Electric Cars: How Environment-friendly Are They?

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Electric Cars: How Environment-friendly Are They?

Electric cars must be chosen with a renewable power source in mind / Photo by Getty Images


A reliable method of transportation is a necessity in our modern world. For many people, they try to select the perfect car that will last them years. However, cars and other vehicles have become a large source of air pollution.

Technology has then come up with a solution: cars that run on electric power. What exactly about these cars that makes them efficient and environment-friendly?


Rise in Popularity

Electric vehicles, especially electric cars, have increased in popularity over the past several years. Electric cars and the like are powered exclusively by electricity, and the source of this power varies. This means that the source of energy can often be 100% sustainable and come from renewable sources.

Some of the most popular reasons for purchasing these vehicles are that they reduce one’s dependence on gasoline and fossil fuels, they are more efficient than regular cars when it comes to energy consumption, and they are much easier to maintain than hybrid and gas-powered cars.


Eco-Friendly Factors

When trying to determine just how environment-friendly an electric car can be, there are four factors to be considered.

The first two are the amount and type of tailpipe and well-to-wheel emissions from the car. Tailpipe emissions, also known as direct emissions, are non-existent in electric cars, so on that account, it could be considered that they’re much more eco-friendly than regular cars, which emit a large number of emissions. Well-to-wheel emissions, however, are the by-products created after producing and using the energy given to the car. These include air pollutants and greenhouse gases that can destroy the atmosphere. Depending on the way that the car gets its electricity, the well-to-wheel emissions could actually be quite great.

Gasoline-powered cars can create twice the amount of carbon dioxide than electric vehicles do annually. However, this does not discount the 4,450 pounds still produced by electric cars each year. The next factor to consider for your electric car is the source of electrical energy powering your car, which can depend on your geographical area. Some areas use natural gas, while others may favor nuclear power. If you live in the US, most of the power there is generated by natural gas, which creates about 50% less carbon dioxide emissions than coal, which is the second-largest source of power throughout the country.


High Efficiency

The last factor is the car’s efficiency. Even if electric cars, in general, are eco-friendlier, if they are inefficient in using their power they can also create plenty of harmful emissions and therefore can still be considered terrible choices as vehicles. Electric cars must be chosen with a renewable power source in mind. Several homeowners who get electric cars often consider getting solar panel systems installed onto their houses. It can cost about $11,000 to install these systems, and it can take several years to get that investment back, but one advantage is that the money often used to pay for gasoline could be saved, as the car’s power source would effectively be free.

Electric cars and the like are powered exclusively by electricity, and the source of this power varies / Photo by Getty Images


Aside from the power source, electric cars themselves are able to utilize more of the energy to power the car. About 20% of the energy converted in gasoline cars is actually used to power the engine, while for electric cars, they use about 60% of the converted energy, according to EnergySage.com. When comparing the MPGe, or the mile per gallon equivalent, for both electric cars and gasoline cars, the former is much more efficient in terms of using energy. A typical car can travel about 25 miles with one gasoline gallon’s worth of energy. However, with the same amount of energy, an electric car can traverse four times that distance, or about 100 miles.


Other Perks

Additional perks of electric cars can be that they are cheaper to have when it comes to repairs and maintenance. They have fewer moving parts and require little servicing. There are no radiators, starter motors, or exhaust systems, which often need changing or repairing over time. Aside from the rotor, an electric car’s concerns include only the brakes, tires, and the suspension. Batteries will wear out over time, but most companies will have a warranty for eight years. Even hybrid electric cars that have petrol engines will be less of a hassle to maintain in the long run as the electric motor will support the engine and create less wear, as stated by Ergon.com.

In addition, electric cars appear safer than regular vehicles. Due to their lower center of gravity, they are less likely to roll over in the event of a collision. Also, due to how the bodies are constructed and how durable they are, there is less chance of an explosion or fire occurring, especially considering that there is no gasoline in the engine to serve as fuel for the fire.

While the initial investment can seem steep, in the long run, electric cars can be a reliable and efficient traveling companion for those who also want the added bonus of protecting their environment.