From: Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published November 19, 2015 07:15 AM

EVs vs. Gasoline-Powered Cars - Which has the cleaner lifecycle?

It’s the trick question that has left many of us stumped: from the earliest stages of manufacture to the years driving on the road until they are sent to the junkyard, are conventional automobiles or electric cars cleaner for the environment? While acknowledging that electric vehicles (EVs) emit no emissions when running on our streets and highways, many have assumed that those pesky rare earth metals in their massive batteries and the emissions associated with producing the power canceled out any environmental benefits that their drivers enjoyed.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a two-year study has provided the answer. The EV is the cleaner option, hands down.

In order to reach that conclusion, UCS researchers evaluated the entire life cycle of an EV based on the two most popular models sold in the United States—the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. Looking at the raw materials needed to make a car, the assembly and manufacturing processes, driving, disposal and recycling, the UCS team compared the emissions of EVs to a similarly sized gasoline-powered automobile, with examples including the Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback, Kia Forte5 and Volkswagen Golf.

When emissions are measured during the early manufacturing phases, UCS found that the manufacture of EVs at first were less clean than that of conventionally fueled cars. But within anywhere from six to 16 months after both cars have been driven, those early emissions are quickly offset by their cleaner driving. So when comparing these cars’ respective environmental performance over their lifetime, UCS’ researchers concluded that an EV will generate less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to those of a gasoline-powered car. For a smaller EV, only 4,900 miles of driving will offset those higher emissions from that vehicle’s manufacture; in the case of a full-sized, long-range EV, those earlier emissions are canceled out after approximately 19,000 miles of driving.

UCS based its assumptions on the fact that both cars would have a 15-year life cycle, with 135,000 miles driven and a weight of approximately 3,000 pounds. The researchers also assumed that in comparison for this study, the average gasoline-powered car would have an average fuel economy of 29 miles to the gallon.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Triple Pundit.

Fueling image via Shutterstock.

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