Electric cars worse for environment than gas-powered vehicles: study

"Half a tonne of battery weight can result in tire emissions that are almost 400 more times greater than real-world tailpipe emissions, everything else being equal."

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Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
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A 2022 study conducted by Emission Analytics suggesting that electric vehicles could release more emissions than their gas-powered counterparts has reemerged amid a growing push to phase out the latter in favor of the former on the grounds that they're better for the environment.

EA found that the biggest polluters on vehicles are the tires, thus heavier cars produce more emissions since they cause the tires to wear down faster. Since EVs weigh on average 30 percent more than gas-powered cars due to the enormous batteries, they may end up being worse for the planet than previously thought.

According to the study, comparing tailpipe emissions to that from tire wear, the latter is around 1,850 times greater, and increases when drivers are more aggressive with braking and accelerating.

"The excess emissions under aggressive driving should alert us to a risk with BEVs [battery electric vehicles]," EA wrote, explaining that "greater vehicle mass and torque delivered can lead to rapidly increasing tire particulate emissions. Half a tonne of battery weight can result in tire emissions that are almost 400 more times greater than real-world tailpipe emissions, everything else being equal."

EA added, however, that "a gentle BEV driver, with the benefit of regenerative braking, can more than cancel out the tire wear emissions from the additional weight of their vehicle, to achieve lower tire wear than an internal combustion engine vehicle driven badly."

In an interview with the New York Post, EA founder and CEO Nick Molden said that while the data is startling, it "will not be something that stops electrification."

He admitted that while EVs "do deliver about a 50 percent reduction in CO2," which impacts climate change, the downside is that they increase "particle pollution" via the toxic chemicals in the tires.

"Air pollution is about what we breathe and the health effects," he explained, noting that as a result, it has a more immediate impact on "what we eat and are ingesting" compared to emissions from gas-powered cars.

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