The Jeuns

Switching to an Electric Vehicle: A Positive Impact on the Climate

May 8, 2024 | by The Jeuns

A vehicle’s impact on the climate begins even before it hits the road. Jarod Kelly, a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory, studies the emissions created over a vehicle’s lifetime. He found that manufacturing an electric vehicle (EV) can produce slightly more carbon pollution than a gas-powered vehicle due to the energy required to make EV batteries. However, the switch to an EV is still better for the climate.

On average, driving an EV creates significantly less carbon pollution than a comparable gas-powered car. Within 20,000 miles, the EV will have offset the extra carbon pollution created during manufacturing. According to Kelly, in the second year of typical operation, the EV will start to show a net benefit in terms of emissions.

The break-even point for EVs varies based on the vehicle model and driving location. Areas with a cleaner electric grid will reach the break-even point faster. Even in regions where electricity is primarily sourced from coal, EVs still emit less carbon pollution over their lifetime compared to gas-powered cars.

While it takes more energy to manufacture EVs, they remain a more climate-friendly option. This research highlights the importance of considering the full life cycle of a vehicle when assessing its environmental impact.

Sarah Kennedy from ChavoBart Digital Media contributed to this report.


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