Are EVs Really Environmentally Friendly? How Tyres Do Not Lie

Are EVs Really Environmentally Friendly? How Tyres Do Not Lie

Electric vehicles or EVs are automatically associated with clean air and zero carbon emissions. Those who buy them believe that they are doing a service to the planet and the future human generations. While their good intentions are not misplaced, buying EVs alone may not do the planet the amount of good previously imagined as EVs, too, pollute the environment. 

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Without getting into how much carbon is emitted while making an EV over how much carbon pollution an average gasoline car manufacturer emits, this blog is concerned with how EV tyres create more pollution than combustion-engine car tyres, leading to disastrous environmental effects. 

EVs are Heavier And That Is Where The Problem Lies

EVs have impressive torque statistics but do not let this fact fool you in believing that they are lighter; they are actually heavier than gasoline cars. This is obviously because of their super-heavy batteries but also because of the protective metal armor around the battery. In addition, EVs’ reinforced framework and suspension make them heavier than an average combustion-engine car and this is the root of the problem.

More the Weight, More the Wear and Tear 

Heavier and torquey, EVs eat up tyres faster than a combustion engine car. Let’s look at the numbers.

Under normal driving conditions, a regular car’s new 4 tyres shed about 73mg in one kilometer. On the contrary, 4 tyres of an EV would shed 88mg per km, which is about 20 percent more – Emissions Analytics 

But this is only one half of the problem. What we need to know is what is shed and where it goes.

Tyre Composition

Not to single out EVs here, every moving vehicle with tyres sheds tiny bits of its tyres. However, shedding is not the problem but what is being shed.

Believe it or not, “rubber tyres” have very little natural rubber in them. Instead, tyres are made of petrochemicals which when shed ultimately found their way into the oceans, air, and soil, etc.

According to Emissions Analytics, on average there are more than 400 organic compounds that tyres are made of and not everyone seems to know all of them or their impact on the environment. 

In 2020, in the US state of Washington, researchers finally solved a mystery they had been trying to solve for decades. 

In Washington state, coho salmon fish had started to die in large numbers without any apparent reason. Alarmed, the researchers looked for answers and clues and finally identified the culprit – 6PPD. 

6PPD is a preservative used in car tyres. When this preservative is exposed to sunlight and air, it turns into 6PPD-quinone, a chemical highly toxic to coho salmon. 

Tyre Dust Kills Ocean Ecosystem 

Tyre dust which consists of tyre fragments, synthetic rubber, fillers and tyre softeners on the road make their way into the waterways through rain and wind. From the roads they empty into the drains from where they are emptied into the rivers and the seas. 

Did You Know?

Tyres are the second biggest cause of microplastic pollution in oceans? The primary source remains plastic waste – The International Union for Conservation of Nature

Scientists have only now begun to focus on tyre pollution and its effects on our ecosystem. As EV tyres degenerate faster, the focus is obviously on the EVs, leaving a question mark on their supposed environmental friendliness. 

To conclude, “zero emissions” doesn’t necessarily mean no emission. There’s a thing called “non-exhaust emissions” that needs to be taken into account when buying and promoting electric vehicles over traditional ones. 

We are interested in knowing your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment.

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