Are Electric Cars Actually That Eco-Friendly?

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electric cars
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The popularity of cars has grown massively to the point where it’s a major concern. It’s projected that two billion vehicles will be on the road by 2050, which will increase carbon emissions by 60 percent. However, many automakers are considering shifting towards more environmentally-friendly models. 

Thanks to many environmental activist groups pressing the need to reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles, many car companies have decided to focus on electric automobiles. 

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During the past couple of years, EVs have rapidly gained popularity as a good alternative to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. They’ve become more well-known as the world desperately tries to reduce carbon emissions. 

It’s worth noting that even though they have unique benefits, EVs still have some drawbacks. Let’s find out more about them and see if they are actually safe for the environment.

What Are EVs And How Do They Work?

electric cars
Image Credits: Unsplash

For the majority of people who are used to pumping petrol to travel from point A to point B, plugging in their vehicle to charge, much like a phone, is a new concept. But who can blame them? EVs have dashboards that resemble massive smartphones, making them look futuristic.

You might find this information shocking, but electric cars have existed just as long as gasoline-powered cars. However, they were less popular than fuel models back in the day. Here are the basics of how these cars work. 

What Is An Electric Car?

Just like your typical car, an EV starts with an ignition, accelerates with the gas pedal, and stops with the brakes. The main difference from a gas-fueled car is the design of its motor.

EVs are powered by lithium batteries which must be recharged using a charging station. It’s similar to the laptops and phones that you use. When these devices are low on charge, you have to charge them fully to use them again.

How Do They Work?

A fully electric car doesn’t need gasoline, diesel, or gears to travel at lower or higher speeds. Instead, pressing the accelerator powers the motor from an electric battery. The motor turns the wheels from the drive shafts. 

Furthermore, when you use the brakes, the energy generated in the motor is transferred back to the battery, allowing it to hold an electric charge longer. 

Even though they are similar, here are a few key differences between gas-powered automobiles and electric vehicles:

  • EVs are much quieter than fuel-powered cars. 
  • Electric vehicles accelerate faster and don’t need gears to shift speeds. 
  • EVs are cheaper to run than gasoline cars because of their energy efficiency.

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Now that you know what an EV is and how it works, let’s see if it helps the environment or causes more harm.

Are Electric Vehicles Greener Than Gasoline Automobiles?

Because no fuel is burned, EVs don’t produce CO2 emissions from their tailpipes. However, they still need electricity. This might sound good, but most of the electricity in the United States (about 60%) comes from fossil fuel sources.

To know if EVs are harmful, you need to compare the number of fossil fuels used to operate a normal car to that used to charge your electric vehicle. 

This varies a lot depending on the region. For example, using or charging an EV in Iceland would nearly eliminate emissions. This is due to the country’s reliance on renewable energy sources, including solar, hydro, geothermal, and wind.

So even though electric cars use fossil fuels, they still have a lower carbon footprint than gasoline vehicles. Furthermore, they are more beneficial in areas that use renewable energy.

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Do EVs Harm Our Environment?

Even though an electric automobile has no emissions, the mining process for lithium-ion batteries generates a lot of greenhouse gasses. It will only get worse as more people buy EVs. One electric car requires 8 to 10 metric tons of CO2 to be produced.

The number of greenhouse gasses required to extract the raw materials used to make batteries will increase as the number of EVs in use increases. Smaller batteries may hold as little as two tons, while bigger batteries can produce up to 17 tons of CO2. When it comes to CO2,  the typical manufacture of an EV generates around seven metric tons of CO2. This is equivalent to the carbon footprint of around a million cars.

Recycling batteries is the only option to reduce significant greenhouse emissions, but doing so has a price. Batteries are more difficult to store than plastic. They tend to catch fire because of the volatility of the elements they contain.  

Hopefully, car manufacturers will find a way to resolve the battery issue. There’s already a rumor that many are trying to produce safer batteries that won’t damage the environment.

Conclusion

Compared to gas-powered automobiles, EVs are more eco-friendly. However, they can still be harmful to the environment and might cause a lot of damage in the years to come if left unchecked. As technology advances, the manufacture of electric cars may improve and become greener. But until then, we’ll have to work with what we have.

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