• March 1st, 2019

Electric vehicles have attracted widespread interest because of their ability to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Governments and manufacturers continue to make new commitments for electric vehicle sales, and the cost of manufacturing electric vehicles continues to fall, making them more competitive with internal combustion vehicles. Advances in lithium-ion battery technologies have been key to the growing success of electric vehicles, and a continued transition to electric drive will necessitate far greater battery production.

The scientific understanding of the exact environmental impacts of electric vehicles continues to evolve, and the impacts of battery production on electric vehicles’ overall emissions is an especially complex topic. Recent studies have investigated the greenhouse gas emissions from battery production, finding a wide range of results and implications. Meanwhile, governments also have begun to consider this issue, and questions have even arisen regarding whether battery life-cycle impacts could be integrated into vehicle policy. In this briefing, we review the research literature, analyze the overall life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions impact of electric vehicles, and discuss key related trends into the future.