A team of scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology recently decided to investigate the overall environmental impact of electric vehicles.
Thus, they focused on more than just what happens when these cars hit the highways: they looked into how the electricity that powers them is produced, and into how the entire process of manufacturing EVs affects the natural world.
As was to be expected, this study
found that, as long as the energy needed in order to keep EVs up and running is generated by means of technologies most environmentalists frown upon, there really is no big difference between these vehicles and one's run-off-the-mill gasoline or diesel cars.
Still, the most interesting piece of information this report brought forth is that, more often than not, the process of manufacturing an EV harms the environment far more that the production of a gasoline or diesel powered car.
Apparently, this is because of the materials and the technologies employed in the making of batteries and electric motors for these vehicles.
“For all scenarios, human toxicity potential (HTP), mineral depletion potential (MDP), and freshwater eco-toxicity potential (FETP) are caused primarily by the supply chains involved in the production of vehicles,” reads the report.
Furthermore, “The supply chains involved in the production of electric powertrains and traction batteries add significantly to the environmental impacts of vehicle production.”
As well as this, it seems that most of the time EVs only deliver an average 10-24% reduction in terms of the overall greenhouse gas emissions directly linked to the driving experience, due to the fact that the electricity needed in order to power them is quite often provided by power mixes that also encompass gasoline or fracked shale gas.
However, making sure one's EV is powered by renewables first and foremost is a sure way to truly keep an eye on environmental protection, and also fight back the initial negative consequences of the manufacturing process.