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You’re Being Lied to About Electric Cars

MotorTrend, Jonny Lieberman Science has repeatedly shown EVs are better for humans, despite the meme you just retweeted. “I’ve heard all the supposed arguments. It seems every time anything even tangentially related to electric cars is published, certain people feel compelled to share their own research. You’ve probably heard it all, too: A Prius is worse for the planet than a Hummer. EVs are coal-powered cars. Electric cars produce more CO2 than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Lithium mining is uniquely bad for the environment. Cobalt mining relies largely on slave labor, if not child slave labor. Actually, that last part is sadly true. But the rest? Lies. And I’m not even going to get into the hypocrisy of posting anti-EV rhetoric from a lithium-ion-battery-powered phone or laptop. The first thing we should talk about is direct versus indirect emissions. Gas-powered vehicles have both direct and indirect emissions, while electric cars—I’m specifically talking about battery-powered vehicles, or BEVs, but we will just call them EVs—only have indirect emissions. How so? Both types of cars/trucks/SUVs are manufactured, and the process of building cars involves a global manufacturing effort that uses energy from all sorts of sources. This includes everything from the diesel fuel used to mine and transport metal to the electricity used to manufacture tires. A big knock on EVs is that because most battery production is centered in China, itself a notorious coal-burning country, battery-powered cars begin their service lives with more indirect emissions to their credit. The above is true. If you take an ICE vehicle and an EV and lock them in a room, by the time the world ends the undriven electric car will have already resulted in more bad stuff than the undriven gas-powered car. But here’s the crazy part: Cars are driven. Wild, I know, but it’s true. The more EVs get driven, the cleaner they get. This last part would be especially true if the energy used to power EVs is itself CO2-free. But even if it’s not, EVs still lead to less emissions over time than cars that burn gasoline…”

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