Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Many individuals believe electric cars are the future. However, there is some disagreement as to how clean these vehicles actually are. Some men and women talk about the impact of the battery manufacturing process when it comes to the environment, for example. What is the final consensus? Are electric vehicles truly better for the environment or should other steps be taken instead of focusing on moving toward a goal of electric cars for all drivers?

Official Stance

Policymakers continue to encourage drivers to purchase electric vehicles by offering subsidies for those who do. For example, Barack Obama and George W. Bush both offered federal tax credits for those drivers purchasing a vehicle of this type. Several states have also provided purchase rebates on electric vehicles, rebates for chargers and more. Electric vehicle mandates have been seen in certain states as well. With so many officials supporting the manufacturing of electric vehicles, why do some people still oppose them?

The Manufacturing of Batteries of Electric Cars

When making batteries, manufacturers must use rare metals pulled from the earth. The extraction of these metals can be harmful to the environment, critics state. While there is some truth to this statement, the International Council on Clean Transportation stated in a 2018 report, the location where the batteries are produced has a more significant impact on emissions and the same is true of the better composition. To help cut emissions, countries making batteries for this purpose will need to adopt American or European manufacturing techniques. Until they do and all cars are electric, emissions testing must continue on diesel or gasoline-based vehicles. To get emissions testing today and learn how their vehicle is impacting the environment, a driver can visit an emissions testing station in their area.

Reduced Emissions in Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles of Electric Cars

Furthermore, vehicle manufacturers continue to find ways to reduce the emissions produced by internal combustion engine vehicles. In fact, when compared to vehicles produced during the 1960s, vehicles made today produce only one per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions seen back then. People reading reports need to ensure they know where the data comes from and what it is being compared to in order to obtain an accurate picture of electric cars versus internal combustion engine vehicles.

Over the Electric Car’s Lifespan

The ICTT likewise found that electric cars have a distinct advantage in that the bulk of emissions produced by these vehicles is during the manufacturing process and the sourcing of the vehicle’s energy. Although internal combustion engine vehicles continue to move toward lower emissions, they still cannot compete with their electric counterparts. As more electric vehicles hit the roads, battery recycling will likewise increase in terms of its efficiency. This will help to reduce emissions by reducing the need for new materials. The report states electric vehicles, as a result, definitely produce fewer emissions over their lifetime when compared to vehicles that operate on fossil fuels. This is true regardless of which source is used to generate the electricity needed to power the car.

Misinformation

One problem with evaluating electric vehicles in terms of their impact on the environment is a great deal of misinformation regarding this form of transportation exists. For instance, the Center for Economic Studies (CES) based in Munich recently declared the current energy mix used by the country along with the amount of energy consumed during the manufacturing of batteries was higher than seen with the CO2 emissions produced by diesel vehicles.

Many critics of electric cars were happy to see that their theories were correct. However, industry experts were quick to debunk the report. They found numerous inaccuracies with the findings of CES. The study put forth information about internal combustion engine vehicle emissions that were lower than what is actually produced by these vehicles. In addition, the CES report stated batteries used in electric cars would be hazardous waste once they reached 150,000 km. This statement has already been discredited. Government data was likewise misrepresented by the centre in an effort to fit the research used for the report.

“Unscientific conspiracy theory” is how Dr Markus Lienkamp described this report. Dr Lienkamp heads the Technical University of Munich’s Department of Automotive Engineering. He is not alone in denouncing the CES report either. Previous studies have shown that electric vehicles when they are charged using only a coal-powered grid would produce carbon emissions similar to those seen with an internal combustion engine vehicle over its lifetime.

What Does the Future Hold for Electric Cars?

So what does the future hold when it comes to electric vehicles and their internal combustion engine counterparts? Electrical grids continue to move toward reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. They are doing so by boosting their production of renewable energy. As electric vehicles already produce fewer emissions throughout their lifespan, they do appear to be the vehicle of the future. Car manufacturers have come to accept this reality and will likely offer more options when it comes to these vehicles in the coming years.

As they do so, the technology will become even more efficient and sustainable. Better infrastructure will be seen, manufacturing technologies will increase in efficiency, recycling options will expand, and new materials won’t need to be mined as frequently. While electric vehicles cannot solve all of the world’s problems, they can be of help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As manufacturers are also doing the same with current internal combustion engine vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions overall will decrease even if these cars do remain on the road. As a result, drivers will likely be able to choose between both types for many years into the future. This is always a good thing, as people should be free to choose what they wish to spend their money on when it comes to their transportation.

Only time will tell if internal combustion engine vehicles endure the challenges they are facing. Policymakers ultimately have a great deal of say in this, as laws can be made to prohibit the sale of these vehicles. Until then, both types will likely remain on the road for the foreseeable future, even as the number of internal combustion engine vehicles decreases. Some people will simply continue to drive them until they no longer can.

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