Disclaimer: This article doesn’t show an opposition for the electric and hybrid solutions. Please take it as a writted debate on whether an electric vehicle means a more sustainable way of driving.
The electric and hybrid vehicles represent one of the most popular ways to fight climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions, which can be also implemented on the personal level, not only by companies and governments. As transportation accounts for almost 25% of the global GNG emissions, the people started to be concerned about the environmental aspect and embrace the ideas of hybrid and electric vehicles. Let’s see how much of an impact this measure could have on the environment, economy and society.
The double-edged sword of switching from conventional to electric and hybrid cars
Electric vehicles seem to be a greener option to combustion vehicles, but are they the best alternative? The number of electric vehicles sold by 2021 reached 16 million units, accounting 9% of the global sales, mainly from North America, Europe and China. Leading us to one of the concerns.
Who actually pays for switching the world to electric vehicles? The named markets are the most prosperous in the world, but how much of the cost of becoming “greener” are they willing to pay? The footprint on the environment made by the production of electric vehicles is mainly due to the mining of the necessary metals and rare earths for lithium-ion batteries, which consumes a lot of energy and water and releases toxic compounds.
The top 5 countries that extract lithium are Bolivia, Chile and Argentina followed closely by Australia and China. Out of these countries, the biggest consumer is China and most of the resources are stored in reserves from Chile. Here are some environmental and social concerns of lithium exctraction:
- Approximately 2.2 million litres of water is needed to produce one ton of lithium
- The extraction of lithium has caused water-related conflicts with different communities, such as the community of Toconao in the north of Chile
- Lithium extraction inevitably harms the soil and causes air contamination (a FoE report shows)
- 3.2 tonnes of CO2 are produced in the manufacture of the battery for an electric vehicle
Is there an alternative to the alternative?
According to the European Parliament, “the production and disposal of an electric car is less environmentally friendly than a car with an internal combustion engine.” And that’s because they analyzed the whole process: the extraction of the materials, the manufacturing and transportation, the energy needed to charge the batteries, and the management of waste at the end of their lifecycle made us consider the impact on the environment.
The final question is whether the full life cycle of an electric vehicle is less harmful to the environment compared to conventional cars.
There are some voices that claim that 80% of the electricity comes from fossil fuels. In an ideal future, all vehicles run on 0 carbon emissions power. The populations in the busy cities may benefit from a less congested atmosphere, but to make sure that the electric cars represent the best alternative, the solution stands in making energy the clean “fuel” for electric cars.
Until then, technology advances in researching and developing alternatives to the alternative: hydrogen vehicles, BioNGV or Biomethane, Biofuels. We’re keeping an eye on the producers to announce their innovations in terms of cleaner transportation.
Our telematics solutions are able to read data from electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles as well. If your company switched to an electric fleet, make sure you use the right telematics to collect accurate and reliable data.
Bianca is here to hear more from you and help understand which solutions fit your needs and how are they created in order to offer you the best insight.
Schedule a call with Bianca.