Are Electric Vehicles Better for the Environment?

February 20th, 2023 by

On average, electric vehicles are much more environmentally sustainable throughout their full life cycle than gas-engine cars. This accounts for manufacturing, charging, and driving emissions equally.

Electric cars are seen as the way of the future because electricity is more affordable, and more sustainable, than gas. Most of the biggest names in auto manufacturing have already shown heavy commitment to the electric vehicle market. Names like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Porsche have all gone electric, have pledged to release only an electric lineup at some point in the future, and continue to innovate with their luxury electric vehicles.

Despite the widespread reputation that EVs have as being good for the environment, some questions linger around that subject. Are electric vehicles better for the environment, really? And if so, how much better are they? Let’s examine some of the key factors that go into determining an EV’s sustainability.

Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles

Zero Carbon Emissions

audi_etron_plug_inLet’s start with the obvious point. When actually driving on the road, all-electric vehicles emit zero carbon emissions. Plug-in hybrids and hybrid electric vehicles also have much lower carbon emissions than gas-engine cars.

What this means is that electric cars do not release any harmful CO2 into the atmosphere when burning “fuel.” The electricity that powers EVs is cleaner and safer than the gas that powers internal combustion engines. Reduced dependency on gas can also be indirectly beneficial to the environment. This is because extracting gas can sometimes negatively affect environmental conditions, too.

Generated Electricity

Electric vehicles easily win out in terms of efficiency when it comes to tailpipe emissions. But this is not the only factor to consider when measuring environmental impact. Another point that often gets raised is that generating electricity to charge EVs creates carbon emissions.

This is not an entirely unfounded concern. It is true that some carbon pollution is emitted when generating electricity for EV charging. However, the amount of CO2 released in this process is still drastically lower than that which is released by gas-engine cars, on average. 

Also, the level of carbon emissions varies greatly depending on which method is used to generate electricity. For instance, using coal to generate electricity has a bigger environmental impact than solar power, which is much cleaner. Many regions have already started to explore solar, wind, and other green energy sources more intently in recent years. If and when these fuel sources become more viable on a widespread scale, electric vehicles will become even more sustainable.

Manufacturing Batteries

porsche plug inThe other point that commonly gets raised against electric vehicles’ sustainability relates to the process of manufacturing batteries. Once again, this concern is not unfounded. Many researchers, and even the EPA, agree that the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs require more materials to manufacture. If the life cycle of a car ended with manufacturing, lithium-ion batteries would do more harm than the individual components found in a gas-engine car.

But manufacturing is far from the end of a vehicle’s life cycle. In 99% of cases, it’s only the beginning. Ultimately, the environmental impact of an EV battery is much less than that of alternatives during their full life cycle. Even with the extra emissions during manufacturing, lithium-ion batteries are much more environmentally friendly than gas combustion engines.

Final Answer: Electric Vehicles Are Better for the Environment

In answer to the original question: yes, electric vehicles are a more environmentally-friendly option than gas-engine cars. Throughout the entire life cycle of an EV, the net carbon emissions are drastically lower than their gas counterparts. This does not mean that an EV’s life cycle is completely carbon neutral. But they are, on average, closer to carbon neutrality than gas cars. And many of the leading manufacturers are working on ways to reduce emissions through innovative manufacturing processes as well.

If you’ve got a burning question about LEVs, Ray Catena Auto Group has the answers. Contact us today, find one of our dealership locations near you, or read more about the perks of owning an EV.

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