Better air quality … and quality of life !
One of the main advantages of electric vehicles is that they do not emit polluting emissions, the harmful particles that escape from the tailpipe, even with "particle filters".
The hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other fine particles released by combustion have adverse effects on air quality.
Although technologies have improved greatly in the last decades, emissions of internal combustion vehicles are harmful to our health (pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases)  and to our daily well-being. The smoke gradually pollutes our cities, blackening the buildings and and sickening the people who live there…
Reduced environmental damage caused by the production and use of oil
The exploitation of oil, upstream of its consumption as fuel by vehicles, pollutes the soil, air, water, and damages biodiversity. Driving an electric vehicle thus minimises the impacts of the global automobile industry.
Driving electric does not emit any CO2. Naturally, to be objective, one must consider the CO2 emitted by the production of electricity :
Thus, regardless of the energy mix of electricity generation, the numbers favour electric vehicles. Additionally, EVs comply with European standards that impose a maximum of 130 g/km.
It should be noted that throughout the world, we are heading more and more towards carbon-free energy with the development of renewable energy.
Low electricity consumption
The average daily distance driven in France is approximately 34 km. A car consumes about 200 Wh/km, so the electricity consumption of an electric vehicle, on the basis of 34 km per day, is roughly equivalent to the consumption of a refrigerator and a washing machine over a year.
If we follow the hypotheses of the government that estimate 2 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020, we will arrive at the following figures for consumption : 34 km x 200 Wh/km x 365 days x 2 million cars = 5 TWh, or 1% of France’s total electricity consumption.
Recall that the consumption of our TVs, computers, and other entertainment facilities represents 12% of total consumption.
Electricity consumption linked to EVs is thus limited and does not require the installation of additional central generation facilities, since the majority of recharges will take place at night, when demand is relatively low and when a kWh is cheaper !
Let’s also note that a number of technologies for recharging electric vehicles from renewable energy are emerging !
Less noise pollution
If we consider road noise as pollution, then EVs can be seen as a response to such noise pollution, which also has effects on one’s health, including stress, and effects on the cardiovascular system, including risk of heart attack and hypertension, as was recently studied by a Swedish group of researchers .
Some say that silence is dangerous for pedestrians. But EVs are not completely silent ! The noise of the tires on asphalt is simply drowned out by the incessant humming of other vehicles !
And when we drive an electric vehicle, knowing that we will not be noticed as easily by pedestrians, we are more vigilant both consciously and unconsciously, as those who have already tried driving an EV can attest.
Finally, some studies of accidents in companies that have EVs in their fleets, like the French group La Poste, show that the accident rate is lower with electric vehicles.
Recycling an electric vehicle is generally simpler than recycling an internal combustion vehicle. The difference can be explained by the simplicity of the engine of an electric vehicle, which has far fewer components than its combustion counterpart : it requires neither engine oil, nor liquid coolant. It is thus easier to find facilities to recycle a small number of components rather than a few hundred.
Critics of the electric vehicle often speak about the difficulty of recycling the batteries. Yet unlike mobile telephone or notebook computer batteries, which are unfortunately not always recycled (as they are often thrown in the trash or on the ground, escaping recycling), electric vehicle batteries will be systematically recycled at the end of their life. In fact, before that, the batteries will have a second life as energy storage, notably those used in solar panels, because at the end of a battery’s life it is still operating at 70% of it’s initial capacity. Recycling should thus occur only about twelve years after the production of a vehicle. Current solutions exist, from the field of electronics, for recycling the majority of battery components, resale of metals (especially nickel) allowing most of the costs to be recovered.
For the first time, researchers of EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) have established the eco-balance of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Although the advantages of these batteries are known and appreciated by manufacturers (high energy density, compact volume, low self-discharge and limited maintenance), their environmental impact remains a large unknown in the equation. All of the factors have been placed under a microscope : Swiss scientists have measured the ecological footprint of their production and their disposal when the car is scrapped. The result : “The manufacture, maintenance and disposal of the battery only accounts for 15% or less of the total environmental impact of the electric vehicle” according to the EPMA report. A more gratifying finding : “Lithium-ion batteries are not as bad as was previously assumed,” according to Dominic Notter, co-author of the study.
Principal recycling specialists in France :
- SARP industries, subsidiary of Véolia that treats dangerous waste
- SNAM, company specialising in recycling of accumulators and batteries,
- Recupyl, developer of a new procedure of lithium-ion battery treatment
- Zebra, who recycles their own batteries,
- 4R Energy, joint venture of Sumitomo and Renault-Nissan that refurbishes the group’s batteries