The lifecycle analysis accounts for all of the pollution created to manufacture and drive the vehicle over its life expectancy
Using only wind power to charge it, a Volvo C40 Recharge becomes less polluting than a gasoline XC40 after 49,000 kilometers (30,447 miles)
Using the typical mix of grid electricity, the C40 Recharge has to drive 110,000 kilometers (68,350 miles) before it is more ecological
Electric cars are often hailed as a cure all solution to pollution but many people fail to see the emissions produced by the manufacturing process of these vehicles, particularly the battery.
Volvo has committed to release a detailed lifecycle analysis of its electric models and the one made for the new C40 Recharge electric SUV shows that it has to be driven for quite a while before it can truly become better for the planet than an equivalent Volvo XC40 powered by gasoline.
Indeed, manufacturing an electric car is much more polluting than manufacturing a gasoline powered car because the batteries require rare metals that have to be mined, often in developing countries where environmental regulations are quite flexible.
In the case of the Volvo C40 Recharge, the company estimates that the production process creates around 70% more emissions than the production of an XC40 with a gasoline engine.
In order to make up for this starting disadvantage, EVs have to be driven quite a while, especially if the source of electricity used to charge them creates pollution on its own.
Indeed, the analysis shows a graph that compares three energy sources. The first one is the typical mix of sources that is found in the European grid, meaning about 60% of it is made from fossil fuels. The second is called EU-28 and it is a mix of renewable energies and fossil fuels that creates lower emissions than the regular mix. The third energy source is pure wind power, which doesn’t create pollution.
This graph also includes the typical pollution created by a gasoline powered Volvo XC40 over its lifecycle, which Volvo caps at 260,000 kilometers (161,555 miles) for both vehicles.
Using pure wind power, both vehicles have to be driven 49,000 kilometers (30,447 miles) before the C40 Recharge becomes less polluting overall.
If it is charged using the EU-28 mix of electricity, drivers now have to rack up 77,000 kilometers (47,845 miles) before their vehicle becomes more eco friendly.
If the regular, fossil fuel heavy mix of electricity is used throughout the life of the vehicle, the C40 Recharge gets the edge in terms of emissions only after both vehicles have travelled 110,000 kilometers (68,350 miles).
This shows the importance of using clean energy sources to charge EVs because otherwise, the added pollution they generate at the production stage takes a very long time to be offset by the use of the vehicle.