British Report Decimates Electric Cars

Bad news for the electric and hybrid car industry. Ironically, the analysis was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, a group funded by the British government and the car industry, seeking to accelerate the shift to low-carbon vehicles. Unfortunately the report has shown what many of us suspected: that promotion of hybrid and electric cars is one of the greatest scams of our generation.

Problems with Industry Specs

When the European Union (EU) tests vehicles to determine how much CO2 is emitted from the tailpipes of passenger cars, several control factors are used, including:

  • Based on the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) which tests urban and extra-urban driving speeds, which consist of lower speed limits.
  • Temperature was about 25°C, which is higher than the average temperature in England.

Due to these conditions, and the difference between the test atmosphere and the real world, the study indicates that tailpipe CO2 could actually be 15-40% higher than noted. So conclusion number one is that the fuel-efficiency and CO2 emissions listed on the vehicle at the dealership are actually significantly higher.

Vehicle Life Cycle

The vehicle life cycle contains four parts: production, fuel production, in-use (the ownership period) and disposal. From the onset, CO2 emissions from the production of a hybrid or EV vehicle are much higher than the emissions from a normal gasoline vehicle. Just 23% of the lifetime CO2 emissions (a little over 11,000lbs) are spent during the production of a mid-size gasoline vehicle. That number jumps to 31% of initial emissions for a mid-size hybrid and 46% for a mid-size EV.

That initial amount of CO2 emissions has been argued by environmentalists as being okay because it’s just a one-time expenditure. Fine, but that’s a big expenditure. Considering that a person would have to drive at least 80,000 miles before producing a net saving in CO2 emissions, and given that it’s incredibly likely that you will need a new battery for the car (remember the initial expenditure, add another 24% to the lifetime CO2 emissions).

It’s true, EREVs and EVs do produce less CO2 than a standard gasoline-powered car, about 11,000lbs less, but when everything else is factored in (emissions from coal-powered electricity grid, the extra care needed to recycle the battery, the fact that the battery will need to be replaced) and you’re not looking at much – if any – CO2 emission savings.

The Bottom Line

A hybrid or EV car costs at least $6,000 more than a standard gasoline-powered vehicle. The average yearly cost of gasoline is about $1,200. ((Link, please)) The average yearly cost of gasoline for a hybrid is about $1,000. That’s a difference of $200 a year. At that rate, it would take over 30 years for the vehicle to be financially viable.

With this new study suggesting that a hybrid will save very little, if any, CO2 emission savings, then the vehicle makes very little sense environmentally.

While an EV fairs better with CO2 emissions, one has to take into account the fact that the car is being plugged into an electric grid which runs on, what now? Yes, coal, which also produces CO2.

Hopefully this study untangles the spin. If people want to drive electric vehicles, they are free to do so, but we should not be deceived into thinking it is the economically or environmentally correct choice.

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