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T&E-Electric Beats Diesel For CO2, Despite Marchionne Claim

T&E-Electric Beats Diesel For CO2, Despite Marchionne Claim.

“EV’s sustainability will improve further with battery technology advances and as more batteries are re-used for electricity storage or recycled”

Brussels-based green lobby group Transport & Environment (T&E) said electric cars emit less lifetime CO2 then diesel cars, even if the electricity is generated by the dirtiest methods, and will produce even less as more renewable electricity is generated.

Diesel cars have been pushed by European governments for their CO2 advantage over gasoline power, but are now coming under pressure because of their noxious, sometimes life-threatening, emissions.

T&E published its report after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne said electric cars are more of a threat to the planet than a potential saviour, and governments should stop forcing them on the buying public. T&E said it started compiling the report before Marchionne’s remarks, so it wasn’t published as a rebuttal. It didn’t name Marchionne.

Marchionne said even though electric cars are said to be more environmentally friendly than internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars, the “cradle-to-grave” impact of battery power produces a different result.

Not so, said T&E in a report published Thursday.

“Even in countries with the highest GHG (green house gases) intensity of electricity generation – Poland and Germany – the EV (electric vehicle) performs better on a lifecycle basis – including the emissions in manufacturing the battery and vehicle than the diesel car. Using the Polish average, an electric vehicle emits 25% less CO2 (carbon dioxide) over its lifetime, while in Sweden an EV emits 85% less. Meanwhile, EV’s sustainability will improve further with battery technology advances and as more batteries are re-used for electricity storage or recycled,” T&E said.

No subsidies please
Marchionne had warned governments not to use subsidies to artificially stimulate demand for electric cars without first making sure the source of their energy has been cleaned up, otherwise this would increase the production of CO2 to dangerous levels and endanger the planet.

Marchionne’s thoughts came as the automotive industry gears itself up for what the conventional wisdom suggests is a massive wave of electric car buying and pressure mounts to end the sale of ICE cars completely.

France has said it wants to ban the sale of ICE cars by 2040, and was quickly joined by Britain. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was thought to be considering the idea.

Already many European governments subsidize electric car and plug-in hybrid sales. Germany offers 4,000 euros ($4,700) if you buy an all electric vehicle or a fuel cell one, and 3,000 euros ($3,500) for a plug-in hybrid. France offers up to 10,000 euros ($11,700) if you trade in an old diesel or 6,300 euros ($7,300) for an EV purchase.

“Before we assume electric vehicles are the ultimate answer, we need to consider the environmental impact of the entire cradle-to-grave lifecycle, particularly the source of the electricity,” Marchionne said.

He said about 2/3rds of global electricity is produced using fossil fuel, with coal at around 40% the worst in terms of pollution.

“The total amount of electricity produced globally has more than doubled over the last 15 years, pushing usage of fossil fuels in tonnage terms to alarmingly high levels. Even if electrification is being widely pushed often for political reasons – as the solution that will save the planet, the reality is a little different.”

“The carbon emissions linked to electric cars, where generation is coal based are, in the best scenario, equivalent to an average gasoline-powered vehicle,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne said before electric vehicles can become ubiquitous, energy must be made cleaner.

“Forcing the introduction of electric vehicles at a global level, without first resolving the issue of how to produce clean energy, represents a major threat to the very existence of the planet,” Marchionne said.

T&E’s Yoan Le Petit doesn’t agree.

“Today an electric vehicle driving on Polish electricity – the most carbon intensive in the E.U. – still has a lower impact on the climate than a new diesel car. With the rapid decarbonisation of the E.U. electricity mix, on average electric vehicles will emit half the emissions of a diesel car by 2030 including the manufacturing emissions,” Le Petit said in the report.

Turning to the question of the supply of critical battery ingredients like cobalt and lithium, T&E said this won’t stop the transition to electric vehicles.

“In the case of lithium, reserves could last for an estimated 185 years. The extraction of these materials should be certified against high standards to manage environmental and social impacts. However in the long term, innovation will help reduce the quantity of critical methods used in EVs,” T&E said.

“The electric vehicle revolution will lead to a sharp increase in demand for critical metals. But the evidence shows there will be no supply constraints if there are investments in new mines and processes. The industry must however ensure that minerals are sourced sustainably,” T&E said.


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