Are electrics really more climate-friendly than other cars?

Fears that electric and hybrid cars are no better environmentally than oil-fuelled cars have led to a study which shows that electrics and hybrids are better over the whole of their life, but not by as much as was originally thought.

Assessments of the environmental impact of cars have been based on the use of vehicles, which do not take into account emissions in the manufacture and disposal processes. The study by the Ricardo automotive consultancy shows that electric and hybrid cars generate more carbon emissions in their manufacture than traditional cars, but when total lifetime emissions are taken into account they have fewer overall carbon emissions. For example, 46% of a battery electric vehicle’s lifetime emissions are caused in the factory before it has driven a single kilometre, but it will only generate around 18 tonnes of CO2 during its life, compared with around 24 tonnes for the average petrol/diesel car. For further information see: