Energy Use

The Problem With E-Cars

E-cars could harm environment DPA
E-cars can also damage the environment.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Experts warn that funding for electric cars could actually increase their environmental burden.
  • Facts


    • Germany is well short of its goal of having a million electric cars by 2020, with only 126,000 on the road today.
    • Whether an electric car is good or bad for the environment depends on how the electricity is generated and where the car is driven.
    • A recent study shows that in most U.S. states electric cars are more harmful to the environment on average than conventional vehicles.
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The VW emissions scandal has raised the auto industry’s hopes that there will now be more funding for electric vehicles. “We will be extremely pleased if this scandal leads to a call for the greater use of electric powered vehicles,” said Ulrich Eichhorn, managing director of the German Association of the Automobile Industry, or VDA, at a Green Party event on October 6.

Mr. Eichhorn also criticized lawmakers for letting the industry down after setting a goal in 2010 of having one million electric cars on the roads by 2020.

Even when plug-in hybrid vehicles are taken into account, it is already 2015 and there are only 126,000 electric cars on German roads.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that the government would provide additional relief and promised to provide more details by the end of the year.

But a recent study by four U.S. economists is raising doubts about whether it even makes sense to promote electric vehicles from an environmental policy standpoint.

The study, by Stephen Holland, Erin Mansur, Nicholas Muller and Andrew Yates, concludes that electric cars are actually worse for the environment than demonstrated in a 2011 study by the Heidelberg-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, which said that e-cars and conventional cars have around the same environmental impact.

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