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Are EV Vehicles ‘Green’?

Don Wyeth

Are EV Vehicles ‘Green’?

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2 mins
November 30, 2021

On the surface, this question appears to be patently obvious. After all, EVs use electricity for their power, while standard automobiles use gasoline, right? But it should come as no surprise that there are other significant factors involved that should be considered. One of those factors, I was surprised to discover, is the production of greenhouse gases from the manufacturing process of lithium batteries, which are used in EVs. 

The other major consideration revolves around the fact that, currently, the ultimate source of electricity coming into the EV charging stations is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. However, overall, “[e]xperts broadly agree that electric vehicles create a lower carbon footprint over the course of their lifetime than do cars and trucks that use traditional, internal combustion engines.” cnbc.com. As the source of electricity is switched from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar, the carbon footprint will become significantly smaller.

Engine efficiency also needs to be considered. “AEVs (all-electric vehicles) are far more efficient than conventional gas-powered vehicles: AEV batteries convert 59 to 62 percent of energy into vehicle movement while gas powered vehicles only convert between 17 and 21 percent.energysage.com. This increase of motor efficiency simultaneously, saves money and makes for a cleaner atmosphere.

Early on, just after Tesla its their hat in the ring, I remember hearing the argument that EVs had lower acceleration rates and overall slower speeds. This turns out to be a myth. “EVs accelerate faster than gas-powered cars and have more than enough speed for every-day usage. The reason for this is that electric motors are much simpler than internal combustion engines. …” blog.wallbox.com. I can personally attest that this is true. My friend Chad purchased one of the first Tesla model Xs and offered me a ride. He stepped on the accelerator pedal and we went from 0 to 60 miles an hour in about four seconds. I literally got pushed back into my seat. That's pretty darn good acceleration! 

The technical reason that gas- and diesel-powered cars are less efficient than an EV is that the power generated by a fossil fuel engine must be passed through a gearbox, where a portion of its energy is lost.

A primary advantage of an EV when compared to a gas-driven car is fuel cost. “Paying $0.10 per kW is the equivalent of driving on gasoline that costs less than $1 per gallon. …” moval.org Some other pluses are that the EVs are 1) more environmentally friendly, 2) require less maintenance than a regular gas engine, and 3) have overall better performance.

As you can see, the idea of electric vehicles can be one piece of the puzzle for moving toward a greener world. It's just going to take some realistic thinking and planning ahead to make it work the way we want it to.


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Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.

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