Are electric vehicles really environmentally friendly?

In order to charge the battery of an electric vehicle like the Volt, you must plug the car into the wall outlet. Doesn't the power plant pollute the environment?

I read that the car battery manufacturing facilities heavily pollute.

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are not the first to characterize the Volt as an "electric vehicle." Rather, it is to be a series hybrid. This means a gasoline engine will (power a generator that will) provide power for an electric motor that will drive the car.... and oh, by the way, you could plug it in. A hybrid vehicle like the volt might be better for someone who is unlikely to have the opportunity to plug it in: apartment, condo dwellers and those going on a longer trip. The gasoline engine will pollute when charging the vehicle. For a cleaner vehicle that has limited travel each day with a place to plug in a better option would be a true EV. The weight, pollution, expense and maintenance of an internal combustion engine (ICE) can then be left behind.

    Considering power plant pollution for an EV is generally a biased viewpoint, because we are comparing use on one hand with production on the other. The proper standard is comparing use to use and production to production. Refining oil (producing gasoline) takes energy and lots of pollution. The energy to refine oil would allow an electric vehicle to travel further than the resulting gasoline will an ICE vehicle. The ICE vehicle pollutes in its operation. The electric vehicle does not. If we converted all vehicles to electric we could eliminate the pollution from ICE cars AND the refineries that belch out their products at the very least. The power that supplied the refineries could run our electric vehicles. 1

    Charging from an electrical grid is not like fueling one product from one dedicated source. Some power plants operate day and night and are never turned off or down. These are the baseline plants. When nighttime load does not meet demand, and there are no buyers the power is grounded. When you are charging with power that would otherwise be grounded you are not responsible for the pollution. It is there because of the daytime peak load. 2

    The current battery industry is a model of recycling. More than 95% of current batteries are recycled. The technology for newer batteries is still in flux. Ultra-capacitors, for example, are virtually all recyclable. Other technologies will have to have their chemistry's individually evaluated. Batteries and their components will be quite valuable. High value will drive recycling more than cheap throwaways. So you can expect a thriving industry here. 3

    When looking at electric cars we should not be searching for perfection. We only need them to be a better and an electric vehicle is much better. Impossible comparisons and standards are for those who wish to kill the electric car.


    Source(s): 1 the facts: the real cost of oil: environmental cost of oil production: 2 if we converted all the cars to electric: 3 <> Nata, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires every electrical service to have grounding. You could get quite a shock from the electricity "going into the ground" if you try to remove it. "Grounding" is an integral part of any electrical system.
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Any alternate fuel technology that increases the manufacturing requirement above current replacement and growth manufacturing is not environmentally friendly. It takes a lot of energy and materials to make a new vehicle, even more for an electric vehicle as the public would not accept a "Batteries not included" policy. The batteries would also need to be recycled every two years which involves even more energy and some additional materials. All of this represents an enormous carbon footprint. Also, where is the electricity from, most electricity today are either from coal or natural gas. A gasoline car running on Fischer Tropsch synthetic gasoline made by bio-mass gasification would be carbon negative whereas an electric car charged on coal produced electricity would be carbon positive hence in that case, the gasoline car would be more environmentally friendly. The most environmentally friendly alternative fuel option would work with existing vehicles and distribution networks in order to avoid the environmental costs of replacing the vehicle fleet and of constructing new infrastructure. This limits the options to bio-butanol, bio-diesel, and synthetic fuels. Of course, automobile manufacturers prefer the electric, hybrid and hydrogen routes as they get to make and sell more cars. The public will probably go with the environmentally harmful electric, hybrid and hydrogen options due to ignorance and marketing efforts even though the technology to produce biomass derived synthetic fuels have been around for the better part of a century and has been proven on scales as large as entire countries (WWII Germany, and embargoed South Africa).

  • 1 decade ago

    A) Power plants are sized to meet peak demand during the day, and run constantly because that's the way something that size has to do it. excess energy at night is wasted in the form of heat. An electric car charging an night makes use of the power that would otherwise be wasted. Zero new emissions.

    1) Even if you see an electric vehicle as being powered by pure coal, it would still be more environmentally friendly because of efficiency. Less overall emissions then a gas engine produces.

    2) That's not even counting the emissions of refining and transporting the gasoline, by boat and then by truck, that adds up to a lot. Electric goes straight through a wire.

    3) Electric cars don't have to be powered by coal. It opens up new opportunities for new energy markets. They can be powered by wind, rivers, ocean tides, ocean waves, geo thermal, photovoltaic or solar thermal power. Enough energy hits us from the sun alone to power the entire human population thousands of times over. Renewable energy is one of the fastest growing industries. Even today a big chunk of our energy comes from renewables or nuclear. They make less profit then the fossil fuel industry, which is why fossil fuel has such a stronghold over the economy, but they still do make a lot of money.

    4) All factories pollute, they're powered by coal. Batteries are the most recycled product we use.

    5) What's wrong with creating new jobs, strengthening the economy and reducing dependence on foreign oil thus strengthening national security, even if you could give a flying f*ck about the environment?

    6) Electric cars do not require crank case oil, anti freeze, transmission fluid, transfer case fluid or axel oil, all of which pollute. EVs have thousands fewer parts thus require less maintenance. Less maintenance is less waste which is better for the environment.

    You won't ever have to replace your alternator, starter, water pump, air filter, radiator, muffler, spark plugs, oil filter, pcv valve, egr valve, o2 sensor, timing belt, accessory belt, fuel filter, fuel pump, carburetor, y pipe, catalytic converter, and the list goes on and on. It makes owning a car a lot simpler.

    7) are they completely environmentally friendly? no. Are they environmentally sustainable? yes.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    1. They waste just as much land on roads and parking spaces as any other car.

    2. They use just as much energy as any other same size (mass) vehicle.

    3. They're just as deadly as any other car.

    4. They're made with horrible chemicals.

    5. In many places, the electricity comes from coal, which is even dirtier than gasoline.

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  • Nata T
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    nobody dumps electricity into the ground at night, that is beyond stupid.

    The chevy volt only uses electricity from your wall plug if you plug it in. You do not have to plug it in and instead you will use the gasoline engine.

    the overall thermodynamic efficiency of electricity and an Internal Combustion Engine is nearly the same. By the time you run a generator with a steam boiler of gas turbine and then transport the power and store it an run a electric motor versus just a gas/diesel engine its all about the same.

  • 1 decade ago

    Power stations and electric motors are far more efficient than combustion engines.

    From a previous post:

    The Chevrolet Volt in electric mode gets 64km from 8.8kWh of electricity, ie just under 0.14kWh/km.

    Coal power stations typically emit something like 960g CO2/kWh or around there (newer ones emit less, older ones typically more)

    You should probably add a bit for grid/battery inefficiencies.

    CO2 emissions per km for the Chevrolet Volt, powered by coal, are therefore about 135g/km. Global average midsized car in 2003 was 198g, apparently:…

    Very few countries use pure coal; Poland and South Africa get close, with 90%+ of electricity from coal. Most countries use a significant proportion of non-coal fuel. In the US, electricity emissions are below 700g/kWh, so the Volt gets under 100g CO2/km, better than any similarly sized non-hybrid petrol or diesel car. In the UK, it gets about 60-70g CO2/km, better than any combustion engine car. In France, it gets under 12g CO2/km, about 90% less than the EU average car.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    When they die will the Battery be dumped in a landfill or recycled.

    Does the cold affect the battery like Car battery's? Battery's lose power in the cold.

  • 1 decade ago

    If u consider the amt of green house gases they release during there use they are 95%more eco friendly than our ic engine vehicles

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


  • 1 decade ago

    NO ,

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