October 17, 2012

Norwegian University study exaggerates downside of electric vehicles

A recent column by Leo Hickman in The Guardian set off a wave of debate over the true merit of electric vehicles (EVs) compared to internal combustion engine vehicles (EVs). Hickman used a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) called ComparativeEnvironmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Electric Vehicles that explored a variety of factors involved in the lifecycle of the car – from materials used to vehicle emissions to the source of energy moving the metal – as a starting point. The problem, as we'll see, is that the study uses some dubious assumptions to badmouth EVs.

The study sends something of a warning signal in its finding that the production and lifecycle of EVs makes them not as great as proponents have been stating. Specifically, the technology is more energy-demanding during production and can actually bring more CO2 emissions than conventional vehicles.