Are Electric Vehicles Actually Worse for the Environment than Combustion Engines?

With so many people claiming that electric vehicles are in fact bad for the environment, we take a look at the data.

We’ve all seen it in the comments sections of social media posts. There are always a few people adamant that electric vehicles pollute more than internal combustion engine vehicles.

At best, they claim the electric vehicle (EV) industry is scoring an own goal by creating a technology that, throughout a vehicle’s lifetime, pollutes more than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. At worst, they say it’s all part of a conspiracy aimed at filling the pockets of clean energy providers.

So, are electric vehicles really worse for the environment than internal combustion engine vehicles? The short answer is no. Here’s why.

The battery production conundrum

Whether you are a proponent of electric vehicles or not, one issue is widely accepted: EVs release a lot of CO2 during the manufacturing process. This is due largely to the production of lithium-ion batteries.

A new IVL report, released this month, says, “according to new calculations, the production of lithium-ion batteries on average emits somewhere between 61-106 kilos of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilowatt-hour battery capacity produced.”

However, this figure keeps improving. The figure above, for example, is an improvement on the same organization’s study in 2017 that said, “an electric car with a 100kWh battery [emits] 15-20 tons of carbon dioxide even before the vehicle ignition is turned on,” with emissions of 150 to 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour storage capacity in a car battery.

Read more: Interesting Engineering

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