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Are today's electric cars so good for the environment?

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Today at Way To Zero Waste we bring to the table a very interesting topic that is worth analyzing objectively. It is about how positive electric cars are for the planet.

Over the last few years, electric cars have been shown to the world as zero-emission, environmentally friendly machines. But are these vehicles as green as they seem? In any case, the environmental impact of a car is not only determined by the amount of smoke it emits through its tailpipe.

While it has been shown that all-electric cars can reduce emissions to zero while traveling on the road, there are questions about the emissions produced by their manufacture, or how the lithium batteries used in these vehicles impact the environment. There are even doubts about the actual amount of electricity they use, and whether it is obtained from environmentally friendly sources.

Want to know if electric cars are really worth it? Read on.

What are the environmental benefits of electric cars?

The first thing to keep in mind is that no vehicle can completely benefit the environment. This would only happen if we had cars capable of planting trees or removing CO2 from the atmosphere. However, electric cars are much less harmful to our planet's ecosystems than diesel cars. Why? These are their main advantages:

∙ Electric cars use batteries, unlike diesel cars that run on fossil fuels such as gasoline. These fuels contribute significantly to climate change, so by not relying on them, electric cars contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

∙ Although electric cars store chemically, they release without any combustion thanks to lithium-ion batteries. Therefore, they do not emit polluting gases, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) or sulfur dioxide (SO2), which are harmful to human health.

∙ Pollution is not only atmospheric. A car also produces noise pollution, and that is a problem that decreases when we talk about electric cars.

∙ The expense in the maintenance of the engine that produces us a diesel or gasoline vehicle higher because the electric car engine is very compact and much more reliable than traditional ones.

∙ Electric cars are much more efficient than traditional cars. Their efficiency is set at 90% when in a traditional car it stays at 30%. Electric vehicles need less energy to perform the same effort so it consumes less. An electric car spends only one euro per 100 km while a traditional car spends around 7 euros per 100 km.

How does electric car manufacturing impact the environment?

The production of electric cars is similar to that of conventional vehicles in terms of energy consumption. Although these cars do not have an engine, more than a third of their CO2 emissions come from the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. This is because these batteries are produced from materials such as cobalt, graphite and nickel, which are extracted through highly polluting mining processes.

In addition, many electric car battery factories operate in countries whose electricity grids are not powered by sustainable sources, which increases the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process. However, this footprint will pay for itself over time.

After two years of use, an electric car will pay off its sustainability debt, unlike conventional vehicles, whose polluting emissions occur throughout their lifetime. As more countries join the global grid decarbonization agenda, emissions from electric car manufacturing will be reduced.

There are multiple providers of electric charging for these vehicles using clean energy sources, such as solar panels. In addition, various technological changes are already underway to reduce the polluting effects of the production process, while the recycling and reuse of lithium-ion batteries is a growing industry.

Did you find this content useful? Leave your comments so that we can answer your questions or simply to generate debate around a topic as important as this.

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