Electric car ‘more polluting than diesel’ in Germany
According to a study of the German institute for economical research (Ifo) a German bought electric car will emit more CO2 over a 10 year life-cycle than a comparable diesel car. The comparison was made between a Tesla Model 3 and a Mercedes C 220 d.
The study was done by fysics specialist Christoph Buchal (University of Cologne) and experts Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn from Ifo.
Two reasons can be indicated for this somewhat astonishing result. First of all the production of the huge battery in the Tesla demands a lot of energy, around 11 to 15 tons of CO2. Divided over the lifespan (10 year, 15.000 km per year) this already results in 73 to 98 g/km CO2.
Secondly the electricity in Germany is not yet produced very CO2 friendly because of the power stations that still function on coal, even brown coal. The result is that the Tesla Model 3 will, over its entire life-cycle, emit 11 to 28% more CO2. In reality the Tesla will emit between 156 and 181 CO2 per kilometre this way.
Different in other countries
Professor Joeri Van Mierlo, specialised in electro mobility at the Brussels University (VUB) admits that the results can be correct for a country like Germany. “If the electric energy is made with coal the CO2 gain for climate is practically nil”, he says.
“But in many countries (like Belgium or even more France) you have electricity out of nuclear energy and that puts the CO2 emissions 3 to 4 times lower than that of a internal combustion engined car.”
So Van Mierlo states that you can’t use this German comparison to base your policy on. But he admits that simply turning to electrification without having ‘green’ electricity is not the solution.
And of course there is the difference between climate and environment. CO2 majorly concerns climate, other exhaust gases or toxic elements (from which the electric car has far less (particles) or none (CO, NOx or NO2) concern the direct environment.
Nevertheless, the German researchers conclude that if the EU obliges car fleets to have emissions lower than 59 gr/km, they will have to take into account that there is still very much energy needed (and CO2 emitted) to produce the batteries.
To meet these standards a car with a classic combustion engine would need to burn less than 2,2 liter diesel or 2,6 liter petrol this way. Something engineers say would be ‘unrealistic’.