Electric SUVs, good or bad for the planet? This study provides the beginning of an answer.

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According to a study conducted by several researchers, electric SUVs could greatly contribute to battery shortages in the coming years. In addition, they would also be more polluting during their manufacture.

SUVs have been on the rise for several years, while at the beginning of last year this bodywork represented 50% market share in Europe. If the thermal models continue to be the best sellers, the electric alternatives are also very successful. So much so that last November, the Tesla Model Y was the best-selling car on the continent, all engines combined.

A not inconsiderable silhouette

Currently, the offer continues to grow, while car manufacturers are betting heavily on this type of silhouette. A growing success, whilerepresented only 8.5% of sales in 2009 in the European Union. Praised for their style, space on board and the impression of safety they exude, SUVs are nevertheless criticized by some, who claim that they are more polluting.

So much so that a weight penalty is already in force in France, which taxes 10 euros per kilo for all vehicles that exceed the 1.8-ton mark. Yeah electric cars are excluded from this regime, they are not necessarily completely clean, as we explained in a previous article. And this is particularly the case with SUVs. This is, in any case, what reveals a study carried out by several researchers and accessible on the site. direct science.

actually think that elevated electric models could pollute more than smaller cars, since they require the use of larger batteries due to their greater weight. TO IEA study actually explains that SUVs require about 20% more energy compared to mid-size vehicles to travel a similar distance. This is valid for all types of engines.

The group of researchers has studied various scenarios, depending on battery supply limitations, while some experts already fear a shortage. In fact, theDemand for lithium continues to rise for several years, while the cost of this material is also increasing. This has a direct impact on the price of electric cars, at the same time that it could cause an increase in polluting emissions. That is how.

In other words, electric SUVs prevent CO2 emissions from being cut as quickly and massively as a fleet of compact electric cars and sedans. Each non-SUV electric car replaced by an SUV electric car reduces the decrease in CO2 emissions.

Recycling as a solution

Scientists have studied various situations, especially in cases of battery shortage, which could most likely occur when Europe is still heavily dependent on China. While several production sites are being developed on the mainland, manufacturers are also beginning to favor the United States due to tax advantages. The researchers explain that preferring electric SUVs to smaller cars could increase the risk of battery shortages.

Indeed, the latter need larger accumulators. As a result, more materials such as lithium must be mined, a highly polluting operation that is often carried out in developing countries under unethical conditions. If the increase in sales of electric SUVs allowed in theory reduce CO2 emissions emitted from the exhaustits production would not be without consequences for the environment.

A recent study released by the New York Times confirms this idea, stating that the largest electric cars emit as much CO2 throughout their lives as certain thermal models. This is particularly the case with the Ford F-150 Lightning and other Rivian R1Ts. Clearly, it is confirmed once again that small cars with smaller batteries are preferred. This reduces the demand for lithium as well as the price of vehicles and their weight. However, we have already seen that a large battery does not only have advantages.

Certain manufacturers such as Ford or Renault have already understood this and are planning offer smaller batteries in their cars. What sign does the disappearance of SUVs have? Not necessarily. Because if the latter will always consume more and have a more limited autonomy, the development of the network of fast charging stations will make it possible to compensate.

That is why today it is no longer really relevant to want a vehicle with a very long range. The solution would also bespeed up battery recycling, although more and more manufacturers and companies are signing up for it. We think in particular of Mercedes or even Redwood Materials, as well as Tesla, while Volkswagen wants to upgrade its accumulators ad infinitum.

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