Things to Consider Before Buying an Electric Vehicle

EVs make perfect sense for people who have in-home solar power arrays and are concerned with their carbon footprint

There are good reasons to buy an all-electric vehicle. Among them are, according to Car and Driver,

An electric car's mechanisms tend to be much simpler than those of a standard-powered vehicle. A few examples listed by My EV include the following:

An electric motor has fewer moving parts than a gasoline engine.

An electric car is fitted with a single-speed transmission.

Unlike conventional automobiles, electric cars are not equipped with many of the usual parts that eventually break and need to be replaced or repaired.”

However, many people buy EVs because they are “far easier on the environment.”

But is this really true?  

According to CNBC,

Almost all studies have shown that the production of electric cars causes more harm to the environment than the production of a combustion car. This is primarily because of the heavy battery used in electric cars. So, if the production of a fuel car releases 10 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, the manufacturing of an EV generates 15.3 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

However, fuel cars lose this edge when it comes to the usage of the vehicle. According to the United States Department of Energy, an average fuel car releases 5.2 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The figure has been reached after keeping the yearly commute distance at 19,300 km. On the other hand, a study by the Alternative Fuel Data Centre of the US reveals that an electric car produces 2.2 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide for the same distance.

Using this emission data, it is safe to conclude that an electric car and a fuel car are equally harmful to the environment for the first 20 months or so. The difference kicks in thereafter. After the first 20 months, electric cars are way less polluting than their ICE-powered counterparts.

Even if we extend this EV vs ICE debate to lithium extraction and oil drilling, electric cars will still be the slightly better option. Skeptics of EVs often point out that the extraction of lithium-ion — a crucial component of EVs — is damaging to the environment. While the argument is not without merit, it must also be taken into consideration that lithium ions make up for just 5–7 percent of the EV battery. Further, lithium extraction, although a water-intensive process, takes place in desolate places where no life can survive. For instance, the Atacama desert in Chile. In contrast, oil drilling takes place on ocean beds which disrupts marine life in the area.”

This argument in support of EVs, however, does not take into account the other metals that go into making an EV battery. The average EV car battery weighs between 500 and 1,000 pounds. If lithium ions make up only 5% to 7% of the EV car battery, where do the other hundreds of pounds of material come from? It turns out that in addition to lithium, the materials to make an EV battery consist of cobalt, nickel, graphite, copper, and steel. All of these metals come from the earth and must be mined. Not only are mines ugly but they destroy the surface and pollute rivers and the surrounding land.

Lithium mine in Sonora, Mexico.

So, the EV– internal combustion debate as to environmental safety is, in my opinion, a draw. EVs are not environmental panaceas, they may at best be a “slightly better option” than internal combustion vehicles.

Here are some things to consider before buying an EV:

1) The obvious: If you do not have a solar power array at home, the energy to charge your EV comes from the fossil fuel grid, and that grid burns oil, gas, and coal (or exhausts nuclear fuel). Every time you charge your EV you are increasing your carbon footprint.

2) EV batteries are unnecessarily large. Most EVs can go from 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds! The power to achieve this amazing power surge, however, drains the battery faster and requires a larger battery, and thus more material extracted from mother earth.

3) Driving an EV to the limit of its range heavily discharges the battery pack. Regularly discharging an EV battery reduces the life of the battery. This means the range of your EV, for practical purposes, is reduced.  

4) Fast charging your EV only gets you an 80% charge, which means you have to stop and recharge more often. Moreover, Fast-charging stresses the battery. According to Car and Driver, “Another thing that can diminish batteries lifespan is using Level 3 fast-charging stations. These stations can charge the battery up to 80% in 30 minutes, but they can also overheat the battery. Carfax warns that this can affect the battery's long-term performance and longevity.”

5) Leaving an EV outside in the garage – in the heat or cold – will result in a reduced range when you get up the next day to drive it. EVs burn power even when they aren’t being used, because their powered heating (and cooling) systems are always on, to keep the battery from getting too cold or too hot. That means keeping the vehicle plugged in to avoid loss of charge while it’s just sitting there. And if you don’t have a solar array at home, you are increasing your carbon footprint.

6) Finally, if you want to fast charge your EV at home you have to rewire your home’s electrical system to commercial grade. The standard 240 volt charging system for at-home charging takes between 8 and 9 hours for a full charge. Otherwise you have to drive to a charging station.

The good news for EV owners is that although the average EV battery currently lasts about 8–10 years, the cost of replacement is going down. However, the more EVs are sold the more mineral extraction is necessary, which means that more of the earth’s surface is torn up to extract the minerals and metals necessary to make them, thus increasing the carbon footprint for the EV industry. Moreover, 80% of EV car batteries are made in China. The more EVs are sold the more we help the Chinese economy, when our own workers are suffering from high inflation and a lack of jobs.

However, the EV supply problem is likely to solve itself. There simply might not be enough lithium to manufacture the 2.5 billion EVs necessary for the world to achieve net carbon zero emissions.

According to Ian Shine at,

The International Energy Agency says the world could face lithium shortages by 2025. And Credit Suisse says lithium demand could treble between 2020 and 2025, meaning “supply would be stretched.” 

The campaign group Transport and Environment says there is only enough lithium to produce up to 14 million EVs in 2023, Reuters reports. “There simply isn’t going to be enough lithium on the face of the planet, regardless of who expands and who delivers, it just won’t be there,” Lake Resources Chairman Stuart Crow told the Financial Times. “Car makers are starting to sense that maybe the battery makers aren’t going to be able to deliver.”

Volkswagen, the world’s second-largest car manufacturer, has already sold out of EVs in the US and Europe for 2022. Ford’s E-Transit van sold out before production had even begun.”


All-electric vehicles are a great idea for people with a solar installation at home, for their emissions footprint should be greatly reduced when compared to a gas powered vehicle. For those without solar arrays, charging your EV uses energy from the polluting fossil fuel grid, and your overall carbon footprint for the life of the EV probably isn’t much different compared to a gasoline powered vehicle.