Are electric cars really green?

We are seeing an explosion of different electric vehicles, which could mean the future of driving.

Electric cart charging

Electric vehicles have become popular for their positive impact on the environment. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Son los coches eléctricos realmente ecológicos?

The future of the automobile industry seems to be oriented towards electric cars . We constantly see that more and more brands are starting to develop cars from this new sector. For example, GQ Magazine mentions the new Lucid Motors Air, which offers 1,080 horsepower and up to 827 kilometers of range to compete with Tesla.

Precisely Tesla, according to what the Hybrid and Electric website highlights, is seeking to have "quieter cars." This occurs within the framework of favoring the environment, but also of being able to improve the comfort of drivers. In this first sense, we must ask ourselves: are electric vehicles truly ecological?

If we take into account that, according to what La Vanguardia reported, the electric car is "gaining momentum" to accelerate the reconversion of the sector, we must evaluate whether this class of vehicles is truly environmentally friendly or not. 

Electric vehicles and the environment

From El País they recently opined that there is a "paradox" with respect to the electric car. In other words, the production of new models means that nickel is stealing the limelight from cobalt, although that is not exactly a good thing for the care and protection of the environment.

Nickel is a crucial component in the cathode of lithium-ion batteries that allow these vehicles to function, since 95% of batteries in electric cars depend on it, according to a study by IDTechEX. The problem is that nickel is, in its nature, combined with arsenic, antimony and sulfur as sulfur.

Hence, the producers have to do different tests so that the concept of "ecological car" can be real. However, it is not the only problem. For example, from the specialized environment of Ecologists in Action they believe that, in any case, there will be an environmental impact of the electric car.

In other words, the production of batteries requires metals, which are strongly associated in their practices with environmental impacts. This is due to the depletion of mineral resources, along with human toxicity. Therefore, one way or another, there will be a need for an industry that seems not to respect the environment.

Also read: Virtual reality forests could help understanding of climate change

Another drawback would be, from the perspective of the specialized Parabrisas website, with the particles in suspension. According to a report by the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom, pollution from cars comes not only from exhaust pipes, but also from the use of brakes and the friction of tires against the asphalt, which would also occur in electrical cars. 

There also seems to be some misinformation regarding the carbon footprint left by electric cars, as we often hear that they "don't emit carbon dioxide." Actually, from Revista Energía they explain that electricity comes from coal, which is why, in one way or another, gases will be emitted.

Even the Autopista website reveals that, according to a study by the Ifo Institute in Munich in Germany, electric cars would emit more CO2 than diesel cars. In other words, the idea of “zero emissions” does not take into account the manufacture of batteries and the production of the vehicle itself, in addition to the origin of the electrical energy. Therefore, the premise seems to be wrong.

If we take into account that, for Xataka, the future of electric cars is at stake "in the coming years", we must be clear about what this production model implies. Sometimes, sales strategies can be somewhat misleading or biased, despite the benefits that electric charging would bring to vehicles.