Are electric cars as green as they seem?

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Are electric cars as green as they seem?

Driving an electric car produces no CO2. That, alongside a number of other reasons, is why thousands of people every month are now switching from petrol vehicles to electric. That, however, isn’t where the concern lies for many drivers.

Those that refuse to be convinced by electric cars green credentials argue that they use emissions elsewhere in the process. We all know that when charged, electric vehicles operate with no CO2 emissions, but what about the power that has to be generated to charge them and manufacturing the battery? Doesn’t that counteract the low emission performance once charged?

In a word, the answer is no. But that wouldn’t make a very interesting blog post, so we’ve decided to go into detail explaining the ins and outs of

We’re not saying that electric cars are perfect. And you’re right, the manufacturing process and generating the power to charge them does produce emissions. Here is the reasoning behind why electric cars are green and they are only getting greener.

Where the power comes from

In the UK, we have a number of different sources that generate our electricity. This is so that we have a constant supply and don’t rely solely on one source. The main sources of electricity in the UK are fossil fuels, nuclear, renewable and imports.

The level of emissions associated with charging an electric vehicle depends on the way the electricity is produced. Electric cars are actually getting cleaner as the number of renewable energy increases and fossil fuels decreases.

Renewable energy includes solar and wind and the UK’s energy supply is increasingly growing in this area. In 2015, renewable energy reached 25% of electricity generated. This is only set to increase further as the UK aims to meet the EU target of generating 30% renewable energy by 2020.

Electric vehicles and the environment are feeling the benefit of this. Research by Imperial College London found that electric vehicles are now twice as green as they were five years ago thanks to the increase in renewable energy like solar farms and wind turbines.

Their test showed that charging a Tesla Model S created 124g of carbon dioxide per km driven in 2012, but that has now halved to 74g per km in winter and just 41g per km in summer.


As you would expect, during the manufacturing process, there is a lot of energy used. The same amount of emissions are needed as a traditional car, but on top of that, you have to add battery production. Manufacturing electric car batteries are not environmentally friendly and that means an electric car uses more emissions in the manufacturing process than a traditional car.

Am I helping the environment by hiring an electric car?

Overall, it is generally accepted that electric cars produce half the greenhouse gases of a petrol/diesel powered vehicle over the course of their lifetime. This figure is only improving as the UK uses more renewable sources to generate electricity.

Whilst it is hard to argue that electric vehicle is completely zero-emission when accounting for manufacturing and energy sourcing but they are a better option for an environmentally conscious person that a petrol vehicle.

Hire an electric car UK

Green Motion car rental takes its environmental policy seriously, championing best practices and attitudes to ensure that our impact on the environment is kept to a minimum.

If you’ve yet to try an electric or hybrid vehicle, renting can give you the perfect opportunity to do so before committing to a purchase. For more information about the range of vehicle available at the Green Motion branch nearest to you or a destination that you’re visiting, browse our online booking platform.

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