Comparison Between Battery Powered Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion-Engine Vehicles Cradle to Grave 9 power a vehicle for a gradually reducing range, which significantly reduces its practicality. We’ve seen considerable optimism bias that battery technology will improve dramatically over the next decade²3&²⁴. Predictions that the battery of the near-future will have a lifespan of up to 20 years is not supported in the literature we’ve seen. And in fact, it could be that further improvements in battery longevity will have to wait for a revolutionary discovery – a real game changer will need to emerge. But faith-based transport planning in the vain hope of a game changer is not a risk worth considering. Decisions on the future of road transport should be delayed until the technology is available and proven to be affordable, sustainable and justifiable on long term, whole-life environmental grounds. We are a long way from that universal remedy yet! As things stand, a battery-powered electric vehicle has a manufacturing CO ² tariff of approximately 1½ times that of a comparable internal combustion-engined vehicle – and it’s agreed that the battery will probably deliver an acceptable performance for between eight and eleven years. Once the battery has deteriorated and needs replacing, the cradle-to-grave CO ² ‘debt’ is significantly turned back – a problem that does not arise with extended life internal combustion engine vehicles. In the meantime, synthetic fuels are under active development. These fuels can be used by existing internal combustion-engine vehicles, the entirety of the current supply chain, and the country’s refuelling structure almost without adaptation²⁵&²⁶. On the flip side, to convert the whole of the UK’s vehicle fleet to battery power means we have to replace the entire national fuel distribution system – and this will cost untold millions of pounds in consumer spending, and indeed, trillions of pounds in capital investment that could be better spent on hospitals, education and supporting an industrial powerhouse post Brexit. The Problem Converting all forms of fossil-fuelled transport to a battery-powered electric vehicle fleet will dramatically raise the CO ² output due to resourcing materials, manufacture and utilisation because of the higher carbon debt. And that CO ² debt simply cannot be liquidated by the Government’s deadline of 2030. The power density of batteries is poor compared to petrol and diesel, and they rarely offer the power yield that fossil fuel achieves. Battery-powered electric vehicles have to be significantly heavier, so they suffer high rolling resistance which means they need to use considerable amounts of energy to overcome inertia. They also have a meagre payload capacity compared to fossil-fuelled vehicles. Energy saving? They are not²⁷. Once it fails, the battery will have to be replaced. The only alternative is that the entire vehicle will have to be scrapped, which means it can never repay its ‘carbon debt’. It will not have achieved anything approaching that ‘break-even point’ of about 200,000 miles²⁸, despite the lower CO ² output while being driven. Our calculation, supported by research2⁹&³⁰, is that the CO ² break-even point of a batterypowered electric vehicle (compared to an extended life internal combustion engined vehicle) is unlikely to be achieved. This is because of Government’s decision to incur the avoidable and inordinate costs of building the charging infrastructure, when there are proven alternatives at a much lower cost. The scope of battery power for the vast majority of road transport in the UK has profoundly limited practicality. For ‘shopping trolley’ city runabouts, there is some marginal value, but this severely restricts their overall usefulness, and with the limited mileages makes repayment of the carbon debt even harder. For heavy duty and load carrying transport, the barriers to using battery power are overwhelming.