THE LEX COLUMN: Electric vehicles not all that much cleaner
Only in economies using more nonfossil fuels does large-scale adoption of electric vehicles reduce carbon sufficiently
As with batteries, debates on electric vehicles are polarised. Sparks flew in Germany last week. The Institute for Economic Research claimed an electric vehicle produces more carbon emissions than a diesel car. Volkswagen claimed the opposite: its electric Golf produces less emissions than the diesel version. Both claims are true. A relatively high weighting of coal generation in Germany’s power mix is the foundation of the institute’s claim. Add to that the energy intensity of making the batteries for Tesla’s Model 3 used in their comparison. Adjusting for that means a Mercedes diesel actually produces less carbon over its lifetime. Lex calculates based on current generation profiles that the same holds true for the US and China. Both rely on coal-powered electricity. Only in economies using more nonfossil fuels, such as the UK and France, does large-scale adoption of electric vehicles reduce carbon sufficiently. A vehicle’s battery is equally important. The institute estimates th...