Study: Electric Cars Hurt the Environment

At least in areas that burn fossil fuels for electricity

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 5, 2012 9:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Buying a Model S or a Leaf might not be the proverbial tree hug you thought it was. Electric cars actually harm the environment more than their gas-powered counterparts in many places, a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has concluded. That's in part because electric car production "proved substantially more environmentally intensive," the report said, according to the BBC. "The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles."

That higher production cost might pay off if you live in an area powered by clean electricity sources—particularly if the car stays on the road a long time. But if your area gets its power from fossil fuels like coal or lignite, "it is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles," the report said—they may even wind up causing more carbon emissions than gas burners. In addition, electric car batteries require toxic minerals like nickel, copper, and aluminum, increasing the potential for acidification.

A Tesla Model S drives outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
A Tesla Model S is shown in the showroom at the Washington Square Mall, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Portland, Ore.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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