EVs Are Zero Emissions? Not!

I’m sorry, I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room. Electric vehicles (EV) are not zero emissions. This is like saying, “I don’t eat.”

Before you object, let’s ask ourselves a few questions about EVs:

  • What minerals are in the battery and how did we get them?
  • How did the battery get here?
  • Where did the electric come from? Are there a million hamsters on wheels somewhere?

There are a lot of other questions, too, like, “How do we dispose of these batteries?” Maybe they can be recycled; maybe they can’t. But let’s concentrate on the questions from above. 

I recently saw Graham Conway, principal engineer from Southwest Research Institute, discuss and compare the carbon dioxide (CO2) output of conventional, electric and hybrid vehicles. Conway argues that we’re inappropriately rushing to implement EVs. This video (click on the link to watch) is just under 14 minutes, but well worth the time. In it, Conway addresses the true carbon emission footprint of vehicles, the CO2 penalty that would catch most EV proponents off guard. He discusses the complexity of securing the minerals to make EV batteries and the current renewable electrical energy, factors that determine the true CO2 output over the vehicle’s life. Based on Conway’s expert advice, we should only be considering hybrids today, based on current available technology.

Getting more of these minerals is going to be interesting. We all like tax credits, but to be eligible for some of the new credits available under the Inflation Reduction Act, there are restrictions surrounding where battery minerals can come from. You can find these rules by clicking here for a prior Our Thoughts On article written by a Schneider Downs Auto Advisor team member. Clearly, we’ll need to find new ways to get these minerals from the eligible countries, which is just another factor. 

The video was well received by controllers at our latest Pennsylvania Automotive Association meeting. Let us know your thoughts, and please feel free to reach out to your SD Auto Advisor to discuss.

About Schneider Downs Automotive Industry Group 

The Schneider Downs Automotive industry group serves dealers of all sizes, from single-point locations to mega-dealerships. Our members cross departments and meet regularly to ensure efficiencies in the services provided to our clients and discuss issues, regulations and trends affecting the automotive industry.  

To learn more, visit our Automotive Industry Group page.  

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