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.
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.