We take a look at the full life cycle of electric vehicles climate impact (CO₂ emissions) in different countries in the European Union to compare them with diesel vehicles. EU state member countries have largely different supply mix of electricity, which directly influences the BEV’s (Battery Electric Vehicles) carbon footprint. A common theory surrounding electric vehicles is if the source of energy is mainly from coal burning power plants then they are creating more greenhouse gases than diesel or petrol cars. We can see from this research that it’s not the case, not even in Poland which is the worst offender when it comes to dirty energy generation in the EU.

Reference: https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/TE%20-%20draft%20report%20v04.pdf

Electric vs. Diesel Vehicles Climate Impact

What is a Life Cycle?

We count all environmentally significant processes throughout the life cycle of vehicles
– Raw material extraction
– Production of parts
– Assembly
– Transport
– Vehicle use (including fueling)
– End-of-life treatment


– The units ‘gCOeq/kWh’ are grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated
– Life time driven distance of 200,000km
– Glider (vehicle body without the powertrain) weight is 1200kg
– Electric car has a 30kWh LMO battery and 20 kWh/100km real-life energy consumption. 1,5 battery replacement is calculated during this 200,000km period.
– Diesel car emits 120 gCO₂/km on NEDC which translates to 162 gCO₂/km real-life emission.

Are Electric Vehicles Cleaner Than Diesel Vehicles?

Electric vehicles are cleaner even in the least eco-friendly country in Europe. The current EU average of carbon footprint is 300 gCO₂/kWh, which is expected to drop significantly to 200 gCO₂/kWh in 2030 and 80 gCO₂/kWh in 2050. This means that electric vehicles will get cleaner by time and they are already the greener alternative to vehicles with ICE (Internal Combustion Engine).

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