Study Says Electric Cars Not So Green - With Ford ready to debut its new C-Max Energi electric car in 2012 to compete with the Chevy Volt, automakers are racing to create electric cars. The government encourages car-buyers to enter the electric car market because conventional wisdom says that electric cars are better for the environment than gasoline-powered cars, and we all want to do our part to fight climate change. More information on all types of cars is available at San Antonio Mazda. But a new British study says that electric cars aren’t as green as their supporters believe. In fact, electric cars can create higher emissions over the car’s lifetime than their gasoline-powered equivalent, partly due to the pollution created from the factories that manufacture electric car batteries.
The study was financed by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (which is jointly funded by the British government and the UK auto industry) and prepared by Ricardo, a leading global provider of product innovation, engineering solutions, clean technology and strategic consulting. It found that while in the past, tailpipe emissions have been used as the main measure of an electric car’s carbon footprint, when the emissions from the car’s total lifespan are taken into consideration, including the car’s production and disposal, some of the CO2 savings made from driving the car are offset. The study contends that “overall electric and hybrid vehicles still have lower carbon footprints than normal cars.” Ricardo Chief Technology & Innovation Officer and Chairman of the LowCVP, Prof. Neville Jackson, said “There is an emerging consensus that we need to move towards a more holistic analysis of whole life CO2 emissions in order to make more informed and better long term decisions on future technologies.”
The study found that compared with 24 metric tons for a gasoline-powered car, a mid-size electric car produces 23.1 metric tons of CO2 over its lifetime. But an electric car would have to drive about 80,000 miles before it would start saving more CO2 than a gasoline-powered car. Many electric cars will never reach 80,000 miles in their lifetime electric cars get less than 90 miles on a charge, so they’re typically driven only short distances. Stamford Nissan offers complete services for all your automotive dealership needs. Additionally, electric car batteries must be replaced after about four years. When the emissions connected with replacement batteries are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car increases to 12.6 metric tons, compared with 5.6 metric tons for a conventional car. Because recovering and recycling the metals in the battery consumes a great deal of energy, disposal produces double the emissions.
“Life cycle analysis is still in its infancy, with little defined process and standards,” said Jackson. “The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership report is an important contribution to this type of analysis and highlights the need to work toward a common methodology and approach to deliver consistent and robust life cycle data on CO2 emissions.” Greg Archer, LowCVP Managing Director, said: “This work dispels the myth that low carbon vehicles simply displace emissions from the exhaust to other sources. However, it does highlight the need to look at reducing carbon emissions from vehicles throughout their lifecycle. The automotive industry is already taking positive steps to address this issue – the recent announcement by Toyota of a solar array to provide electricity to power the hybrid Auris production facility and wind power at the Nissan Leaf plant are excellent examples of this.”
Archer said the industry should state the full lifecycle emissions of cars, rather than just tailpipe emissions, to avoid misleading consumers. He said that drivers wanting to minimize emissions would be better off buying a small, efficient gasoline or diesel car. “People have to match the technology to their particular needs,” he said. Palm Bay Lincoln is a great source for all your automotive needs. It’s an unfortunate fact that nearly half the pollution from an electric car over its lifetime happens at the factory, before the vehicle has driven a single mile. Or as auto123.com put it, “Quite a few improvements need to be made for green vehicles to become truly green.” And while production techniques will no doubt improve over the next few years, one wonders if there will be an incentive for a battery plant in China to lower the pollution levels in their manufacturing process.
Photos (top to bottom) by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz, OSX, Andreas Praefcke.
Tags: electric cars, San Antonio Mazda, electric vehicles, green cars, Stamford Nissan, carbon footprint, C-Max Energi, Chevy Volt, Palm Bay Lincoln, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership