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What conspiracy theorists do not say: the true electric car emissions over the entire life cycle

BNEF calculates electric car LCA emissions in UK, Germany, USA, China and Japan

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Among the many arguments that use by those who are convinced that electric cars are a conspiracy to make us all poorer and make money behind our backs is one for which EVs would pollute even more than diesel and petrol cars if you consider also the materials of which are facts. The value chain of EVs would be dirtier than endothermic vehicles. This is the wrong statement: LCA electric car emissions are up to 70% less than conventional cars.

This was calculated by the latest BloombergNEF report dedicated to the accurate analysis of every single step of the EV lifecycle. From the average battery size by region to the emissions during battery production, from greenhouse gases related to the electricity needed to assemble vehicles to day and night charging trends.

How many LCA emissions do electric cars have?

The big difference is where EVs are used. But even in countries with the most fossil-related electric mix, LCA electric car emissions are much lower than equivalent models powered by diesel and petrol. Even in China, where in 2023 coal – the most polluting fossil – occupied 60% of the electricity mix, and where to date 6 out of 10 EVs are produced worldwide.

BNEF’s analysis compares medium-sized conventional cars with similar electric vehicles produced in 2023, both with 250,000 km of mileage. The Chinese scenario is the worst with LCA emissions of electric cars reaching 29.2 tCO2, but they remain much lower than those of diesel and petrol cars reaching 40.68 tCO2: 27% less. Similar situation for Japan, where EV and ICE reach 27 and 39 tCO2 respectively. Tokyo-based EVs also have a calculated 31% lower life cycle impact.
The advantage in terms of emissions becomes much more evident when you move to Europe. In Britain, which has been at the lowest levels of coal use in electricity generation since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution for some years, the EVs beat ICE by 71%, 9.36 versus 32.46 tCO2. In Germany, where many car manufacturers and gigafactories for EV batteries are concentrated, electric cars pollute 56% less than ICE throughout their entire life cycle.

Both in London and in Berlin the footprint of the production of cars EV and ICE is similar and the real difference is the emissions related to the use of vehicles, that is the share of renewables that electric cars draw compared to fossil fuels for diesel and petrol. In the UK we are talking about 1.7 against 29.6 tCO2, in Germany of 5.77 against 35.29 tCO2. As in Germany, even in the United States, the advantage of electric cars over conventional ones is close to 60%.

Those who nurture the idea of obscure plots around electric cars usually focus only on one side of the emissions: as soon as they exit the factory EVs have a higher footprint than EICs because of the greenhouse gases related to batteries. But cars don’t stay in dealers, they go on the road. The question to be answered, then, is: after how many kilometers does an electric car start to become cheaper? According to BNEF, in a market like the US, after 40,000 km or just over 2 years given the average uses of Americans.

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