Electric cars: How much do they pollute throughout their life cycle?

The transition to electric cars is crucial for a greener world, but are there really zero-emission vehicles? The answer is not so obvious. Those who thought that the environmental change of mobility was completely immune to pollution may in fact be surprised by what is shown by the study conducted by the Caracciolo Foundation (Centro Studi ACI) and the CARe Research Center at Guglielmo Marconi University, as for the first a lot to analyze the emissions from electric cars over their entire life cycle.

The result confirms that electricity generates emissions Yes up to 29 times lower than endothermic vehiclesbut it also offsets the CO2 emissions needed to produce them and finally to scrap / recycle them.

Car manufacturing in China is more polluting

The research considers the ‘carbon footprint’ of electric vehicles (the carbon footprint they release into the atmosphere) through their life cycle: the ‘life cycle assessment’, based on the different driving styles and types of users (from the home-based solar system manager to the family using the public column for recharging). The study sheds light on how between the factors that produce the most CO2 include the extraction of materials for the construction of batteries and the energy mix used for the construction and assembly of the vehicle;. For example, the CO2 footprint of a car built and assembled in China (where fossils are predominant in the mix) exceeds by more than 35% of the same vehicle built and assembled in Europe (EU mix).

Recharging from solar cells and fossil sources

On the other hand, the recharging methods (home or public, low or high power) have a limited impact on the pollution levels, as the average yield of the different charging systems is very similar.

On the other hand, the methods of production and distribution of electricity (from renewable or fossil sources) for recharging the vehicle have an impact;instead strongly in the final count of CO2 footprints. All other parameters for the design, installation and use of the vehicle are equal, and drawing electricity from the grid – according to the study – can result in a CO2 footprint of about 9 times larger than taking it from a photovoltaic system (100% renewable source).

Another factor that greatly affects the CO2 footprint is the characteristics of the vehicle (mass and battery capacity). The study takes the example of a segment D car (such as the Tesla Model 3), one of the most virtuous in terms of efficiency in its range, which exceeds the CO2 footprint of a segment A car by almost 40% (type Smart EQ ). The study also identifies a wide range of cases of electric car use: from the ‘best’ case (vehicle built with 100% renewable energy, with self-producing solar cell charging and low annual mileage) and the ‘worst’ case (built vehicle with more than 70% of the energy from fossil sources, with significantly longer distances and recharging from the grid with electricity obtained mainly from fossil sources).

The comparison with endothermic cars

But how much do they pollute electricity throughout their life cycle? The analysis tracks two scenarios: current and future. Electric cars, from construction to scrapping, can produce emissions from a minimum of 5.5 g / km (100% renewable) for an electric smart (best case), very close to the actual zero, at a maximum of 155 g / km (recharge greater than / equal to 70% fossils). For a Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, it ranges from a minimum of 10.1 g / km to a maximum of 263.8 g / km, a hole that can grow further depending on the displacements. According to some estimates, to get a comparison with the total emissions from endothermic cars, a car as a smart gasoline can the minimum value is estimated at 146 g / km CO2 (29.2 times higher than the 5.5 g / km of the ‘best electric ‘), while the maximum value is of the same order of magnitude as the worst condition of the electric car under study (above 250 g / km CO2).

Leave a Comment