E.V.s Start With a Bigger Carbon Footprint. But That Doesn’t Last.
This January, another study, conducted by Ricardo Strategy Consulting for the Fuels Institute, a nonprofit think tank focusing on transit and fuel, found similar results. In 200,000 miles of driving, a typical internal combustion vehicle would emit 66 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A battery electric vehicle would emit 39 tons over that same distance. And within 19,000 miles, the higher emissions caused by battery manufacturing would be offset by lower emissions from driving an electric vehicle.
There are other challenges that still need to be met, including reducing the amount of materials necessary to produce batteries and finding other sources for components, “but there are no showstoppers,” said Nikolas Hill, head of vehicle technologies and fuels for Ricardo Energy & Environment, based in Oxford, England.
Even though the United States should experience significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions because drivers travel greater distances, countries in Europe have also seen benefits.
According to an L.C.A. study published in 2020, prepared by Ricardo for the U.K. Department for Transport, electric vehicles saved an estimated 65 percent in emissions compared with a similar internal combustion vehicle. With expected improvements in battery manufacturing and the further decarbonization of the British electrical grid, B.E.V.s are predicted to generate a 76 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 and a potential 81 percent decrease by 2050.
By 2050, it’s possible that emissions from the production phase of an electric vehicle and of a conventional internal combustion model will be similar, the report stated.
In an L.C.A. study conducted by Volkswagen, the company found that driving its ID.3, a small B.E.V. not sold in the United States, more than 120,000 miles in Europe would create about a 26 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Golf model of a similar size.
And a study conducted in India by RMI, a nonprofit organization that works to increase sustainable energy systems, found that the country still showed net gains for B.E.V.s even though it generates 75 percent of its electricity from coal.