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Down Side of Electric Cars

Electric Car | Battery Advancement | Buffalo, NY | Certified B Corp 

While electric cars appear to be a sustainable mode of transportation at first glance, it is important to acknowledge the fight does not stop on the road. Advancements in battery technology may be making electric cars more affordable, but they cannot be a truly sustainable transportation option until the world uses a sustainable grid.

As the demand for electric cars grow, the demand for recharge stations will grow. This may seem like a win for the environment but when one investigates beyond the street level clean energy they will see some contradictions. For one, electric cars’ environmental benefits may not extend beyond the moment they are used. Ultimately these cars may still be powered by fossil fuels, mostly coal.[1] While the cars themselves will not emit pollutants, the source of the power used to charge them will.

The batteries that power these cars have advanced significantly in a relatively short amount of time. The lithium batteries used have been developed adapted to fit into most of a person’s daily devices like their smart phones and tablets.[2] While further advancements in battery technology will benefit these cars and the environment[3] (by improving the quality/distance traveled per charge), ultimately the answer to bettering the planet with electric vehicles is reducing the carbon output of our grid.

The good news is this does not have to be a radical overnight change. Natural gas, while still a fossil fuel, is not only more affordable than coal, it is releases fewer pollutants.[4] This cannot be a permanent solution on the path to a completely green grid, but a stepping stone. It not only reduces greenhouse emissions, but also offers a more affordable source of energy while the pursuit of a green grid continues.

While the answer to clean transportation is a green infrastructure, one should not be dissuaded by this information from purchasing an electric vehicle (if they were previously planning to do so). While electric vehicles are mostly charged by fossil fuels at this time, they still are responsible for far fewer Co2 emissions per mile than petro powered vehicles:[5] “Even when the electricity comes from the dirtiest coal-dominated grid, electric vehicles (EVs) still produce less global warming pollution than their conventional counterparts, and with fewer tailpipe emissions (or none at all).”[6] So rather than tossing out the idea of clean transportation because it’s not a perfect solution at the moment, it would be better suited to focus on fixing these issues, and moving towards a clean grid step by step.


The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. There is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue or forecasts will occur. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.

[1] https://greentransportation.info/energy-transportation/evs-need-clean-electricity.html

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/04/investors-bullish-on-electric-car-battery-tech-mull-lithium-futures.html

[3] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2015/09/15/five-emerging-battery-technologies-for-electric-vehicles/

[4] http://www.climatecentral.org/news/electric-cars-green-grid-tennessee-clean-energy-21467

[5] http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/ev-emissions-tool#.Wfoe7baZO8o

[6] http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles#.Wfoe7baZO8o

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