Residential property
20 Nov 2017 News

Air Quality - The New Message

The Financial Times published an article this week on the carbon footprint and lifecycle of battery electric vehicles.


It reported “The humble Mitsubishi Mirage has none of the hallmarks of a futuristic, environmentally friendly car. It is fuelled by petrol, runs on an internal combustion engine and spews exhaust emissions through a tailpipe. But when the Mirage is assessed for carbon emissions throughout its entire lifecycle — from procuring the components and fuel, to recycling its parts — it can actually be a greener car than a model by Tesla, the US electric vehicle pioneer, in regions with particularly high carbon emissions from electricity. According to data from the Trancik Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Tesla Model S P100D saloon driven in the US Midwest produces 226 grammes of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) per kilometre over its lifecycle — a significant reduction to the 385g for a luxury 7-series BMW. But the Mirage emits even less, at just 192g.”

While these statistics are interesting - surely the question is: don’t we want to live in a cleaner, greener environment where the air quality and standard of living are effectively carbon neutral and much improved. It is a shame that these statistics didn’t take account of fuel cell electric vehicles e.g. the new IX35 manufactured by Hyundai which has a range of 600 miles.

It’s also worth noting that where battery electric vehicles use renewable electricity the stats are very different e.g. a BEV would achieve a 70% reduction in terms of tonnes of CO2 produced over its operational life. EVs produce fewer emissions over the lifecycle than conventional cars of the same weight class.

It’s been reported 38,000 people a year die early due to the failure of diesel vehicles to meet official limits in real driving conditions. Generally diesel cars produce far more nitrogen oxides than regulations intend. Most of the deaths are in Europe, where highly polluting cars are the main culprit, and in China and India, where larger vehicles are the culprits.                         

Alongside air quality targets, from a policy and regulatory point of view, a framework needs to be set to encourage car manufacturers to focus on round trip/ lifecycle efficiency, recycling and waste mitigation. There are green alternatives to battery electric vehicles e.g. fuel cell electric vehicles which should also form part of the discussion and ultimately part of the solution to our air quality issues.

I wonder how many UK cities will follow Oxford’s lead where only electric cars will be allowed in to the city centre from 2020. The new zone will not only see petrol and diesel cars banned but also buses and taxis. Six central streets will have restricted access to non-zero emissions cars but this will expand to the entire city centre between 2025 and 2030. 

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