How green are electric cars really?
Living in the Netherlands, a couple years ago we saw a massive uprising in Tesla's on our roads. Massive subsidies from our government for electric cars meant you could drive an entry-level Tesla Model S very cheaply. So cheaply in fact, that it only cost about 188 euros of monthly pay, and you would be saving the polar bears just by driving around in it.
Dutchies currently leasing a Tesla for 5 years, make the government miss out on about seventy thousand euros for each Model S. Can you imagine all the poor governmental workers looking at electric cars on the road as they pass by? This year they changed the rules slightly however, but I can still imagine them frowning.
But are you actually saving the world when driving one?
Err, or charging
Before people can actually drive a car, it needs to be built. This costs many resources like any other car, but even more so in an electric one as there are a lot of batteries in it. These batteries consist out of multiple materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, which are imported from all over the world by ordinary boat transport..
Then after a car has done its part by having many peoples' bottoms sit in its seats as they are mainly used as Taxi's, they need to be scrapped or recycled. So what about recycling? Tesla says it recycles about 60% of the materials and reuse about 10% of them, and are improving on that. Before they can recycle though, the batteries need to be shipped to their facilities.
So it seems that there is a lot more shipping parts around to make, maintain and scrap these cars in comparison to regular cars. But how much does that increase the capital cost? Apparently only 16% more resources go into the building of the cars in comparison to regular cars.
But the energy people put in is green, so the polar bears aren't doomed, right?
Look at this Nissan Leaf owner being viciously attacked by a Polar bear in this commercial.
Electricity factories to process lignite, hard coal or gas to create the electricity you put into the batteries. Now of course there are renewable energy sources like wind or solar energy, but the capital cost to make these types of energy is still high and only a tiny percentage of what we use now is actual green energy. To give an example, only 2,2 percent of the energy in the Netherlands is actually green. So the only solution would be to have your car charging for a while on a sunny day if you want to drive actual green energy.
The only source I did not mention so far is nuclear, a source which many people disagree with, probably because of the two disasters, or that it's scary in general. What many people do not know however is that nuclear energy is actually by far and away the safest form of energy. Other energy sources like coal pollute the air heavily, which indirectly results in deaths, many more than nuclear so far.
Though this all is not enough to offset the pollution a regular car makes over it's lifetime. Yes, an electric car costs more resources to build, though this small margin is apparently quickly offset when driving them. So much so, that an electric cars' total carbon footprint is almost half of that of a regular car over its life!
Are you doing yourself a favor by driving one?
The beautiful Porsche Taycan concept.
That that sounds pretty good, but what about the drive? You often hear the 'ludicrous mode' is great, but when are you using that really? I did sit in a Tesla one time, but I found the interior finishing bad and a bit boring, and you sometimes hear that an EV feels lifeless unless you're putting your foot down. Still, I am enthusiastic about the upcoming EV cars, such as the Taycan or E-Tron GT. I think these cars will give us petrol heads something to finally be excited about in an electric car other than the 0-60 acceleration.
I started writing this story with a skepticism for electric cars, which I don't have anymore. It had something to do with me enjoying my M235i a lot. I do like the idea of electric cars, but I often have to drive long distances for the job, and when I don't have to then I can cycle to work. So far driving to Switzerland is going to take me some time unfortunately. However, the manufacturers are improving their charging speeds and ranges, so perhaps sometime in the next years it will be interesting for long drives as well.
So, yes, electric cars cost more to produce, but driving them is actually better for the polar bears. That polar bear should actually be cuddling the man! Something I didn't know of, as electricity costs capital resources to make as well, but not as much as petrol it seems. I would like to see an increase in green energy or nuclear, as coal, gas or lignite are polluting the air too much.