According to the study, an electric car owner would have to drive at least 80,000 miles before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 90 miles on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 100,000 would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.
Much of the CO2 produced by electric cars is produced in the process of manufacturing the batteries.
The study was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which is jointly funded by the British government and the car industry. It found that a mid-size electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a similar petrol car. Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.
Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.
Greg Archer, director of Low CVP, said the industry should state the full lifecycle emissions of cars rather than just tailpipe emissions, to avoid misleading consumers. He said that drivers wanting to minimise emissions could be better off buying a small, efficient petrol or diesel car. “People have to match the technology to their particular needs,” he said.
This study make you wonder why the United States is creating a market for a product where the is no demand and no ecological advantage.
Much of the electric and hybrid car business is in the US are subsidized by the US Govt.In 2010, one fourth of GM and Ford’s hybrids were purchased by the federal government. Nissan got a $1.4 billion dollar loan from the feds to develop their electric car, the Leaf. Several thousands of dollars in tax credits per car have to be shelled out to make these models attractive for sale.