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Electric vehicles becoming increasingly cleaner than petrols and diesels

Britain’s switch to ‘greener’ electricity is driving the eco benefits of electric vehicles compared to petrols or diesels – even taking battery manufacture into account.

Increased decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity means EVs are becoming cleaner to run

Putting paid to myths that EVs are just as polluting as conventional cars when it comes to powering them, research by Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights shows that on average Britain’s EVs emit just one quarter of the CO2 of petrol and diesel cars – and if the carbon emitted in making their battery is included, the CO2 emissions are half those of a conventional vehicle.

And Britain’s EVs bought today could ’emit’ the equivalent of just a tenth of the CO2 emitted by a petrol car in five years’ time.

Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London said the decarbonisation of Britain’s electricity supply is helping to support the eco benefits of EVs, adding: “The carbon content of Britain’s electricity has halved in recent years and keeps on falling, whereas conventional engine vehicles have very limited scope to reduce emissions over their lifetime.”

Figures show wind, solar, biomass, and hydro supplied 55% of electricity demand on 30 June, breaking last year’s record of 48% according to the report.

However, the research also reveals that smaller EVs with modest battery sizes are better for the environment, whereas the largest luxury EV models could need three times longer to pay back their carbon cost, as manufacturing their large batteries emits as much carbon as three round the world flights.

The research has been welcomed by Ian Johnston, CEO of rapid charging provider Engenie, who said: “The argument that electric vehicles are just as polluting as conventional vehicles is confined to the history books. This news, alongside the huge private investment being made into rapid charging infrastructure will give drivers the confidence to make the switch and accelerate the decarbonisation of the transport sector.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.