From the early days of hybrid vehicles right on through the current booming market for electric cars, there has been the contention by some people that these cars are responsible for comparable or even greater amounts of greenhouse gas emissions over their product lifetimes. The arguments generally centered around the carbon costs of creating batteries for the cars as well as the emissions associated with generating the electricity used to charge them.
A new study published by the International Council for Clean Transportation reports a life cycle assessment (or LCA) that considers every source of carbon generated from the cradle to the grave of the vehicle.
Included in the assessment are the mining costs of the lithium to make batteries, the transportation of batteries across the world by container ship, the end-of-life burden, the mix of energy generation in various places around the world, and so on.
The results of the analysis are that even in India and China, which are the biggest burners of coal and oil on earth, it still results in lower emissions to drive an EV instead of an internal combustion vehicle.
Lifetime emissions of today’s average medium-size EVs are lower than comparable gasoline cars by 66-69% in Europe, 60-68% in the US, 37-45% in China, and 19-34% in India. As electricity generation continues to further decarbonize, all these numbers will only get better. While it is somewhat more carbon-intensive to manufacture an EV, it doesn’t take very long in the car’s life to come out ahead owning one.
Early skeptics of EVs and hybrids had more legitimate concerns a decade or so ago, but the advantages of these vehicles are now unambiguous.
Photo, posted December 30, 2020, courtesy of Chris Yarzab via Flickr.