How environment friendly are electric vehicles (EV)

The initial amount of CO2 produced during the production of an EV is much higher than that of an ICE.

BHPian brt_mhn recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I am pretty sure that at some point, you have come across an ad for an EV where no matter who the manufacturer is, they all try to paint the same picture. “If you buy an EV, you will be green and economical. You will not have to worry about battery recycling. There is also enough range in our EV for you to go road tripping.”

With more and more people making the switch to electric Vehicles, it is time we address something that polarizes opinions. How clean are EVs? How cost effective are EVs? How long will the batteries last? Can you road-trip in an EV? I will attempt to answer all these questions in this post by splitting them into sections.

Are they really cleaner than traditional ICE cars?

The three biggest complaints against EVs are as follows:

  • In a country like India, all the electricity used to run them comes from coal.
  • The mining of alkali metals used in batteries cause significant harm to the environment.
  • The initial amount of CO2 produced during the production of an EV is much higher than that of an ICE.

All these are definitely very true. But as with anything, there is always a catch. And here, the catch is time. See, good things come to those who wait and truthfully so. Over time, an EV will always be cleaner than an ICE.

Let’s take an example considering identical cars- the MG Astor and its twin, the MG ZS EV

Emissions caused before the cars even leave the factory:

  • MG Astor: ~7 metric tonnes.
  • MG ZS EV: ~12 metric tonnes (higher due to mining activities for batteries).

Difference= 5 metric tonnes.

Emissions caused due to using the car:

  • ICE: 0.000277 metric tonnes per km.
  • EV: 0.000135 metric tonnes per km.

Therefore, difference per km = 0.000142 metric tonnes/km.

To hit break-even point, you’ll need to drive exactly 35,211.26 km.

Are they really more cost effective than ICE cars?

While everybody’s use case is different here, the best thing I can do is compare the facts and figures which we have obtained from our 2021 ZS EV to that of an Astor.

Considering the following data for this purpose:

  • On road price of MG Astor Smart Turbo AT: 19.32 lakh
  • On road price of MG ZS EV Excite (as purchased by us including zero road tax): 22 lakh.

Difference= 2.68L

Monthly running: 650 km/mo:

  • MG Astor mileage: 16.5 kmpl.
  • MG ZS EV range: 380 km.

The Astor’s fuel consumption over a month will be 39.4 liters and will cost 4728/mo.

The cost of charging the ZS EV at home @Rs 8/kWh is roughly 605.2/mo.

The difference is 4122.8/mo.

So, the break-even point here will be 42,252.84 km after which you will save (at the current prices of fuel and electricity) 4122.8/mo.

How long will the batteries last?

While we are still treading into unknown waters here, most manufacturers provide a warranty of 8 years/1,60,000 km warranty on their batteries. Also, data from Tesla suggests that their batteries have retained around 90% of their initial capacity after 3,22,000 km. So, there is really no cause for panic or concern.

The only grey area here is battery replacement costs but with localization, I feel the price can only come down.

Can you road-trip in an EV?

The answer to this question is completely up to you. I cannot tell you to switch immediately because of my positive experience. There will definitely be some downers too. The best I can do is link a few posts from our forum members here:

  • Brt_mhn
  • docelectric2020
  • Rossiter
  • Kernelmann
  • mohanphadnis

Conclusion:

While the benefits of an EV might not be apparent immediately, over time, they will make their presence felt over the long run.

Limitations of study:

  • Most of the data used comes from the USA due to lack of sufficient information in India.
  • Data for amount of greenhouse gases produced by making a C2 SUV was estimated based on a USA subcompact car (The ZS is classified as one in the USA).
  • This study was conducted with an absolute worst case scenario for EVs, namely, the highest possible amount of emission of greenhouse gases during production of batteries. Best case scenario would be around 2.5-3 metric tonnes for a 44.5 kWh battery. It also considers that 100% of the electricity used was produced by burning coal.

References:

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