Shocking electric car news

(08.10.2012) Electric cars are often seen as an environmental saviour because they themselves emit no greenhouse gases. But a new paper in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, written by researchers from NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme, led by Professor Anders Hammer Strømman, shows that the production of electric cars can have more environmental effects than the production of conventional vehicles.

Journalists from around the globe have reported on the story, including from the BBC, the Detroit Bureau, Gizmodo, Slashdot, and Fast Company. There's a particularly good back-and-forth about the issue on the website of Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail.

The bottom line? While electric cars that derive their electricity from low-carbon sources are good, electric cars whose power comes from coal-fired power plants are not good. And the manufacture of electric cars is currently so polluting that, as one of the co-authors of the report told the Globe and Mail, "because the production of an electric car causes roughly twice the climate impact of producing a comparable conventional car, it must run on rather clean electricity to ‘make up' for the initial climate impact." So the paper is a clear call to auto manufacturers that they need to find ways to cut the environmental impacts from electric car production.

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