Are EVs Really Greener than Regular Cars?

Over the last few years, the electric car has finally hit the mainstream in the UK. According to figures from the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders, last year saw an increase in sales for Battery Electric Vehicles of just under twenty per cent. If these trends continue, it seems likely that our road system will be nigh-unrecognisable in just a few years time.
One of the most conspicuous benefits of the electric vehicle is its cleanness. Electric motors, so we’re told, are much better for the natural world than those powered by burning fossil fuels. But do these benefits really stack up?

Comparing EVs and traditional vehicles

One major environmental downside of EV production is the creation of the battery. Extracting lithium
from the Earth is environmentally costly. Moreover, the extraction often takes place in parts of the
world where labour protections are lax.

So, the manufacturing of an electric car imposes a greater burden on the environment. But this tends
to be outweighed by the emissions generated by the internal combustion engine. According to one
estimate, electric cars emit around a third the CO2.

It seems reasonable to assume that, on average, and in the long term, you’re better off with an
electric car. But what if your driving habits are not average? If you’re putting in just a few miles every
week, then you might never offset the carbon created by your battery’s coming into being. On the
other hand, if you’re driving hundreds of miles, then you might pay back the difference quickly.

What can help people make the switch?

One obstacle to EV adoption is that it’s a novel technology. People might not want to change their
driving habits, or learn a new way of doing things, unless they really need to.

If you’re unsure about whether to take the plunge, then you might take the time to test-drive an
electric vehicle to see whether the experience is a positive one. You might equally borrow one from a
friend or relative to see what it’s like to worry about recharging, and whether this kind of vehicle
makes a good match for your driving habits. You might take out temporary car insurance for a day, to make
the experience possible.

What can make EVs greener still?

When we’re talking about the environmental benefits of an EV, we’re really talking about a moving
target. EVs are getting more efficient, and greener, with every successive generation of batteries
and motors.
For most of us, it’s a question of when rather than if where the electric car is concerned.

Of course, if the electricity itself can be reliably supplied from renewable, non-polluting sources, then
the cars themselves will become greener by extension. So, over the lifespan of any electric car, you
might expect it to become less polluting – provided that we’re building more solar panels and wind
turbines over the period.