Do EVs actually reduce emissions?

Battery EVs have zero exhaust emissions, so that alone makes them better for our environment than a petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles – particularly in terms of improving air quality, and reducing the health impacts of car pollution.

Research shows that even if an EV is charged by our current electricity grid they produce lower lifecycle emissions than similar petrol or hybrid vehicles. Even more important, however, is that as the electricity grid becomes cleaner, EVs become cleaner too. It is an unavoidable truth that electric vehicles are a key technology for Australia to achieve its climate targets, including net zero.

EVs also have a nifty trick. While it is expected their batteries will be suitable for use in a vehicle for around 15 years (or equivalent in terms of total kilometres driven e.g. 180,000-200,000 km), after this time they still store a significant amount of energy. As such, these batteries can be repurposed to power homes, buildings and the electricity grid. This “second-life” could last another 10 years, before EV batteries can then be recycled, with the recovered material used to produce new batteries.

Given the small number of EVs currently on Australian roads and their long lifetimes, there is not currently a significant number of used batteries for second-life applications and/or recycling. As the local fleet increases, this economic development opportunity for our country will likely emerge. This is expected to take place during the mid to late 2030s.

Check out our Lifecycle Emissions Calculator tool to find out more.