electric-vehicleFinally someone has stated the blindingly obvious…

For years the car industry has argued that electric vehicles are the answer to climate change. They have even had the audacity to call them “zero emission vehicles”.

At the moment, electric vehicles are all the rage. At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show visitors would have been left with only one impression: the future is electric.

Virtually every manufacturer exhibited a car powered by batteries. Electric cars are seen as the future.

The huge hairy elephant in the room has been the obvious question: it all depends on how the electricity is being generated.  A car cannot be a car of the future is it running on the dirty technology of old.

But in the EU, we have the bizarre situation whereby electric cars are counted as “zero emissions” despite the fact that the electricity they use can come from high-carbon fossil fuels such as coal.

But, if you are powering your electric vehicle from electricity from a 30-year old inefficient coal-fired power station running at less than 30 per cent efficiency you will be doing more harm than good. There is no way you can call it “zero emission”.

Now the Brussels based watch-dog, Transport and Environment, has issued a report Electric Cars – from Hype to Reality, that explodes some of the myths of electric vehicles.

The report argues that “Electric cars can help reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector provided two conditions are met: first, they must be more energy-efficient than state-of-the-art conventional vehicles on a ‘tank to wheel’ basis; second, the electricity to power the cars must be sourced from renewable sources.”

Although T&E argue that the first condition appears to have been met, the second condition is “far from guaranteed, as it depends on the type of electricity generation. Electric cars powered by wind or solar energy are obviously superior. But if the electricity comes from coal, hybrids perform better.”

The madness of the current situation means that, under current loopholes under EU rules, carmakers who market electric cars to meet EU targets would have to do less to reduce emissions of conventional cars, meaning an overall increase in both CO2 emissions and oil consumption.

So if these flaws remain unchanged, sales of electric cars will likely lead to higher overall CO2 emissions and oil consumption.

Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment said: “The game for policymakers is cutting emissions and reducing our dependence on oil, not promoting electric cars. The EU must not take its eye off the ball again, and get distracted by technological hype. For electric cars to be a success for the environment, and for the industry, pressure on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions for all cars must be kept up. Promoting electric cars without maintaining pressure on fuel efficiency standards, will kill any chance of success.”

The EU has to realise that electric does not necessarily mean green, because if it is coal, it will be dirty brown.


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