Does an electric car cause pollution? To answer this and find out whether electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than petrol or diesel vehicles, we need to look closely at their full life cycle. The production of an electric car causes more pollution than that for a conventional vehicle, especially with regard to the manufacture of batteries.
However, over its useful life, this is offset by the absence of emissions. Currently, according to the Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving (IDAE in Spanish), 1,000 electric cars correspond to the non-emission of 30,000 kilos of polluting gases and 2 tons of CO2 per year.
To give us an idea, a new combustion-engine car, and one of the most efficient, emits an average of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled. This translates into one tonne of CO2 emissions per year.
With the current energy mix for electricity production in Spain, an electric car emits less than half (52 grCO2/km) compared to a combustion-engine car. But we are moving towards a fully renewable electricity system, so emissions corresponding to electric cars will be zero, since they will be powered by clean energy.
Where do your batteries go at the end of their useful life?
The battery is one of the most important parts of an electric car. It is essential for it to operate, as it is responsible for accumulating the energy transmitted to the electric motor. And depending on its components, this will determine aspects such as autonomy, charging speed, weight, design and price.
Lithium batteries are not the only option but they are the most used today. They do not have a memory effect and allow a greater number of recharges, so they usually have a better performance. But, like any other battery, they deteriorate with time. According to a number of studies, after travelling more than 150,000 kilometres, their capacity can be reduced by 8%. They also usually last a minimum of 8 years.