Are Electric Cars Actually Better For The Environment?

Are Electric Cars Actually Better For The Environment?

We’ve gotta get rid of these gas guzzlers
and switch to electric cars that plug into the land of rainbows and unicorns. Hi guys, Lissette here for DNews. Often called
“zero emissions” vehicles, electric cars are surely better for the environment, right?
Ehhh not so fast…Their entire life-cycle, from manufacture to use to disposal, needs
to be considered when determining their environmental impact. We can’t just look at their tailpipes.
So, taking everything into consideration, are electric vehicles actually better for
the environment than our old timey cars? The Union of Concerned Scientists, or UCS,
recently conducted a cradle to grave study to dig into this question, starting by comparing
the manufacturing of battery electric and petrol cars and materials and resources used.
They used a Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf to represent battery-electric vehicles, also
known as BEVS, and comparable midsize and fullsize gasoline cars. They found that before
they even hit the road – electric vehicles actually are responsible for about 1 ton more
emissions than their traditional counterparts. Yes, that’s a winning point for your gasoline
powered car. This is largely because of the BEVs lithium-ion
batteries, which require the extraction of rare earth metals… often through drilling…
just like with oil. Not a very eco-friendly activity. When it comes to disposing of BEVs, they don’t
seem to be any better than regular cars either. In fact, they may have a greater environmental
footprint because it’s tricky to dispose of their lithium ion batteries. But data here
is lacking. Now when on the road, BEVs don’t emit CO2,
but their batteries need to be charged from electricity that has to come from somewhere
– and this somewhere might have a CO2 output of its own. A report based on 2009 national
averages found that If the electricity is coming primarily from a country like India
where coal accounts for about 60% of electricity generated, your BEV ends up emitting C02 at
about the same levels as a 20 mpg car. In the US, where the fuel sources are cleaner,
this figure only rose to 40mpg – which is basically the average for a really efficient
petrol car. So, at this point you may be thinking, if electric cars pollute more when they’re
built, just about the same when they’re junked, and their battery charges can pollute
even more than an efficient gas car… then, of course electric vehicles aren’t greener. Figures from studies like this one are often
cited to make the case against electric vehicles. But, here’s the thing, since 2009 BEVs have
become more efficient and while India has added more coal powered plants, the US has
not, opting instead for renewable sources. Looking at 2015 data, the UCS determined that
BEVs in the US are now the equivalent of cars that go 68mpg. And in countries like Paraguay and Iceland,
the electricity is so clean that a BEV there would be like having a car that goes more
than 200 miles per gallon Their electricity grids are powered by more water, wind, and
solar energy, than other countries. When it comes to emissions, BEVs here are many times
better for the environment than petrol cars. What’s more, the longer you drive an electric
car, the better it stacks up against gas vehicles. The UCS found that basically, it you drive
an EV for a month, you might as well buy a car. But drive that puppy for 2 years and
you’re helping the environment. All said and done, the UCS found that electric
vehicles produce about 50 percent fewer emissions than a regular car in the US. Basically, the
comparative environmental benefits increase the more you drive and the cleaner the electricity
source. CTA video
Now, we are of course, only talking about global warming emissions, we’re not saying
that one type of car is better than another. You might have personal preference for other
reasons. Maybe you’re into salt powered cars. To learn more about those guys, check
out this episode here. River Monsters push
Now, if you’re a fan of the biggest and baddest water creatures, you can watch the
full, season premier of River Monsters online now. Just click the link in the video description
below and catch new episodes of Season 8 every Thursday on Animal Planet. What’s your favorite car? Do you prefer
petrol, electric, hybrid, diesel, something else? Share your thoughts in the comments and remember
to subscribe so you never miss an episode of DNews. Thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Are Electric Cars Actually Better For The Environment?

  • I still prefer the performance of my chevy volt over a typical gas-only car. Acceleration of electric cars is much smoother and faster for city driving anyway

  • Ok, this was really bad…
    1: Mention the respected study but only bring up the difference in absolute numbers, leaving out the actual percentage difference of CO2 during manufacturing. (7 tons vs 8 tons for EV)
    2: Don't look at the average CO2 cost for power production but bring up the worst examples.
    3: Compare the EV to an incomparable ICE car instead of the comparable cars used in the study.
    4: Bla bla bla.
    5: At the very end quickly and subtly mention the actual result of the study.
    I wondered who funded this double D news…


  • You dont have to be a scientist to realise that electricity is made by burning coal(huge CO2 emissionsthat you dont see released by your electric car because its released by powerplants) and destroying river ecosystems with dams.Any internal combustion car is much more efficient than best electric car .

  • Oh. Well personally mine is powered by solar with panels made by a factory… Powered by solar. I think im doing a hell of a lot better than what is portrayed here. That and im paying a whole lot less in maintenace bills. So all in all even if it was about as poluting as a petrol car, you still won't catch me driving a petrol car. Im saving money man! And we're talking thousands of dollars.

  • More greenhouse gas emissions are produced by snowflake liberal scumbags every time they open their ignorant mouths. So shut it and save the environment.

  • i stopped watching after 22 seconds. Yaaaaaaawn. They are called zero emission vehicles "at time of use." And no one is saying they are plugged into rainbows you silly girl. They are greener for countless obvious reasons. Which oil company or auto manufacturer asked you to make this video? lol

  • Thank you, finally someone reporting the truth. In Australia we only have coal and electricity is expensive. People do not understand to get a carbon free environment Nuclear is the only way to achieve it, well at this time anyway.

  • YOU WANT MY INFINITE BATTERY … Impossible? Electrons never die! Keys… Use two electron loving positive terminals… They love electrons at different strengths you get voltage drop or difference… Giving rise to power and current… Also either use compartments or electromagnets to separate charges of partially used batteries… MATH: say start with a positive ten terminal and feed it electron to say 9 positive… Once electrons are in the system we keep using them… Now use say a positive 100 terminal with the nine… Result… 99 positive and separated 0 terminal… Now the 10 positive has no electrons so use it with the 0… Result 9 and the zero turns to 1… Now the 9 and the 100 again… Cyclical… Electrons never die and never change in charge!!!!

  • Oh and use an electromagnetic field – don't touch it so it doesn't take the electrons only separates the charged particles… Or use compartments that are connected but don't let electrons through but does let through the electromagnetic waves…

  • A comment below suggests biking but the metal or carbon fibre that is needed to build the bike is still dug out of the ground and even worse have a look at china they are producing to many ride sharing bikes to the point where people have nowhere else to put it so they just dump them everywhere

  • I thought a gas car produced 16,000 tons and an electric car produced 25,000 when they roll off the production line.

  • Not every powerplant is coal there could be nuclear power which is just as bad or worse or there is steam plants where they basically boil water into a turbine of magnets and copper wire to conduct electricity which the plant only emits water vapor

  • While they mentioned it, they completely understated the ABSOULTELY ENORMOUS impact mining for the RARE Earth resources a battery for cars take. Not to mention we might run out of them, just as we might run out of oil.

  • my 1987 Suzuki Swift that I rescued from the scrap yard gets 40+ mpg lol. And when it dies you can take it apart and work on it and get it going again.

  • electric cars are better only for those who stay around the car itself
    but since electric cars rely on power plants (which burn coal) and those power plants emit mercury and alot of co2 you are making the city cleaner but the wildlife suffers trees and birds so you will have a clean city and a dirty lifeless mountain :/

  • Firstly you ignored how oil is gained. How they have dig huge massive holes in the earth and get deep in to the earth, not just a low level seriously deep, this causes loads of environmental issues. Oil isn't recyclable, meaning once it has been used it's gone, there is no getting it back. It's just gone. Lithium can be recycled to a high level. In fact a few large recycles believe they can recycle 100% of the battery meaning, that at a certain point in time, very little to no lithium will be needed from the ground. As everything is recycled. So long term no more damaged is caused.

    Additionally Oil constantly needs to be found in the earth. Causing massive amounts of sea destruction, oil spills, and also looking for oil on huge boats with high powered sound waves kills animals and destroys their environment. So it's a lot easier to get lithium without causing all this destruction.

    Long term it makes far more sense to focus on using renewable energy as a power source too, as very little to no maintenance is needed on renewable sustainable energy, when done right. So if humanity focuses on renewable sustainable energy as a power source, focuses on refining renewable sustainable energy power sources making them cleaner and more efficient, eventually we'll end up with a much cleaner world. As there will be next to no mining needed, a constant source of energy from the environment and, next to no gas emissions due to recycling batteries. Long term it makes more sense to go in this direction.

    There is also ways like algae to help deal with CO2, and I think humanity should look in to ways to clean up the atmosphere so that we have more control over the weather. I think this is also important. However electric vehicles are the future.

  • The solar panels and wind farms in Iceland had to be manufactured and are lifed so…. it never works… meh

  • So how is it more green? I lost that. It causes more polution to create lithium batteries but it's greener to have wind and solar sources and drill on an wider scale? Won't that cause even more polution?

  • After 5+ years li ion batteries die. After 12 years cars start to die. Making batteries = sulfuric acids in the eviroment instantly killing water life… and one car battery = 5 years of co2 driving petrol. It's better for your eletric bill and clean water supply to drive a bicycle/bio diese/petrol/gas car.

  • Once again your data is wrong the batteries can be harmful but if you look at how many parts on gas powered cars that donot get recycled and go right to a landfill site and all the fumes from exhaust and supporting the oli industry is terrible.
    I have over 25 years in waste management you should try and educate yourself instead of reading what your employer is telling you.

  • what about the fact that EV's have fewer moving parts and are supposed to last longer – isn't their disposal rate at factor – I plan on my EV being driven 50 years from now… And there are folks who charge their Ev with their own solar panels – my dream!

  • while evs are good for many reasons, co2 is not yet one. evs have to be built lighter which means from aluminum. that is far more energy intensive than steel. tucs also compare apples and pears using averages.

  • Electric cars have no effect on the environment as opposed to gas. If we switch to electric we are just going to be burning more coal , which means pollution

  • I love how the new updated data on the main resource (ucsusa, as of April 2018) completely contests their prior data. Read updates, my friends.

  • Sure, producing EV:s causes more Co2 emissions than ICE:s do. But EV:s become greener, as you drive them, which is not the case with ICE cars. You also need to take into consideration how much pollution is caused over ICE cars life cycle. You need to change oil every 15000km, the fuel needs to be pumped, refined and delivered, causing emissions. Oil seems to end up in some cases to oceans if the delivering ship has a leak or is sunken. After delivering the refined product to a gas station, ICE cars burn the product, releasing harmful compounds into the air, including carcinogens and co2. Those burned compounds increase the likelihood of developing cancer especially in larger cities. Not to mention that ICE cars are slower, louder and unreliable, when compared to EV:s. I have to use diesel car since I drive over 400km a day, but I wouldn't hesitate to switch to electric, when I could get a car that runs over 400km/charge.

  • It just coincides that the 58mpg figure in the States is the same figure the EU came up with for their next round of sh1t emission laws to drain our pockets /wallets and bank accounts of the last of our money , under the EU emissions laws we have 3 levels of road tax or VED if they are one & the same taxes ,buy a new car in 2017 it has the first years tax ,come the second year you tax will go up a lot come the 3rd year you could be paying thousands in road tax [VED] .

    My 1.6 Renault with an oil catch can has lower emissions than the newer one,i get 31+ around town and we have small towns and get 47 mpg on a run but i still have to pay our Jewish lead government £245 per road tax ,i have another modification that i have yet to fit i used it on a 1986 Ford Escort auto that cut the emissions right down but because my newer car is just crammed with emission sh1t i have to work on the room i need to install it ,i know it works because when i put on the old Ford the MOT bloke had to test the emissions twice because in his words he never saw one of those with such low emissions , even so i cant get a lower tax rating for it i just have a cleaner car ,and no this is not an advert buying into it ,its just an application i did with something when i was testing some equipment ,

    They are testing this same application on diesel engine systems but are having problems because of unit placement but i expect it wont take them to long to work it out . /UK

  • What a total bullshit. In the first two minutes you are already manipulating data and deceiving. "Just before they hit the road they use 1 more ton emissions than traditional counterparts.". 1) 1 ton, is actually not much, when you compare total cost of production. 2) You do not take into account that "traditional counterparts" manufacturing was optimized for decades. 3) The manufacturing costs of fossil fuel powered cars, is nothing compared to emissions during their use. 4) It completely ignores the hybrid cars.

    Average EV cars does produce less emissions during their lifetime. This is a fact. Some cars, in some states will completely offset their total CO2 emissions compared to comparable fossil fuel cars in less than 1 year! In some other state it might take 2-3 years. Well below expected lifetime of the car.

    Batteries can be both recycled, and repurposed with great success for use as stationary power storage. And they are indeed often used for electricity storage in homes, where they do not have performance of a new battery. Older batteries would not be useful in the electric car, because of lower range, and lower energy to weight ratio, but if battery has still 70% of the charge, and costs 1/4 of new battery, this is a bargain for home storage, where you can buy a lot of them, and weight is not a problem.

  • Lithium is not rare earth material. It is scarce, and was getting expensive, but it is not rare. The prices were increasing over last few years due to so big demand, that the mining industry was not prepared for. The mining industry reacted, new suppliers and new methods were developed. In this year prices dropped by 50%!! Also there are many new expansions and new mines opening in the world, mostly in Australia, South America, and some in Africa.

    Also. Yeah, like mining coal, gas and oil is any more environmentally friendly, with all its effects on environment, landscape, oil spills, accidents, leaking stuff to water, needing enormous mining, refining and transport infrastructure, etc. Lithium is probably more environmentally friendly if you take into account all facts.

  • The short answer is Yes, they are better for the environment.

    Long answer is also Yes, they are better for the environment.

    Video is inaccurate on so many fronts.

  • Price of Electric in the UK has gone up in the last year alone 2021 see,s the EU going for what they call unification of energy pricing that means its going up at the moment Eon a German company charge me on my new contract 17.44 pence per Kwh while in Germany they were charging them 30 euro cents per Kwh it dont take to many smarts to realize by 2021 the cost is going to be a lot higher than it is now .

    The Germans own the EU energy market and solar is not in it they want German made wind farms made supplied ,fitted and maintained by Germans !

  • They make it sound like people bury there cars when they are done with them. It doesnt matter how long you have the car, it matters how many miles the car gets over the lifetime of the components. And for this discussion, any polution creating, running, or repairing.

  • Union of Concerned Scientists are not actually Scientists… check their board and their education.. most don't even have a BS.. They are a leftest Enviro group. Where do you all think the massive amounts of RARE earth metals will come from ?

  • there is a large array of different internal combustion engines, ranging from large oceanic ships to CNG powered small cars (ships a creating much more emissions by the way), this means that U cant just use "gas engines" and go ahead and compare it too diverse… the best thing in all this is that nowadays the user can choose from a wide array of methods of propulsion and that is really good.

  • Your so wrong I know you can recycle a battery but only for so long but what are u gonna do with all the waste from the batteries and solar panels in a few hundred years when in builds up in the environment there highly toxic materials that take thousands of years to break down just like new clear waste u climate change delusionals have no idea and are setting the next generations up to be doomed

  • Where did India get into this? India has eround tenth the cars US has, and very little capital for people to buy newer ones.

  • I don’t know what to dooooo, batteries are bad in electric cars and we will run out of those materials and same with normal cars that take gas we are going to run out of fossils fuels are we just fucked?

  • Mining for lithium is destroying the environment! Hydrogen, waste vegetable oil is much better for the environment but your loving government doesn't want you to know that ! Because they can't tax it! When there is a shortage of lithium how much land would be destroyed? Don't forget the batteries will not last long!

  • I’m deciding wether I should get an electric or gas car to help the environment convince me on what should I get

  • VEGANISM IS 'SINGLE BIGGEST WAY' TO REDUCE OUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ON PLANET. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent. This is not about killing animals… Keeping animals for food increases the green house gases that pollute our planet.

  • BEVs running on 100% electricity from coal are still better than petrol cars due to the efficiency (gas cars lose energy as heat loss) and it is theoretically more simple to improve on filtration for a stationary power plant rather than a gas car that has to meet or beat mpg standards.

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