Electric Car Emissions – Are All Electric Cars The Same?

Global warming and high carbon footprints are massive environmental concerns worldwide. They’re also the important reasons why electric cars rose to fame – because of their contribution towards sustainability by reducing greenhouse emissions. If you own an EV or plan on buying one soon, there are high chances that you’re doing so for such reasons- and because it saves you from ever-rising fuel prices.

However, even apart from the increasing awareness of the benefits of electric cars, there are several misconceptions and confusions. People often debate over whether EVs are truly ecological or not.

After all, the vehicle still needs electricity for charging, generated using fossil fuels in several countries. In addition, you’d be surprised to know the long list of myths you may believe in related to electric cars.

This guide primarily aims to clarify your concerns about electric car emissions, discussing whether all EVs are equally as green as they’re claimed to be. Read along to discover several EV myths debunked to help you evaluate if, ultimately, owning an electric car is worth it or not.

Put your seatbelts on, and let’s get started!

Are Electric Cars Truly Environment-Friendly?

Electric cars pique interest and grab attention because of their “zero-emission” policy. However, whether electric car emissions equal zero or not is the actual debate. The great news is that EVs are incredible inventions because they offer LOW emissions.

Fully electric cars don’t have tailpipes, ensuring ZERO carbon dioxide emission while driving. That has a massive impact on the overall air pollution, making cities and towns better areas for cyclists and pedestrians.

That being said, here’s slightly bad news: there is still some emissions present. So, technically, the cars aren’t as green as one would think. EV emissions can vary on several factors that make your car environment friendlier than others.

Some crucial elements include your charging sources and the battery type installed. Continue below if you’re looking forward to reading about them in-depth.

electric car emissions
electric car emissions

Does EV Production Harm The Environment?

All electric cars aren’t the same in terms of their emissions, primarily due to their production processes and battery types.

Manufacturing electric vehicles require energy consumption, and surprisingly, the emissions during EV production are higher than conventional cars. One of the fundamental causes of this dilemma is lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and famous for their higher energy density than nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries. Apart from their benefits, their production also means a higher carbon dioxide emission. And on average, lithium batteries generate 73 kg co2-equivalent for every kilowatt-hour.

The battery consists of three components: cells (containing active materials), a battery management system, and a pack (the structure to store the cells). The pack consists of a high content of aluminum.

Although it’s reputable for lightweight benefits, it’s an energy-intensive element contributing to seventeen percent of the battery’s total carbon emission. Additionally, the cell production for lithium batteries contributes to twenty percent of the overall carbon dioxide/kWh. 

Another concern for lithium battery production is the electricity source they use. CO2 emissions can vary because countries use different sources to produce electricity.

For instance, China generates around sixty percent of its power using coal. The United States develops sixty-one percent of its total electricity from fossil fuels, including petroleum, natural gas, and coal.

This means that eventually, lithium battery production involves nonrenewable energy, resulting in its contribution toward carbon footprints in society.

Moreover, lithium batteries have drastically increased in demand due to their need for manufacturing EVs and several other portable devices. This leads to an overall increment in lithium battery manufacturing and more electricity generation, affecting the environment even more.

However, attempts are being made to rely more on renewable energy, including hydro and solar plants, especially in developed countries.

Soon, lithium batteries manufactured using this power will be environment-friendly alternatives, further reducing the overall electric car emissions.

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Does EV Charging Affect The Environment?

Like lithium batteries, the way you recharge your electric car significantly impacts your EV emission.

For instance, the same EV can produce varying carbon emissions, depending on the power source. If you use public charging spots in the USA, you’re more likely to use nonrenewable electricity, increasing your carbon footprints.

The same’s the case for the private charging ports at your home. However, your electric car’s emissions will be lower if your neighborhood is supplied with hydro or any other sustainable power.

Either way, even if you charge using fossil fuel-based power, EVs are still remarkably ecological, and their emissions still tend to be around seventeen to thirty percent lower than the regular cars.

Therefore, you don’t need to fret over the charging source, though admittedly, it’s always preferable to opt for reusable electricity to reap the better benefits of using an electric car.

Electric Car Misconceptions Clarified

Below we address the common myths you may have about electric car emissions, safety, and functionality.

EVs are worse for the climate than petrol cars because of their production emissions

NO! Sure, EV production can generate carbon footprints because the manufacturing is backed by electricity. However, production is remarkably sustainable if it’s supported by reusable power.

Modern times experience a growing shift towards using renewable energy, with several countries like Costa Rica, Sweden, China, Germany, and Scotland taking the lead. This indicates that EV plants are becoming more “green” each passing day.

Once manufactured, EVs are as ecological as can be. Even if the production results in higher emissions than that of fuel-based vehicles, the overall EV emission is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than petrol cars.

On the other hand, regular cars need a regular supply of petrol to be driven even a few miles, resulting in long-term emissions and extensively damaging the climate. So, no. EVs will ALWAYS be better for the environment than petrol or diesel-powered vehicles. 

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EVs aren’t as safe as petrol-based cars

Safety features are vital for every vehicle, especially if you’re getting one for your family. And just because EVs aren’t traditional cars doesn’t mean they aren’t equipped with sufficient safety and protection features.

EVs need to meet all the safety standards of regular petrol-based vehicles. Therefore, all electric cars available in the market meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards after clearing the originally-established testing procedures.

In addition, you may not know, but even the lithium batteries used for the EVs are designed with several safety features because they need to meet their specific testing criteria.

Furthermore, all electric cars also have special safety features to shut the electrical system down when the vehicle detects a short circuit or collision. 

Electric cars take too long to charge, consume more energy, and are unsuitable for routine travel requirements

Firstly, electric cars have an ideal mile range. Most of them have more than two hundred mile range, and the more recent ones are expected to have over four hundred mile range. That’s a significantly favorable range for getting down with the errands and commuting across the city for work.

Additionally, EV owners don’t need to wait in long fuel lines. You can either install a charger at your home and recharge your EV overnight or based on your convenience. Or, you can opt for the fast-charging public ports available in several countries.

For example, California’s DC fast charging ports recharge your electric car in around thirty minutes!

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EVs can’t replace petrol and diesel-powered vehicles

It’s quite a surprise that many stakeholders believe that EVs will never match up to the level of gas-fueled cars. Not surprisingly, demand for electric cars continues to surge like that for gas-fueled cars gradually reduces.

In fact, several countries can afford but cannot buy EVs because of a lack of public charging ports within the locality.

But considering the benefits, petrol bill reduction, and exemplarily low EV emissions, electric car sales are exponentially increasing and soon surpass conventional cars because of their cost incentives.

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Best Low-Emission Electric Cars To Buy

By now, it’s clear that there is no such thing as a “zero-emission” electric car. However, technological advancements and the thirst for creating as climatic-friendly cars as possible have led to several innovations.

Today, numerous EV models promise an exceptionally low carbon emission, ensuring minimal participation towards fossil fuel consumption or environmental impact- be it during the EV production or charging.

Furthermore, we’re sure you also understand that not all EVs are the same in terms of overall emissions, provided the factors discussed above.

Therefore, if you’re searching for models that can assist you in experiencing the least possible electric car emissions, we’ve got a few options at your disposal!

EV emissions
EV emissions

Tesla Model Y

One of the most sought-after brands, Tesla never disappoints its buyers, not even with its carbon footprints. Model Y is among the best makes of the brand due to its low emissions of 0.87 kg.

Nissan LEAF

Nissan Leaf is a beauty for all the right reasons. Classy aesthetics, a quiet cabin, and no hassle for oil change make the model an accessible, functional, and ideal asset. The highlight has to be its 0.99 kg carbon dioxide emissions, making it an excellent pick to promote green living.

Tesla Model 3

It’s not a shocker to see two Tesla gems conquering the ranking due to their impressively low carbon footprints. Model 3 2020 is an appealing and rewarding asset because apart from its signature Tesla vibes, its 0.81 kg carbon footprints make the vehicle exquisitely worth it. 

BMW i3

The BMW i3 is built for performance with its quick charging. Moreover, its smooth interior and easy parking are absolute standouts. But the show-stopping feature is, hands down, its incredibly optimal carbon dioxide emissions of 0.93 kgs.

Ford F-150 Lightning

You don’t need to own a sedan or a compact model to avail of the benefits of an EV, and Ford F-150 Lightning is the testament to that. This truck offers plenty of space, is ideal for rough terrains, and can even power a house for days, offering 9.6 kW of electricity! 

Volkswagen Golf 2020

A leading EV manufacturer, Volkswagen values driver and passenger experience. The VW Golf is designed to offer a versatile cargo hold with stunning efficiency in space, fuel, and emissions.

The make stuns potential buyers because of its midrange torque, offering better stability in steeper areas, and, more importantly, its optimally low carbon footprints of 2.09 kgs.

The level might seem high at first glance. But considering the EV’s size and functionality, it’s certainly an attention-grabbing amount. 

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How Eco-Friendly Are Hybrid Cars?

Comparing hybrids with electric cars is pointless because it’s clear that EVs win the race. That being said, plug-ins are usually better than conventional gas-powered vehicles.

Although they’re equipped with combustion engines that require diesel or petrol, they’re still a lot more fuel-effective because of being partially powered by electric motors. Therefore, they use less fuel and cause lower carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

However, producing hybrid cars requires extensive energy consumption, which can be alarming in the case of nonrenewable electricity. One must consider the additional emissions caused due to the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries needed for producing plug-in hybrid cars.

Some of the must-consider plug-ins to ensure optimal carbon emissions include:

  • Mini Countryman Plug-In
  • Toyota Prius
  • BMW 330e
  • Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
  • Kia Niro
  • VW Golf GTE

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Our Final Thoughts

With this, we conclude our session. To summarize the whole discussion, electric cars aren’t entirely green because lithium-ion battery production results in carbon emissions. Even EV manufacturing requires electricity, which can cause greater overall carbon emissions in the case of nonrenewable electricity.

Furthermore, the power source used to charge EVs also plays an essential role in affecting the aggregate carbon footprints. Even then, the net total electric car emissions are far lesser than gas-powered cars, hence, environment-friendlier investments.

The next best option is buying a plug-in hybrid. But while they’re more ecological than the regular vehicles, they’re nowhere as sustainable and low-emission solutions as fully electric vehicles.

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