The basic argument of electric cars is emissions. Purely electric cars produce zero CO2 emissions when driving, while gasoline and diesel-powered cars spew emissions into the atmosphere. However, a new study shows electric cars often hide their dirt.
According to Munich-based automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors, reported by Bloomberg, electric vehicles aren’t that clean when taking their manufacturing process into account. When a battery plant produces a lithium-ion battery, the process emits up to 74 percent more CO2 if the plant is run on fossil fuels. Obviously, the argument changes drastically if renewable energy powers the production process. But, as it stands, many factories today run on coal and other fossil fuels.
Thus, the average electric car in Germany would take more than 10 years to break even in CO2 emissions with a modern fuel-efficient engine.
The research showed a motorist could drive a gas-guzzling vehicle for three years before or more than 30,000 miles before an electric car like the Nissan Leaf would be a “cleaner” option. And the larger the battery pack, the more emissions produced in the factory. This isn’t to mention that drivers charging electric cars are obtaining electricity from the grid, which often comes from fossil fuels.
In countries where renewable energy is more common, such as Norway, the study showed the effects are the desired ones. Norway’s hydro-electric energy powers nearly the entire grid and electric cars generate nearly 60 percent less CO2 over their life there.
Until manufacturers begin producing batteries in more sustainable ways, electric cars will have a dirty secret—even if their immediate benefits look good on paper.