A new study suggests even EVs aren't as eco-friendly as we thought.
There's still some hesitation, but it seems that Americans are slowly warming up to the idea of owning an electric vehicle. A glance at the sales figures will show you that vehicles like the Tesla Model Y and the Ford Mustang Mach-E are enjoying great popularity with consumers.
Aside from the technology and performance, buyers love the idea of emissions-free motoring. But, according to a new report from Emissions Analytics, battery-powered vehicles aren't as eco-friendly as you'd think. Obviously, these silent commuters aren't spewing anything from their non-existent tailpipes - but their tires are another story.
The comprehensive study has found that in everyday driving, particulate emissions from tires are 1,850 times greater than the equivalent exhaust emissions. This is only made worse by the heavier battery packs fitted to electric vehicles, which increase vehicle mass and, in turn, place further strain on the tires.
The study notes that around 1,100 lbs of battery weight can "result in tire emissions that are almost 400 times greater than real-world tailpipe emissions, everything else being equal." It's worth noting, however, that the report goes on to say a light-footed EV driver and regenerative braking can negate the tire wear emissions "from the additional weight of their vehicle, to achieve lower tire wear than an internal combustion engine vehicle driven badly."
At this point, we should discuss the difference between tire and tailpipe emissions. The former, according to the study, is said to go straight to soil and water, while the latter is often suspended in the atmosphere for longer periods, reducing air quality. Interestingly, 11% of tire emissions are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, which is the "common metric for fine particle dust."
The report goes into intricate detail, but the takeaway here is that electric vehicles have the potential to be more polluting than some ICE-powered vehicles. Of course, this is just one study, and, if you're interested to delve into the technicalities, it's well worth the read.
That's not to say tire pollution isn't an issue that needs to be tackled. The world's leading tire makers have been exploring environmentally friendly alternatives for quite some time; Michelin's e.Primacy is the world's first carbon-neutral tire (in production, at least).
Elsewhere, Goodyear has been experimenting with biodegradable tires that have regenerating abilities. Not to be left out, Continental unveiled a concept composed of 50% recyclable and renewable materials. While you may not agree with the findings of the study, it's certainly thought-provoking and does, at least, show us that true emissions-free motoring is still some time away.