New Study Shows That Diesel Cars Are Much Cleaner Than Most Electric Vehicles

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electric vehicles causing more carbon footprint

In the last few years, electric vehicles have seen a significant rise all over the world. It was such a big hit that the biggest automakers in the market started making plans to go electric. It is also expected that very soon, we can see a 100% switch from diesel cars to EVs. One of the biggest reason to universally choose EVs is the environmentally friendly nature which is a much-needed trait these days. A German automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors, who describe themselves as the only relevant top management consulting firm working exclusively for the auto industry’ is saying that EV might not be as eco-friendly as the industries think it is.

The electric cars do not release carbon emissions, but the problem lies in the production of their lithium-ion batteries. The energy required to make the cells result in a high carbon footprint. It is so high that the automotive experts have estimated that an electric vehicle in Germany would take more than 10 years to break even with an efficient combustion engine’s emissions. Dr. Jan Burgard, managing partner at Berylls said in a statement, “Electric cars appear to be the panacea and reduce emissions by 35 %. After all, electric vehicles do not emit any carbon dioxide while driving – at least that is a widely held opinion.”

Burgard further added, “However, from well to wheel, they do not improve the situation. After all, electricity generation – including for electric cars – is still strongly dependent on fossil fuels in many EU countries. The climate does not care whether carbon dioxide comes from the exhaust pipe or whether it is released when lignite is burned to generate electricity or in energy-intensive battery production.” The study states that building a 500 kilograms EV car battery or bigger in a fossil fuel-powered factory will result in 74% more carbon emissions than producing a traditional vehicle. Burgard says that it is time to consider the diesel approach if the world wants to reach the environmental targets of 2030 EU CO2.

Burgard said, “I miss a technology-agnostic discussion of available solutions, which also includes the potential of the currently demonized diesel engine. We will need it to achieve the EU’s climate targets.” Several others are not convinced with the research report and have lashed it on Twitter. People stated that the report is biased and is coming from the place from where the funding arrives. However, it is essential to consider the dirty process of making a battery and make appropriate adjustments accordingly. While energy companies are moving towards greener initiatives, producing a cleaner battery might also be possible soon.



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  1. I agree that we need precious minerals and that the carbon footprint is pretty high to make the cells (lithium-ion batteries). However the market will get bigger and bigger and the batteries will also get better and better. We might also find alternative solutions and technologies on the way while we progress. For example, Sweden is testing electric road for moving vehicles.

  2. > The study states that building a 500 kilograms EV car battery or bigger in a fossil fuel-powered factory will result in 74% more carbon emissions than producing a traditional vehicle.
    Key words are “fossil-fuel powered”. And electricity can be obtained by clean means. E.g., Tesla’s Gigafactory runs on solar and wind power.

    1. Tesla Gigafactory is in good hope to be powered by wind power. But as of now – that is not the case.
      “Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared on Twitter this weekend that Tesla Gigafactory 1 will be powered 100% by Tesla Solar by the end of 2019.”
      Let’s see, if Tesla WILL BE successful to power all its plants and factories on renewables. Keeping fingers crossed…

  3. Except when producing a battery the emissions and wastes are localised and COULD be dealt with at the factory level. When driving a diesel car the exhaust is spread out in the atmosphere rendering it much harder to recycle.

    Health issues alone should point you to electric cars, if not I’d like you to take a good breath next to a busy road or try to focus on your work near a big highway.

    Obviously the report is stated as it is synthesised from tweets within the automobile industry. When has Twitter become the go-to news media? Oh right, since Trump got signed…

  4. “The True analysis shows that new diesel models released in 2016 were still on average five over times above the EU’s official baseline limit of 0.08mg of nitrogen oxides (NOx) per kilometre. The 2017 models were a little cleaner, but still nearly four times over. NOx pollution is at illegally high levels in numerous EU nations. It is estimated to cause 23,500 early deaths a year in the UK, where government plans to cut pollution have been repeatedly ruled so inadequate as to be illegal. Separate research published on Wednesday calculates that diesel cars and vans, which make up less than half the UK’s fleet, cause 88% of the health damage from light vehicles.”

  5. “Over half of diesel cars recently approved for sale in Europe are emitting pollutants far above current legal air pollution limits, despite being marketed as the “cleanest in history”. Analysis of emissions data from nearly 100 car models revealed many vehicles from the new “Euro 6” generation would not be allowed on the market if they were tested today.

    An investigation by Greenpeace found dozens of these high-polluting vehicles were approved for sale during a “monitoring period” in which there was no limit set on the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) they could emit on roads. Many of these vehicles have only gone on sale across Europe in the recent months.”

  6. Same as all the wind farms produce electric cleanly but the building,the up keep the thousands of gallons of diesel to run the thousand plus horsepower transfer boats

    1. we don’t need to use poison for energy. we have clean free energy all around us, all we have to do is reach out and grab it.

      “In 1986, in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he was searching for a potential alternative source of clean energy and arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes in a year.”

      1. Please… Then tell me, why there are no solar fields in deserts? If you want to know, read something about solar energy and problems with cooling of solar panels… If you have a technology, you can use on deserts, please, be so kind and give it to the rest of the world.

  7. oxyhydrogen generator,
    uses electricity from your car battery to split water into hydrogenand oxygen gasses. (Electricity + 2H20 –> 2H2 + O2) Together, these make a fuel that is much more powerful than gasoline, and the only emission released is—water!

    1. Why not just use the energy from your batteries directly on an electric motor instead of making hydrogen to make electricity again to use on a electric motor anyway?

  8. There is away that we can get rid of CO2. This company can build a machine that can absorb CO2 and turn it into a solid state. I have read that you can compress these carbon ball’s into a liquid and then burn it without a pollution. http::// But these tree huggers want nothing to do with this technology

  9. This article is based on one giant flawed premise – that things are somehow static. EU power mix is moving gradually over to renewables and low carbon emitting generation sources. It also ignores other aspects of diesel emissions – particulates and other gases. Finally, it also doesn’t mention if the figures being used are the false ones produced by the manufacturers, or real use figures? We had rather a large diesel scandal recently, remember.

    This seems far too much like an industry puff piece than a real study.

  10. What a pile of crap.
    Diesel runners aren’t only the most polluting vehicles, but the most dangerous to health.
    If you don’t believe me, go at the back of a diesel exhaust with engine running and breath in and out for 30 seconds. Now go and do the same thing with a petrol.
    I can guarantee you, you could sit next to petrol one for many more minutes, but 30 seconds might be too much for many of us next to a diesel.
    Now compare that sh£te(diesel) with an electric- what a stupidity..first of all the fuel burnt to produce electricity will be evacuated at high altitude as furnaces are at least 30 metres high, they also aren’t used in town or next to dense populations(like vehicles in traffic, e.g. Pedestrian crossings, very busy cities etc etc)

  11. does this surprise anyone? irrespective of the carbon cost of producing lithium batteries (exorbitant) and the cost of shipping those batteries to car factories (painful), you’re still running those electric cars on coal, unless you have a 20kw solar array for your car. electric is not the answer everyone thinks it is.

    1. Hydrogen vehicles only are environmentally good when we use hydrogen as a biproduct of another industrial production, such as some trains in Germany are.

      To produce hydrogen just for car demand, would actually be very high energy usuage and not efficient.

    2. Hydrogen cars need rare materials for catalysis, making them more expensive.
      And the most common H2 production technique uses hydrocarbon with a production efficiency close to 30%, less efficient than any internal combustion engine.

  12. When will they produce a electric car that can recharge itself, ie wind generation and solar top up, then people can actually say the emissions footprint is negligible.
    We definitely need to improve battery manufacture, I’m sure the world’s chemist’s can come up with a new cell

  13. What I haven’t heard is any talk of technological advances in emmissions control and or introductions of other fuels .

  14. While an interesting read, you’re only comparing the carbon footprint of the battery manufacture vs the emissions from a Diesel engine. What about the carbon footprint of manufacturing the Diesel engine? In reality, you need to compare the overall process if you want to make a valid comparison.

    1. This is a valid point, however the same could be said about an EV. The battery alone is enough concern with its manufacturing process, but the rest of the vehicle still has to be manufactured just like a diesel vehicle. The difference being an engine, the EV will still retain most of the other systems an ancillary components so the difference would not be significant. Lithium strip mining is far more invasive than oil extraction processes as well, so there’s another point to consider.

  15. Actually these cars DO emit pollution. Electric pollution from the coils and magnets of the motors! Plus all high powered supply cables emit electrical fields in the same way pylons do. Only these cables are tight next to our bodies. The electric car agenda is designed to charge our bodies which enhances 5G which is two tests AHEAD of their schedule! Now you know the real reason for panic pushing electric cars!! Harry.

  16. I am the “proud” owner of a “clean” Diesel engine powered car and I agree with the statement re diesel v electric pollution effects. What Icontinue to ponder is both are harmful to our planet collectively and one being not “quite” so polluting is a disaster still. I cannot understand the massive investment in the production of electric powered vehicles. Why is there no increase in the Hydrogen cell power source coming to the fore. Surely something which depends on converting water into power is the only sensible way to go as our planet has an abundant supply of the stuff.

  17. But the battery making process is probably miles away from the main centres of population and the diesel demonisation is for the sake of the brain health of individuals not just about co2 and climate change.

  18. That article has one major fault.

    It’s not the motor industry that needs educating its the politicians and environmentalists who are pushing the electric vehicle agenda.
    They are not looking at the end to end process of vehicle manufacturing and life cycle of a vehicle, including recycling. I.e. the sustainability of the whole process.

  19. This article is misleading because it proclaims diesel to be more ‘clean’ then EV’s and is only comparing CO2 levels, nothing about actual toxic pollution coming from diesel. CO2 is very clean itself not the problem for our air quality in cities, it is only a greenhouse gas, not toxic and not dangerous for or health.
    Also the source is questionable; an automotive consultancy bureau … ok … really?. The article was reproduced online on many publications like ‘Wonderful engineering’ without any scrutiny of the publishers. Some opinion or scientific questioning would fit this engineering publication and a lost opportunity to stand out with some quality reporting or input. Next time better?

    1. What other toxic components are you talking about? Diesel combustion has modern emissions controls in place for particulate and nox emissions via dpf and scr systems.

    2. Diesel tech is actually very clean now. Mercedes’ bluetec engine is very clean. The dirty part used to come from the particulates…soot…but these are trapped now also diesel ignites at very high pressure so the fuel is efficiently burned unlike many gasoline engines which are less efficient.
      Rather than shoot the messenger here and question the source, I think a discussion around the arguments better serve us. We want to reduce CO2 footprints, yes but we have to consider the end to end supply chain when we make purchase choices.
      Lithium, cobalt, all these things have an environmental cost as does steel for turbines and the shipping and construction and so on.
      Again, when these CO2s are considered over the lifecycle against the cost we will better understand how we can make more informed choices.
      For example, I like to eat fish. I could go to the market and buy fish flown in this morning from the Pacific ocean or I could buy fish transported from the Atlantic.
      Which one has the lower Co2 footprint. Are the fish taxed as CO2 emissions accordingly? This is the issue ….we generate Co2 from everything we make, buy, consume, ship…..its very hard to point the finger at a specific source and say…that’st he worst one.