Are electric cars really so eco-friendly?

Last week heralded the start of Nissan’s production of the Leaf, the first electric car to be built in the UK. The car is to be made at the Japanese manufacturers Sunderland plant, and they have said that they expect a slow start but believe that the time is right for the battery operated car to make its mark on the industry.

Government’s around the world see electric vehicles as playing a vital part in both cutting CO2 emissions and reducing the effects of global warming. The principle is simple; what emissions the cars do make are totally clean, but if this is the case, why are some top scientists still questioning their credentials as a green vehicle?

Their concerns are mainly focussed on 2 areas; How the electric vehicles and in particular their batteries are manufactured and how the electricity is generated that actually powers them. A recent study by Norwegian scientists, a country that is a big believer in electric vehicles, discovered that is certain circumstances these cars could actually have a bigger impact on global warming than conventional vehicles.

Guillaume Majeau-Bettez from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, one of the report’s authors, has admitted that he was both shocked and disappointed that the findings were not more positive for electric vehicles. He said that while these cars had huge potential for improvement, what will ultimately make it a success or a failure from an environmental stance is how much the electricity grid could be cleaned up, and at present they were failing to do this.