Does it take 697 612 km (440 000 mi) before an electric vehicle becomes greener than a conventional car?

That was the calculation a Belgian prof. made on TV this week.
The number was used by MANY Dutch and Belgian newspapers.
But it's 20x too high or so.

First battery production.

Prof Damien Ernst assumed producing a 60 kWh battery costs
18696 kg or
312 kg/kWh.

That's an outlier in the literature.
Average of studies is ~140 kg/kWh theicct.org/sites/default/…

Best modern study I know of pegs it at 106 kg ffe.de/attachments/ar…
Industry insiders I spoke to today (and that never lied to me before) say the state-of-the-art batteries that provide the bulk of new cars are now at ~65 kg CO2/kWh. And that't the complete LCA.

All of a sudden 18696 kg becomes
6400 kg or
3900 kg.

And that's just the start!
For gasoline cars he took 6 liters/100 km and 2.28 kg CO2/liter.

That's a mistake.

He forgot that gasoline needs to be produced first.
This emits ~520 grams per liter.
co2emissiefactoren.nl/lijst-emissief…

So his estimate goes from 13.68 kg to 16.8 kg CO2/100km emission for gasoline cars.
For electric cars (EVs) he took 11 kg CO2/100 km and 20 kWh/100km.

11/20=0.55 kg CO2/kWh.

But the average mix in the EU is 0.296 kg CO2/kWh.

Belgium is 0.257
(The Netherlands 0.413 co2emissiefactoren.nl/lijst-emissief…)

So 11 kg becomes 0.257*20=5.14 kg/100km.
But now we are forgetting something: EVs become cleaner over it's lifetime.

A conservative estimate of EU emissions over the 19 years lifetime of the car (even accounting for the fact that's it's used more in the first years) is 0.2 kg/kWh.

So 0.2*20=4 kg/100km.
And 100% solar or wind is 0.04 kg/kWh.
So 0.04*20=0.8 kg/100km.

That''s all very different from the combustion engine's 16.8 kg/100km!
So the difference in emissions over 100 km of gasoline versus EVs:

With the Belgian mix: 16.8-5.14=11.66 kg/100km or 0.12 kg/km
With the average EU mix over the lifetime: 16.8-4=12.8 kg or 0.13 kg/km
With 100% wind and solar: 16.8-0.8 or 0.16 kg/km.

What does all this teach us?
According to recent literature cited above, producing a 60 kWh battery emits 6400 kg of CO2.

On the Belgian mix you save 0.12 kg/km.

6400/0.12= ~55 000 km

So it takes about 55 thousand km to earn back a conventional battery on the current Belgian energy mix.
With state of the art batteries the CO2 emissions are 3900 kg.
On the average EU mix over the lifetime you save 0.13 kg/km.
3900/0.13= ~30 000 km.

So it takes about 33 thousand km to earn back a state-of the art battery on the EU lifetime mix.
Now a lot of people have solar panels on their roof or buy 100% renewable energy and charge at places where they say they serve 100% renewable energy. I think that counts for something.

So state of art batteries on 100% renewable energy: 3900/0.16= 25 000 km to battery pay-back.
I'm not saying big cars save the planet.
I'm not saying they are better than biking.

I'm just saying the prof. and newspapers should have reported electric vehicles are greener than gasoline vehicles after 25 000 to 55 000 km in this example.

Not 700 000.

(end)
Very happy that @ADnl alerted it's readers to the fact that the calculations in their original article where wrong. Takes guts for a newspaper to correct misinformation but it's what good journalism is all about. Kudo's! ad.nl/auto/bericht-o…
And here is the correction from autogids.be. autogids.be/autonieuws/eco…. Click further for a link to a video in French about the subject by Anthony Soete.
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