The claim that electric cars are ‘100% eco friendly’ is somewhat misleading. They are vastly more so than petrol or diesel engines, because they release no emissions when driven. In reality, they could never be described as totally ‘green‘ for the following reasons:
There is a lot of energy used in the manufacturing of electric cars. They need to be light, which means manufacturing high-performing metals. In fact, scientific studies have shown that manufacturing an electric vehicle generates more carbon emissions than building a traditional car. Another contributing factor for this is the advanced battery technology required for electric vehicles.
Electric cars are only as green as the energy you charge them with. While electricity itself is a clean fuel, it is more often than not generated in plants run with fossil fuels. Electricity coming from gas or coal-fired power stations has had an environmental impact before it reaches your car. Therefore, how eco your electric car is really depends on which country you’re in, as some are lower-carbon than others in their energy generation. In theory, if you wanted your car to have as small an environmental impact as possible, you could install a home EV charger and run it off solar PV electricity generated at your property. Realistically, there are not masses of people in a position to do this.
There’s also the question of recycling the large lithium batteries inside electric cars once they reach the end of their lifespan. Generally speaking, the bigger the battery, the longer the range, but this can cause problems when it comes to disposing them. While research is ongoing, scientists are yet to find a way to effectively recycle large quantities of these batteries were there to be mass market adoption of electric cars.
So, electric cars are comparatively environmentally friendly
While the sustainability of electric cars is not completely without dispute, they are a great alternative to standard cars. It’s pretty much impossible to live a zero carbon lifestyle and driving anything other than a bike will mean some impact. But, if you have to drive and you’re concerned for the environment, electric cars are a good way way to go. The UK Government agrees: it now gives considerable grants for both electric vehicles and EV home chargers. It is generally accepted that electric cars produce half the greenhouse gases of their petrol/diesel-fuelled equivalents over their lifetime.