Shocking News About Electric Cars

Slashdot is linking to an article which talks about the net environmental impact of electric cars.

The highlights:

  • The production of EVs has twice as much of an environmental impact as the production of typical gas-powered cars; and
  • In places like Europe, where a good chunk of the electricity comes from renewable sources, EVs do indeed provide a benefit to the environment. However, "In regions where fossil fuels are the main sources of power, electric cars offer no benefits and may even cause more harm."
  • You have to run electric cars longer to see net benefits -- which calculate at about 30% net reduction over typical gasoline engines at 200000km. 

This basically confirms what I've been saying for years: the source of the electricity for electric cars matters when considering the total environmental footprint. Electric cars are not a zero-emissions way of transportation -- they are fundamentally an emissions-transference vehicle, transferring the emissions from the car's tail pipe to where ever the electricity is generated.  Which is fine if you use wind -- but we don't.

There is also the consideration of efficiency -- would using natural gas to make motion in a car be more or less efficient than using natural gas to make electricity, use that to charge the car, and then make motion?  This seems like an apples-to-apples calculation that would be easy to make.

And while 30% is nothing to sniff at, could we make more efficient traditional cars more easily?

Bottom line, electric cars are mostly about moving your pollution somewhere else.