Are electric cars really “greener” than gasoline cars?

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Facing concerns about the production of batteries and electricity used to operate electric cars causing negative impacts on the environment like the discharge of gasoline cars, environmental activists and energy experts spoke up.

Environmentalists favor electric cars

Reducing the amount of CO2 and gases that pollute the environment, harm human health, and reduce noise compared to cars using traditional internal combustion engines are the most visible advantages of electric cars. According to EDF Energy’s statistics, within 1 year of using an electric car instead of an internal combustion engine car, you have reduced emissions of 1.5 million grams of CO2, equivalent to 4 round-trip flights from London to Barcelona.

However, in consideration of the product life cycle, from the beginning of the production process to the end of the using process, electric cars still generate a certain amount of CO2 emissions, mainly in the car manufacturing stage, during which the amount of CO2 emitted is also being counted for electric cars.

However, even when using electricity generated from fossil fuels, the total carbon emissions from electric cars are still about 30% lower than those using gasoline or oil fuel. This number will definitely be higher as wind and solar power sources are increasingly popular. The expectation of car manufacturers as well as environmental activists is that in the near future, electric cars will reduce carbon emissions by up to 90% compared to those using internal combustion engines.

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Batteries will be recycled instead of discarded

First, it is confirmed that lithium-ion batteries in cars are very durable. Most electric car manufacturers today offer warranty up to 8 years (such as Tesla, Nissan), specifically up to 10 years for electric car batteries. According to EDF Energy, electric car batteries can last 10 to 20 years before needing replacement.

Compared with lithium-ion batteries on smartphones that only perform well for about 500 charge cycles, electric car battery manufacturers have come up with a smarter solution to extend the life of their batteries. Specifically, the electric car battery will be “braked” so that the driver cannot use up the energy it stores, in order to reduce the number of charge cycles. Along with other technologies such as intelligent cooling systems, electric car batteries can last for years before having problems.

Even after “getting retired” after decades of use, electric car batteries are still useful. One of the ideas that has proven their effectiveness is turning them into a power storage system in homes and buildings. For example, Nissan has planned to use electric car batteries as backup power generators for the Amsterdam Arena stadium of football club Ajax Amsterdam (the Netherlands).

Toyota chose to install a battery storage system outside convenience stores in Japan to store electricity from solar panels. This energy is then used to power refrigerators and heat food inside stores.

Renault has also announced that waste batteries from the Zoe EV EV family will continue to be used for the Powervault power storage system. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s plan is to provide a “second life” to the discarded batteries by turning them into portable batteries at charging stations.

After becoming “out of stock”, manufacturers will also continue to recycle electric car batteries to make the most of this expensive material. In 2020, Volkswagen announced plans to recycle up to 97% of the battery’s components. Other manufacturers have similar plans since embarking on researching and developing electric car technology. Therefore, the risk of a chemical waste such as “dead-end” lead-acid batteries being innocently disposed in the environment is not for lithium-ion batteries – the most expensive part on every electric car.

When the battery issue is almost completely solved, it is only a matter of time before electric cars ‘go viral’ on the global market.