The Global Damage of the Battery Electric Vehicle: Why Driving One Does Not (Yet) Equate to Sustainability

First name: 
Last name: 
Class Year: 
Michael Fotos
Essay Abstract: 
Each year enormous amounts of hidden emissions pollute the Earth, and the electric vehicle industry has yet to be held responsible for its role in this environmental damage. This thesis aims to understand the oft-unaddressed environmental impacts of the battery electric vehicle. No previous study has evaluated the relative sustainability of internal combustion engine vehicles and battery electric vehicles in various countries around the world, and so it is necessary to establish where there is a greater need for policy and support for positive environmental change. By implementing a life cycle analysis approach and focusing on manufacturing and usage of both conventional and lightweight internal combustion engine and electric vehicles, analyses revealed that conventional battery electric vehicles emit less than internal combustion engines, but this is not true for all battery electric vehicles. It is wise for a sustainable-minded consumer to invest in a battery electric vehicle in Norway, New Zealand, or Brazil but not in China, India, or South Africa. The battery electric vehicle industry is not yet sustainable, and public and private sectors must work together to ensure that battery electric vehicles are not a leech to the environment or to the customer, by pushing for more rigorous sustainability norms within the industry.