Mythbusting: Are Electric Cars Really Greener? - GKL: Vehicle Leasing

Mythbusting: Are Electric Cars Really Greener?

September 2nd, 2022

As the EU’s first deadline in 2025 for lowering fleet emissions ebbs ever closer, business fleets are preparing to meet the challenge by moving to electric vehicles (EVs). But are EV cars actually safer for the environment? Isn’t all that stuff about them being significantly greener all just smoke, mirrors and misinformation?

Here, we explain how that’s not the case, and why we should all be excited for an electric future.

Are electric vehicles really greener?

To answer this question, we address some of the most popular myths from the naysayers towards electric cars…

Myth: Electric cars produce just as much CO2 as conventional cars

FACT: Both electric and hybrid vehicles produce far lower CO2 emissions than their petrol or diesel equivalents. Just one quick look at Carbon Counter is enough to prove it at a glance. The screenshot below clearly shows how much higher the CO2 output is for various petrol (the black dots) and diesel (grey dots) than for hybrid (pink), plug-in hybrid (mauve), fuel cell (blue) or full electric vehicles (yellow).

A screenshot of the graph from Carbon Counter

Myth: More EVs means more coal burned to power them, actually increasing CO2 levels

FACT: This might be true if 100% of our energy still came from fossil fuels. In truth, around 43% of energy outputted by the National Grid comes from renewable sources. The UK’s carbon output is also falling faster than any other country on the planet, meaning we’re set up better in Britain for an electric future than for almost anywhere else in the world.

When it comes to answering the question ‘how green are electric vehicles?’ it’s absolutely right to look at where the fuel that powers them comes from. But with renewable power at an all-time high and growing with each year globally, EVs are far greener in both the short and longer term. 

Myth: The environmental costs of manufacturing EVs negates their green fuel benefits

A hedge cutto the shape of an electric car

FACT: When it comes to whether EV cars are actually safer for the environment, there are certainly challenges on the manufacturing side. However, they are also being addressed, with sustainability a big focus for automotive manufacturers,

Sourcing supplies of lithium and cobalt present two of the biggest environmental challenges. The former tends to happen in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Australia and Chile, where the climate is incredibly hot and the massive amounts of groundwater needed for the mining pulls away much-needed resources from farming and agriculture. The latter meanwhile happens largely in the Congo, where locals hand-mine cobalt at great risk to their own health.

Thankfully the cobalt issue is being worked on, with ‘artisanal’ mining methods being phased out and cobalt itself also unlikely to be an essential resource in the EV batteries of the future. In an article for, Dr David Whittle of Monash University cites establishing global standards and recycling strategies as key to sustainability – something that automotive companies across the world are very much invested in. As those things evolve, the environmental impact of EVs on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis will only decrease.

Myth: EV batteries aren’t reusable and will just end up in landfill

An EV battery

FACT: It’s untrue to say that lithium batteries are not recyclable; they are. It’s truer however to say that there are currently not sufficient recycling provisions for the wealth of lithium batteries about to flood the market with the rise of electric vehicles.

By 2035 there around 339,000 such batteries will have reached the end of their natural life in the UK alone. It’s such a high number, with such a high likelihood to cause environmental damage, that it’s highly unlikely the vast majority will all end up in landfill sites. How green are electric vehicles are in the long term will depend enormously on the progress made in recycling old battery materials for production of new ones.

Helping you go green

At GKL our expert team are here to help you move to an all-electric future at whatever pace works for your business. That includes aiding you in finding the right electric car or van for your needs (even in a tricky climate for vehicle availability), along with offering advice and guidance on installing charging points and meeting EU CO2 reduction targets.

To learn more, see the blogs below or get in touch with us today.


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