Electric cars: not so environmentally friendly?

Electric cars ?? s been lately ?? hot topic ?? because the image have to be environmentally friendly. But is that really so? Compared with gasoline or diesel car ?? s they emit less CO2, but that is only if they have a long life and if the electricity they consume is produced in an environmentally responsible manner. In addition, the raw materials with which the batteries and motors are made not inexhaustible and the extraction of raw material which is harmful to the environment.

Electric cars and environment

Electric cars ?? s in recent years become increasingly popular. Its use is strongly encouraged by the government, car manufacturers committed to electric versions of existing models or completely new models. Customers are interested in buying an electric car because gasoline has become too expensive and because such a car ?? n ?? green ?? has image. In 2014, sales of electric and hybrid vehicles in the Netherlands was 4% of the total new car sales ?? s. Most likely will continue to increase this share in the future. But the electric car really environmentally friendly? Several arguments show that electric cars are not the solution for a cleaner environment.

The whole life cycle

Why do people decide to buy an electric car? The most obvious reason is the savings on fuel and therefore money. A second important reason is the fact that so ?? s car is better for the environment, because it emits no CO2. However, it usually is not how the car was produced and no one knows what happens when one does his hand because he is exhausted. To get a complete picture of the pros and cons of an electric vehicle one must look at the whole picture: production, use, destination after use. The entire life cycle so.


Electric cars ?? s do not have any internal combustion engine but operate in an electric motor and a battery. In order to produce these electric motors, and batteries are needed as neodymium rare materials and lithium. The extraction of these metals is very environmentally. In particular, the lithium fabric has a very adverse impact on the environment. 55% of it was mined lithium produced in 2008 in the ?? ?? Lithium Triangle, an area with several salt lakes in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. However, the exploitation of lithium in the salt flats is bad for the environment, it consumes a lot of water and it is luchtverontreinigend because releasing toxic substances. Farmers in the area have been problems to grow crops and maintain their herds because of water shortage.
Another problem of electric vehicles is the fact that the battery weighs a lot and the trolleys thus makes heavier. Car manufacturers try to compensate for this problem by using lighter materials for other parts such as aluminum and carbon fiber composites. Unfortunately there is a lot of energy needed to produce these materials, which makes the ecological footprint of the electric car is again larger. The production of an electric motor and battery to give a CO2 emission of 13.6 tons, while for a conventional car is only a CO2 emission of 6.4 tons happened before he enters the showroom. Compared to a conventional car with a combustion engine, it has thus for the production of an electric vehicle more than double the amount of energy required before he only has his first kilometer driven.

Active phase

This disadvantage can be offset by the energy-friendly aspect during the active use of the electric car? Two elements are the defining factors:
  • If the electricity needed as an energy source, comes from renewable energy sources, then the CO2 emissions actually zero. According to the US Energy Information Administration, however, was achieved in 2012 only 22% of electricity worldwide from renewable sources. The electric car itself emits no exhaust fumes, but the electricity networks provide him do that unfortunately.
  • The environmentally friendly aspect of the electric car also depends on the number of kilometers he drove during his lifetime. According to a British study must have driven an electric car at least 129 000 kilometers before it across the line less CO2 than an ordinary car that has traveled as many kilometers.

Destination after use

What happens to the battery and the electric motor when the vehicle is used up? Can they be recycled? That could indeed but CO2 emissions from the recycling of electric car ?? s 400 kg higher than the recycling of conventional car ?? s. That does not seem so much more but it is double the amount of CO2 for the recycling of a car with a petrol engine. The carbon fiber composite materials to be recycled but it is a complex process that requires a lot of energy. In addition, recycled carbon fiber is not as strong and therefore no longer suitable for new car ?? s.


Seen over the whole life cycle is the CO2 emissions of an electric car is not so much smaller than people think. Production and recycling costs much more energy than a car on fuel. They are polluting processes that have an adverse impact on the environment. Moreover, you should first 129,000 km with your electric car ride, and only then you become a ?? green ?? director.
Proponents of electric cars argue that the biggest advantage lies in the fact that he has no exhaust emissions and that he would therefore be ideal for city use. In cities the air is already heavily polluted and with an electric car, the total CO2 emissions in the city still smaller and the city is liveable. But then you can ask the question again: we have in the city even need a car? In most cities, there is a well developed public transport and the bicycle is an excellent means of transport. So here lacks the electric car actually his goal.
As long as there is no better and cleaner technologies for the production of batteries, which no rare materials must be mined, and as long as there are no batteries with a much larger capacity, the purchase of an electric car makes little sense. It does not make you an environmentally responsible driver. If you really need a car, buy a better time being energy-efficient petrol car.