New Analysis Shows EVs Less EcoFriendly to Make Prove Sustainability Credentials in a Year

Electric vehicles (“EVs”) are poised to play a significant role in transportation as numerous countries around the world strive to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike conventional diesel-powered vehicles, electric cars rely on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine. By eliminating fossil fuels, electric vehicles produce minimal emissions at the tailpipe, making them the perfect vehicle for a green economy. According to a new study, however, electric vehicles aren’t as carbon free as many people may think.

The analysis found that compared to diesel- and petrol-powered cars, producing electric vehicles is more carbon intensive. This is primarily because of the electric vehicles’ batteries, which require several rare minerals to produce. However, drivers in the United Kingdom can make up for that extra carbon after only 7,000 miles of driving. Analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (“ICCT”) found that manufacturing an average medium-sized fossil fuel car such as the VW Golf results in around 7.2 tons of carbon emissions. On the other hand, producing an electric vehicle of a similar size produces nearly 9.2 tons of carbon emissions, around 2 tons more than what it takes to produce a similarly sized petrol or diesel car.

But after driving for an estimated 7,061 miles, EV owners in the UK can make up for the “carbon debt.” According to ICCT calculations, an electric car in the UK would produce an average of 35 g of Co2 per km while an average fossil fuel car will produce around 211 g of CO2 per km. Since the average new car in the UK is driven for nearly 10,400 miles a year for the first three years of its life, UK drivers can reach the break-even point after less than a year of driving. ICCT researcher Dr. George Biecker says EV drivers in the UK would reach this point after only a few months as the UK’s electricity grid is heavily reliant on renewable energy.

This means that when UK drivers recharge their cars, they are filling up the vehicles with clean, renewable energy. In the United States, electricity providers are heavily reliant on coal for power production, and this extends the break-even point for American EV drivers. While EV owners in the UK will reach this point after only 7,000 miles of driving, their American counterparts will have to drive for 14,167 miles for their cars to make up their carbon debt.

It is now up to electric vehicle makers such as NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) to leverage such research findings as they make a strong case for switching to EVs on environmental sustainability grounds as they reach out to customers.

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