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Are EVs as ‘Green’ as They Appear

June 5, 2021

By Paul Homewood


h/t Ian Magness


Yet another study finds that “whole of life” carbon footprint of electric cars is little different to conventional cars:




April 14th 2021, Jefferies published a research note entitled “Are EVs as ‘Green’ as They Appear?” in which they conclude an electric vehicle must be driven 200,000 km (or 124,000 miles) before its “whole of life” carbon emissions equals that of an internal combustion engine.

Their analysis is very similar to ours and details the tremendous amount of energy (and by extension CO2) needed to manufacture a lithium-ion battery. Moreover, they point out that a typical EV is on average 50% heavier than a similar internal combustion engine, requiring more steel and aluminium in the frame. They conclude the “embedded carbon” in an EV (i.e., when it rolls off the lot) is therefore 20–50% more than an internal combustion engine.

Our analysis suggests a modern lithium-ion battery has approximately 135,000 miles of range before it degrades to the point of becoming unusable. An extended-range Tesla Model 3 has an 82 kWh battery and consumes approximately 29 kWh per 100 miles. Assuming each charge cycle has a ~95% round-trip efficiency and a battery can achieve 500 cycles before starting to degrade, we conclude a Model 3 can drive 134,310 miles before dramatically losing range. Incidentally, Tesla’s Model 3 warranty covers the battery for the lesser of eight years or 120,000 miles and does not apply until the battery has degraded by at least 30%. If the Jefferies analysis is correct (and we believe it is), then an EV will reach carbon-emission parity with an internal-combustion vehicle just as its battery requires replacement. This will come as a huge disappointment for those believing that EV adoption will have significant impacts on CO2 reduction.

It needs to be emphasised that these figures assume that the energy required to produce and charge electric cars is still mainly fossil fuel sourced. This will certainly remain the case for a long time in China, where many of the materials will come from. Even in Europe, renewable energy will make little inroad in the foreseeable future, particularly in steelmaking.

One other factor also needs to be taken into account – increasing fuel efficiency of petrol/diesel cars.

  1. eromgiw permalink
    June 5, 2021 10:30 am

    I happened to see an ad for a new VW EV that boasted it was zero carbon. Then the small print stated this was only up to the point it left the dealer!

    • Derek W Wood permalink
      June 5, 2021 1:52 pm

      Can VW really be claiming that these cars have absolutely no CO2 footprint before purchase? Really?

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        June 5, 2021 2:08 pm

        Could be the start of a repeat of the emissions scandal….non?

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        June 6, 2021 9:25 am

        Paying somebody to plant lots of trees, most of which die but are assumed to grow for 100 years. The CO2 from each car is absorbed over that period.

  2. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    June 5, 2021 10:35 am

    ‘Electric’ = coal fired.

    • Nordisch geo-climber permalink
      June 5, 2021 11:34 am

      Electric cars = steam-powered

      • Blake Ledingham permalink
        June 5, 2021 5:09 pm

        I ran a test on charging a LiON battery from a Lead Acid via inverter. That cycle requires 131WHrs for every 100WHrs LiON charge

  3. Keith permalink
    June 5, 2021 10:42 am

    There have been several European studies on this and they came to the same conclusion. I have written to my MP about it and she sent my letter to the Ministfy of Transport. Their reply was utter tripe. They refuse to accept the findings of this research, or anything about the problems of the toxic materials used.
    With such utter stupidity and closed minds in our Government, we have little hope of any common sense being displayed.

    • June 5, 2021 11:22 am

      “They refuse to accept the findings of this research, or anything …” They’ve all been infected with the Three Monkeys Virus!

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        June 5, 2021 1:50 pm

        That’s rife at the BBC too, the Omega Variant

  4. June 5, 2021 11:16 am

    Does the extra weight affect tire wear and road damage? I hope this was also considered

    • AC Osborn permalink
      June 5, 2021 12:46 pm

      Yes, not only Tyre, but also Brake wear as well.
      Both of which contribute more to pm pollution than the ICE engine exhausts do.

  5. Gamecock permalink
    June 5, 2021 11:54 am

    EVs are a decadent declaration of fealty to the state*.

    That makes them “green.”

    *As were Covid face masks, without the decadence. Anyone could play along.

  6. Mad Mike permalink
    June 5, 2021 12:48 pm

    Aside from the carbon footprint, the climate evangelists still harp on about the running cost advantage of EV’s. It matters not that the differential is purely due to favourable tax advantages which will be short lived when the Government has to find a replacement for road tax and fuel duty. When/if EV’s outnumber ICE’s road pricing will come in along with any other method the taxman can come up with to force us off the road. Take that with the ever rising cost of electricity, which even alarmist scientists say is on the cards, and the advantage of EV’s will quickly disappear.

    When all that happens we will be left with essentially short range cars that have a lifespan that matches the life of the battery as no sane person would pay out for a battery that is way more expensive than the current value of the car. This means that our fleet of cars will necessarily be newer and production of cars will increase if people can afford them. No wonder car manufacturers are racing to go electric. The pressure on commodities will be enormous.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      June 5, 2021 1:54 pm

      They’ve made a start as far as VAT for public charging

      Price hikes are on the horizon for InstaVolt’s charging, following clarity on the VAT rate for public charging, while other networks remain unaffected.

      HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that the VAT on public electric vehicle (EV) charging stands at 20%, having received requests for clarity from businesses around reduced rates due to the level of electricity being supplied.

      HMRC explained that de minimis – a mechanism that allows a 5% VAT rate for supplies of small quantities of electricity – does not apply to public EV charging, and that there is therefore no relief or exemption to the standard VAT rate of 20%.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    June 5, 2021 1:16 pm

    It should be obvious??? There is no practical realistic way that any vehicle can be manufactured from the raw materials stage to the final product using only “renewable” energies.Transportation alone is not possible from iron or lithium mines to the steel and battery factories and on to automobile factories where these EV’s are produced on assembly lines and ultimately transported to dealerships. Fossil fuels will be around for a long time.

    • June 5, 2021 2:08 pm

      In the context of zehro carbon it would make “sense” to outlaw all fossil fuels at once, with heavy penalites for disobedience.

      • AC Osborn permalink
        June 5, 2021 4:38 pm

        Is that some kind of sarcasm?

        If you want to bring the world to a halt just stop supplying Gas & Oil products.
        The world would grind to a halt in a week and there would be thousands, if not millions of deaths.

      • June 5, 2021 6:04 pm

        A.C. Osborne: well spotted!
        Yes, pure sarcasm, from a total sceptic of Extinction Rebellion and all “Green” climate “thinking”.

      • June 6, 2021 8:42 am

        But it shouldn’t be sarcasm, it should be mandated for everyone who advocates zero carbon.
        If I were a vegan, espousing the need for everyone to stop eating meat, I would rightly be deemed an hypocrite if I continued to eat meat.
        So for those who say ‘we need to stop using fossil fuels’, ban them using fossil fuels and any derivatives.

      • June 6, 2021 12:01 pm

        Reply to col1664: a very good principle, albeit too hard to enforce, as is the dangerous and impossible nonsense from all Greta Thunberg’s fans

      • June 6, 2021 11:59 am

        Reply to col1664: a very good principle, albeit too hard to enforce, as is the dangerous and impossible nonsense from all Greta Thunberg’s fans

  8. David Wild permalink
    June 5, 2021 2:36 pm

    And the whole “Climate Change” caboosh is based on a pack of lies. I picked up this stunning youtube from a Telegraph (readers’) comments page. It looks plausible to me, but I don’t have enough data to verify it either way

  9. AC Osborn permalink
    June 5, 2021 4:40 pm

    You can read where it all came from here.

    Look up Maurice Strong.

  10. Rod Gill permalink
    June 6, 2021 12:15 am

    In New Zealand, we have a significant amount of Hydro power. However all electric cars are new demand so all electricity required to charge EV cars is extra demand and therefore only generated by gas. If charging is done in peak times, then some of that electricity is generated from coal.

    Interestingly, the smallest EV in our market is the Nissan Leaf. It currently has a 40KW battery. If it is the only car for our house (we have 2 like most couples) and its battery is 50% discahrged each day, then it needs 20KW + charging inefficiency factor + transmission losses every day. We average 20KW/ day for our household concumption. So our consumption would double.
    Extend a doubling across all houses, plus the required rapid increase in EVs to eliminate ICE vihicles and renewable power will never meet teh increasing demand. So most EV charging will generate CO2 emissions for forseeable future.

  11. John Peter permalink
    June 6, 2021 8:03 am

    David Wild above. This is the kind of historical evidence that Tony Heller at digs up all the time.

    • David Wild permalink
      June 6, 2021 11:26 am

      Thanks. It’s encouraging that others are thinking the same way about the so-called “Climate Disaster”, which is based on – at very best – cod science. Or, even worse, frigged data and one-sided, selective use of data – eg reports of ice shelves melting are never counterbalance with this that are growing.
      The scary thing is how many ordinary people feel it’s all wrong, but don’t have the maths, physics or logic to counter the arguments.
      Just keep up the pressure for all our sakes, Paul!

  12. June 6, 2021 9:27 am

    A lot of waffle about ‘next-gen’ solid-state batteries for EVs, but there are significant snags e.g.:

    Do lithium metal batteries’ use of ceramics, which require energy to heat them up to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit during manufacturing, offset their environmental benefits in electric vehicles?
    – – –
    They seem to have answered their own question there, given that fuels are demonised by the net zero crowd.

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    June 6, 2021 9:30 am

    OT but similar, if we are all to holiday in the UK instead of abroad I reckon we will need to build perhaps the equivalent of 5,000 large hotels, 10,000 restaurants, 5,000 cafes, 1,000 Thorpe Parks and 5,000 railway carriages to cope with that demand. At least. All in the lovely parts of the UK we might want to holiday in.

    That’s not going to emit far more CO2 than a flight to Spain?

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      June 6, 2021 12:45 pm

      EVs could not easily be recharged by many.
      An obvious example would be those that reside in a tower block, for instance 16 floors in excess of 130 tenancies.
      While not everyone owns even one car or van there are still alot of vehicles.
      The local authority’s proposed solution ?
      Car Clubs. People would be encouged to hire an EV. Paid for by the mile or maybe day depending on Terms & Conditions.
      Due to the high cost of these things, hiring might be promoted far more.

      • June 6, 2021 12:59 pm

        Why bother, EVs are dud, indeed nothing important about them is good, unless to those making money from them.

  14. Andrew Mark Harding permalink
    June 6, 2021 2:38 pm

    Not A Lot of People Know That! Sorry I could not resist the temptation!
    Electric cars are nothing new, they were available in the 1880’s, their power source were lead/acid batteries

    Three types of powered vehicles were available: Internal Combustion, Electric, and Steam.

    Women favoured electric, because IC vehicles had to be hand cranked, because electric starter motors had yet to be invented. Hand cranking required a great deal of strength and excellent reflexes, because if you didn’t remove the starting handle quickly enough when the engine started, the result was a broken wrist.

    Steam had the problem of needing to build up a ‘head of steam’ before it could be driven and gradually fell out of favour. EV’s also fell out of favour when starter motors were fitted to IC vehicles in the 1920’s.

    They fell out of favour because charging the battery took so long, and fast charging would cause the battery to seriously degrade with a drastically shortened lifetime.

    Nothing has changed in battery charging technology in 140 years, there still is no spontaneity with usage of an EV. The only thing that has changed is the triumph of hope over experience!

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