The Myths and Realities of Electric Cars: Are They Really Good for the Environment?

While experts generally agree that rechargeable vehicles are a more climate-friendly option than regular cars, they have some environmental impacts depending on how they are charged and manufactured. This article has prepared a guide to some of the biggest concerns and how they can be addressed.

For the last decade, electric vehicles have been in vogue as a pivotal technology to reduce carbon emissions and oil use and combat climate change. With the worldwide stock of electric cars expected to rise to over 145 million by 2030, many car manufacturing companies such as Jaguar, Audi, GM and Mercedes have pledged to switch to fully electric car production within the next five to ten years. (1

At the same time, many countries, especially EU countries, are encouraging the purchase of electric vehicles. While this so-called “environmentally friendly” transport alternative is spreading day by day, everyone is questioning the same thing: How sustainable are electric vehicles really?

While experts generally agree that rechargeable vehicles are a more climate-friendly option than regular cars, they have some environmental impacts depending on how they are charged and manufactured. This article has prepared a guide to some of the biggest concerns and how they can be addressed.


A Quick Reminder: What is an Electric Car?

Plugging in their transport is a new concept for most people who are used to filling up fossil fuels to get from A to B. With a dashboard that looks like a giant smartphone, electric cars can seem like something from the future.

Yet their technology is not new. Like your average automatic transmission car, an electric vehicle starts with the ignition, accelerates with the accelerator and stops with the brake. The main difference from a petrol car is the design of its engine.

Electric vehicles run on batteries that need to be recharged periodically, using a charging station connected to the electrical power supply. This is familiar to many because it is the same way we charge our phones and computers.

Most electric vehicles use a lithium-ion battery with a relatively simple design. The engine of a comparable internal combustion engine vehicle has around 2,000 parts, while an electric vehicle engine has only 20 moving parts. 

What are the main differences between electric vehicles?

  • They work quietly.
  • They can accelerate more easily without gear shifts.
  • Extremely hot or cold weather can drain the charge faster than mild weather.

Environmental Impact: Electric vs. Petrol Car

The pollution caused by petrol vehicles is not limited to the exhaust from the tailpipes. The extraction of petrol, its refining into fuel and its transport to petrol stations also generates large amounts of carbon emissions and air pollution. 

Today, even though petrol car manufacturers have reduced CO2 emissions, the production process continues to have a negative impact on the environment.

On the other hand, producing electric car batteries also creates emissions. Due to the complex manufacturing process, an electric car can use twice as much energy during production as a petrol car, emitting more CO2.

Nevertheless, electric vehicles remain the cleanest option for transport, as the way they operate is much more sustainable overall. Due to their use of electricity as fuel, driving compensates for high production emissions. 

On average, an electric car produces half the carbon emissions of a petrol car over its lifetime and performs completely better in terms of sustainability.

When electric vehicles reach the end of their service life, the upcycled battery can be upcycled so that it can be reused many times. On the other hand, up to 90 per cent of battery materials can be recycled.

Electric cars alone are not a magic solution to address climate change. However, they are a valuable tool for reducing emissions from transport and a much more sustainable alternative to fossil-fuelled cars. 

Although their production and end-of-life have a negative impact on the environment, their carbon footprint is much lower than that of fossil-fuelled vehicles when their overall life cycle is taken into account.

With innovation in the sector advancing at a rapid pace, tomorrow’s electric vehicles are likely to widen the sustainability gap compared to today’s petrol vehicles.

A survey in Turkey shows consumer interest in electric and hybrid vehicles is growing rapidly. Compared to last year, the rate of consumers who say the next vehicle they will buy will be hybrid or electric has increased to 27%. 

Moreover, with the entry of Tesla, the leading electric vehicle manufacturer, and TOGG, a locally produced electric vehicle, into the Turkish market, 29% of consumers say they will definitely buy an electric or hybrid vehicle in the future. In comparison, this rate rises to 90% when the price offer is attractive. 

Let’s Summarise the Pros and Cons of Electric Cars


  • Entirely electric vehicles work thanks to the lithium batteries inside them. However, the production of these lithium batteries can cause excess carbon emissions. 
  • Most electric vehicle batteries are produced in China, South Korea and Japan. These are economies where carbon utilisation in electricity generation (rather than renewable sources) is generally quite high.
  • One of the most important disadvantages of electric vehicles compared to petrol-powered vehicles is their short range when fully charged. Therefore, vehicles with ordinary internal combustion engines are currently better for long-distance journeys.


  • Electric vehicles emit no CO2 from the tailpipe when they are in operation. This means an enormous reduction in emissions: Driving an electric vehicle saves an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 per year. (2
  • Electric cars produce no emissions during use, which means they do not contribute to air pollution. This is especially important in cities where air pollution levels can be dangerously high.
  • Electric vehicles use less energy because they have fewer parts and feature regenerative braking, a system that retains energy during braking and is more resistant to wear and tear than conventional brake discs.
  • Another significant advantage of electric vehicles is that they do not need to be filled with gas or petrol, which are becoming increasingly expensive. Unlike gas-powered cars, electric vehicles contain two to three times fewer engine fluids such as oil, transmission fuel and coolants that must be changed regularly. This dramatically reduces fuel, repair and maintenance costs.
  • Electric cars run very quietly, which significantly reduces noise pollution.