Improved environmental performance

The analysis of an electric vehicle’s full life cycle shows that its environmental impacts are much less significant than those of a gas vehicle. This is especially true in Quebec, where a vehicle that runs on hydroelectricity emits up to 80% less greenhouse gases than its gasoline equivalent.

Lower environmental impact over the life cycle

The analysis of the electric vehicle’s full life cycle shows that although its environmental impacts are higher at the manufacturing stage, they are ultimately less significant than those of the gasoline vehicle. This is especially true in Québec, where electricity is 99% renewable. The environmental impacts of an electric car driven 300,000 km are 55% to 80% lower than with an equivalent conventional car.

The added impacts associated with the manufacture of electric vehicles are minimal, when compared with those avoided by not producing and burning gasoline. The environmental performance of electric vehicles compared to gasoline vehicles shows positive results in these four areas: human health, ecosystem quality, climate change and depletion of fossil resources. This data take into account vehicle parts production (including the battery), transportation to end user, vehicle usage, and end of life.

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Increasingly Cleaner Electric Vehicles

In 2024, the electric car’s environmental performance is even more positive, and it keeps getting better. In fact, more and more new electric vehicles are being built using batteries from end-oflife vehicles. There are so many benefits to recycling electric batteries that automakers are now offering to take back their batteries free of charge.

Thanks to new industrial processes, battery manufacturing emits fewer GHGs and requires fewer critical metals year after year. For example, a new generation of batteries called lithium iron phosphate (LFP), considerably reduces the need for rare minerals such as cobalt and nickel.

Gasoline vehicles are getting increasingly dirty

Today, manufacturing a gasoline-powered car has a smaller impact than producing an electric vehicle. But the trend has been reversed in recent years as gasoline-powered cars become more efficient through increased hybridization (with electric motors and batteries) and the use of light metals and composite materials.

More importantly, the gasoline that powers vehicles is becoming dirtier. The share of conventional oil (the kind that bubbles up from the earth on its own) is becoming scarcer as new deposits become increasingly rare. The "peak" of conventional oil is said to have been reached in 2016 and 2018. We are now entering the era of non-conventional oil: "shale oil" and "tar sands", which are very polluting to produce. In Quebec, 100% of the oil that fuels our cars comes from the tar sands of Alberta and from shale oil wells in the United States and Western Canada.

The EV battery and its end of life

TElectric car batteries have a long lifespan: 200,000 to 500,000 km. Manufacturers generally offer an 8-year or 160,000 km warranty.

The circular industry of recycling batteries is just starting and the batteries of tomorrow's electric vehicles will have even smaller environmental impact, since they will be partly made using batteries from today's vehicles. At the end of their lifespan, batteries can be reused for energy storage purposes. The Quebec company Recyclage Lithion has developed an efficient process to recycle lithium-ion batteries, which should be operational soon.

All the details are here (hyperlink to secondary page)

Christine Beaulieu investigates: Can we recycle electric car batteries? (in French).

The source of energy to recharge the battery

In Quebec, 99.7% of our electricity is produced from renewable sources that do not emit greenhouse gases, which is an advantage compared to other parts of the world where electricity is produced from fossil fuels. It should be noted that globally, the trend is towards a decarbonization of energy sources.

Other recent studies point in the same direction

TThe vast majority of scientific studies support electrifying transportation. For more information, you can consult three of the most enlightening resources on the subject:

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