How are electric cars greener than other cars?

Carbon footprint of electric cars | OVO Energy

Sure, hybrids and pure electric cars nail it when it comes to emissions, but what about their carbon footprint (or even wheel print)? And where do all the used batteries go? We explore.

Are electric cars carbon-free?

With their zero emissions, electric cars may seem like the angels of the automobile world, but like pretty much anything we buy these days, they still carry a carbon footprint. It all comes down to the way they’re made, and even how they’re powered1:

  • Manufacturing
    This includes the impact of mining for metals, transporting materials around the world, and making components from plastic and rubber etc.
  • Infrastructure
    This takes into account the environmental impact of factories, car company offices and dealerships.
  • Maintenance
    For instance, replacing and transporting new parts.
  • Power
    Electricity needs to be generated at power stations before it reaches your home or public charging points...

...but there’s good news.
As more and more renewables are added to the national electricity network, the carbon footprint left by ‘power’ will decrease. In future – thanks to technological advances – we can all play a more active part in reducing our carbon footprint, by choosing to charge our electric cars when renewables are at high levels on the network.

Are pure electric cars greener than hybrids?

In a word: yes. On the emissions front, hybrids score far better than traditional cars, but pure electric models are hands down winners with zero emissions2. So if you do end up picking a hybrid over a pure electric car you can rest assured that, when you compare them with air-choking diesel and petrol models, they’re considerably kinder to our planet.

How do electric cars help the environment?

Electric cars don’t really ‘help’ the environment, they just don’t damage it like traditional cars, because they don’t emit carbon dioxide and poisonous gases. In fact, their relative positive impact is huge. The large-scale roll-out of electric cars is vital in aiding efforts to cut carbon emissions and decreasing premature deaths from urban pollution3.

Where do electric car batteries go after use?

Most car batteries are lithium-based and will decay, but only over many years4. The great news is that there are a number of initiatives underway to ensure they’re either reused or recycled, to mitigate the environmental impact of electric car batteries:

  • Recycling batteries
    Investing in an electric car for its ‘green’ credentials? Then you’ll naturally want to ensure that the batteries are disposed of sustainably. A lot of investment and research has gone into recycling electric car batteries. There’s even a growing trend towards “second life” electric car batteries that's seeing them reimagined for stationary storage applications, like powering your home5.
  • Reusing batteries
    Rumour has it that electric cars are being built to last 20, 30 or 40 years, meaning people will end up buying fewer cars in their lifetimes. Great for consumers, but how will car manufacturers still generate sales? And how will the world handle all the disused batteries? One innovative idea involves reimagining used car batteries as home energy storage; a concept that’s been around for years in Japan but has recently filtered its way through to Europe6.

Last year, Nissan launched XStorage, which uses the cells from its Leaf batteries to store energy from people’s own renewable energy sources, like solar panels or small wind turbines.

This technology gives people control over when and how they use their energy. It even allows homeowners generating too much renewable energy to send some back to the national network – redistributing renewables for all, and potentially paving the way for people to sell their own energy.  
You can read more on vehicle to grid technology here.

How can I lower my carbon footprint further?

Already got an EV? Then you’re doing better than most. But ask yourself, does your energy supplier use coal? If so, your carbon footprint won’t be as small as it could be if you were with one like OVO, who’s cut coal from their fuel mix.

Thinking of buying an EV?

We can help you charge your electric car everywhere, for less. Our EV Everywhere tariff is designed specially for owners of electric (and plugin hybrid) cars, and comes with fixed energy prices for two years, 100% renewable energy and free membership of Polar Plus, the UK's biggest EV charging network.


O​VO​ Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879

Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3-5% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.


1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount.  All rates correct as of 2/3/2018, but may go up or down.

2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas).  All rates correct as of 22/11/2017, but may go up or down.

3Pay Monthly Savings claims: Saving based on the estimated annual cost of OVO Two year fixed tariff for a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying monthly in advance by direct debit, including online discount. Comparisons made against the average of the Big 6 standard variable tariffs with equivalent features. All rates correct as of 2/3/2018.“The Big 6” are British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, Npower, E.ON and EDF.

4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location. 

We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.

33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.

OVO Interest Rewards: Interest Rewards are paid on credit balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit. Interest Rewards are paid monthly based on the number of days you’re in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply:

95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Savings based on the average estimated annual costs for all new OVO customers quoted through the OVO website, compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/05/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT.

94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.

uSwitch's Energy Supplier of the Year 2017: OVO energy was voted and awarded  'Energy Supplier of the year' and best for: Overall Customer Satisfaction, Most Likely to be Recommended, Value for Money, Best Deal for You, Customer Service, Billing Services, Energy Efficiency, Meter Services, Online Services, Green Services and Transfer Process. OVO Energy scored a 96% customer satisfaction score.

* EV - Everywhere, full terms and conditions:

* OVO SolarStore (Beta), full terms and conditions:

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