Why Electric Cars Aren’t Really Environment Friendly?

Elon Musk launched his car company Tesla in order to make cars that would not harm the environment. He has marketed Tesla as being an eco-friendly car. Also, some of the largest economies in the world like China and the United States plan to switch to electric cars in the next couple of decades. The infrastructure for this switch is already being built. This gives consumers the impression that when they buy an electric car, they are buying an eco-friendly product. However, this may not be the case. There are several reasons why electric cars can be equally damaging to the environment. Some of the common reasons have been listed below:

Electricity Isn’t A Clean Fuel

Electricity can be generated from multiple sources. It by generated by using the energy of running water, which makes electricity a clean fuel. However, the production of electricity from such nonrenewable sources is actually rare. In most of the cases, electricity is produced by burning coal. Burning coal has the same environmental impact as burning fossil fuel. It puts in the same amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. As a result, electric cars aren’t really preventing global warming. The reduction in individual emissions by the car is offset by the collective emissions done by the electricity plant.

These cars are capable of preventing global warming only if all the electricity in the world is produced by using renewable sources. Right now less than 5% of the electricity is produced using renewable sources. Going from 5% to a significant number like 70% is obviously a huge challenge.

Electric Cars Give Poor Mileage

Electric cars give less than half the mileage of regular cars. If we couple this with the fact that electricity is mostly produced by burning coal, it is easy to see why electric cars may actually be causing damage to the environment. Also, it needs to be understood that electric cars are plain and simple inconvenient. The average car takes about four and a half hours to be fully charged. Once it is fully charged, it runs for about 100 miles. This means that an average car owner would have to charge their car almost every day! Also, if they have to go somewhere suddenly, their mobility will be restricted. Electric cars may not be commercially viable until charging can be completed in a few minutes. Once again this is a challenge for the producers of such cars.

Production of Electric Cars Damages the Environment

The production of electric cars damages the environment more than the production of regular cars. This is because electric cars use batteries. These batteries are created using precious metals. Such metals are found deep in the crust of the earth. As a result, they have to be mined before their usage becomes possible. This mining is not a very energy efficient activity. Mining produces a lot of greenhouse gases. These emissions do not happen when regular cars are manufactured. The lifespan of the car is defined as the time between the production and disposal of the car. The problem with electric cars is that they produce a lot of greenhouse gases even before their production has taken place. Once these emissions are included, the environmental impact of electric vehicles is only marginally lower. The claims about electric cars being far better than regular cars seem like propaganda when all these facts are considered. There is a term called “greenwashing” which is used to describe this phenomenon.

Disposal of Batteries

The batteries that are used to electric power vehicles are not really eco-friendly. The disposal of these batteries also damages the environment to a great extent. This is because these batteries contain a large amount of plastic which is not really biodegradable. The batteries used in the manufacture of electric cars are called lithium-ion batteries. This is because they use precious metals such as lithium. Hence, if they are just thrown off without processing, these batteries can prove to be toxic to the organization. Also, the ingredients such as cobalt and lithium are very rare. Mining those metals lead to wastage of a lot of energy and other resources. Also even if the batteries undergo a smelting process, it is easy to recover the other metals. However, recovering lithium is an expensive process and it is unlikely that the car manufacturing companies will pay for it. Hence, even though there might be technology available to reuse parts of the battery, it does not seem to make much economic sense. This is because the value of the products derived from the recycling process is only a third of what it costs to run the process itself!

Increased Car Ownership

Hence, it can be said that Tesla is using the promise of eco-friendly cars as a marketing strategy. This is because in reality there are no eco-friendly cars at all. The only way that a car can be eco-friendly is if it is used for a very long time. The production of more and more cars damages the environment even if these cars are electric cars. The manufacturing process creates a lot of emission of greenhouse gases. As discussed precious metals are also depleted, and plastics are also used.

To sum it up, electric cars are not nearly as eco-friendly as the average consumer thinks. The green car concept is more of a marketing gimmick than an actual reality.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


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