A new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has found that battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) already have a better greenhouse gas emissions record than conventionally powered vehicles. This is not only in Europe, but also in China, India and the USA. By 2030, that emissions advantage will increase further.
In the study, the ICCT considered the compact car class over its entire lifetime, so the emissions from the production of the vehicles and batteries are included. Vehicle disposal was also taken into account.
For an electric compact car, greenhouse gas emissions in Europe are already 66% to 69% lower than for comparable new petrol vehicles. Even the use of the expected electricity mix for 2021 to 2038 (i.e. the period in which the vehicle would be used) was included. The mileage was assumed to be 234,000 kilometres, which would be covered with only one battery.
However, the researchers also assumed that the electricity mix will steadily improve, due to EU requirements to expand renewable energy solutions. Taking this into account, the study found that, by 2030, an electric compact car will have an emissions advantage of about 74% to 77% compared to a petrol car – instead of the 66% to 69% with today’s electricity mix.
If the e-compact car were powered entirely by electricity from renewable energy sources, the battery vehicle would already achieve up to 81% lower life cycle emissions than a petrol vehicle, according to the ICCT.
Based on the USA’s supply chains and electricity mix, the emissions advantage of the electric car is already 60% to 68% today. For China, with its high share of coal-fired power, the ICCT has calculated a saving of 37% to 45%, and for India, 19% to 34%. The biggest factor in all regions is the energy needed to operate the vehicles; the CO2 emissions for battery production, vehicle production and maintenance over the vehicle’s lifetime are much smaller factors.
The fact that battery-electric vehicles score so well is also because the ICCT says it used new data on battery production. With today’s more efficient processes and partly localised supply chains, significantly fewer greenhouse gases are emitted than was assumed a few years ago.
“The basic conclusions of our study are ultimately similar for all regions, despite differences in vehicle and electricity mix,” said Rachel Muncrief, Deputy Director at the ICCT.
“Already today, battery vehicles have lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petrol and diesel vehicles. This is also true for countries with a high share of coal-fired power, such as China and India.”