We need to reduce how many greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere, and one of the best ways to do this is to change how we choose to get around the city in which we live.
Our vehicles are a huge contributor to these harmful gases that are warming up the planet and causing disastrous consequences to the environment.
How much do our vehicles contribute to greenhouse gases?
Cars and trucks make up nearly a fifth of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. They release approximately 24 pounds of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas, as Union of Concerned Scientists reports.
Even worse, it’s not just carbon dioxide they’re releasing but other harmful global-warming gases that are toxic to the environment, animals, and ourselves.
It’s clear that electric vehicles are the way to go. Here’s why they can make a huge difference in protecting our planet against global warming.
- 1 What Is The Carbon Footprint Of Conventional Vehicles Vs. Electric Vehicles?
- 2 What About Electric Car Batteries?
- 3 Electric Cars Vs. Gas-Powered Cars
- 4 The Different Types Of E-Vehicles
- 5 What Are Solar Vehicles?
- 6 Related Questions
- 7 Conclusion
What Is The Carbon Footprint Of Conventional Vehicles Vs. Electric Vehicles?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that a conventional passenger vehicle will release approximately 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.
If your car has a lifespan of eight years, that means over its lifetime it will release 36.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Although there have recently been concerns that electric vehicles have a larger carbon footprint than gas-powered cars, this has been proven to be untrue.
Generally, electric cars produce fewer emissions overall. Recent research (via BBC) has found that the average lifetime emissions from electric cars can be up to 70 percent lower than gas-powered cars!
That means that over the period of eight years, as per our earlier example, an electric car would release up to 25.7 metric tons less than a gas-powered car, which is a huge difference.
Still not convinced?
Another study, this time by Union of Concerned Scientists, found that electric car emissions are much lower than gas vehicle emissions all over the U.S.
When comparing the two vehicle types, researchers analyzed the emissions that we don’t even think about when we consider the environmental impact that vehicles have on the planet.
So, when it comes to gas-powered cars, they looked at emissions caused by the extraction of crude oil, the process of moving that oil into a refinery, producing gasoline, and then transporting it to gas stations.
When it comes to electric vehicles, various elements were considered: the power plant emissions, emissions from coal production, natural gas and other fuels used by power plants.
Based on the above research, driving an electric vehicle was found to cause fewer global warming emissions when compared to driving a gas-powered car.
This was also looked at in various U.S. states. For example, in some parts of the U.S. driving a gas-powered car produces between four and seven times the emissions that the average electric car produces!
What About Electric Car Batteries?
One of the factors to consider when it comes to how planet-friendly electric cars are is their battery.
This is a big component of electric vehicles that sometimes makes people question if e-vehicles really are as good for the planet as we think.
During the manufacturing process, e-vehicles have been found to release more emissions than conventional cars, as The International Council Of Clean Transportation reports.
A big culprit is their battery. Roughly half of an e-car battery’s emissions are as a result of the electricity that’s used during the manufacturing process.
Despite the above, the most important thing is to be able to use the battery so that you can pay off this environmental impact, in the same way that reusing grocery shopping bags for as long as possible can make it eco-friendly to use them despite their environmental impact during the manufacturing process.
The good news is that the earlier-mentioned research goes on to say that e-vehicles pay off the impact they cause when manufactured after just two years of usage!
If you charge your e-car with renewable energy, that number drops to one and a half years.
You might be asking, “What about recycling batteries?” A big problem with e-vehicle batteries is their recycling.
Sadly, there are still few regulations when it comes to recycling electric vehicle batteries. This will surely change as electric vehicles become more popular within the next few years.
Scientists are also looking into innovative uses for e-vehicle batteries after their lifespans have come to an end.
Reusing electric batteries for industrial or other purposes, for example, is a great way to prevent waste while also reducing the vehicle’s overall environmental impact.
Electric Cars Vs. Gas-Powered Cars
We’ve looked at the stats that show electric vehicles release fewer greenhouse gases as compared to gas-powered vehicles, but are electric cars better for the planet overall?
To discover this, we need to compare electric cars with gas-powered cars, based on different factors.
Electric cars are a clear winner here when it comes to being better for the planet.
One of the biggest reasons is that they don’t require combustion. When conventional cars are used, they undergo a process of transforming stored energy into kinetic energy.
Basically, this energy is in a chemical form and then gets released by means of a chemical reaction inside the engine.
Although electric cars have stored chemical energy, they release it electrochemically and make use of lithium-ion batteries – that means, no combustion occurs.
No fuel gets burned, so no pollution is created when you drive an electric car.
The Use Of Raw Materials
As mentioned earlier, the manufacturing process of conventional vs. electric vehicles plays a big role in their environmental impact.
Interestingly, the process of manufacturing both vehicle types is pretty much the same thing – raw materials must be extracted and then transported, before being made into components that will produce the car.
However, by the end of the process, electric vehicles produce more carbon emissions than gas-powered cars.
What?! Let’s explain.
The reason for this is because electric cars need batteries in order to work. They store all their energy in them, and these batteries are made out of earth elements such as cobalt, nickel, and lithium.
These are rare elements that can only be found beneath the planet’s surface. This means they require extraction via mining activities, and that produces a lot of pollution.
To produce one ton of these rare earth elements, a whopping 75 tons of acid waste as well as one ton of radioactive residue is produced, as You Matter reports.
Even though the manufacturing process for e-vehicles and conventional vehicles is the same, and e-vehicles can be more energy-intensive, the manufacturing process is a short one.
What really matters is what happens when those vehicles are on the road. That’s where e-cars come out as being much better for the planet.
You’ll pay less money to use an electric vehicle as compared to a gas vehicle.
In fact, a study that was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research (via Forbes) discovered that the average cost to use an electric vehicle in the U.S. is approximately $485 annually.
To use a gas vehicle, you’d have to pay $1,117.
The price you might have to pay will depend on the electric and gas rates where you live as well as the vehicle you own.
In addition, electric cars don’t require gas but will form part of your electricity bill.
There are many maintenance costs associated with gas vehicles!
Engine maintenance and repairs can be costly over time. Electric cars don’t contain internal combustion engines, which can reduce your costs.
They do, however, have to be maintained when it comes to things like their brakes and tires, in the same way that gas vehicles do, but that’s nothing too major.
It’s been said that the maintenance of e-cars costs their owners about one-third of the cost of gas-car maintenance, as How Stuff Works reports.
However, there is something important to bear in mind: the e-vehicle battery!
This battery is a component that’s quite complex. After some time, it will stop being able to hold a charge, therefore slowly reducing your driving range.
E-car batteries are expensive – in some cases they can cost thousands of dollars – but when compared to how expensive repairs on a conventional car can be over its lifetime, they still work out to be cheaper.
This is because research has found that lithium ion batteries (which are the gold standard of e-car batteries) only lose around 30 percent of their capacity after 300,000 kilometers of driving, as The Quint reports!
Many conventional cars can’t even reach that milestone in their lifetimes.
The Different Types Of E-Vehicles
When we speak about e-vehicles, it’s easy to assume that there are only e-bikes and e-cars, but there are many other types of electricity-powered vehicles.
Here’s a rundown of them.
There are many truck and van companies that are releasing exciting vehicles onto the market.
But personal use aside, there are also e-trucks increasing in popularity on the commercial scene.
An example is the Tesla Cybertruck that’s an electric, battery-powered commercial vehicle.
Currently, less than one percent of fleet vehicles are electric, but this is predicted to increase to 12 percent by 2030, as Green Biz reports.
That’s a really good thing. Heavy-duty vehicles produce over 25 percent of global warming emissions from the transport sector, even though they make up only five percent of all road vehicles, Union of Concerned Scientists reports.
Some important e-truck manufacturers to keep an eye on include Daimler Trucks, which is even said to be working on an electric school bus creation, and Rivian, which has laid out plans to have 10,000 delivery vehicles on our roads by 2022.
The use of electric trains makes sense: the cost of these engines is 20 percent lower than those of diesel engines, and their maintenance costs are up to 35 percent less than diesel trains, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
E-trains also prevent all the harmful pollution that’s produced by diesel trains, such as soot, volatile organic compounds, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides.
The move to e-trains isn’t an easy one in the U.S., however.
While other countries in the world, such as Switzerland and France, are moving towards the electrification of their railway systems, it’s sometimes easier for them to achieve this goal because they can secure financing for major infrastructure investments as their railway services are owned by the government, as the Environmental and Energy Study Institute reports.
When it comes to the U.S., however, most of their services are privately owned.
Electric boats are becoming hot items on the market. They’ve been predicted to experience an 11-percent increase between 2018 and 2028, as Electric Boats Biz reports.
There are recreational and commercial electric boats available, so let’s look at some common types.
- Canal, lake, and river boats. These e-boats are great for navigating small bodies of water due to the lack of pollution that they produce.
- Cruising yachts. These have auxiliary engines to either give the yachts more power when the wind is light or provide propulsion when the boats are in the port and need to be parked into a tight spot, such as in a confined marina.
- Solar-powered boats. These use direct solar energy for power and are known as marine solar vehicles. Here’s how they work: the sun’s energy gets converted into electricity by solar cells, after which they’re stored in batteries and then used to move the propeller through the electric motor. They’re an exciting type of e-vehicle and have even been used successfully at sea.
E-bikes are becoming a force to be reckoned with as we see more and more appearing on our roads.
More laws are coming into effect to allow them on bike paths and multipaths.
E-bikes aren’t just for bicycle lovers – they’re great for people who don’t get much time at the gym, want a nice blend of leg power and motor power, or aren’t as mobile as they used to be but still want to use a bike, to mention just a few types of people who will find value in owning an e-bike.
Of course, they’re also great for people who are worried about the planet.
E-bikes are already proving to be great for the planet. Here are some important reasons why:
- They don’t have to zap the electric grid because they can be charged during off-peak hours, during times when the electricity demand is really low.
- They’re better for the roads. Since they’re lighter than cars, e-bikes prevent damage to the roads, which prevents road repairs.
- Their batteries can easily be recycled. When you think of the lithium batteries in your personal devices, they’re not that easy to remove and recycle, so you might forget about them. But the batteries in e-bikes can be removed really easily, which also makes it easier to remember to recycle them when you need to replace them. A new battery won’t cost you that much. You’re looking at an average of between $500 and $900.
- You can also reduce your use of electric energy by pedaling your e-bike, therefore making it very efficient and planet-friendly.
The use of e-cars instead of gas-powered cars can help to reduce a lot of air pollution, which is one of the reasons why e-cars have become so popular.
They don’t have tailpipes that release carbon dioxide emissions into the air, which keeps the roads and cities cleaner and healthier.
In just one year, one electric car can save 1.5. million grams of C02 on average, as EDF reports.
Although we’ve extensively looked at the environmental impact of e-cars, it’s worth bearing in mind that they also reduce other types of pollution.
Think noise pollution! With more cars entering our roads, noise pollution is a big concern for people living in the cities, but since e-cars are much quieter than gas cars, they help to decrease this type of pollution.
What Are Solar Vehicles?
Solar vehicles are considered to be a type of electric vehicle because they can have batteries installed in order to supplement the use of solar energy to stay charged.
When electric vehicles make use of the sun’s rays to charge their batteries instead of relying on the electricity grid, this makes them highly sustainable and convenient.
Let’s take e-bikes as an example. When e-bike batteries are solar-powered, this makes them much better for the environment because they result in zero emissions.
What about solar cars?
A solar-powered car makes use of solar panels to absorb the sun’s rays and then uses this energy to recharge its batteries with the help of photovoltaic cells.
A solar car’s battery pack will allow the car to reach a range of 250 miles without any sun, while traveling at speeds of around 60mph.
Moving towards a more solar-powered world is important. While you might not think that electricity can cause global warming emissions, it does – and it contributes to them in a big way.
In order to produce electricity, fossil fuels have to be burned. This process makes up approximately half of all global warming pollution, as Scientific American reports.
So, it’s no wonder that the solar-powered car is set to increase in popularity over the next few years, with predictions that approximately 107,380 units will be sold by 2030, which is as a result of people’s concerns for the environment, as Markets for Markets reports.
An exciting development when it comes to e-bikes is the use of solar-powered bikes. These are becoming a reality, with bike manufacturers already producing them.
An example is Kvaern, a Copenhagen-based company that has produced a solar e-bike that comes with a solar battery pack.
But any e-bike can become a solar one! How? By ensuring that it’s charged with solar power, of course!
Now, while this might be a little difficult if you’re not technical, there are some great tutorials online, like one by Instructables that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in solar energy.
How using solar power for your e-bike works is that you’ll need to know some battery details of your e-bike, such as its charging capacity, and obviously you’ll need a solar panel, but it can be done – and you’ll feel great about it because it’s such a good deed for the planet.
What’s the average e-bike range?
Most e-bikes on the market will give you about 30 miles for every charge, which shows that your e-bike can probably replace your gas-powered vehicle on a regular basis, therefore reducing your gas usage.
What’s the most eco-friendly e-bike frame material?
All bike frames (aluminum, carbon, steel, and titanium) take a lot of energy and resources to be produced.
So, the best thing to do is try to extend your bike’s lifespan as much as you can, and a good idea is to purchase second-hand bikes.
There’s no doubt about the fact that there are many electric vehicle benefits that we need to know about.
As we’ve seen in this article, electric vehicles go a long way to reducing global warming emissions and saving the environment.
It’s shocking to think that the transport industry contributes to global warming in such a big way, but movements towards a greener, electric transport system are already taking shape – this will see more electric trucks, bikes, cars, and boats changing the face of transportation as we know it.
The benefits are huge: global warming emissions will be reduced and we’ll be healthier thanks to the lower levels of pollution.