New Study Reminds Consumers That Electric Vehicles Are Not A "Silver Bullet"

Friday, December 2, 2016 – US Consumer Coalition (USCC) President Brian J. Wise issued the following statement in response to the recent release of a study discussing the hidden consequences of the expanding electric vehicle industry. The study, performed by the research firm Arthur D. Little, highlights issues that are commonly kept from consumers interested in buying electric vehicles.

“The technology that goes into electric vehicles is revolutionary and consumers have obviously flocked to the industry in droves to get their hands on these fancy zero-emission vehicles. This study, however, highlights some of the facts about the consequences of buying an electric vehicle that are all too often kept from American consumers,” said Brian J. Wise, President of the US Consumer Coalition.

“The study outlines a number of differentiating factors between Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles (ICEVs) and Battery-powered Electric Vehicles (BEVs). While it explores the significant costs of ownership and maintenance of electric vehicles over the lifespan of the cars and the primary impacts of BEVs on the environment, the most concerning finding of the study focuses on the impact on the health and lifespan of the people who mine for cobalt and other minerals which are essential to producing rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles.”

ADL’s study determined that a BEV generated more than three times as much human toxicity over its lifetime as an equivalent ICEV. Battery pack manufacturing and more specifically human exposure to heavy metals such as cobalt and nickel in addition to graphite during the mining process accounts for the vast majority of human toxicity potential of BEVs (Arthur D. Little, Battery Electric Vehicles vs. Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, 2016, P. 14).

Recent studies by Amnesty International and other social justice groups around the world have shown that the mining of cobalt in regions like the Democratic Republic of Congo is reliant on child labor where children are paid $1-2/ day for their work to find the metal that ultimately runs the batteries of electric vehicles and other electronic devices like smartphones and laptops. These “Cobalt Kids” are therefore risking their lives working in the tunnels and mines of the Congo for low wages in order to produce electric vehicles for American consumers.

“USCC remains committed to advancing innovation in the marketplace, but consumers should be educated about the products they are buying and what goes into those products. The study by AD Little highlights the devastating impacts of the production of electric vehicles and should be viewed as a resource for consumers who are considering purchasing an electric vehicle in order to be socially responsible. As this study suggests, BEVs are not the silver bullet that many suggest to climate change, ending our dependence on foreign oil, or improving the lives of the most vulnerable around us.”

The study by Arthur D. Little can be found here.

The US Consumer Coalition's Fair Energy Initiative supports expanded consumer choice for energy products. Excessive regulation, restrictions on the development of new sources of energy, and political activism adversely affect American consumers by driving up energy prices, stifling innovation, and restricting research and development in the energy industry that can lead to a healthier environment.

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About US Consumer Coalition

The US Consumer Coalition (USCC) is a consumer advocacy organization that promotes expanded consumer choice, responsible regulation of consumer-facing industries, fair market conditions, and consumer freedom. Learn more at