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Electric Cars Do More Harm To The Planet Than Previously Thought

A Norwegian university report claims that EVs can hit the environment on three fronts: the source of the electricity used to charge them, and the toxic waste from their manufacture and break-up.

Electric Cars Do More Harm To The Planet Than Previously Thought

New research suggests that electric cars are not the environmental panacea that they are thought to be. A report from a team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology claims that the vehicles fail on three fronts: production; charging; and their eventual demise.

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The length of the vehicle’s life has an impact on its carbon footprint–those with a life of around 200,000 km improve on gas and diesel engines by around 28% and 19% respectively. Halve the mileage, however, and an EV’s effectiveness decreases by anything between 9% and 14%. But it is the source of the electricity used for charging the car that is the problem. Using an EV in a country which relies heavily on fossil fuels for its electricity will, unsurprisingly, increase greenhouse gas emissions. Using the car in Europe, however, saw benefits of around 10%, compared to traditional combustion engines.

EV production is, says one of the authors of the report, more environmentally intensive than the traditional automotive industry. Breaking a vehicle up at the end of its life is also more hazardous, as the batteries and motors use toxic materials such as nickel, aluminum, and copper.

[Image via Creative Commons on Flickr]

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.

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