Electric vehicle tires produce 20 percent more pollution than their gas-powered equivalents, experts have revealed, meaning EVs may come at a higher environmental cost than many owners realize.
For decades, the tailpipe emissions effects from gas-powered vehicles have been the primary attraction of battery-powered vehicles.
But experts warn that tires, often overlooked as a source of pollution, are releasing chemicals and microplastics into the environment. While switching to an electric car undoubtedly helps reduce how much carbon you produce, it actually exacerbates the problem of tire emissions.
EVs typically weigh a lot more and accelerate faster than their gas-burning counterparts, so small particles are thrown into the air as the tire falls off.
According to road tests by research firm Emissions Analytics, a car sheds about 73 milligrams of gas per kilometer under normal driving conditions from four new tires. A comparable electric vehicle, however, emits an extra 15 milligrams per kilometer – about 20 percent more.
Experts are warning that tires, often overlooked as a source of pollution, are releasing chemicals and microplastics into the environment.
EVs typically weigh a lot more and accelerate faster than their gas-burning counterparts, so small particles are thrown into the air as the tires fall off.
‘It’s a combination of weight and torque – which is basically how aggressively the car can accelerate,’ Nick Molden, founder and CEO of Emission Analytics, told Newstimesuk.com.
The thing about electric motors is that they have the ability to accelerate very quickly. If you combine that with how heavy the car is, that creates extra wear on the tires.’
According to Molden, typical electric cars weigh about 1,000 pounds more than gas models.
In a study conducted by Emissions Analytics in March this year, comparing the Tesla Model Y – the most popular EV in the US – and the similarly sized hybrid Kia Niro, the firm found the Tesla emitted 26 percent more tires.
‘The hybrid Kia Niro reduces CO2 by about 30 percent, while the Tesla is probably closer to 50 percent,’ Molden said.
‘Tesla is better from a CO2 perspective, but not by much. Then you’re weighing some extra CO2 reduction but worse tire emissions.’
According to a 2017 study, the average American produces about 10 pounds of tire emissions each year. Global average tire emissions are under 2 pounds per year.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says tires are the second leading source of microplastic pollution in the ocean after textiles.
‘People are spending a ton of money on these big monsters, when really we should be moving towards smaller, lighter, economical vehicles,’ added Molden.
It comes as the US faces an electric car revolution – led by Tesla’s sales surge.
Last week, the company co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk announced record sales growth in the second quarter of the year – delivering 446,140 cars worldwide in the three months to June, beating its own forecast of 445,000.
Nick Molden, founder and CEO of Emissions Analytics, warns that EV tires produce more emissions because of the vehicle’s weight and torque.
The emissions analysis compared the Tesla Model Y to the similarly sized Kia Niro and found the Tesla produced 26 percent more tire emissions.
The U.S. has been driven by federal tax credits for electric vehicles, though experts warn it could take up to a decade to pay off the premium consumers pay for an EV.
While green motors tend to be cheaper to run, the average electric car costs $20,000 more upfront than a gas-powered car.
Despite a flood of interest in EVs, top automakers said this week that President Joe Biden’s electric car push will fail because it “underestimates” key challenges, including costs for consumers.
The White House has set a goal that two-thirds of new car sales will be electric by 2032.
But in comments filed with the federal government, Toyota and Stellartis – which owns Vauxhall – blasted the plan as ‘overly optimistic’ due to inadequate charging infrastructure and high costs. Stellantis said the goal “significantly underestimates” the complexities of creating a viable EV market.
Meanwhile, tire emissions aren’t the only environmental question raised around EVs.
Experts debate the environmental impact of lithium ion batteries used to power electric vehicles, which require rare metals and vast amounts of energy to manufacture.
For Molden, it’s a ‘no-brainer’ that the world should move towards hybrid vehicles.
‘They are hardly heavier than normal vehicles and they give you a big reduction in CO2,’ he said. ‘If you really want to tackle environmental issues, the intuitive way to do it is to make smaller, lighter vehicles. Not a big and heavy monster.’
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