How sustainable are electric vehicle batteries?
  • Battery production emissions: Differences in battery materials and production techniques, including the location and energy mix of production, affect the overall sustainability of EV batteries. A battery produced using coal-fired electricity, for example, will have significantly higher emissions than one produced using cleaner power. In total, analyses of battery production (including the extraction of component minerals) suggest that emissions from manufacturing an EV battery are roughly equivalent to the emissions from manufacturing the rest of the vehicle. Some experts suggest that these emissions represent approximately 5-15% of the total life-cycle emissions of an EV in many locales, although these estimates can vary widely. The good news is that new production technologies are developing, and the overall electrical grid is becoming less carbon intensive. Some experts anticipate a 50% reduction in an EV’s life-cycle emissions by 2030, and by one estimate of a fully renewable future grid, EVs could eventually produce at least 90% fewer life-cycle emissions than do ICE vehicles. 
  • Battery production social impacts: Certain challenges are particularly connected with mining for minerals, such as cobalt, used in EV batteries. Unregulated cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which produces more than half of all mined cobalt, is linked to regular risk of injury and death due to mine collapse, lung disease from particle inhalation, and child labor concerns (with weak enforcement of health and safety standards or child labor rules). It is important to note that fossil fuel exploration and extraction has also been associated with similar human rights abuse, conflict, and corruption. The average scores on the Resource Governance Index for oil-producing countries (47 out of 100) and mineral-producing countries (48 out of 100) are virtually identical, signaling that misgovernance, specifically related to child labor, remains a challenge in both sectors. 
  • Battery lifespan: Electric vehicle (EV) batteries are designed for extended life; but, as with any other rechargeable battery, it will degrade over time.  Federal regulations require that every battery in an EV sold in the U.S. come with a warranty providing coverage for a minimum of eight years or 100,000 miles. However, current estimates predict that an EV battery will last 10–20 years before they need to be replaced. EV drivers can maximize battery life by avoiding: high temperatures, overcharging, completely draining the battery, and aggressive driving patterns. After the battery’s first life is over, it can be reused for energy storage, telecommunications backup services, and other applications before it needs to be recycled. 

Show All Answers

1. What cars are considered "electric"?
2. Are EVs affordable?
3. How far can an EV travel on one charge?
4. Are there electric trucks and SUVs available?
5. Where can I charge my electric vehicle in Durango?
6. How long will it take to charge my electric vehicle?
7. What are the benefits of driving an electric vehicle?
8. What are the 3 different levels of charging?
9. What are the different plug or connector types?
10. How do winter conditions affect electric vehicles?
11. Are electric vehicles really better for the environment?
12. How clean is the electricity I am using to charge my vehicle?
13. How sustainable are electric vehicle batteries?
14. When should I consider replacing my existing gas-powered vehicle with an electric vehicle?
15. How much does it cost to use the public charging stations at the Transit Center?