According to the researcher, the Chinese study was based on 2015 data. Six years ago, battery production emitted 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kWh. In 2021, that fell to 75 kg per kWh – 62.5% less. In other words, the Chinese study is outdated.
The FT story then says that mining for raw materials is a problem, which is correct. However, the only negative effect numerically presented is that mining 1 ton of lithium emits 5 to 15 tons of CO2. This would be equivalent to the carbon emissions of the electricity used by one to two houses in the U.S. for a year.
Hoekstra puts that information under the proper perspective: 1 ton of lithium is enough to make about 100 battery packs. The researcher then mentions that the lithium in an EV would equate to the emissions of the electricity consumption of a house for a week or even less.
A little further, FT states that battery pack building emissions represent a third of all the CO2 emissions in making an entire EV. Hoekstra argues that this would invalidate that manufacturing EVs emits 60% more than with a combustion-engined car. If you do not consider the battery pack, EVs emit less carbon dioxide because the electric powertrain is much lighter than combustion engines.
The final mistake made by FT concentrates on an ICCT study about which we also wrote on July 21, 2021. Ironically, the study was meant to demonstrate how EVs are cleaner than ICE vehicles even when they are charged from the most pollutant sources of electricity.
FT used its information but chose a 2018 European Environment Agency report to say that EVs are only 17% to 30% cleaner than combustion-engined vehicles in Europe from manufacturing until the end of their lifecycles. The ICCT study shows they are 70% cleaner.
If you happen to have read the FT story or know people who have, show them this article and Hoekstra’s thread on Twitter. There’s plenty to criticize about EV manufacturing without having to appeal to outdated information. Addressing the correct negative points is the only way to move forward and let the past rest in peace.
Are electric cars as bad as the @FT wants us to believe?— AukeHoekstra (@AukeHoekstra) October 6, 2021
That's something I study at the @TUeindhoven so I always read such stories with interest.
tl;dr All cars are bad but the advantage of EVs is much bigger than the @FT visual storytelling team wants you to believe. https://t.co/ZjfvVKOGRW