Published on July 24th, 2023 | by Sounder Rajen0
Are EVs Really More Environmentally Friendly Than ICE Vehicles?
While EVs don’t produce any tailpipe smoke, they do emit another toxic particle
Electric vehicles (EVs) are touted as being the only good choice of vehicle these days as told to us by both the auto industry and by governments around the world, but is this really true? While we all know that EVs don’t emit any tailpipe emissions, are these cars truly ZERO emissions? Apparently not.
So going electric makes sense, assuming the electricity used is generated cleanly. Sadly, this isn’t always the case as Germany has reactivated some of its coal-fired power stations last year to compensate for the loss of Russian pipeline gas and many countries around the world are still massively dependent on fossil fuel for power.
Moreover, it is another kind of emissions that is the focus of a recent article by David Zipper in The Atlantic. In this article, he reminds us that while EVs produce no tailpipe emissions they do generate other toxic substances into the environment, just like ICE cars, only in even larger amounts.
More specifically, an EV emits tire emissions, and no, these are not the plumes of smoke produced by cars doing burnouts. These emissions are far less visible, but are highly toxic and these toxic particles are produced, in massive amounts, every single time a tire rolling along a pavement at regular driving speeds.
These particles float through the air and get into our lungs and our waterways, causing health problems to humans and wildlife. In essence, The Atlantic is reminding us that EVs are even more toxic to the environment than ICE vehicles thanks to their bigger curb weights and resulting greater tire wear.
On top of that, a University of Washington study in 2020 tracked a collapse in Northwestern-coho-salmon populations back to a chemical called 6PPD, which is added to tires to reduce wear rates, and particles have also been linked to respiratory problems, kidney and neurological damage and birth defects in people.
While one could argue that the SUV trend which takes most of the market away from sedans is also a result of increased pollution levels, and it’s true that a petrol SUV can weigh more than a smaller electric sedan but in an apples to apples comparison between electric and ICE cars or SUVs, the electric ones are always heavier.
However, this may not be the case forever as battery technology is evolving rapidly and future EVs are likely to have more energy-efficient power cells that take up less space and contribute less mass than those fitted to EVs today so perhaps at some point in the future, EVs will truly be more environmentally friendly than ICE vehicles.
Manufacturers are also doing their best with the materials and technology they currently have and that includes tires so it appears that while EVs are, on paper, more environmentally friendly than ICCE vehicles, they are not truly Zero emissions.