A study from last year, by the Eindhoven Technological University from Germany, concluded that today’s electric cars cause 65% less emissions when compared to a fossil fuel burning car.
The study authors compared a Tesla Model 3 with a Mercedes C 220d, and found that the Tesla emits 91 gram of equivalent CO2 emissions, compared with the Mercedes of 260 gram.
These figures include CO2 emitted during the car production, and for energy generation, resulting in climate neutral driving after 30.000 kilometers for the electric car.
This comparison also holds for smaller vehicles, such as the VW eGolf model, reaching climate neutral driving after 28.000 kilometers.
Previous studies calculated much higher CO2 emissions for the battery production, which no longer holds.
Christian Bauer, from the Swiss Paul-Scherrer-Institut points out that the difference not only affects emissions during a battery production, but also their lifespan, now estimated to be around 500.000 kilometers for modern batteries, compared to 150.000 kilometers previous studies assumed.
In the study, the authors estimated the lifespan of the Tesla and battery, to hold 250.000 kilometers – a figure also shared by the auto industry.
The study factored in electricity generation from all sources, attributing 250 KW/Hour of CO2 equivalent emissions. Even at figures of 400 KW/Hour the driving of an electric vehicle is substantially cleaner than fossil fuel vehicles.
Study: All studies that find high EV emissions assume the electric vehicle will drive on the electricity mix it used in its first year. This is understandable since it makes calculations easier and avoids having to defend assumptions on developments in the electricity mix. However, it is also unrealistic.
Just as the electricity mix has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, it will do so again over the next 20 years. We extrapolate past developments and support our estimates using authorative sources in order to create a future time series containing developments in the electricity mix. This basically means EVs drive cleaner as time goes on.
The energy mix calculation holds for most European countries today, except for Poland, and Estland.
Bottom line, the culprit is the energy used to power an electric vehicle, how it’s generated, while battery production is also getting greener.