In making a decision about buying a new electric car, we are sold the idea that this will reduce emissions. Obviously, it will reduce emissions from driving (if the electricity used is from a non carbon source). But a study claims that the carbon emissions from the car’s production is much higher for electric than internal combustion engines:
“The results reveal that the CO2 emissions from the production of an EV range from 14.6 to 14.7 t, 59% to 60% higher than the level of an ICEV, 9.2 t.“
This larger carbon footprint for producing the car is primarily due to the carbon cost of battery production. And the heavier the car, the larger the battery and hence the carbon cost and as my previous blog showed we are buying heavier cars than we did due to our love of “fully loaded with gadgets” cars (look at the features on a typical SUV).
So, over the life cycle of an electric car, there is a longer payback period before the carbon benefits of driving arise. This poses the question, should we be considering converting existing ICE cars to electric cars, particularly if the weight of those original cars is lower and the battery needs therefore smaller?
There are businesses which convert existing cars to electric and there are conversion kits supplied by some of the major producers (I don’t have a financial interest in either).
Conversion is a small, local business. Its not promoted by the motor industry, but does it make sense in sustainability terms if the environmental costs of producing the new electric car are deferred and the battery requirements of the car are smaller? And should the regulatory regime to convert cars to electric be reviewed so that this is not a barrier to conversion?
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