Electric Vehicles (EVs) have gained importance as the world looks for ways to reduce the carbon pollution and oil dependency that fuel dangerous climate change. They emit fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants than petrol or diesel cars. And this takes into account their production and electricity generation to keep them running.
The major benefit of electric cars is the contribution that they can make towards improving air quality in towns and cities. With no tailpipe, pure electric cars produce no carbon dioxide emissions when driving. This reduces air pollution considerably. Put simply, electric cars give us clean streets making our towns and cities a better place to be for pedestrians and cyclists. In over a year, just one electric car on the roads can save an average 1.5 million grams of CO2. That’s the equivalent of four return flights from London to Barcelona.
Rising fuel prices and a push for greener initiatives have led many organizations to adopt electric vehicles (EVs) for their fleets. Notable for their fuel efficiency, EVs can be a cost-effective way to reduce operating expenses. The price of electricity in the United States averages 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Typically, an electric car costs approximately 3 cents per mile—much lower than a gasoline car at 10 cents per mile.
Besides lower fuel costs, EVs also serve as a greener alternative to gas or diesel vehicles. By eliminating exhaust, they can reduce a fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions. This advantage helps businesses stay sustainable and compliant with government guidelines. Read on to learn more about EVs and why they’re beneficial both for the environment and your fleet.
Electric vehicles are saving the climate — and our lives. Here’s how.
The largest source of climate pollution in the United States? Transportation. To solve the climate crisis, we need to make the vehicles on our roads as clean as possible. We have only a decade left to change the way we use energy to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Emissions from cars and trucks are not only bad for our planet, they’re bad for our health. Air pollutants from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles cause asthma, bronchitis, cancer, and premature death. The long-term health impacts of localized air pollution last a lifetime, with the effects borne out in asthma attacks, lung damage, and heart conditions.
As the COVID-19 pandemic — a respiratory disease — continues to spread, a study by Harvard University found “a striking association between long-term exposure to harmful fine particulate matter and COVID-19 mortality in the United States,” explains Rashmi Joglekar, a staff scientist at Earthjustice’s Toxic Exposure & Health Program. One of the primary causes of fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) is combustion from gasoline and diesel car engines.
An earlier study by Duke University underscored the health costs: each gallon of gasoline purchased at the gas station carries with it up to $3.80 in health and environmental costs. The diesel in big rigs and farm equipment is worse, with an additional $4.80 in social costs to our health and climate per gallon.
Electric vehicles have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline-powered cars, no matter where your electricity comes from.
The electricity that charges and fuels battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles comes from power grids, which rely on a range of sources — from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. Energy grids can vary from one state to another, which means that the carbon footprint of driving an electric vehicle ranges depending on the source of its electricity.
The very good news? Because electric vehicles are more efficient in converting energy to power cars and trucks, electricity across the board is cleaner and cheaper as a fuel for vehicles, even when that electricity comes from the dirtiest grid.
Running electric or hybrid cars on the grid in any state has lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered cars, as revealed in a study by experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists. And as states clean up their energy grids, the benefits of electric vehicles become stronger.
EVs can produce zero tailpipe emissions.
Full electric vehicles do not need a tailpipe, as they don’t produce exhaust. Traditional engines combust gasoline or diesel, creating energy at the cost of producing harmful carbon emissions. By contrast, the batteries found in EVs are completely emission-free. The most common type of battery employed in EVs is the lithium-ion battery. These batteries can be depleted and charged repeatedly without contributing to air pollution.
Through their entire lifetime, electric cars are better for the climate.
In the manufacturing process, electric vehicles will produce more global warming emissions than the average gasoline vehicle, because electric cars’ large lithium-ion batteries require a lot of materials and energy to build. (For example, manufacturing a mid-sized electric car with an 84-mile range, results in 15% more emissions.)
However, once the vehicles get on the road, it’s a whole different energy story.
Electric vehicles make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within, at most, eighteen months of driving — and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives
The average electric car on the road today has the same greenhouse-gas emissions as a car getting 88 miles per gallon — which is far greater than the average new gasoline-powered car (31 mpg) or truck (21 mpg), according to analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Electric trucks — delivering goods from warehouses to homes — can make a big, clean difference. We need more of them.
While diesel and gas trucks only make up a small portion of the vehicles on our roads and highways, they generate massive amounts of climate and air pollution. In the most impacted communities, these trucks create diesel “death zones” with more severe respiratory and heart problems.
In California, gas and diesel trucks are responsible for nearly half of the transportation-related air pollution in the state, even though they are vastly outnumbered by cars in the state. Today, there are 70 different types of zero-emission trucks on the market, and California in particular has become an important base for designing and manufacturing big electric vehicles like buses with companies like Proterra and Build Your Dreams in the state.
It is now time for major manufacturers to start producing electric trucks on a larger scale. Communities across California successfully fought for a strong electric trucks rule — the first protection of its kind in the country — to require truck makers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission trucks starting in 2024.
Clean EV Battery production and Recycling
Today’s EV batteries have a carbon footprint that is 2 to 3 times lower than two years ago, and growing cleaner still. Manufacturers of EVs are setting guidelines for their battery suppliers. For example, they require suppliers to only use renewable energy sources during production, such as solar and wind. These sources can provide the large amount of energy needed to produce EV batteries without harmful emissions. In fact, EV automaker Tesla plans to manufacture its batteries using 100% renewable energy.
Reusing and recycling batteries is also a growing market. Research into the use of second-hand batteries is looking at ways to reuse batteries in new technologies such as electricity storage. One day we could all have batteries in our homes being used to store our own energy. Opportunities like this will reduce the lifetime environmental impact of battery manufacture.
The University of Waterloo reports that utilizing used electric car batteries for stationary energy storage could have a significant environmental impact through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, a benefit that is not similarly realized with recycling efforts. The batteries will also make alternative energy collection more feasible since they allow for the energy to be stored during peak production periods and discharged when needed. As the United States continues to push towards sustainability, used electric car batteries will play an increasing role in how we power our lives in the home and on the go.
- Electric Vehicles Are Not Just The Wave of The Future, They Are Good For The Planet – https://earthjustice.org/features/electric-vehicles-explainer
- EVs can produce zero tailpipe emissions – https://www.samsara.com/guides/how-are-electric-vehicles-better-for-the-environment
- EV Battery production and recycling – https://sustainableamerica.org/blog/the-future-of-the-electric-car-battery/