Electric cars

Posted by Melda Research on March 20th, 2019


An electric car refers to an automobile propelled by electric motors using electric energy in batteries or any other energy storage device. The electric motors normally provide electric cars instant moment of a force; thus, creating a smooth and strong acceleration. The motor gets energy from the controller that regulates the amount of power (Pistoia, 2010). There are various reasons for continued interest in electric cars. They normally create less pollution than the gasoline-powered cars. Hence, they are an environmentally friendly alternative to the gasoline-powered cars. Today, people consider electric cars as the best alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. Many people are becoming interested in electric cars because of the rising gasoline prices and increase concern for the environment. Electric cars have various advantages such as reducing dependency on oil, lack of producing tailpipe emission, and they are cheap to operate. Electric cars do not cause noise or air pollution. However, they tend not to be completely environmentally friendly.

The electric cars normally use electricity stored in batteries and the batteries need recharging. Presently, most production of electricity in the world is through thermal energy that happens through burning of fossil fuels (Vesilind, 1998). Thus, it results to the ethical dilemma in that the electricity used in charging batteries come from thermal means. According to McKay, (2012) electric car factories emit more toxic waste than conventional car factories. Electric cars also cause ethical issues related to the environment in regards to the lead acid batteries used. The lead acid batteries normally have toxins that are extremely harmful to the environment. Because lead acid batteries are among the commonly used batteries, they pose an ethical dilemma for manufacturers who support the idea that electric cars are green. Several studies support the idea that the most efficient way of powering a vehicle is through gasoline because of the high energy amount it can produce.

The electric cars contribute to air pollution through the electricity used in charging their batteries. The amount of pollution the electric produce directly ties to the electricity source charging the car’s batteries. The electric car depending on coal for its electricity is 17 to 27 % worse than gas or diesel engines (Braun, 2013). It is bad because US derive about 45 % of its electricity from coal. When we use gasoline in producing electricity, there is a lot of wasted energy in the form of wasted heat. The increasing use of electric vehicles means an increased emission of carbon. In United States, more than half of electricity comes from coal; thus, as engineers continue with the production of electric cars, it will result in an increased need for coal.

A Large percentage of electricity comes from coal-fired power. Thus, electric cars contribute to the greater air pollution as it uses coal-derived electricity as compared to the vehicle using gasoline (McKay, 2012). There tend to be various ethical issues associated with the production of electric cars. If green means provided all our electricity needs like solar energy, nuclear power plants, and wind energy, the electric vehicles would be green because pollution through thermal generation would not occur. Engineering ethics should be the road map for engineer’s behavior when they are leading the society to challenges facing the future in the effort of achieving a meaningful life. Thus, it is necessary to understand the ethical issues relating to the development of electric cars before continuing with this innovation.

 Argument presentation

Electric cars tend to be a great threat to the environment. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Institute of the Electrical and Electronics Engineers, it states that engineers must hold paramount the safety, welfare, and health of the public. Electric cars are a problem to the environment because they tend to pollute much more than diesel or petrol-powered cars. According to research by the Norwegian University of Science and technology, greenhouse gas emission rose when we use coal to produce electricity (Duke, 2013). Electric car factories tend to emit more toxic waste than the conventional car factories. The production phase of the electric cars proves to be more environmentally intensive. The global warming potential from the electric car production is about twice that of the conventional vehicles. It clearly poses a large problem, and we cannot consider a product as green when the factory producing the product is not green.

The production of batteries and the electric motors used by the electric vehicles normally require many toxic minerals. Despite the production of electric cars being harmful today, it is necessary to know that both the gasoline and the battery-powered vehicles are improving. The production of electric vehicles and the impact on the environment is a major problem in the society (Fallah, 2010).

The current percentage of power generation sources in the US depends heavily on the fossil fuels and other pollution producing supplies. Despite Electric cars having a green image, they tend to be less efficient and more polluting than the petrol cars that they replace. Electricity from highly polluting power stations tends to power the batteries for the electric cars. Many people believe that a high percentage of electricity in the world comes from dirty fuels such as coal. However, this is something that is not likely going to change anytime soon. Instead, the widespread introduction of electric cars is likely to increase the world’s reliance on coal so as to keep up with the increasing demand for electricity.

The idea that most people hold that electric cars are emission-free is just a lie. Electric cars purely supply the pollution from the road to the power station. Electric cars do not reduce emission, but they increase emissions because coal-burning to produce electricity so as to power the electric car creates more pollution. The use of electric cars tends to cause more pollution than just powering the same vehicle using petrol (Gao, et al. 2009). The renewable sources of energy tend to be growing fast; however, they are still a small percentage of the world’s electricity supply, and they are likely to stay like that for the foreseeable future. It is because the renewable energy sources are far more expensive than the fossil fuels.

When charging, the zero- tailpipe emission does not necessarily mean zero emission. The electric car owners does not have to go to the gas station; however, these cars need charging. A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, they state that the effect of electric cars associated with the greenhouse gas released into the environment span a wide range depending on the source of electricity. The electric car charged on the mid-west tends to have a different impact on the environment as compared to electric car charged on the west coast (Fallah, 2010). The article uses the example of a Nissan Leaf driven in Los Angeles and a Nissan leaf driven in Denver. California normally has clean power from using natural gas for fueling the car. Thus, LA Leaf tends to produce low amounts of greenhouse gas as the amount produced is similar to a gasoline-powered car getting 79 miles per gallon. On the other hand, the state of Missouri rely heavily on coal over a cleaner power source; thus, driving an electric vehicle will most likely cause more harm than good to the environment.

As electric vehicles gain popularity, there are few existing and emerging risks to the environment that engineers must consider. The electric car battery and the electric motor can cause harmful impacts on the air, land, and water quality if using the raw materials from locations with poor and week enforced environmental regulations. The risks are evident for oil and earth metal extraction and processing that supports the conventional vehicles operation on the Victorian roads.

According to a study by researchers, they found that most alternative vehicle technologies and fuels put forward as better for the environment than the conventional gasoline vehicles do not cause large decreases in the air quality-related health impact. A major implication is that electrical cars can cause a large public health improvement only when paired with clean electricity. However, until now, the large percentage of electricity comes from coal. Thus, adapting the electric cars without taking measures to clean up the electric generation is worse for the public health than the continuing use of the conventional gasoline vehicles.

According to Braun (2013), battery-powered car recharged using electricity generated by the coal-fired power station is more likely to cause three times as many deaths from pollution as compared to conventionally driven vehicle. Even a battery that is running on the average mix of the electrical power generated in US is more hazardous than the conventional alternation. Proponents of electric cars argue that it is possible to avoid pollution when using alternative sources of electricity to recharge the batteries. Currently, it is not possible to charge electric cars with renewable sources such as solar.

The solar cells normally contain heavy metals and their manufacturing tends to release greenhouse gasses such as sulfur hexafluoride that tend to have 23 000 times as much global warming potential and carbon dioxide. Fossil fuels are burning in the extraction of raw materials needed to make the solar cells and wind turbines and for their assembly, fabrication, and maintenance. The extraction and also processing of materials found in batteries including nickel, lithium, and copper normally demand energy and it can release toxic wastes. More to the extraction of the material is that extracting them in the poorly regulated areas imposes the workers and also the surrounding population through groundwater and air contamination. Duke (2013) argues that the lifetime health and environmental damages of electric vehicles are greater than those of the gasoline-powered cars. Duke (2013) claim that an electric car is worse than a car fueled by gasoline derived from the Canadian tar sands.


When considering the idea of electric cars and the environmental impact, some people argue that electric cars are delivering real benefits to our health and also the environment. There are various studies done to explain how electric cars are a threat to the environment. However, some analysts believe that electric vehicles are the solution to the environmental problem we are experiencing today. According to proponents of electric vehicles, they argue that electric cars deliver greater benefits for the environment. Proponents claim that electric cars are the best tools for putting a break on our dependence on oil, improve healthy, clean up air and protect the climate. A study on “Driving cleaner: more electric vehicles mean less pollution” indicate that electric cars can prevent over 18 million metric tons of the climate-changing carbon pollution every year in US by 2025. That is equal to saving over two billion gallons of gasoline every year or eliminating the tailpipe pollution from 3.8 million of trucks and cars today (Ridlington, 2014).

While claiming that EVs are not emission-free, some researchers argue that EVs are cleaner than the vehicles running on oil. The proponents of EVs state that these cars are much more efficient that the internal combustion engine (Ridlington, 2014). Thus, EVs are expected to get even cleaner as the electricity system incorporate more solar, wind, and other forms of zero-emission energy. The majority of the supporters of electric vehicles argue that EVs are less polluting than the conventional cars. According to this argument, an electric car produces less global warming pollution per mile than the gasoline car. The increasing reliance on conventional cars is contributing to the increasing global warming. The rising rate of global warming poses a major threat to people caused by the combustion of gas and oil that produces carbon dioxide pollution (Ridlington, 2014). However, electric cars are helping to reduce pollution because it uses electricity as a fuel; thus reduces or eliminates the need for gasoline.

Supporters of EVs normally base their argument on the idea that there is no tailpipe emission that occurs from using electricity to propel the vehicle. Despite this argument being true, there is emission that usually occurs from producing the electricity. Proponents claim that the electrification of transport tend to be more sustainable on the life cycle aspect as it causes a  net reduction in the local air pollution and also the emission of greenhouse gas. It is an advantage that people expect to grow and reduce air pollution as the US electricity is shifting towards a climate-friendly source such as nuclear, gas, and renewable.


Proponents of electric cars claim that electric cars are zero-emission; thus, the vehicles are helping the environment. The argument is true as they produce little pollution directly, but not true in that fact that it cause pollution from the power plants providing their electricity. However, the key argument is that the electric vehicles are making the air dirtier and worsening global warming. Ethanol is not good, and a lot of technologies that we consider as being clean are not better than gasoline (Fairley, 2010). The main factor is the source of electricity that all-electric cars are using. In America, the main source of electricity tends to be coal and the electric cars produce about 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than the gas.

That is because of the pollution from generating the electricity. EVs are also worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming. All electric cars are using electricity and coal is the main source of electricity. The coal-fired power plants tend to produce about twice global warming emission while the renewable sources such as solar and wind produce no emission at all (Gao, et al. 2009). When we connect an electric car at one end and the coal-fired power plant on the other, the environmental impact is worse than driving a gasoline powered car. If the power supply for EVs comes from natural gas, the electric car will be producing half as many health problems related to air pollution as the gasoline powered cars produce.

Proponents of EVs should know that the burning of coal normally produces the largest fraction of electricity in US. Oil tends to be a very small contributor for electricity in US. EVs have a great impact in increasing global warming. For instance, the electricity produced from coal, its total emission include those that associate with coal mining, delivering it to the power plant, and then  burning it there. The coal-fired electricity tends to be the dirtiest; thus, since electric cars used coal-fired electricity, they are not a good tool in putting a break on pollution. The coal-fired electricity being the dirtiest source of electricity tends to dominate the large percentage of global warming emission for electricity generation (Fairley, 2010). The electricity from natural gas has on average approximately half of the global warming pollution impact of coal-powered electricity. The nuclear and the renewable sources of power have the lowest global warming pollution. Thus, until we can start relying on the renewable and nuclear power as a source of electricity, the EVs will continue to have a negative impact on the environment in terms of pollution.

According to the Department of Energy, coal normally produces about 39% of the electricity in the country. Associated Press (2014) states that the all-electric vehicles tend to cause 86% more deaths from the air pollution than cars powers by the regular gasoline. Because electric cars use electricity generated from the dirty sources such as oil and coal, the electric vehicle tend to create excess pollutants than the internal combustion engine vehicles. A report prepared by the General Accounting Office in US helped in explaining how EVs emit gas. The report assumed that if 49% of EV’s charging energy is from coal, the electric car will cause a comparable level of carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide discharged. Also, the sulfur oxide emission would rise by a factor of 10. When assuming that an electric car charged by 1100% coal-fired electricity, the car would emit 150% more CO2, 2400% sulfur oxide and 250% nitrogen oxide than the internal combustion engine vehicle. Proponents of EVs argue EVs cause a net reduction in the local air pollution and also the emission of greenhouse gas. They expect the benefit to increase and reduce air pollution as the US electricity is shifting towards a climate-friendly source such as nuclear, gas, and renewable. Unfortunately, the shift to the climate-friendly sources of electricity does not seem to be happening anytime soon; thus, EVs continue to be a problem to the environment.


The electric vehicles are new, and almost every major automaker is introducing some electric cars. Electric cars have the ability to save our environment only if their power is from the renewable energy and not energy from ethanol or coal. When we use gasoline in producing electricity, there is a lot of wasted energy in the form of wasted heat. The increasing use of electric vehicles means an increased emission of carbon. There are various studies that support the need for increasing the use of electric cars as it helps in reducing global warming. However, a major problem that relates to the use electric cars is its source of electricity. Today, coal tends to be the highest source of electricity and this source is contributing to a high increase in carbon emission. However, if electric cars only use the renewable sources of electricity, it will help in cutting down pollution by about 70 percent.

However, since the highest percentage of electricity source comes from coal, electric cars tend not to be good for the environment and are causing a major problem. When using energy from dirty sources such as coal, electric cars make things worse and increase the number of death by about 80 % or even more. Electric cars are a problem to the environment because they tend to pollute much more than diesel or petrol-powered cars. Electric car factories tend to emit more toxic waste than the conventional car factories. The production phase of the electric cars proves to be more environmentally intensive. In this report, I provide a discussion of how electric cars are a danger to the environment. The report also offers arguments supporting the use of electric cars in saving our environment, and also the technical aspect that make electric cars a threat to the environment.


Associated Press (2014). Your all-electric car might be worsening the global warming Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2014/12/16/your-all-electric-car-might-be-worsening-global-warming/

Braun, P (2013). Do not look so smug 

Duke, S (2013). Former electric-car engineer

Ehsani, M Emadi, A & Gao, Y (2009). Modern electric, hybrid-electric, and fuel cell vehicles CRC Press

Fairley, P (2010). Will electric vehicles finally succeed

Fallah, A (2010). Electric cars a major environmental threat?

McKay, N (2012). Electric cars and pollution in Indiana 

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in nursing writing services. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from best custom term papers.

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