Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives: TERM 2018: Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) report

This report reviews current evidence on electric cars’ impacts on climate change, air quality, noise and ecosystems, compared with conventional cars. Already now, across its life cycle, a typical electric car in Europe produces less greenhouse gases and air pollutants compared with its petrol or diesel equivalent. Emissions are usually higher in the production phase of electric cars, but these are more than offset by lower emissions in the use phase over time. The report confirms that the greenhouse gas emissions of electric vehicles, with the current EU energy mix and over the entire vehicle life cycle, are about 17-30 % lower than the emissions of petrol and diesel cars. However, as the carbon intensity of the EU energy mix is projected to decrease, the life-cycle emissions of a typical electric vehicle could be cut by at least 73 % by 2050. For local air quality, electric vehicles also offer clear benefits, mainly due to zero exhaust emissions at street level. However, even electric vehicles emit particulate matter from road, tyre and break wear, the report reminds. Shifting to electric vehicles could also reduce noise pollution, especially in cities where speeds are generally low and traffic often stands still. The result of the comparison is less favourable for electric cars when looking at the current impacts of their production on ecosystems and the toxicity of the materials involved. These impacts are mostly due to the extraction and processing of copper, nickel and critical raw materials. The report suggests that these impacts could be minimised through a circular economy approach that facilitates reuse and recycling — especially of batteries.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 80p
  • Serial:
    • Issue Number: 13/2018

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01688608
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • ISBN: 9789292139858
  • Files: ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 17 2018 11:19AM