Electric vehicle technology has existed for longer than most people think; EVs first debuted in the late-19th century. Unfortunately, a combination of limited range and automotive industry suppression meant EV technology was mothballed for the next 100 years.
Around the turn of the century, humanity began to realize the environmental harm that fossil fuels were causing. This led to renewed interest in EVs as a less harmful alternative, which led to a revival of electric vehicle technology, starting with hybrid models in the early-2000s, followed by the fully-electric cars being sold today.
We’re often told that EVs are good for the environment, but those claims are often lacking in specifics. The unfortunate side effect is a reluctance among some folks to accept that EVs are truly an improvement in terms of environmental preservation. However, despite the deficit of information, there’s no denying the validity of claims that EVs are a net positive for the planet.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at six ways EVs are good for the environment:
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
If there’s one environmental benefit of EVs that most people know, it’s the fact they emit far fewer greenhouse gasses than vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs.) The reason why is fairly straightforward: unlike traditional motor vehicles that burn fossil fuels to generate power, EVs use electricity derived from their massive batteries. The result is a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses released into the atmosphere.
Reduced noise pollution
The harm of noise pollution goes far beyond the nuisance of loud sounds in our communities; noise pollution negatively impacts wildlife by disrupting their habitat and making it harder for them to thrive and reproduce. As anyone who’s ever been in a gas-powered vehicle can attest, a running ICE generates an exceptional amount of noise. However, thanks to the absence of a traditional engine and lack of an exhaust system, EVs are whisper-quiet even at high speeds. As more people make the switch to electric vehicles, the plants and animals living near roads and highways will experience a return to peace and quiet.
Reduced carbon footprint
The average American motorist driving an ICE vehicle puts 656 gallons of gas in their cars each year. That’s an enormous carbon footprint over the course of the average person’s lifetime. By making the switch to fully-electric vehicles and EV charging stations, that carbon footprint is reduced in size. Once most vehicles on the road are electric, the collective carbon footprint will be shrunk to a significantly smaller size than if we continue to rely on gas-powered automobiles.
Improved air quality
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through increased EVs on the road means better air quality over time. Cleaner, fresher air is not only better for us, but it’s also better for the environment as a whole. Fewer pollutants make their way into soil and water, improving the quality of both. As a result, plants and animals will be less likely to absorb toxic substances resulting from poor air quality.
Increased use of renewable energy
It’s likely that increased adaptation of EV technology will lead to increased use of renewable energy. That’s because most renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can be incorporated into EV charging systems with relative ease and minimal investment compared to most other technologies. With so many EVs on the road by the end of the decade, demand for electricity will further drive demand for renewable energy sources.
Greater energy efficiency
The honest truth is that humanity will continue to utilize nonrenewable energy sources for the foreseeable future. The quest to prevent irreversible environmental destruction will come down to the ways in which we achieve greater energy efficiency. EVs offer a way for us to drastically reduce our current dependence on inefficient energy sources, which will slow down the rate at which we consume non-renewables, giving the planet a chance to recover from the destructive processes associated with traditional energy sources.
We’re often told that EVs are better for the environment. Now we know how!
Melanie Grealish is a freelance writer from Chicago. She enjoys writing about industry, science, and technology.