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Are electric cars really green ?

At the end of December 2018, the Chinese car brand Great Wall Motor hits the electric car market. She then unveils her new ORA R1, a small electric city car under 10 000 €. This innovation is part of a global dynamic : the number of electric cars in circulation worldwide has almost quintupled between late 2014 and late 2017. But these vehicles presented com me the solution to pollution, are they really green ?


The electric car sector booming

In a study published in 2018, 35% of French people say they are ready to switch to the electric car. Others have opted for this alternative for a long time. In just a few years, the sale of electric cars broke records. Today, France is one of the leading European markets for electric vehicles with more than 118,000 vehicles. According to the Avere (National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility), more than 350 000 electric vehicles should circulate by 2020. Some countries of the European Union swear by the electric car.

Norway, for example, is the realm of this type of vehicle with more than one in five cars in circulation. In 2017, electric cars accounted for more than half of the country’s auto sales. In March 2018, Germany was moving ahead of France and getting closer to Norway: in 2017, sales of electric cars rose by 108% ! But globally, it is in China that the number of electric cars in circulation is growing exponentially : out of the 3,109,050 electric cars in circulation in the world, 40% are in China.


The electric car : really ecological ?

In France, the electric car developed mainly from 2011. The manufacturers then presented it as a vehicle with multiple advantages : economy in use, silence of operation, reliability, global environmental impact… But, the cars power do they really keep their promises on pollution and impact on the environment ?

Level carbon balance, the electric car “zero emission” undeniably has good results: according to the Ademe, an electric vehicle emits from 2 to 3 times less greenhouse gas than equivalent vehicles thermal. But that’s without taking into account the complete life cycle of these vehicles. When one studies the real impact of the manufacture, the use and the end of life of the electric cars, the assessment is much more mitigated even disturbing. The battery is one of the big black spots : it alone represents 15% of the ecological footprint of the electric car. The manufacture of these batteries is a big emitter of CO2 more than 17 tons of CO2 for some of them !

In addition, their manufacture requires the extraction of raw materials from all over the world (Africa, China, Australia, Chile…) such as graphite, cobalt and lithium. The source of electricity is also questioned since the electric car is accused of consuming “cleanly” but thanks to polluting electricity. Some have dubbed it even the “nuclear car”. And for good reason : almost all reloading stations installed are connected to the ordinary electrical network, 80% nuclear. In Germany or China, the situation is more disturbing since the electricity used comes in part… from coal-fired plants !


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