As the new face of renewable energy transport, there’s no doubt electric vehicles are hitting Singapore roads like crazy. We have seen an increase in drivers using more electric cars to navigate Singapore’s busy streets and thoroughfares.
A surge in the Lion City’s population of driving more electrified cars than diesel vehicles begs many questions. Do they drive these cars to reduce their carbon emissions? How do electric vehicles help the environment? Why are fewer and fewer people using petrol or diesel cars?
Touted and marketed as the more eco-friendly mode of transport, electric cars have no doubt disrupted a multi-billion dollar industry long dependent on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources.
So what makes these electric vehicles green? Can they help tackle the ever-pressing climate change issue?
We explore the answer to these questions and more with this guide. Let’s get rolling.
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Cars with zero emissions refer to vehicles that don’t produce any carbon dioxide emissions from the exhaust pipe. As you can see, this only applies to all-electric or battery-electric vehicles with no direct carbon emissions.
Battery electric vehicles are electric cars powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They don’t need a gasoline engine and run purely on energy stored in the battery pack.
In contrast, conventional vehicles can emit up to 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually (according to figures from the United States EPA). But this can depend on the car type, fuel economy, and annual kilometres.
In this regard, vehicles purely powered by electric motors will be significantly more eco-friendly. Lower tailpipe emissions also mean lower ground-level ozone and less particulate matter in the air, which can impede visibility and worsen lung and heart-related diseases.
Driving an electric vehicle can drastically improve fuel economy, thanks to the car’s high-efficiency components.
All-electric vehicles and PHEVs (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles) mostly or partly rely on electric power, meaning their fuel economy is calculated differently from conventional cars.
Standard metrics for measuring the fuel economy of an electric car are kilometres per litre and kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 km.
While an accurate estimate is not possible due to several factors like driving habits, electric vehicle type, and the like, modern electric vehicles can reach a range of 200 km/l and drive upwards of 160 km while consuming only 25-40 kWh.
Hybrid electric vehicles can also record better fuel efficiency and lower costs than cars powered via internal combustion engines.
For example, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid was listed as having a fuel economy of 22 km/l, while the same estimate for a typical 2022 Corolla (automatic and four-cylinder) was around 13 km/l.
While the fuel economy for medium and heavy-duty all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids depends on the car’s load and duty cycle, they generally lead to lower fuel costs than conventional cars.
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint by either buying or leasing an electric car in Singapore, you will do well knowing that EV batteries can last for up to 15 years.
Advanced EV battery production generally predicts an extended lifespan, but they will eventually succumb to wear and tear.
Many electric vehicle manufacturers currently offer eight-year warranty or every 160,000 kilometres driven. Similarly, predictive modelling from energy labs indicates that today’s electric cars are equipped with EV batteries with a 12-15 year lifespan in mild climates (+/- 4 years under extreme duress).
But it should please you to know that newer electric cars in the market are advertised as capable of lasting up to 20 years for 1,500 charge cycles.
Nevertheless, it’s on a case-by-case basis. It’s still important to check with your car leasing company about your leased electric car’s battery life and warranty.
Whether electric cars produce less harmful emissions and lower environmental impacts, we must understand the battery production cycle.
Currently, electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion batteries to run. This complicates things, as the battery production process is high energy-intensive and is now one of the most significant sources of carbon emissions.
Energy experts have weighed in on this discussion. They’ve noted that it’s possible to produce 30% to 40% more greenhouse gas emissions in EV battery production than for a petrol or diesel car.
But high emissions will eventually pay off in the long run. This is because EV batteries are highly recyclable, even if they have varying end-of-life processing than conventional cars.
A standard lithium-ion battery from an electric car has many valuable materials and resources worth saving from landfills.
Before it’s recycled, the battery is first disassembled via large machinery. This effectively breaks down the battery into tiny pieces, which are sifted and separated by the machine based on size.
This breakdown process divides the battery’s parts into ferrous, non-ferrous materials, and plastics. Non-ferrous materials are the most valuable, as they contain crucial components like nickel, manganese, cobalt, and lithium — all of which are recoverable in hydrometallurgy.
Hydrometallurgy is the process of recovering non-ferrous materials through solvent extraction. Many US recycling companies can report a lithium-ion recovery rate of up to 98%.
Once recycling factories have recovered the materials, they can be further processed and used in manufacturing new lithium-ion batteries for further use in electric cars.
Though the “green” claim for electric cars seems to be only a marketing ploy, many studies indicate they are much better for the environment, to some extent.
Research from Yale University has found indirect electric vehicle emissions are significantly lower than in fossil fuel-dependent conventional vehicles.
Additionally, while it is true that initially, EV battery production has less-than-ideal environmental impacts, one cannot understate the long-term benefits of driving electric cars over petrol or diesel vehicles.
Want to experience energy-efficient driving? Why not lease an electric car from Hong Seh Leasing?
Electric cars reduce air pollution and improve air quality by not relying on non-renewable energy sources. For instance, cars powered by fossil fuels have many more moving parts, such as fuel lines, tanks, and tailpipes. This differs from electric vehicles, which have fewer or no components powered by fossil fuels.
Many drivers prefer electric cars due in part to environmental benefits such as: