our world a greener and cleaner place.

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