Skip to main content

How environmentally friendly are electric vehicles?

By 22nd September 2015No Comments

Electric vehicles are getting more consideration these days as a serious contender for company fleets. They are seen as the green alternative to diesel and petrol cars but just how environmentally friendly are they?

If we look only at exhaust emissions it’s clear that EVs are 100% more sustainable than petrol & diesel cars. But it’s not just about emissions. To consider the full sustainability of a vehicle we should look at how the car is built and run. The two aspects of EVs that question their sustainable credentials are the manufacturing of the battery and how the electricity which powers them is generated.

Because of the raw materials required for an EV and the energy needed to build the lithium-ion batteries, its understood that just to build an EV generates almost twice the global warming impact than building a conventional car. Once the EV leaves the factory it depends how your electricity is produced to understand how environmentally friendly the EV is in relation to its petrol and diesel cousins.

Electricity generated by coal is by far the most polluting method. Currently in the UK around 40% of our electricity is produced this way. However, the Department for Energy and Climate Change estimate that by 2020 coal will provide only 11% of our electricity.

But don’t despair, even with coal generated electricity studies show that electric powered vehicles are still 10% more sustainable that those powered by combustion engines.

With the motor industry investing in EVs and battery technology improving it looks they are here to stay. EVs can now go further than ever before between charges and with more charging stations becoming available at supermarkets, car parks and railway stations companies are seriously looking at EVs as a viable option.

If you haven’t already driven an EV I strongly recommend that you try one. They are much more nippy that you might have expected and actually fun to drive. Who knows, you might even want to swap your gas guzzling company car for an electric equivalent someday.