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Busting EV myths: Electric transportation reduces emissions significantly

Pondering whether the electric transportation buzz is yet another greenwashed trend? Lifetime climate impact of EVs is much lower compared to conventional cars.

One of the most common arguments against electric cars is that the production results higher emissions than manufacturing internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Mining and processing lithium and cobalt for batteries causes production processes to have larger environmental impact.

These manufacturing emissions must be carefully considered and decreased. For instance, Tesla already recycles all used batteries. When Tesla Model S battery is recycled, at least 70% of the battery materials will be reused. Recycled materials are a one way to decrease the lifecycle emissions of electric vehicles.


Production process of an average EV results 15% more emissions than a production of a gasoline car. However, lifetime emissions of electric vehicles compared to gasoline cars are on average 51% lower.



Figure: World Economic Forum, 2018

Another big factor impacting lifecycle emissions is the location and energy mix used to power electric cars.

Nevertheless, electric cars pollute less than ICE cars - even when powered fully with coal.

In Europe, EVs compensate high production phase emissions with low tailpipe emissions when similar EVs and ICE cars are compared.

One fifth of Europe’s greenhouse gases results from the road transportation sectorTransportation is a field where all consumers can make an impact with their decisions. Long-time goal is to power electric transportation fully with renewables. Coal-powered eletric cars are thus not green, but they surely are a one step closer to decarbonized world. Investments in lock-in technologies, such as ICE cars, force us to stick with those for decades.




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