WSJ: Are Electric Cars Really Better for the Environment?

EVs produce fewer emissions overall than their gas-powered counterparts, but there are caveats
By Russell Gold, Jessica Kuronen and Elbert Wang, Published March 22, 2021

Carmakers including General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG are retooling their companies to make electric vehicles on the premise that their battery-powered motors are cleaner than gas-burning engines.

Are EVs really better for the environment, though? A close look at all the factors shows they are—but it’s a complex answer with some asterisks.

The environmental cost of a car includes both building it and fueling it. That means factoring in emissions associated with oil drilling and power plant smokestacks, as well as from mining metals such as nickel and cobalt that are needed for electric-car batteries.

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No matter what kind of engines they run on, cars add to greenhouse gas emissions. But the data show that switching from gas to electric vehicles will make a huge impact.

Consumers making individual choices between cars will make a difference. So will policy decisions made by governments and investments by companies as we drive into the future.