Do the emissions savings outweigh the carbon footprint from manufacturing?
Yes, according to Paulina Jaramillo, a professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University who studies electric vehicles.
“In the worst case scenario where electricity is produced by coal, the benefits are not as significant, they could be pretty similar,” Jaramillo said, “but there’s very few places where everything is now coal electricity.”
She noted EVs are cleaner than gas vehicles in terms of other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, as well as in noise pollution.
Jaramillo acknowledged the concern around lithium-ion batteries that power EVs, as some of the materials needed to make them are mined in developing countries under questionable conditions. She said scientists are working on improvements to battery technology to make them less dependent on what are called conflict minerals.