The environmental pros and cons of electric cars

Industry insiders believed that by the end of 2018 there would be around 200,000 electric cars on the roads - but were they right?


At the start of 2018, electric cars were relatively new to the automotive industry, but there's no denying they're increasing in popularity – as our survey of British motorists has shown. And despite their relative newness, industry insiders believed that by the end of 2018 there would be around 200,000 electric cars on the roads. 

But were they right? 

In short, yes. Some 60,000 electric cars were sold in the UK last year - the EV market grew by 19%, which means over 200,000 plug-in electric cars are on UK roads. 

So, what’s the attraction of these cars? And are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

Read on to find out more about the environmental pros and cons of electric cars.

Advantages of electric cars

The environmental advantages of electric and hybrid cars may seem obvious, but they’re still worth banging on about.

No tailpipe emissions with electric cars


With the world becoming more eco-conscious, people are turning to electric cars in an attempt to help reduce gas emissions and improve air quality.

According to the UK government, transport is the cause of roughly 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, so these vehicles are putting their diesel or petrol powered counterparts to shame. 

As electric cars run on electrically powered engines, they have no tailpipe emissions – making them an environmentally friendly option

Electric cars are manufactured using recyclable materials


This isn’t the case for all electric vehicles; however many of the newest models have interior parts made from recyclable materials, such as the seats, door trim panels and dash. For example, BMW says that a quarter of the interior of its electric i3 car is made of recycled plastics and renewable materials – while 95% of the car can be recycled. 

Eco-friendly production ensures that waste is reduced when these materials are dismantled and recovered at the end of a car’s life. 

The batteries used to power electric cars can also be recycled. After a battery has worn out, it can be used elsewhere as it’ll still have approximately 70-80% of its original energy capacity.

Electric cars help to reduce pollution


The more electric cars on the road, the lower the production of CO2 emissions from petrol or diesel powered cars. If predictions of the electric car outselling the fossil-fuel powered car by 2018 are correct, we’ll see a significant decrease in pollution.

Disadvantages of electric cars

It’s important to acknowledge that while electric cars are better for the environment, they still present problems. If you want to have the biggest impact, perhaps you could look into the alternatives to owning a car – what about car sharing

Indirect pollution from electric cars


While electric cars don’t emit exhaust fumes, they do use batteries which can emit toxic fumes. Most electricity used to power electric vehicles is generated from non-renewable energy sources, which can have a negative impact on both our health and the environment. 

Long refuelling time


It can take up to 12 hours to fully charge an electric car, depending on the battery size, so, while this vehicle offers savings in petrol or diesel, it will increase electricity bills.

However, this amount will be significantly lower than traditional fuel costs, which you can find out yourself with our journey cost calculator

You can also use our electric car charging point map to find refuelling points quickly.

Find out more about eco-driving

For more information on electric and hybrid cars, visit our myth-busting eco-driving hub and get the answers you’ve been looking for.  

Or, take a look at our eco-friendly car comparison tool, which allows you to compare models to find the car that’s right for the environment, and right for you. You can use our car tax calculator to see how much you can save by switching to an EV, too.

If you've already made your mind up and you're getting an EV, get an 
Electric Car Insurance quote from Admiral.

The easy way to manage your policy on the go