Everything depends on the stage of the electric vehicle’s life cycle we’re discussing.
Camaros, not Model 3s, maybe the environmental movement’s darlings if we only produced vehicles and never drove them. Manufacturing EV batteries is energy-intensive, and extracting the metals they rely on has humanitarian implications. While electric vehicles do not generate greenhouse emissions, the power they require from the grid does.
When the rubber meets the road, however, EVs are rapidly freed of their fundamental fault. According to a model developed by the automotive consultancy firm FEV, after about 27,000 miles of driving, the life-cycle emission levels of a small gas car will surpass those of a small EV. Electric crossovers and trucks are less efficient than tiny EVs, and FEV’s model assumes bigger batteries, so it will take more miles to offset the emissions from making and recycling them. Even the biggest EVs, though, should be able to keep up with their gas-powered rivals by 60,000 miles.
These calculations assume that an electric vehicle is charged on a grid that is 50% renewable energy and 50% nonrenewable energy. Last year, renewable energy provided roughly 20% of the electricity generated in the United States, although several states significantly exceeded that, with Washington State (78%) and Vermont (100%) leading the way. The quantity of power generated from renewable sources is steadily rising. Consumers Energy, a Michigan utility, aims to build enough solar power to satisfy its typical summer demand by 2040. As a result, an EV purchased today will only grow more environmentally friendly in the future. A Camaro, on the other hand, is a different story.