Opinion is split on how environmentally friendly electric vehicles are, with much of the public assuming that EVs have a negative carbon footprint. However, a publication from German think tank Agora Verkehrswende released in March reveals that this view is not entirely accurate.
Agora Verkehrswende’s goal was to scientifically assess electric vehicles’ impact on the climate. To do this, the think tank compared a variety of studies. Its conclusion? Most studies reach similar results, demonstrating that EVs have a beneficial impact on the environment.
According to Agora Verkehrswende, the complexity of the discussion and the inability to compare every study on the topic creates a lack of certainty about the actual environmental impact of electric vehicles. This also complicates the public debate and leads to uncertainty in the minds of policymakers and consumers alike, the think tank notes.
In its Lifecycle Analysis of Electric Vehicles: Determining Factors and Improvement Potential project, Agora Verkehrswende sought to provide transparency about the different results in terms of lifecycle emissions, creating a systematic outline for policymakers and consumers.
Five key findings
- In all the cases examined, electric vehicles are associated with lower emissions over their entire lifecycles than their conventional counterparts.
- The carbon footprint of vehicle batteries can be more than halved over the coming years thanks to more efficient production methods, improved cell chemistry and energy density, and the use of greener electricity as a production input.
- The relative emissions advantage enjoyed by electric vehicles can be enhanced if we accelerate the clean energy transition, as the power consumed to operate electric vehicles is the most important determinant of their carbon footprint.
- European countries can become attractive locations for battery production in view of their high share of renewables generation.
- Greater transparency concerning the carbon footprint of vehicle batteries is necessary to take full advantage of opportunities for improvement throughout the battery lifecycle.
Click here to read the publication (in German with English executive)