Are Electric Vehicles Bad for the Environment?
Electric vehicles are swiftly becoming a reality, and not just a pipe dream. This does not mean that it comes without issues and hurdles. The US, and the world at large, have been far too dependent on fossil fuels for far too long. This means that with advancements in electric cars, there are people who don’t know or understand what this means for the fossil fuel industry.
Fossil fuels are known to cause harmful emissions, to both people and the environment. That being said, batteries have their own set of environmental issues. Instead of gaseous waste and carbon deposits, it’s swapped for mineral mining, and a huge issue regarding recycling the batteries. Not to mention charging said batteries requires fossil fuels to create the energy in the first place.
There are a lot of misnomers and misconceptions regarding the rise of electric vehicles, so we here at Virota are going to come up with a comprehensive guide to understanding electric vehicles and what they mean for the future of the automotive industry and the consumer.
Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment than Regular Cars?
There’s a lot of misinformation and unguided judgment out there regarding electric vehicles, and whether or not they are ‘clean’ for the environment. The answer is no, they are not ‘clean’, EVs can cause some real damage to the countries that they are produced in, and the mining of these rare earth metals pours carbon into the atmosphere. But does that mean that they are not worth it?
No, according to the ICCT, the effects of mining and manufacturing the batteries and their carbon emissions are strictly related to the places they are manufactured and the efficiency of the mining. EVs manufactured in China, for instance, produce 60% more carbon than their counterparts in the US and Europe.
However, the carbon emissions are still on par with, if not slightly more than, the production of a gas vehicle. This is true but often taken out of context. Once the EV is manufactured and put into use, the carbon emissions from the battery and production stop there, while gas engines need fossil fuels until the day they end up in the junkyard.
Do Electric Cars Use Gas to Charge?
Another talking point you may see is that even though you never need to fill up your gas tank again, you’re still using gas in a roundabout way. This talking point is somewhat true. At the moment, there isn’t a great way to efficiently charge your car with renewable energy, so most charging stations are still in one way or another attached to the grid at large.
But what does that mean? While it’s not entirely free of the stain from carbon emissions, it’s significantly better than a gas-powered vehicle. On average, an EV emits the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, per charge, as a normal gas vehicle getting 80 MPG would. Currently, on the market, there is one gas vehicle that can do that, and it’s only sold in Japan.
All in all, yes, an electric car will use and burn fuel, just in a different way than your petrol engines. While it is far from a perfect solution to the issue, it’s a step in the right direction. The next problem to solve is producing and properly storing renewable energy, which at the moment is stopped by our ability to store the energy and use it when needed. The current grid we use upticks production on the fly, while renewable energy needs to be stored to be used.
Is it Worth it to Own an Electric Car?
Is it worth your time and money to own an electric car? Well, at the moment, it depends on where you live and how you’re going to use it. If you live in a rural area, it’s probably not the greatest idea. If you have an electric car, finding people that know how to, and are allowed to, safely work on your car is a pain. You want to keep your warranty as long as you can, because, at the moment, there isn’t an aftermarket scene for EVs yet.
How close is your nearest charging station? Can you feasibly install a charger at your home? Charging is getting much faster, but it still has its limitations. It’s also the cheapest if you can charge at your own home, at night during cheaper electricity hours. Doing this is fairly easy, but at cost, so remember this is a must if you’re looking at buying an electric car.
If you live in a rural area, with few options to recharge or repair your new EV but you want to do your best to lower your carbon footprint, there is a simple solution. The best thing you can do is keep driving your beater. The initial footprint of making it is already done, and you’re not encouraging more by buying a new vehicle. With proper maintenance, love, and care, you can get a lot of quality miles out of that beater, then trade it up to a hybrid or an efficient vehicle.
Will Driving an Electric Car Pay Off?
Short answer: yes. The tide is changing and we’re heading towards a time when most cars made will be electric. It’s the logical choice and the best in the long run, but there are kinks to iron out. We need better batteries, better renewable sources to draw from, and most importantly, cheap repairs that can be done safely.
Short answer: no. At the moment, unless you can afford it, it is not worth it to switch over. Keep driving your dailies and keep up to date with electric cars and their advancements. Soon we will have a sustainable way for us all to have them. Patience is key!