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Are EV’s really environmental-friendly?

Electric vehicles, clean energy, battery technology, supercapacitors have something in common: reduce emissions while keeping the range the vehicle circulates using fossil fuels.


Typical electric vehicle batteries are composed by rare earth elements (REE) such as lithium, nickel, graphite and cobalt; that are only available through mining activities.

The aim is great. The technology is improving so fast to have competitive market prices that (in my opinion) they are forgetting something very important: the efficiency improvement of the complete supply chain.


If we compare both manufacturing processes (for electric and conventional vehicles), the differences are not easy to spot (regardless of the design changes in chassis and powertrain). As a consequence, major efforts are being made by OEM's and Tier 1 companies to homologate platforms and try to improve the value offer to fleets and end users - that's one reason to bet for the skateboard concepts.


Let's define the scenario to defy the believe that "electric vehicles provide more benefits to the environment than internal combustion engines":

  • For passenger cars and pickups the battery pack adds extra 544 kg (1,200 lb), while the typical 4 cylinder engine is around 158 kilograms (350 pounds). For a commercial vehicle the history might be a little different, because the extra weight of the battery pack would reduce the cargo capacity, which could increase the number of trips per month to move the same amount of goods from point A to point B than a ICE commercial vehicle.


  • Due to extra weight, the road and tires wear might increase, leading to shorter life cycle and increment of tires in landfills.


  • Considering that REE are not renewable elements, the batteries production might run out of elements (after many years) and increase costs as acquiring these elements will become more complex.


  • Once the battery pack completes its life-cycle for mobility purposes, seems that second life applications are limited to house power banks, which are less risky but does not warranty to avoid failures (https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/30/a-tesla-megapack-caught-fire-at-the-victorian-big-battery-facility-in-australia/).

  • Considering the vehicle as a whole, recycling might be a challenge. New ICE vehicles come with a bunch of sensors and electronic circuits to improve driver experience and improve security. For EV's the history is not different, considering that the battery pack has to be monitored in many aspects to ensure performance and prevent catastrophic failures.


  • You would switch your car for a new one after 5 or 7 years. After market would struggle to accept a second-hand EV, even if there is certainty that the battery pack is working fine and with 3 years left of great performance.


Based on this scenario, there are still many obstacles to tackle to really have the benefits of the EV's in the environment. Some trends need to be attacked from different angles (or industries) to really achieve the desirable impact.

  1. Battery cells handling after the end of their life-cycle.

  2. Electronic waste and recycling.

  3. Tire's technology to reduce wear and improve performance.

  4. Mobility industry as a whole - public transportation systems and shared mobility with the challenge of social distancing due to current COVID situation.

  5. Efficient mining activities with environmental-friendly equipment and methods.


What other trend would you include in this equation?



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