Pollution: better electric or petrol car?

A disgrace that has been going on for years. We all know that electric cars pollute much, much less in use than cars that run on petrol or diesel. There is no doubt about that. THAT opponents of electric carshowever, they point the finger at overall pollution, at emissions relating to the entire life cycle of the electric car. And yes, in fact here the question becomes more complicated. For an electric car needs a very powerful battery, which is made of rare mineralswhose extraction is often very polluting, not to mention the necessary deforestation, transportation, waste disposal and so on. The use of manganese, graphite, cobalt, dysprosium, nickel and praseodymium undoubtedly makes the production of batteries for e-cars very polluting. For this reason, it is legitimate to ask whether electric cars, seen over the entire life cycle, continue to pollute less than their petrol and diesel cars. However, he had already answered this question in 2018 European Environment Agencywho said that “even now, throughout its life cycle, an average electric car in Europe produces fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants than a comparable petrol or diesel car“. Three years ago, therefore, electric cars polluted less, from 17% to 30% less, taking into account the entire life cycle, from the extraction of the necessary materials to disposal. It is no coincidence that the European Union has until 2035 stopped the sale of cars with internal combustion engines.

How much does an electric car pollute?

Despite the clear answer from the EEA, even today there are critics who claim that cars with internal combustion engines, after all, no longer pollute than electric cars. But how much does a battery-powered car pollute? Little, practically nothing during use. Very, much at the production level. To have certain numbers, you can look at a survey of Swedish Environmental Research Institute, a research center in Stockholm. The report tells us that, all things considered, the construction of a car battery involves a total emission of direct and equivalent carbon dioxide between 150 and 200 kg for each kWh of power. This has to be said when you consider two precise cars, namely the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, in 2017.

Tesla Model 3 or Toyota Corolla: who pollutes the most?

On the one hand an electric car, on the other hand a modern car with an internal combustion engine. Who pollutes the most? This question is extremely famous: the comparison was actually quoted by a member of the Australian Parliament, Craig K.elly, referring to the results of the government website Green Vehicle Guide. Currently, this page tells us that a 2020 Tesla Model 3, the entire life cycle taken into account, releases 121 g / kmwhereas the Toyota Corolla 1.8 from 2019 would stop at 85 g / km. But beware: it all depends on how many kilometers are traveled during the life of the car and how electricity is produced. If the same calculation were made in the US, 21,725 ​​kilometers would be enough to have a Tesla that pollutes less than the Toyota. In Norway, where electricity is largely produced from renewable energy sources, just 13,500 kilometers would be enough. In general, it would be necessary to look at countries where electricity is produced with a highly polluting process, as is the case in China and Poland. 127,000 kilometers to have a car that actually pollutes less than a gasoline-powered car. Or better: a zero-emission car (relatively). Therefore, given that the life expectancy of a car is longer and that the production of energy is and will always be more sustainable and clean, there is therefore no doubt: even considering the whole life cycle, an electric car pollutes less than a petrol or diesel car.

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