small, they can be green

17 October 2022 at 14.46.,

Reading time: 4 minutes


This is called a jump start. In five years, the share of electric car sales has increased from about 1 to 13 % [1], according to the latest figures from Automotive Platform. The big brands tend to focus on selling vehicles with high added value, even bigger and more energy-intensive with electric models that exceed the understanding and threshold of 2.5 tons, following the general trend of road gigantism.

In this changing landscape, it was necessary to clarify the ecological footprint of this implementation at top speed. In a statement published on 13 October, the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe) therefore confirms that the electric car is generally more ecological than a thermal car over its entire life cycle, provided it remains modest in size.

Carbon emissions from thermal and electric cars. © Breathe

Energy-demanding batteries

Yes, the electrification of the vehicle fleet leads to an increase in the carbon footprint of the vehicle extraction and production phases [2], two to three times larger than a thermomobile before it has even started running. The electric car also presents a certain number of problems similar to those of the combustion engine car: fine particles as a result of tire wear, noise pollution above 50 km/h, but above all the individual car, electric or not, is still an inefficient solution, as it is proposed to move 100 to 150 kg payload (passengers and goods) in a machine that weighs five to ten times more.

However, any electric vehicle with less than 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power (about 450 km of autonomy) will always have a lower carbon impact over its lifetime compared to its thermal equivalent. that balance » even becomes positive from the first 15,000 kilometers for a small city electric car, such as the Renault Twingo E-Tech and its 22 kWh. All this on the condition of using low carbon electricity (therefore of nuclear or renewable origin). Conversely, a SUV electric with a reinforced 100 kWh battery must run at least 100,000 km instead of a thermomobile to become more ecological than the latter.

The board reminds that the electric car will not be able to cover all applications, especially for the heaviest vehicles, for which large, expensive and energy-intensive batteries will be necessary. It also notes that plug-in hybrid cars, which are very fashionable, can only be considered as a transitional solution and with the maximization of the use of the electric battery over short distances.

The mirage of total electrification

But this statement is not limited to a simple comparison. It will not be enough to copy the thermal vehicle usage model on the electric vehiclesays the report. The emergence of a range of smaller, more fuel-efficient and more affordable vehicles suitable for everyday travel is a major challenge to the massive adoption of WOW with the largest number. »

Therefore, Adem’s initiative is to revoke the launch of their Extreme Challenge, a competition to allow manufacturers of experimental vehicles to benefit from funding to industrialize the first series of small, lighter medium cars (less than 200 kg) and more sober than an electric city car, but also faster and more powerful than an electric bike.

A market today that is totally suffocated by the operation of subsidies for the purchase of electric cars, much more interesting for larger and more expensive vehicles than for these quadricycles (such as Citroën Ami or Renault Twizy). On Sunday, October 16, Emmanuel Macron announced an increase in organic bonus » on the purchase of an electric vehicle from 6,000 to 7,000 euros for low-income households. The government, which is betting heavily on the industrialization of the large electric car, has also recalled that it will be necessary to rethink the place of the car in our journeys (sobriety and modal shift) and make the electric vehicle a brick among a wider and more diversified range of mobility services ».

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