Juliet McGuire

Electric cars are dirtier than diesel cars

What comes to mind when you think of electric cars? Environmentally friendly fellas, right? Well a new study has found that electric cars are dirtier than diesel cars. But is this really the case? Let’s delve in.

According to the study presented at Munich’s Institute for Economic Research, once you take carbon dioxide emissions related to producing batteries into account as well as the prominent role of coal in German energy, electric vehicles actually emit anywhere from 11 to 28 percent more emissions than diesel ones.

“Considering Germany’s current energy mix and the amount of energy used in battery production, the CO2 emissions of battery-electric vehicles are, in the best case, slightly higher than those of a diesel engine, and are otherwise much higher.”

The study was conducted by Christoph Buchal, professor of physics at the University of Cologne; Hans-Dieter Karl, long-standing IFO energy expert; and Hans-Werner Sinn, former IFO president and professor emeritus at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

As much as I do love a debunked theory, I much prefer the truth

But according to the site electrek, this study has made many of the same mistakes as other studies trying to knock electric cars.

An example used by electrek is that the study assumes that electric car batteries become “hazardous waste” after 150 000 km or ten years, which simply isn’t the case.  150 000km is shorter than the warranty period for an EV battery (generally 160 000km).

The site goes on to say that virtually all automakers working on electric vehicles are also working on recycling the batteries since they are going to still be extremely valuable after being depleted.  And lithium ion batteries do not have a hazardous waste designation in the US – however, the lead acid batteries in every diesel vehicle do.

But the biggest mistake the study is apparently making is that they are comparing the full production and lifecycle of an electric vehicle, including the emission from the electricity uses, against the production and lifecycle of a diesel car without accounting for all the energy used to produce the diesel and supply it to the cars.


The study’s authors say that the EU’s classification of electric cars as having zero emissions is deceptive because they actually produce significant emissions. But then one just needs to recall “Dieselgate” and it feels like everyone is hiding something.


Who should we believe? What do you think? Are electric cars better for the environment in the long run? Or are we all just being conned in to spending more money on gimmicks that don’t actually make any difference at all? It’s a tough one. Conspiracy theorists…go!

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