The discussion about the green image of electric cars often refers to the CO2 emissions that are released in the production of battery packs and the fact that electric cars do not always run on green energy. According to the international and independent NGO Transport & Environment (TE), that discussion is now really outdated: electric vehicles are cleaner at all times.
To get straight to the point: even in a country such as Poland, where many coal-fired power stations are still in use, the CO2 emissions of a fully electric car during its lifespan are 29 percent lower than those of a petrol or diesel car.
In Sweden, where the share of green electricity is the largest, emissions are even 79 percent lower. A fully electric car in the Netherlands emits 58 percent less CO2 during its life than a comparable fuel car. The European average is 63 percent less emissions.
Everything has been taken into account, including the extraction of raw materials
For the record, TE has taken into account the impact of everything involved in the production and assembly of battery packs. This therefore also includes mining for substances such as cobalt and lithium, which are included in the battery pack. For fuel cars, the impact of oil extraction and refining has also been examined.
In addition, the CO2 released during the production of the vehicle itself has been included in the figures. This takes into account the fact that, for example, the construction of a car in China produces more CO2 than production in Sweden.
TE also points out that there are still plenty of opportunities in the production and use of electric cars to further reduce CO2 emissions, while fuel vehicles have less room for further development. This is opening up more and more options for recycling battery packs.
The battery pack can be increasingly recycled. (Photo: Jaguar)
Old studies, outdated data
TE can also explain why there are occasional studies that show that electric cars are not as clean as they thought. Often obsolete or deliberate use is made of data.
For example, the production of battery packs has improved so much by, among other things, increasing scale that up to three times less CO2 is released than previously assumed.
In addition, the fact that electricity production is becoming greener over the expected life of an electric car is often not taken into account. Electric cars can also feed electricity back into the electricity grid thanks to so-called vehicle-to-grid technology.
In addition, TE calculates the so-called Real Driving Emissions (RDE) of fuel cars and not the figures for consumption and emissions, which were often achieved in an unrealistic laboratory setting.
An electric car leads to lower CO2 emissions than a fuel car. (Photo: AutoWeek)
Electric cars last longer
Finally, TE states that electric cars and battery packs last longer than assumed by other parties. moreover, it is driven more than expected during its lifetime. In addition, they can increasingly be recycled. This has also been taken into account.
In addition, battery packs can be used for energy storage when reused. For example, the energy storage system of the Johan Cruijff ArenA consists of second-hand batteries from the Nissan Leaf.
BMW uses old battery packs for energy storage. (Photo: BMW)
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