Are electric cars really safe for the environment?

I was thinking and according to my knowledge, the answer would be "depends". They don't produce harmful gases (apparently).

The materials used in manufacturing electronic components create harmful gases and materials. Also power companies are required to power "refill stations" for cars. Generators need fuel too... So even more electrical issues...

So is the impact of electrical cars going to be more positive than negative?

I am curious to know if they rectified the industrial pollution problems.

If your electricity is generated by coal, the answer is no. All you accomplish is moving the pollution to the power plant where the electricity is generated.

If the electricity is generated by a renewable resource, such as wind, then the electric car is much better for the environment than the gasoline powered car.

Electricity generated by wind has a cost of production of only 4 cents per kilowatt hour, so it is competitive economically with electricity generated by coal. (1)

If the elctricity is generated by solar photovoltaic cells, that is also very good for the environment, it is just a very expensive way to produce electricity.

Solar photovoltaic cells are very expensive to purchase and install. If you finance the cost of solar photovoltaic cells with a loan on your house at a 6% interest rate, the interest cost alone will be approximately 45 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity produced. (2.)

That is about ten times the cost of electricity produced by wind power.
Nothing IS safe for the freakin enviroment anymore is it?

It's safer, not safe. It still doesn't get us close to being carbon nutral and far from reducing polution, but it's still safer than gas.
Electric cars are charged at night when the demand for electricity is low. We build power plants to supply enough electricity during the day when everyone's using it, so there's excess capacity at night. Here in California, we generate a lot of hydroelectric power from water running downhill. During the night we use the excess electricity to pump the water back uphill, so we can make more electricity the next day when we need it.

So electricity at night is 'cheaper' from an environmental standpoint.

Now as for the energy and materials used in the cars. Electric motors last longer than gas motors. The batteries have some nasty chemicals in them, but they aren't necessarily harder on the environment so long as manufacturers follow good practices for storage, disposal, recycling, etc. We need to have laws about that. They do a much better job of it in Europe.

Just think if hybrid cars came out that cost the same as gas cars but got twice the mileage. Within five years we could cut our gas consumption by a third or more, pretty easily. Think of the tremendous impact that could have.
Well, electric cars probably wouldn't be giving off harmful pollutants. But here's the problem: if they run on electricity, you'll use electricity to power them. And using electricity also contributes to global warming. I don't think that the air would be polluted as much, but there would still be a lot of pollutants filling the air when you use electricity to power the car.
mrknowitall is on the right track. Electricity is cheaper at night and it is not feasible to turn down the power plants at night and then power them back up at dawn, it takes too much energy to spool them back up. The power plants take the excess electricity and shunt it to the Earth. Destroy it. So recharging your Electric Vehicle at night is using energy that has been made but was slated for destruction. In effect you are making the power plants more efficient by using the power that has already been generated instead of wasting fuel on making power that is never used.

To go a step further, by using Photo Voltaic Panels to capture the sun's energy and converting it to electricity for powering your EV there is no CO2 production and the cost of commuting or running errands has dropped to nothing.

Solar Panels on the roof of your business and electric step vans for deliveries would cut the operating cost of your fleet a considerable amount and pollution to zero.

After the batteries in your EV no longer give you the range that you need for travel the batteries are still good enough to store power for your home or business removing you even more from the grid.
They are very inefficient generating electricity is inefficient for a start, but charging battery's is not the best use of electric. The exhaust gasses will be remote,but far greater than any internal combustion engine. Unfortunately!
To get the real benefits, electric cars need to be part of a system that includes alternative energy sources; nuclear, solar, wind.

But you don't wait on one part to build the others. As others have said, there is excess generating capacity at night now.

There's no particular reason manufacturing an electric car has to been any more polluting than manufacturing a gasoline car.
Good question. When you see questions in the auto section on here that say "I'm trying to change the oil in my girlfriend's car. Where is the oil filter on an '83 p.o.s.?" it really makes you wonder if some people should be permitted around machines at all.

If they are properly maintained and the batteries recycled there shouldn't be an issue ... *sigh* like that's gonna happen.

Keep your fingers crossed.
Actually, no better. Where do you think the electricity comes from? Power plants running on fossil fuels!
there better than oil

and theres not a war going on because of electric cars
what about the huge batteries you have to discard and replace every five years or so that can't be to good
The best direct comparison I can give you is this

2002 Toyota Rav 4 3.8 tons of co2 /year (mostly fossil fuel)
2000 Toyota Rav4 7.2 tons of co2/year (2wd petrol)
There have been significant advancements in BEVs since 2002

Electric vehicles pollute ROUGHLY half as much as their petroleum equivalent. (on a distance comparison). Even when recharged directly from coal fired power stations. If the recharge is from renewable green sources this reduces to Zero.

If you want to do a direct comparison.
Coal fired electricity produces around 950 grams of co2 per kw/h.
(figures sourced from uranium industry site seen more favorable ones)

If you know the vehicle's battery size Watt hours ( volts x amp/hour) and range. You can get a figure for grams /km for comparison a

Prius gets 106g/km
Toyota Corolla (1.8 l) is 174g/km
Hummer h3 (3.7 L) is 348g/km

Contrary to what has been said above it makes little difference when you recharge your car. You will PAY less for the electricity if you charge of peak. You will still consume the same amount of energy and emit the same pollution. Power stations do have plenty of reserves at night time.(they tend to run closer to minimum load.) That is still the best time to charge them.

Manufacturing emissions are similar. There are probably more electronic management systems in petroleum vehicles but this is balanced out by batteries in the E.V. (The batteries are recyclable)

A charging or battery exchange station would be connected to the grid. More envirnmentally friendly than petroleum fuel stations. No fuel tankers. Less step up costs.

Note. Driving a vehicle that pollutes less. Isn't safe for the environment, only Safer. If you have a vehicle that pollutes less, but you drive more the net result could be worse.

Anybody can reduce their emissions by driving less.

In summary a positive as long as you can resist the urge not to drive the car more often.

You might like to do a search on clean coal technology as this has good potential to improve the situation further.

P.s."Shunting power to ground" got a few laughs at the plant today.
Hi! -this is a very dynamic question!

I have a 2006 hybrid car and went through all of the pros & cons against all of the issues that your question has brought up (a freakish amount of research!). I agree with 'iamacarguyru' and 'mr knowitall'- all of these factors come into play. There is also the question of "How do we dispose of these horribly non-environmentally batteries in the future". Contrary to some people's responses, they aren't totally recycleable- yet. I hedged my bets with the future and opted to attempt to make a contribution to helping the earth right now...!

One issue that hasn't been brought up and is another side to ponder is "Is it safe for YOU?". While driving a hybrid vehicle, you are exposed to high levels of electro-magnetic energy waves which is suspected of causing various types of Cancer. Since these hybrid vehicles are so new and have been designed to address only environmental issues, not much thought has been given to shielding the driver from this extremely harmful environment . I get a cootie-reaction when I drive my car. I contacted Lexus to get statistics on what the EM Output Ratings were and they have NEVER gotten back to me...

Just another square on the Rubik's Cube!
Your question is excellent, and it contains its own answers. "Depends": is the electricity generated by a coal-fired plant, nuclear power, solar power, wind turbine, water power...
Is the battery lead-acid? Ni Cd? Is it recycled at the end of life?

It is not a simple yes no question, and I would not trust any absolute answer.
It depends on the source of the electricity. If nano-solar technology is ever developed to the point that people could charge their cars at home with no drain on power plants, they might be a viable solution. It is in its infancy right now. Very expensive.
It's still the best way to go in my opinion. You can recycle the batteries (and I think it's the law to do so). Also if you're backing out because they run on fossil fueled power electricity, then that should inspire people to use solar, wind, tidal or other types of electrical energy. People forget that they can produce their own electricity without the aide of a corporation.
electric cars doesn't emit co2, but the source of their power do,if the generators are not run by hydropower or geothermal power, but if those run by coal, or other fossil fuel powered plant have CSS or carbon storage system that prevent the co2 from being emitted to the atmosphere, then this is better than those fossil fuel operated vehicles that don't care installing co2 reducers.
electrical cars (EVs) are going to be more positive than negative, compared to fossil, bio-fuel or hydrogen equivalent.

the reasons are the efficiencies of the energy conversion process - larger = more efficient by the laws of thermodynamics, small infernal combustion engines (ice) often don't run at optimum load or temperature, and are not constantly monitored or maintained. Hydrogen invloves a complex logistical storage & distribution network, when for electric it already comes direct to your home or work.

batteries, which should last decades, are easy to recycle and have fewer exotic metals (especially modern nano-Li-ion compared to ice (catalyctic converters, oil, anti-freeze etc) or fuel-cells.

There are no tail-pipe emmissions, not even water (which causes health problems & building damage). Any electic field is likely to be less damaging than the very high-voltage spark ignition systems in petrol cars. and no more than household appliances; and sited in an effective faraday cage to shield you.

evs are quiet & a lot less stressfull to drive than smelly clunky ice.

EVs can play a major role in the adoption of renewable genrators becuase of their energy storage - a car that can hold a charge for 200 miles, but only does 20 miles a day, can sell the spare capacity back to the grid

evs still require steel, tyres, paint, etc. but as the technology available now is far superior in performance, simplicity & reliability & environmental impact over the heaps of junk sold by the car industry, we just need to ask why we can't all have a 90mph, 200mile per charge 5seater,... ev option now.
NO but it would be cleaner to get your fuel from the generator as they would produce much pollution than individual stations.

The answers post by the user, for information only, does not guarantee the right.

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