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How Electric Vehicles Help Environment?
Nimit Arora
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Published on 10th Nov 21

How Electric Vehicles Help Environment?

Air pollution is a serious environmental concern in urban cities in Asia, where the majority of the population is exposed to poor air quality. Rapid urbanization has resulted in a tremendous increase in the number of motor vehicles. This increased mobility has come with a high price. It has affected the health of people and has had significant environmental costs.

Research has shown that electric vehicles are better for the environment & health. They emit fewer greenhouse gases & air pollutants than petrol/diesel vehicles. They make a big contribution towards improving air quality in cities. Although making electric vehicles does use a lot of energy, even after taking battery manufacture into account, EVs are still a greener option.

No greenhouse gas emissions come directly from EVs. However, the indirect factor is there considering they run on electricity, which is largely produced from fossil fuels and energy is also used in manufacturing the vehicle and the battery. Still, EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional vehicles.

The CO2 footprint of an EV is 80% lighter than a conventional vehicle. Let's take a broader perspective in this regard. There are 4 factors to consider when evaluating the impact of EVs on the environment:

A. Tailpipe Emissions: When a vehicle is running on electricity, it emits no (or negligible) tailpipe emission. Many EVs don’t have a tailpipe at all.

B. ‘Well to wheel’ Emissions: This is a broad term that includes greenhouse gases & air pollutants that are emitted to produce the electricity used to power the car. While the act of driving an EV is ‘green’, one should also take into consideration whether the electricity is used to run the vehicle is generated using fossil fuels or renewable sources. For eg., In India, majority of electricity is coal-generated. While in US, natural gas provides majority of electricity which emits 50-60% less carbon dioxide than coal.

C. Charging Facilities: The battery charging installations should be accessible easily. This goes for both private & public facilities.

D. Efficiency of EVs: When comparing an EV to a conventional vehicle, car shoppers should also consider the mileage (number of miles or kilometres a vehicle can go on a full charge compared to a full tank of petrol or diesel). EVs today have a ‘fuel economy’ four times better than conventional vehicles.

To achieve maximum benefits, a country must transition to clean renewable energy sources and electrify transportation. As grids become greener, the impact of EVs will increase manifold. For eg., In France, which has many nuclear power plants, charging EVs has almost no impact on their environmental footprint.

A Study by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:


All-electric vehicles do not emit air pollution from their tailpipes (they don't even have tailpipes). Replacing a petrol or diesel car with an electric car helps improve local air quality, especially in neighbourhoods near busy roadways. Much like with greenhouse gases, even when charged on the grid, EVs emit fewer pollutants than traditional vehicles. And when you charge your EV with electricity from renewable wind or solar sources, there are zero emissions both when the car is operating and during power generation.

A Study Done by Green Energy Consumer Alliance in Massachusetts & Rhode Island:

Grams of CO2 emissions per mile:


In addition to substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, electric vehicles significantly cut down on the pollutants released by gasoline-powered cars that cause many health problems.

The India Story:

Under the Paris agreement, India has committed to reducing emission intensity by 33-35 % of its GDP by 2030. One of the main initiatives that will help India achieve this goal of reducing emissions is a gradual shift to electric vehicles.

3-Wheeler’s have been strong early adopters to kickstart the EV revolution in India.

The main factor that makes EVs the winner in the automotive industry is their environment-friendliness. The air pollution in urban Indian cities can be reduced to a great extent with electric cars.

Evolving from one technology to another is always a challenge.

However, with proper campaigns and financial benefits, electric vehicles will soon be a common affair in the car industry. Currently, 1% of the total car sales in India are EVs. And with the Government of India targeting 100 GW of solar energy production by 2022, EVs can improve their ‘well to wheel’ emissions drastically.

An EV registered in India in 2021 has 34% lower carbon dioxide emissions over its operational life compared to conventional vehicles. These benefits will increase, to 60%, for cars registered in 2030 if India decarbonizes its grid in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Fossil fuel combustion in the transport sector is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Converting to electric vehicles could reduce those emissions significantly. A recent life cycle study found that a 2021 battery EV, charged from today’s power grid, creates only about one-third as much greenhouse gas emissions as a similar 2021 gasoline-powered car. Those emissions will fall even further as more electricity comes from renewable sources.

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