Another critical consideration is that auxiliary power consumption (and hence the need for charging) can be more significant in EVs than compared to internal combustion engines. This includes or systems such as heating and air conditioning.
The impact on the energy consumption of most auxiliary systems, e.g. B. Refrigerated air conditioning, appear to be roughly comparable for internal combustion engines and electric vehicles.
However, EVs must use electricity from the battery to provide heat, unlike internal combustion engines, which can recycle engine exhaust heat. In one study, the heater increased energy consumption by 40% in a Nissan LEAF test, from 13.1 to 18.3 kWh/100 km (equivalent to 39-55 gCO2e/km under typical driving conditions).
Therefore, the efficiency advantage of electric vehicles over internal combustion engines is reduced in cold climates where heating of the passenger compartment and other components is required.
5. EV end-of-life could be a looming problem
As we’ve already discussed, electric vehicles contain many potentially toxic chemicals that, if not treated appropriately when a car is scrapped, could be a ticking environmental time bomb. One of the main problems is of course the batteries.
The Guardian discussed this looming problem in 2021 when it reported that millions of electric car batteries would be phased out over the next decade.
According to this, more than 12 million tons of lithium-ion batteries are to be phased out between 2021 and 2030.
The production of these batteries not only uses many raw materials such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, the mining of which affects the climate, the environment and human rights, but also threatens to generate a mountain of raw materials when they reach the end of their useful life .
To reduce reliance on mining and keep materials circulating, experts have warned that rigorous planning for what will happen to batteries at the end of their useful life must be in place before the problem manifests itself.
Be it effective recycling or, as most experts hope, reuse or refurbish the batteries. In fairness, this is also a problem for traditional lead-acid batteries in traditional vehicles, but the end-of-life processes for internal combustion engines are very mature.
“There’s a lot [battery] Capacity left at the end of the first use in electric vehicles,” Jessika Richter, an environmental policy researcher at Lund University, told the Guardian. While they’re not helpful for electric vehicles, they could be used for other things like excess solar or wind storage. Innovation in this area is expected to gain momentum over the next few years as electric vehicles become more popular.
Other parts, such as electric motors, DC/AC converters, bodywork, tires, glass, wiring, etc., can be recovered and reused in a similar way to a regular car. Other parts, such as lubricants, paints, oils, etc. are also a perennial issue for decommissioned combustion engines, but can also be handled in an environmentally friendly manner.
Are there really emission-free cars?
The previously cited peer-reviewed life cycle study comparing conventional and electric vehicles found that the claimed benefits of electric vehicles in generating reduced CO2 emissions appear to be somewhat exaggerated.
For starters, the energy expended in building an electric car, particularly in the extraction and processing of raw materials needed for the battery and other components, accounts for nearly half of the vehicle’s lifetime carbon emissions.
This compares unfavorably to building a petrol-powered car, which is responsible for 17% (as quoted above) of the vehicle’s lifetime carbon emissions (although this is partly because internal combustion engines emit far more CO2 over their lifetime, so building makes less or much more off). A new electric vehicle (EV) emits 30,000 pounds (13,608 kg) of carbon dioxide before entering the showroom.
The equivalent weight of CO2 used to make a typical automobile is 14,000 pounds (6,350 kg).
The amount of fuel used to generate electricity used to charge an electric vehicle’s battery determines how much carbon dioxide the vehicle emits while driving. When generated primarily by coal-fired power plants, this electricity produces about 15 ounces (425 grams) of carbon dioxide per kilometer driven, which is three times more than a comparable gasoline-powered car. This will change as energy mixes include greener sources such as nuclear, traditionally cited solar, wind, etc.
But that would also require simple calculations of the life-cycle carbon intensity of production for these power generation systems. But that’s a story for another time.
Suppose an electric vehicle (EV) is driven 50,000 miles (80,467 km) over its lifetime, regardless of the type of electricity used to charge the batteries. In this case, the electric vehicle released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than a comparable-sized gasoline-powered car that traveled the same number of kilometers.