The high (hidden) costs of battery electric vehicles

Jon Stewart got under the skin of his liberal fans (again) during a recent TimesTalk interview when he pointed out the hypocrisy of people who say that Trump supporters “give tacit support to a racist system.” Referring to the iPhone, he said, “We all give tacit support to exploitative systems as long as they don’t affect us that badly.”


Specifically, Stewart was referring to the staggering human cost associated with producing a cell phone, including mining the resources needed to create lithium batteries—the same batteries that run electric cars.


And according to a recently released report by the international consulting firm Arthur D. Little, there are even more environmental costs and financial consequences associated with producing and owning electric vehicles than most people realized.


According to the report, Battery Electric Vehicles vs. Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, researchers found:

  • Over a 20-year vehicle lifetime, a 2015 BEV [battery electric vehicle] generates enough human toxicity potential to impact human health by 20 days lost to death or disability;
  • The production of lithium-ion battery packs creates more damaging pollution to human life than ICEVs generate over the course of a vehicle’s lifetime; an
  • While the BEV driver reduces their local contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, they create a more diffuse set of environmental impacts spread across the globe, the consequences of which are largely borne by rural and often disadvantaged communities near the mines from which BEV suppliers source raw materials for battery pack manufacturing.


The study also found that BEVs were significantly more expensive to own due to their “higher manufacturing costs [and] the need for a replacement battery pack.”


You can read the report here, but if you’re pressed for time, check out this one-minute video created by the Energy Equality Coalition that presents the highlights of the study.


This post originally ran on AFPM's Petro Primer blog.