Is going electric as green as we think?

The march toward all-electric vehicles continues with some good ideas, like Volvo’s power-storing bodywork, and less good ideas, like the stupid-looking and stupidly-named Protoscar Lampo2. I’ve mentioned the pros and cons of EV’s before, and the bottom line is that unless recharging a car is as fast as filling it up with fuel, and that it’ll go a long way before having to stop again, the future of motor transport lies with another fuel or mode of propulsion. I suspect car manufacturers insist on EV’s because they’re easier to build and something more easily understood by the public, because even a corporate accountant can see the inevitable downsides of betting on electricity as the petrol of the future. Apart from its practicality issues, there’s an even bigger issue that EV’s have to deal with, one that attacks the very cornerstone of their existence: their carbon footprint.

An interesting article in the Portuguese website AutoPortal speaks of how a Dutch company, CE Delft, has uncovered an aspect of European law that, while an incentive for making EV’s, is at the same time an excuse for less environmentally-friendly behaviour. Loosely translated:

The study indicates that the European legislation that regulates car emissions presents “serious loopholes”, by allowing car manufacturers to ‘compensate’ the sale of electric vehicles with the sale of more polluting vehicles, which go beyond the emission limits set by legislation.

It’s an interesting point and one which isn’t easily visible, unlike the other disadvantages which are the realm of common sense and simple inferences. An overtaxed power grid, consuming lots of fossil fuel to produce the juice needed to recharge EV’s, and the junking of old cars are the main contentious and valid points, and they’re simply not being addressed.

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