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Are electric cars good for the environment?

Unpacking the environmental benefits of EVs—and addressing the myths
One person is sitting in the passenger of an EV with 2 friends standing on either side.

In the last ten years, consumer electric vehicle use has skyrocketed in North America. Between 2016 and 2022 alone, EV registrations rose from 280,000 to 2.4 million, while the number of charging stations rose alongside them. But even though these vehicles are quickly becoming more ubiquitous, their use still raises a lot of questions. Will electric cars solve climate change? Are they actually sustainable long-term? Do they offer environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE)?

The short answer to the question “Are electric cars good for the environment” is “Yes.” By taking a deeper look into the science behind EVs, we gain a better idea of the EV impact on the environment—and understand why adoption is a necessary step in addressing climate change.

Addressing EV myths and misconceptions

Since EVs are a relatively new market, it’s understandable that some would want to wait for more data before adoption. However, many of these concerns have grown into misinformation. 

When they first hit the market, electric cars were luxury vehicles. They cost significantly more than cars with combustion engines, making them a less accessible option for many drivers. However, what many people don’t know is that pricing has dropped significantly in the last four years, and in many cases, EV prices are comparable to those of more traditional car models. As of February 2024, EV prices dropped 13% year over year. Tesla Model Y EVs now start at $31,490, while entry-level 2023 Chevrolet Bolt models regularly go for under $30,000. And that’s before you factor in your region’s tax credits and gas savings; over the course of their lifecycle, EVs are actually less expensive to drive.

Another early concern about electric cars was their range—what if you ran out of power before getting to the next charging station? What if your battery dies and you’re hundreds of miles from a charger? That’s changing, too. Utilization of public fast-charging stations nearly doubled in 2023, and the United States added almost 1,100 new public chargers last year.

What does this have to do with the environment? Price and charging availability have traditionally been barriers to EV adoption. If more people can afford to own EVs and it’s easier to find public charging stations, that should foster adoption—helping electric vehicles’ environmental benefits multiply exponentially.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addressed and debunked some of the most common myths about EVs:

  • Are EVs worse for the environment because of their batteries? No. Some studies show that manufacturing EVs can produce more carbon pollution than gasoline vehicles, but electric cars still have fewer emissions overall. Additionally, those batteries—the production of which makes up the bulk of EV greenhouse gases—are extremely recyclable, which contributes to a more sustainable future.
  • Will the increased demand for electricity strain the power grid? According to the EPA, “Electric vehicles have charging strategies that can prevent overloading the grid, and, in some cases, support grid reliability.” New power management solutions further reduce the strain on the grid without requiring charging station owners to overhaul it.
  • Are traditional vehicles safer than electric vehicles? Whether a car runs on gasoline or electricity, all vehicles are held to the same safety standards. The batteries powering EVs undergo their own testing standards as well.

Take a deep dive into the future of sustainable transportation. Our extensive guide will teach you everything you need to know.

How are electric cars good for the environment?

By now it’s clear that many of the widespread concerns about electric vehicles are based on outdated or inaccurate information, but does that mean they’re actually good for the environment? Yes—in a number of key ways.

Emissions profile

Gasoline-powered cars are a leading cause of air pollution. The carcinogens and toxic gases from traffic-related air pollution can cause a number of health issues in addition to seriously damaging the environment. EVs produce as much as 70% fewer emissions over their lifecycles, making them a more environmentally conscious choice than gas or diesel cars.


Speaking of the lifecycle of an electric vehicle, electric vehicle batteries are designed to last for 15 to 20 years, outpacing the average car lifecycle of 12.5 years. EVs also don’t have as many components as ICE cars, reducing the number of parts that can potentially fail or degrade over time.

Greenhouse gas reduction

While greenhouse gases and carbon emissions sound similar, they’re not quite the same. Greenhouse gases are a broader category that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. But one thing greenhouse gases and carbon emissions have in common is that EVs produce less of them than traditional cars do. According to Edmunds, most of an electric car's greenhouse gases are released during production and end-of-life, “but those emissions are typically surpassed by the daily use emissions created by a gas-powered vehicle.”

Renewable energy sources

When taking a closer look at the misinformation surrounding EVs, it’s clear that much of the concern comes from their battery usage. Electric cars use lithium-ion batteries, which can contribute to the growing e-waste epidemic if not disposed of properly. However, when recycled, lithium-ion batteries become valuable sources of cobalt, nickel, lithium, and manganese, which can then be used to create new batteries.

How ChargeLab makes EV adoption easier

Though the consumer electric vehicle market is nascent, it’s already making an impact. Do electric cars help with climate change? The data collected so far is firmly in the affirmative. Electric vehicles will be a major player in the ongoing fight against climate change, which means the demand for accessible charging stations will continue to grow. This represents a number of opportunities for savvy, environmentally conscious entrepreneurs who want to break into the EV charging market.

When it comes time to launch your own charging network, ChargeLab can help. Our comprehensive platform works as an operating system for EV chargers, making ChargeLab software a leading choice for manufacturers, turnkey installers, and network operators. And because our platform is open, interoperable, and hardware-agnostic, it makes EV charging more accessible in places that need it most. Get in touch to learn more.

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