It is completely wrong to claim that emissions from production of diesel cars are just as big as in the production of electric cars. This is according to the Norwegian web site, Faktisk.no
There has been a lot of discussions about the pollution from so called zero-emissions cars, or electric cars. But are they as clean as the environmental movement claims? In this article we are going to concentrate on the emissions during production of the cars.
Tesla’s Gigafactory that is going to produce batteries to the Model 3, will be powered by renewable energy. This will probably give a smaller carbon footprint than the rest of the Tesla battery production.
Largest production emissions from electric cars
The claim is about what kind of emissions that occurs from the production of the cars. How large the emissions are during the use of the car, or how large the emissions are during the whole lifecycle of the car is not mentioned.
The ideal organization The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) did in 2018 publish a knowledge summary that is based on eleven life-cycle analyzes of electric cars, fossil cars and lithium-ion-batteries publicized between 2011 and 2017.
In the table below ICCT do compere the life-cycle emissions of an average European car. The most CO2-effectiv fossil car that is available in Europe, a Peugeot 208 1,6 BlueHDi Active, and an electric car based on the 2017-modell of the Nissan Leaf with a battery pack of 30-kWh
The energy mix has a lot to say in how environmental friendly a car is. Because of this there has been done different calculations for the electric car based on the average energy mix in EU, France Deutschland, Norway and Great Britain
Battery production needs a lot of energy
As shown in the table, the electric car is generally the best in all comparisons, except when comparing the most environmentally friendly conventional car to an electric car running on German power.
What is relevant to this fact check however, is how the electric car scores if we only compare CO2 emissions from the manufacturing process. Here we can see that both the average fossil car, and the most energy efficient fossil car makes it far better than the electric car.
The report states:
Manufacturing of electric cars requires more energy, and leads to higher emissions than conventional cars, due to electric car batteries. Production of lithium-ion requires the extraction of rare metals and is energy-intensive due to the heat and sterile conditions required.
However, it is also pointed out that it is likely that battery production will be significantly greener in the future:
Emissions from battery production will probably fall significantly over the next decades, especially with the use of cleaner electricity through the production phase.
The authorities in New Zealand have also summarized the results from several lifecycles analyzes. They draw similar conclusions as ICCT
Electric cars have the lowest emissions overall, but have higher emissions in the production phase, as the table below also shows:
All cars pollute
It is also worth mentioning that all car types lead to significant CO2 emissions. Therefore, it is wrong to mention electric cars as zero-emission cars, as they often are described in the environmental debate.
The electric cars has higher emissions before they start driving according to scientist
Fakta.no has previously factually checked a claim that says that electric cars have small, if any, environmental benefits compared to fossil cars. This claim is completely wrong. In connection with the fact check, they interviewed a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Linda Ager-Wick Ellingsen who is an expert in lifecycle analyzes. She explained that electric cars have big environmental advantages in Norway, compared to fossil cars.
However, Ellingsen was aware that the electric cars have higher emissions than fossil cars during the production phase:
Before the electric cars start to run, they have higher greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline cars, because the batteries are energy-intensive to produce. But they are more energy efficient to run and can be recharged with renewable energy. Therefore, they make up for higher production emissions throughout the life cycle. Ellingsen said to Faktisk.no in January.
Highest total emissions for fossil cars
Although production emissions for electric cars are higher than on fossil cars, it is wrong to argue that the car don’t have any environmental gain. According to the ICCT report, an average electric car produces 50 percent less CO2 when summarizing the production and usage phase after 150,000 kilometers traveled.
According to the report, the electric vehicle’s higher production output is on average “repaid” after two years of driving on a common European electricity mix. In Norway it will be repaid even faster because they have a very clean power production.