Saturday, 14 November 2009

The great electric car scam

Electric cars, which emit no carbon dioxide from their tailpipe, are not the answer some people think they are to environmental transport problems, a new report claims today.

The idea that a wholesale switch to electric transport would automatically reduce CO2 emissions and dependence on oil is a myth, says the analysis prepared for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA).

In fact, says the report, a loophole in EU vehicle emissions regulations means the more electric cars produced, the more auto manufacturers can produce gas-guzzling vehicles such as SUVs while still hitting their overall emissions targets.

It is already known that widespread uptake of electric cars would mean much more electricity demand, with the possible consequence of building more – possibly coal-fired – power stations. A separate piece of research last year suggested that, if all Britain's 27 million cars went electric, and were charged every day, the electricity supply would have to quadruple to cope with the new demand.

The ETA report stresses that electric cars are only really green if they are using electricity produced by renewable energy systems such as wind power. And it goes on to point out that, under new binding EU targets for cutting car CO2 emissions agreed last December, carmakers can sell up to 3.5 SUVs for every zero-carbon electric vehicle they sell and still reach their official EU target.