10 February 2023

EV: how much does it pollute throughout its lifecycle?

EVs are a sustainable solution that greatly reduces the environmental footprint. Let’sfocus on the whys.

Thanks to various studies elaborated in recent years, together with the market’s evolution, looking at the figures we can demonstrate that choosing EVs is a truly sustainable option from many points of view. As a matter of fact, EVs guarantee a vastly superior performance from an environmental point of view compared to currently available petrol-powered cars: they improve air quality, and consequently, people’s well-being. This overall reduction is particularly true for greenhouse gas emissions, while local emissions from car exhausts are written off and noise pollution is greatly lowered.


Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

One of the main reasons that make EVs more sustainable than their petrol-powered counterparts is that the former generates much less greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, we’ve highlighted that they cut 70% of CO2 emissions throughout the lifecycle compared to an internal combustion engine (Source: ICCT). It’s also important to specify that this percentage is destined to grow in the future. First and foremost, the reduction in greenhouse gases depends on EVs running on electricity stored in the battery, thus avoiding the need to burn fossil fuels to generate the energy that powers the engine. However, the size of greenhouse gas emissions generated by EVs depends on the energy source used to power their batteries: if the electricity comes from renewable sources like wind, and solar, EVs can be virtually emissions-free. If instead
electricity is generated by fossil fuels, these vehicles can still generate emissions, albeit at significantly lower levels compared to petrol-powered cars.


Reduction of local polluting emissions

Replacing combustion with electricity is the way to do away with emissions typical of traditional engines. Having nothing to burn, this entails a strong reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC), ammonia (NH3), nanoparticles, and other pollutants coming from the exhaust that combines in the atmosphere to form other secondary pollutants. Furthermore, these pollutants are contributing to the creation of atmospheric particulate matter (PM), worsening the air quality (Source: Transport & Environment). All of these substances are extremely harmful to humans, animals, and the entire ecosystem. EVs also deliver the added perk of reducing emissions of metallic particles during braking. Petrol-powered cars mostly use disc brakes that generate polluting emissions. On the contrary, EVs use the engine as a braking tool, reducing the need to act on braking clamps and consequently reducing emissions. It’s called regenerative braking and allows for maximizing energy recovery. So, instead of wasting energy through heat with the brakes, the system used the electric engine as a generator to charge the battery. When the driver brakes or uses the reverse drive, the electric engine works as a generator, converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electricity stored in the battery. Such a system boosts the car’s range and reduces the need to use traditional brakes and their related emissions of metallic particles. (Source: Transport & Environment).


Noise reduction

According to the European Environmental Agency, half of the urban population is exposed to levels of noise pollution north of 55 dBs. EVs are the solution to this issue because they’re much quieter compared to petrol-powered vehicles. Their low noise output is due to the lack of an internal combustion engine and to lower noise from tires rolling on the road, with both elements representing the main sources of noise in a traditional vehicle. Hence, investing in electric mobility can not only improve air quality but also, tackle noise pollution. As a matter of fact, the amount of noise reduction generated from EVs compared to traditional vehicles basically amounts to halving vehicle traffic. On average, we estimate a 3 dB reduction compared to a petrol-powered car traveling at 50km/h next to a pedestrian.

In urban centers, where traffic noise levels can get particularly high, the consequences of noise pollution can be severe. Scientific studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between traffic noises and health issues like anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, hypertension, cardiac diseases, strokes, as well as hearing issues. Creating a quieter and more enjoyable environment for drivers, pedestrians, and dwellers helps improve living standards while preserving the well-being of people constantly exposed to traffic noises.


Electric mobility: a choice that’s good for us and the planet

It reduces the environmental footprint, tackles climate change, and helps reach the Zero Emissions goal. These are some of the reasons that switching to electric mobility can make us happy. In Ewiva we work every day to make this choice ever simpler and more accessible, creating Italy’s largest ultra-fast charging network, open to all EVs and powered by 100% renewable energy.