Thousands of drivers who collect the keys to a brand new ‘72’ plate electric car tomorrow will have a nagging doubt at the back of their minds as they glide silently off the forecourt – are battery-powered cars truly better for the environment, or is zero-emission motoring just ‘greenwash’ hype?
Sales of electric cars are soaring, up 49.9% year-on-year (January to July), as motorists take advantage of their tax breaks, fuel savings and smooth, quiet cabins.
Says Steve Tigar, CEO of loveelectric.cars, the business committed to helping workers save money on getting behind the wheel of an EV by using salary sacrifice, “Electric car drivers want to be sure they have ‘done the right thing’ by the environment in switching to battery power – after all, a few seconds on Google unearths any number of articles, arguments and conspiracy theories that rain on the green parade of the electric car revolution”.
He added, “First things first, EVs can undoubtedly take credit for improving air quality. By removing the exhaust fumes of dirty diesel and polluting petrol cars, EVs dramatically reduce the volume of toxic fumes that car traffic emits into the atmosphere.”
The verdict is less clear cut in the manufacturing process, however, with the carbon-heavy production of batteries (which account for about half an EV’s total CO2 emissions) giving electric cars a larger carbon footprint than their internal combustion engine equivalents as both roll off the factory line.
“From that moment onwards, the EV swiftly catches up and overtakes the ICE vehicle in terms of producing fewer carbon emissions,” says Tigar. “By the time both cars have covered 150,000km (c93,000 miles) the EV will have generated 50% less carbon emissions.”
Drivers can accelerate this overtaking manoeuvre by signing up to a renewable energy tariff at home, and using public charging networks [like Gridserve, InstaVolt, Ecotricity and bp pulse] that rely on wind and solar power.
“EVs will help to alleviate the most pressing environmental problem – greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels,” said Tigar. “After this summer of record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events around the world, no one can be in any doubt about the seriousness of the climate emergency.”
EVs also have a key role to play in the burgeoning circular economy of reuse and recycle, with second and third lives for their battery packs before their precious raw materials are salvaged and returned to the supply chain.
“Strict protocols are in place to prevent EV batteries ending up in landfill, while compelling evidence from early EV adopters shows that EVs go on and on with minimal maintenance spend long after equivalent ICE vehicles would have been scrapped,” said Tigar.
“With fewer moving components, EVs are significantly more reliable and require fewer replacement parts than ICE equivalents, giving battery power a further carbon advantage.
“EVs are a clear solution to our long term concern: they cut tailpipe emissions to zero, leading to cleaner air, greener spaces and a healthier environment for all. Undoubtedly, an electrified car fleet is critical to achieving our goal to regenerate our planet.
“But, there is still work to do. To say that we’re already there overlooks humanity’s ability to innovate at pace – and EV technology is improving at unbelievable speeds. As the electricity grid across the world incorporates more renewable sources, and advances toward a fully circular model for tyres and batteries are made, electric cars will become less and less impactful on the world around us.
“So, keep walking to work, take public transport when you can – but, when you need the convenience and practicality of a car, choose electric.”