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Green living

Are Electric Vehicles Actually Beneficial?


An electric vehicle Tesla driving down the road

2020-11-23

The New Wave

The automobile industry has seen many changes over the years. Previously, many cherished the sports car. Companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Bugatti created innovative vehicles that spurred excitement throughout the world. But recently, another product has taken the world by storm and that product is the electric vehicle or EV. Companies like Tesla have taken the world by storm and have created a massive following.

The electric vehicle has sparked newfound life into the automobile industry. Tesla has innovated batteries that can go 400 miles on just one charge. GMC has decided to bring back the Hummer but in the form of an electric vehicle. The Chinese government has given out $60 billion to companies in the form of subsidies and incentives in order to boost the EV industry. With all this investment and excitement you might wonder, what effect are electric vehicles really having on the environment?

No matter where you're located within the United States, recycling is an activity you're very familiar with. There are thousands of recycling programs across the United States. In fact, 94.2 tons of waste were recycled back in 2017! There is no doubt that recycling plays a big role and will continue to play a big role in the conservation of the environment.

The Electric Vehicle

The electric vehicle is a showcase of engineering. The lithium-ion battery is the star of the show. These rechargeable batteries allow these electric vehicles to reach distances that were not possible before. These batteries provide the distinct separation between normal vehicles and EVs. Unlike normal combustion engines that release CO2, these batteries store the energy and release them electrochemically. This process negates air pollution which is the main selling point of the electric vehicle.

But does this benefit outweigh the pollution that occurs in order to produce these vehicles?

Infographic: 7.2 Million Electric Cars Hit the Roads in 2019 | Statista

The Downside of EVs

The production of EVs do not come without a cost to the environment. Many debate whether the damage it takes to produce these vehicles outweighs the actual benefit they have. Electric vehicles are made in a similar manner that a conventional vehicle is made. The main difference is the materials used in the battery that powers the EV. While these batteries are great for storing and dispersing energy, they come with a cost. In fact, the manufacturing of EVs creates more emissions than a regular vehicle because of this.

In order to create these batteries, manufacturers need to mine for rare earth elements. Mining for these elements comes at a high cost. Some of these materials include Lithium, Cobalt, and Nickel. All of these materials only exist below the surface and mining them is damaging to the environment. There is further damage done to the environment when these batteries are assembled. So this begs the question, are EVs really making a positive impact on the environment?

Lithium Ion Battery

Summary

So, are EVs really benefitting the environment? Well, in the long run they are more sustainable than the conventional car. But unfortunately, there are costs associated with this product in the short run. But all faith is not lost! Companies around the globe are working tirelessly to constantly improve the production and engineering of the EV. As it stands right now, demand and funding for electrical vehicles is on the rise. Only time will tell whether or not the electric vehicle will become the norm but as the world progresses, the possibilities are endless!

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