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This Study Is Stupid, But EVs Won’t Save the Environment Either

GMC Hummer EV in the middle of the desert, illustration
Mike Mareen/Shutterstock.com

The GMC Hummer EV is a huge, heavy vehicle, coming in at over 9,000 lbs and packing a massive 212.7-kWh battery that weighs 2,923 lbs itself. And while EVs have zero tailpipe emissions, creating enough electricity to charge electric vehicles still emits plenty of pollution. So are EVs saving the environment?

According to a recent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) study, a big heavy EV like the Hummer EV isn’t all that great, especially regarding charging those massive battery cells.

The study concludes by saying that the Hummer EV actually emits 341 grams of C02 per mile, which is worse than a Chevy Malibu, which emits around 320 grams per mile driven. Why? Because roughly 60 percent of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by burning fossil fuels.

So, charging and driving a big vehicle like the Hummer EV is worse for the environment than a typical gas-powered car. And while that’s true, comparing a small commuter car to a massive truck is laughable. That’s like comparing a Prius to the RAM 1500 TRX. It’s not a fair comparison.

Additionally, this doesn’t consider that many EV owners will use solar panels to charge the vehicle, especially when they spend $130k on the Hummer EV and can afford solar. Nor does it mention that the emissions vary by state.

For example, Vermont is a very clean state; around 57 percent of its electricity comes from hydropower, 17 percent from wind, and a minimal amount from natural gas. On the flip side, Delaware is one of the worst, and nearly 94 percent of its electricity comes from fossil fuels.

Keep in mind that ACEEE’s numbers don’t take into account all the work it takes to mine and refine rare earth materials like nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum for lithium-ion battery cells. This is precisely why there are just as many EV naysayers as there are proponents. 

All current Tesla models lined up

The study does get one thing right, though. Until the energy grid is carbon-free or close, we will always burn fossil fuels and produce pollution when charging electric vehicles. This is known as “upstream emissions,” a problem that’s not going away anytime soon. At least in the United States.

There is a silver lining, though. While electric vehicles still require tons of fossil fuels, at least right now, things are headed in a better direction. A customer looking for a car is vastly different than someone buying a truck, and electric trucks are far better than their gas-powered counterparts.

For example, the original Hummer H1 produces around 889 grams of CO2 per mile, and the new Hummer EV only produces 341 grams. That’s a significant improvement. Furthermore, the Hummer EV emits 103 fewer grams of CO2 per mile than your average gas-powered Ford F-150, which is America’s best-selling truck.

There are plenty of holes in both sides of the argument and plenty of missing aspects regarding manufacturing vehicles or mining battery material. That all said, when it comes to the driving efficiency of EVs, electric trucks are better than ICE trucks for emissions and pollution.

via InsideEVs

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »