A study by engineers based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has questioned some common assumptions about the environmental credentials of electric cars.
Published this week in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, the "comparative environmental life cycle assessment of conventional and electric vehicles" begins by stating that "it is important to address concerns of problem-shifting". By this, the authors mean that by solving one problem, do electric cars create another? And, if so, does this environmental harm then outweigh any advantages?
The study highlights in particular the "toxicity" of the electric car's manufacturing process compared to conventional petrol/diesel cars. It concludes that the "global warming potential" of the process used to make electric cars is twice that of conventional cars.
The study also says - as has been noted many times before - that electric cars do not make sense if the electricity they consume is produced predominately by coal-fired power stations. "It is counterproductive to promote [electric vehicles] EVs in regions where electricity is produced from oil, coal, and lignite combustion," it concludes.