The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has published a lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles with a variety of powertrains. All-electric battery power is the clear winner.
The study looked at cars from cradle-to-grave, including emissions created from production. Even with the inclusion of production emissions, a battery powered car is far and away better for the environment over the course of its lifetime than any other powertrain.
The stats rundown as follows. At the top of the list are EVs, producing only 97 gCO2e/vkm, with the rest of the list following as would be expected. Plug-in hybrids come in at 128 gCO2e/vkm, hydrogen fuel cell at 169, and finally petrol at 275 gCO2e/vkm - a pretty stark difference compared to an EV.
An electrified future
The future for EVs is even brighter. Improvements in battery tech are already in the pipeline, increasing both range and efficiency. Battery manufacturing is also rapidly ramping up. Mega-factories such as the upcoming £200m Britishvolt facility will push battery prices down, and improve production efficiency - using less energy to produce the batteries in the first place.
Even when the battery is no longer fit for use in an electric vehicle, they can be used for energy storage, giving the battery packs a new lease for life. It’s long been a myth that once an EV is discarded, the batteries end up in landfill and cause more damage to the environment than the emissions saved. Plus, battery degradation is pretty unsubstantial. There’s plenty of evidence that high-mileage EVs lose only a small percentage of their capacity, often equating to a negligible reduction in range.
Another aspect is how our electricity is produced. Currently, energy to the National Grid is provided heavily by gas. The mix of energy production differs depending on which time of the day an EV is charged, with peak times currently relying more heavily on fossil-fuels (read our Smart Charging Guide to see how you increase your green charging credentials and save money!).
But clean energy is on the increase. Demand for green electricity is surging and it’ll only be a matter of time before the grid de-carbonises. Once the grid transfers over to renewable sources, the carbon cost to recharge an EV will significantly reduce.
Taking all of the above factors into account, OZEV predict that by 2050, the reduction in lifetime greenhouse gases of an EV could be as much as 81%.