A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has raised questions about the environmental impact and cost-effectiveness of electric cars compared to hybrid and conventional internal combustion engine cars.
The study, carried out in collaboration with a Japanese organisation, focused on assessing the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of these vehicles. Contrary to popular belief, the findings of the study indicate that electric cars are not as environmentally friendly as they are often portrayed to be. In fact, the study revealed that hybrid electric cars are the most eco-friendly option available.
Electric Vehicles Emit More Greenhouse Gases
According to Prof Avinash Agarwal of IIT Kanpur, Battery Electric Cars (BEVs) emit 15-50% more greenhouse gases than other vehicle categories. The main reason behind this is the reliance on electricity generated from coal, which contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. Since a significant portion of electricity production in India still relies on coal, charging the batteries of electric cars leads to a higher carbon footprint. This challenges the notion that electric cars are inherently greener than other alternatives.
Cost Implications of Electric Cars
In addition to the environmental concerns, the study also highlighted the higher costs associated with electric vehicles. The purchase, insurance, and maintenance expenses of electric cars were found to be 15-60% higher per kilometre compared to hybrid and conventional cars. This cost disparity poses a significant challenge to the widespread adoption of electric cars, especially in developing countries where affordability is a key consideration.
Hybrid Cars: The Environmentally Friendly Alternative
The study found that Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) emit the lowest amount of greenhouse gases among the three categories of vehicles analysed. However, despite their environmental benefits, hybrid cars are more expensive than conventional cars. The primary reason for this is the high taxes imposed on hybrid vehicles. The report suggests that if the government aims to promote clean technology, hybrid cars should be taxed at par with battery-driven vehicles.
Promoting Electric Cars despite Environmental Concerns
Interestingly, the report highlights that battery electric cars continue to receive promotional incentives and lower taxes, despite their negative impact on the environment. This creates a paradoxical situation where policies designed to encourage cleaner technology might inadvertently be contributing to greater environmental harm. It is essential for policymakers to reconsider such incentives and align them with the actual environmental performance of different vehicle types.
Hybrid Cars: Efficient and Economical for Personal Use
While battery-driven cars may have higher costs and environmental impact, the study reveals that they are more efficient for taxi operators. However, for personal use, a conventional-engine car emerges as a more cost-effective option compared to battery-driven cars. Hybrid vehicles strike a balance between efficiency and environmental friendliness, making them the ideal choice for individual consumers.
The study conducted by IIT Kanpur challenges the widely held belief that electric cars are inherently more environmentally friendly than their hybrid and conventional counterparts. It calls for a reevaluation of policies and taxation structures to encourage the adoption of the most eco-friendly technologies available. As the world continues to explore alternative energy sources, it is crucial to consider a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact and cost implications when determining the most sustainable transportation options for the future.