Does an electric car produce emissions?

Does an electric car produce emissions?

When buying an electric car, most people will focus on the environmental impact on both a personal and global level. Don’t get us wrong, there are huge health benefits to be had if everyone switched over to EVs. Mainly, as currently air pollution contributes to a very shocking 7 millions deaths per year.

If you don’t believe us, then check out the data for yourselves via the World Health Organisation. Global warming is another huge factor more people are taking into account and if all the countries in the world changed to electric vehicles, this would definitely help tackle climate change.

But is buying an electric car the only good thing you can do? Whilst electric cars are definitely a step in the right direction, there really is still more work to be done. In particular, we need to think and answer the question, ‘Does an electric car produce emissions?’.

In short, the answer is yes! Electric cars, vans and other e-vehicles do in fact produce emissions. What you need to think about is non exhaust pollution and in this blog post, we’re going to get you up to speed.

Does an electric car produce emissions?

It’s Not All About Tail Pipe Emissions 

Emissions don’t just come from tail pipes and this is what many drivers forget. Pollution from cars and other vehicles on the roads is also caused by tyres, brakes, and other roadwear which all comes under this umbrella of non-exhaust emissions. 

Imperial College London has actually researched non-exhaust emissions in quite some depth. They have an air pollution monitoring station where they can quite literally see the invisible. 

Ian Mudway, a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London, commented, “Non exhaust pollution is the pollution in the air, which is separate to particles caused by tailpipe emissions. So what non exhaust pollution research focuses on is looking at the types of pollution caused by things such mechanical abrasion, brake wear and  tyre wear. As well as, resuspension of road dust and coverings on the road. Essentially this is everything that gets kicked up into the air as a consequence of driving.”

Is It All Doom & Gloom?

Well if you’re driving a battery electric car, then not quite. For one, the instant regenerative braking does help when it comes to the amount of particles released into the air. An electric car will generate less brake wear and so they are tidier in that category compared with internal combustion engine cars. 

On the other hand, electric cars are considerably heavier than conventional petrol and diesel cars. Which of course means more wear on the tyres, and so the tyres need replacing more regularly. Also think about where all of that worn out rubber goes. A lot of it is released as pollution into the atmosphere and this then contributes to emission production.

Heavier Vehicles

There is no doubt that heavier vehicles cause more emissions, so if you drive an electric car such as a Tesla Model X, the weight of that vehicle will have more of an impact compared to say a BMW i3. This is due in part to as we’ve mentioned before, the weight of the battery and vehicle overall affecting the tyres, as well as the additional materials used to make a larger vehicle. 

The Tyre Collective 

One way to reduce emissions is to attach devices to our tyres or cars that essentially suck in or hoover up the particles. This therefore eradicates the disbursement of those particles into the atmosphere. 

The Tyre Collective is a company that has introduced this very technology. Their research shows that tyre wear is the second largest microplastic in our ocean. In fact, it accounts for up to 50% of air particulate emission from road transport. Quite shocking stats! 

The device that this company has created essentially directs and captures charged tyre particles, and is positioned where the tyre meets the road. As a result, the device currently captures 60% of all airborne particles. 

Unfortunately though, the company is still in the prototype phase and is seeking out manufacturers interested in incorporating this technology into their electric vehicles. 

Future vehicle pollution will not come from the tailpipe, but from tyres.

What Can We Do In The Meantime?

So in answer to the pressing question, ‘Does an electric car produce emissions?’, we know that it does. What can we therefore do in the meantime to help with this?


Yes, cycling instead of driving will have virtually zero impact on the production of emissions. That being said, a lot of people would need to cycle in order to make a larger difference. Currently, conventional petrol and diesel vehicles stuck behind cyclists will be in lower gears and will therefore be using more engine revs, which in turn means more fuel being used and therefore you guessed it, more emissions polluting the atmosphere. 

Smaller vehicles

Driving a smaller and lighter vehicle will have less of an impact on tyre wear compared to a larger and heavier vehicle. This could be one way to reduce emissions. 

Driving smoothly

Harsh braking will have a detrimental effect on the brakes, meaning they will need replacing much sooner. If you drive smoothly and less erratically, then this will have a positive impact on the brakes and therefore lengthen their life span. 

Does an electric car produce emissions?

So in answer to the question, ‘Does An Electric Car Produce Emissions?’. We can all agree that electric vehicles do not produce exhaust emissions, which is great! However, we cannot categorically say that electric cars do not produce emissions at all, because well in fact, we all would be wrong. All non exhaust sources, such as tyre wear, brake wear, road conditions and even the manufacturing process of using heavy metals, which can be quite toxic to human health, are all common to both internal combustion engine vehicles and battery electric vehicles. 

Driving Change Together 

We all need to come together and work on the solution of making our world a better place collectively. If each individual made one small step and one smart decision to drive change, the world would most definitely be a better and healthier place.

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