There are lots of reasons for looking at electric cars, one of the most confusing areas you’ll come across is their green credentials. Confusing, as while the internet does not lie (according to my childrens’ favourite film) the internet does have a great number of references to electric cars being 100% environment-friendly. However, it also retains an equally large number of rebuking views that electric cars are actually doing more harm! So where is the truth? Well to find out let’s look at each part of a vehicle’s life.

Manufacturing

Most experts agree that it takes at worst the same amount of CO2 to manufacture an electric car as a petrol or diesel, EXCLUDING the battery pack. Many blame the lighter and more specialised components needed for electric cars for contributing more CO2. This isn’t the case; whilst lighter components do have a slightly large footprint to manufacture, they have a smaller footprint for transport. So ultimately, these level each other out. It’s the batteries that really change things! Batteries are complicated to make, resulting in greater pollution during the production of electric cars. How much more polluting you ask? Well, this depends on the size of the battery. A Nissan Leaf will cover 160 miles on pure electric; this family car takes around 13-tonnes of carbon to produce in total. However, if you look at a higher capacity Tesla with a much bigger battery, this figure soars to 25 tonnes of carbon; for comparison, it takes 10 tonnes of carbon to produce a traditional family car.

Running Costs

Okay, so it’s one-nil to traditional cars. As EVERYONE knows that electricity is all produced from fossil fuels, it’s not looking good for electric cars. How can electric cars possibly win this one? Well, the reality is a little different, the usage stats come down to how green your energy is. In the UK by 2020, 30% of our energy will be from renewables. Even though nobody likes coal-fired power stations, big industrial processes they are much more efficient at extracting energy than an internal combustion engine.

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Driving 10,000 miles in a typical family car emits around 5 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. It’s tough to be this exact with electric as it depends where your electricity comes from. However, even on worst-case examples, driving 10,000 miles in an electric car would create under 2,000 tonnes of carbon. This figure will only get lower over time. One-all; electric cars equalise.

End of Life

Most experts agree that end of life is similar, including when the batteries are counted in the CO2 for disposal of an electric car compared to traditional cars. There are other myths, such as lithium mining is highly damaging to the environment. While we wouldn’t argue it’s great for the environment, it’s certainly less harmful than mining for oil as it tends to happen in remote locations, therefore having less impact on wildlife.

So, it’s a draw. Or is it? Well, this depends on the length of the match. In just over a year, running a small electric vehicle, including the manufacturing, you will have produced the same amount of carbon as petrol and diesel alternatives. Upgrade that to a super heavy Tesla and it could take 5 years. With fears of battery degradation being unfounded, electric cars should equal the life cycle of their dirty competitors as a minimum.

Charging Points

If you want to really thrash the opposition, if your home or workplace doesn’t have them, try to encourage the installation of charging points, or even as far as installing solar panels at work or home. You can charge for free and even draw power back from your car when you don’t need all the electricity. Smart chargers allow the storage of sunlight energy in the battery of your car and will also feed it back into your house or workplace. This will leave enough for any trips you need to make before the next charge of course.

Electric cars are clearly more environmentally friendly. EV’s can be much cheaper. Covering 10,000 miles in an EV will cost you around £150, compared to £1,700 for typical family petrol or diesel. They are even greater value on schemes such as salary sacrifice, bringing the lease cost of electric well below their petrol equivalents.

Isn’t it time you looked at electric cars?

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