An introduction to electric vehicles and emissions research

April 28th, 2020

People often ask about the environmental impact of building and driving electric vehicles. Let’s be abundantly clear: manufacturing anything requires physical resources and energy. A sure way to reduce environmental impacts is to reduce consumption. In transportation, that can be achieved using public transit or micro-mobility where possible.

Key points

It’s no revelation that battery packs require energy and materials to build, and therefore electric vehicles have associated emissions from manufacturing. Everyone knows this. But let’s make a few other things clear:

  • The emissions from manufacturing are largely dependent on the cleanliness of the power grid where batteries are made. Those grids are becoming cleaner, so the upfront emissions are decreasing.
  • Electric motors are very efficient at moving vehicles around. Electric cars will produce fewer emissions than gas cars over their lifetimes regardless of how the electricity is made. Yes, studies have measured the emissions: even in a coal-powered grid, it’s better to drive an electric vehicle than a gas vehicle.
  • As electric grids become cleaner, so do the electric vehicles in those grids. An improvement in power production instantly becomes a benefit to all the vehicles using that power.

In B.C., we have a very clean grid powered by hydro electricity. Operating an electric car produces zero emissions from the vehicle itself and almost nothing from power production. This makes B.C. an ideal place to reduce transportation emissions with electric vehicles.

Research

If you want to look into the topic further, get started with the articles linked below. Should you have any questions about owning an EV or living the electric life, send them our way at info@pluginbc.ca