Lauren Ramesbottom

Lauren Ramesbottom

January 21, 2022 5:24 pm


As the popularity of EVs continues to rise in lockstep with the widespread push across the automotive industry to embrace an all-electric future, a common question has revealed itself: is the EV supply chain truly environmentally-friendly? Or does the production of EVs counteract the benefits of an electric car when compared to the emissions of gas-powered vehicles?

Specifically, it’s frequently argued that, although electric vehicles produce less tailpipe emissions than their gas-powered counterparts, the mining of raw materials for batteries is “dirty business”. Furthermore, manufacturing and charging batteries might also produce indirect emissions.

Thick smoke pours from the exhaust pipe on a car.

But according to new research from Yale University, there is simply no contest when we compare life-cycle emissions of EVs to that of fuel-powered vehicles. According to the study, “the totally indirect emissions from EVs pale in comparison to the indirect emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.”

To analyze the total life-cycle emissions of conventional vehicles versus EVs, Yale researches used “a combination of life cycle assessment and energy modeling”, and then calculated an estimated “carbon price” on those emissions to get a better idea of what impact both have on the vehicle market.

Production is now set to begin at the former Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, less than two years after GM announced the massive $2.2 billion investment to fully renovate the facility to build a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs. Pre-production of the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV pickups began at Factory ZERO this fall and GMC HUMMER EV is on track to deliver the first vehicles to customers by the end of the year. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

Their findings, which were reported in the journal of Natural Communications, revealed that “putting a carbon price only on direct tailpipe emissions would lead to a nearly complete phase-out of fossil fuel vehicles. And if both direct and indirect emissions were taxed, this phase-out would speed up.”

“The surprising element was how much lower the emissions of electric vehicles were,” said Stephanie Weber, a postdoctoral researcher in the Yale School of Environment in a press release about the report. “The supply chain for combustion vehicles is just so dirty that electric vehicles can’t surpass them, even when you factor in indirect emissions.”

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