Are electric vehicles really so climate friendly?

For those who belive electric cars are better for the environment,
Actually I think it is Governments and car makers who are trying to get in higher revenues and taxes.
Electric cars cost virtually double a standard car, do less miles, cost more to insure, more to repair and service , and make vast amounts of pollution in South America where the minerals for the batteries are mined. But the EU dont care about that it’s taxes they are thinking about.
This has all been organised by Germany and France as they benefit the most, the logical way to cut pollution and help the planet is to make cars last longer, a typical electric car battery lasts 9 years, but making the battery alone pollutes more than making a petrol or diesel car.


I watched a TEDX talk recently in which the speaker pointed out the need to consider the cost of manufacture of a new car when scrapping, which again is a massive source of pollution.

Depends on where you ultimately get your 'leccy.

If hydro, wind, solar or, dare I say it, nuclear then the power generation will not emit CO2

Some of the rest of your post is a bit wide of the mark I think - in any case longer term we have little choice except to switch away from hydrocarbon fuels.

Indeed although it is not always easy to come up with the figures necessary to make a meaningful judgement.

Manufacture of an average car is 17 tonnes of CO2, apparently; equivalent to 113k km at 150g/km.

Modern cars should cover more than 70k miles, of course so the bulk of most cars’ emissions is driving, not building the car - but the latter is a substantial fraction.

FWIW I drive a 13 year old car that has done 90k miles - though I am starting to look at a new one.

a Friend of mine was so besotted with his leccy gokart until he needed a new battery pack after 5 years. The quote he was given made him go out and buy a new proper car. My car is 14 years old and 520K on the clock and i dont intend looking for a replacement yet.


An average of 37k a year - that’s a lot of driving, even if it’s kilometres, not miles. What do you drive if you don’t mind me asking?

Even the new stop start batteries are causing a problem, mine died after 5 years, a new one cost 190 Euro against about 80 for a standard one. How much do you save stopping your car at traffic lights etc over 5 years? No where near 100 euros.

Hmmm… The article’s author researches and writes very much within a ‘classical economics’ (broadly neo-liberal) conceptual framework, and is linked to the conservative Ifo Institute for Economic Research - also heavily criticised by environmentalists. This may be why he uses comparisons based on the past energy generation mix in Germany. The comparison looks very different here in France, where fossil fuels only account for about 8% of all electricity; moreover, all economies need to be - and many are - moving very quickly away from any use of fossil fuels, whether in cars or power stations.

In France it’s mainly nuclear power, any thoughts what it’s going to cost us to decommission those stations when their life is done, not to mention the radioactive waste that is put in storage.

Unfortunately it is all about being able to stick a lower emissions label on the car - not necessarily about saving the punter money.

I must check the Mazda - it is supposed to recuperate energy when coasting and charge a capacitor bank which is then used when the car is stopped so ought to load the battery less.

I really don’t understand this. Do cars that have stop start systems use different batteries from other cars? I can imagine that it might be prudent to fit a slightly larger battery in terms of amp hours but that wouldn’t affect the price by very much at all. I’m also surprised that their lifespan suffers either as, in general, lead acid batteries prefer being used and recharge to resting dormant. The batteries that I have had to replace at regular intervals are for the car that I use on high days and holidays, not on the one that I use every day, 365 days per year.

I didn’t realise it until Barrie’s post but yes - it looks like they use batteries of, or closer to, a “deep cycle” construction.

A regular car battery sustains a heavy load for a short period of time, typically a small fraction of its rated capacity - it has a large area of relatively thin plates to achieve this. It then spends the rest of its life on charge.

With the “no idle” systems the battery has to continue to run a/c, demist heating elements etc if they are on when the engine stops (as well as turn the starter to get the engine going again) - so it is discharged much more deeply than a normal car battery.

Deep cycle batteries have thicker plates than regular car batteries, hence are usually more expensive.

Lead acid batteries really want to be kept charged - the car you use every day does this. The car you use once in a while will discharge its battery - insoluble lead sulphate forms on the plates, reducing the plate area and causing the electrolyte to degrade, hence having to replace the battery much sooner than its nominal lifespan.

You might not realise that the battery has significantly discharged, if it does manage to retain enough capacity to crank the engine when you need.

This isn’t just about electric cars but it explains about driver monitoring which is now mandatory on all new cars,trucks,buses from 2022. It’s even been tested on trains and airplane simulators for pilot training.

Pretty much the reason I want to swap cars before 2022.

I predict at least a short term upswing in the price of used motors in a couple of years time.

I hadn’t thought about a/c and other things running while the engine was stopped, I can see why that might be an issue. I use deep cycle leisure batteries on a boat and they’re really not suited for using as a starter battery. They cost no more than my car batteries though so I wonder why the hybrid batteries for the stop start cars need to cost so much.

Huge investment and subsidy has gone into nuclear over the last 70 years - we should have - and still should - put that and more into energy conservation and renewables.
A friend of mine, who manufactures a super-insulation material, calculated that with the amount of money it took to bail out the banks in 2008 he could have made almost every house in the UK a passive house - which would have approximately halved UK energy consumption (actually at that time about 85% of household energy use went on heating, but less in non-domestic uses).

Our car has a stop/start battery which costs double and only lasted five years, however over the lifetime of the car the C02 emissions will be slightly lower than they would have been without this facility, well that’s the theory.

Part of the impetus is CO2, yes.

But it is also about particulates from idling engines, especially diesel.

Yes but that’s a fudge too as diesel cars are better for the planet than petrol ones . But not better for us. They made cars heavier and bigger which makes them safer but they should have invested in better designed engines to save fuel.
If you look at mist modern cars the side and back windows are small compared to 10 years ago, some are really bad to see out of but they pass with a better NCAP safety rating. In my opinion your more likely to have a accident though.

Volvo XC90, 2.5 ltr (5Cyl)

These stop start systems not only load up the batteries, they also knacker the starter motors, and other components of the cars, not too mention the increased emissions by using the stop/start, all to do with money making nothing to do with safety or the environment. Similar with the distance keeping brakes, these maybe fine in the towns but at 90 mph on the german autobahn, they are a downright danger to life and limb. If people were taught to drive the cars properly and concentrate on the driving the manufacturers wouldnt need to install such money grabbing and making extras.