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Need a New Car? Going “Green” Can Be A Wise Choice.

Allan Maynard, MSc. – May 2024


After 2 years of research, pondering and a degree of procrastination, I acquired a new car. I took my time. Firstly, I was totally satisfied with the car I had. It was a very comfortable ride and reasonably fuel efficient. Furthermore, being retired, I don’t routinely drive that much.

I became concerned about the age of my car (a 2006 small SUV), but the main reason for finally getting a new car was the desire to be environmentally responsible, especially given my hosting of a web site dealing with climate change and other environmental matters. As well – the trend to battery cars is inevitable. Canada will require all new automobiles to be “zero-emission” by 2035. Many other countries have introduced similar requirements.

As forests burn and cities drown, as crops wither and people die – there is no longer doubt that climate change is dangerously impacting societies the world over. In 2016, 196 nations signed the legally binding Paris Accord. The Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees (preferably 1.5 degrees) Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year (see first reference for how this is calculated). This means that about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of personal vehicles. As such, electrifying transportation systems is a crucial component in reaching the global goals. A second significant benefit in electrifying transportation, is the reduction of air pollution (particles and oxides of nitrogen). Around the world, air pollution is responsible for over 7 million early deaths per year.

Fully electric vehicles (EVs) have no tailpipe emissions. It is well understood though, that EVs are not zero emissions as explained below. Hybrid vehicles and plug in hybrid vehicles provide significant reductions in emissions and are thus a good option when going fully EV may not be workable.

It is important to not be fooled by the misinformation circulating via social media and other outlets, such as the ridiculous claim that electric vehicles  (EVs) pollute more than gas cars due to battery manufacturing. These are false flags, and it only takes a bit of research time to expose these myths.

The car I decided on is in the last paragraph of this article. Please read on.

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There is a massive amount of information on battery operated cars. It is complex and nuanced. I will not go into a great deal of detail but have provided adequate references.



  1. Manufacturing – The manufacturing of a typical electric vehicle (EV) can create more carbon pollution than manufacturing a gasoline car because of the additional energy required to manufacture an EV’s battery. However, over the lifetime of the vehicle, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with manufacturing, charging, and driving an EV are much lower than the total GHGs associated with a gasoline car. See graph – figure 1

2. Operation – driving an EV produces zero carbon but the emissions ‘equivalent’ must take into consideration how the electricity for charging is produced. In many cases EVs need power from power plants that use fossil fuels. This has an overall impact, but even when the power grid is heavily dependent on ‘dirty’ fuel (oil and coal), an EV produces less greenhouse gas emission See graph 2.

3. Mining for minerals vs mining for fossil fuels – millions vs billions

There is no doubt that the extraction of precious minerals and lithium needed for EV batteries has an environmental impact. However, the extraction is significantly lower for electric cars compared to gas and diesel cars. Mining minerals for the clean-energy economy is measured in millions of tons per year (7 million tons in 2020). By contrast, the fossil fuel industry extracted the equivalent of 15 billion metric tons in 2019.

Moreover, the fossil fuel industry will need to extract this year after year to keep supplying energy. Clean-energy technology can use at least some of these materials for decades or in some cases, if recycled effectively, in perpetuity.

4. Range anxiety is real

For sure the concern for the range of EVs is real. However, for most uses, the EV range is not an issue at all. Firstly – the range of fully charged EVs has improved dramatically over the past 5 years with the average range now at 378KM (237 miles). Some are as high as 690 km (431 miles). The model S Tesla has a range of 500km (310 miles). Again – these are only guidelines as the range depends on many factors such as geography or temperature. By far most driving involves short trips – commuting, shopping, social, etc. The daily average in North America is around 50 km (30 miles) per day. Clearly the EV range is not an issue in such cases.

However, it is an issue for longer trips. Currently there are not enough EV charging stations in North America. For a driver needing to travel more than 200 km, a charging plan would be required.

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Figure 1 – from Yale Climate Connections – 2022. Note – in Canada we use liters per 100 km – to convert – divide 235.2 by the miles per US gallon. Thus – in the chart above – 79 miles per gallon is 2.98 liters per 100 km.

5. Battery Life and Maintenance

EV batteries aren’t cheap. The battery is typically the most expensive component of an electric car and can cost as much as $20,000, which means replacement can be a pricey proposition. So, how long do EV batteries last? Most last between 10 and 20 years; for context, the average car on American roads is 12.5 years old. The battery life can vary slightly or significantly depending on certain factors.

Another factor to consider – EVs typically require significantly less maintenance than conventional vehicles because the battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance. There are fewer fluids, such as engine oil, that require regular maintenance.

6. Cost outlay

For many consumers, the most significant obstacle is the initial capital outlay. EVs generally cost more, and it is straightforward to carry out cost comparisons among similar models. There are also many references available that allow calculations to determine the break-even point – at which the savings in operating an EV offset the capital outlay. The last reference below calculates a savings of over 7000 dollars over 7 years of operations – but the calculations are complex and depend on may factors.

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From my research, it became abundantly clear that an electric vehicle is much better for the environment under all circumstances, and especially so in British Columbia with abundant hydroelectricity. As well, I felt reassured concerning battery life. If this purchase had been for a household of 2 cars, I certainly would have selected a full EV. However, since this will be my only car, I did have a concern for the range in that I do anticipate a few longer trips.

As such, I decided on a plug-in hybrid or PHEV (Mitsubishi Outlander). On an overnight charge I have a range of about 60km (40 miles) and thus almost all (more than 85%) of my drives will be on electricity. So far, I have driven over 2500 km and only had to fill my gas tank once. Even when I am using the gasoline engine, the fuel efficiency is double the efficiency of an equivalent gasoline vehicle.


There are so many factors in assessing whether to acquire an EV. The references below will provide greater detail for those wishing to consider this choice.