An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2.
The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.
The study was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which is jointly funded by the British government and the car industry. It found that a mid-size electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a similar petrol car.
Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.
Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years.
Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery.
The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.
-article excerpts from The Australian