Around the world, governments and automakers are promoting electric vehicles as a key technology to curb oil use and fight climate change. General Motors has said it aims to stop selling new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 and will pivot to battery-powered models. This week, Volvo said it would move even faster and introduce an all-electric lineup by 2030.
But as electric cars and trucks go mainstream, they have faced a persistent question: Are they really as green as advertised?
While experts broadly agree that plug-in vehicles are a more climate-friendly option than traditional vehicles, they can still have their own environmental impacts, depending on how they are charged up and manufactured. Here is a guide to some of the biggest worries — and how they might be addressed.
It Matters How the Electricity Is Made
Broadly speaking, most electric cars sold today tend to produce significantly fewer planet-warming emissions than most cars fueled with gasoline. But a lot depends on how much coal is being burned to charge up those plug-in vehicles. And electric grids still need to get much, much cleaner before electric vehicles are truly emissions free.
One way to compare the climate impacts of different vehicle models is with an interactive online tool (www.carboncounter.com/#!/explore) by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology