THE GREEN ELECTRIC CAR MYTH: 772 Pounds Of Petro-Chemical Plastics In Each Vehicle

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by Steve St. Angelo, SRSRocco Report:

How can an electric car be called “Green” when it contains more than 700 pounds of plastic??  Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are using more plastic to lower the weight of the car due to the massive battery used, weighing more than 1,000 pounds.  Unfortunately, plastic is still made from petrochemicals, the so-called “Dirty Fossil-fuel Industry.”

So, without petrochemicals, the manufacture of electric cars would be extremely difficult without plastic.  And the primary feedstock for plastic is natural gas liquids (NGLs).  Due to the rapid rise in NGLs production, especially in the United States, plastic production has surged.  We can see in the chart below, that the United States accounted for nearly 90% of global NGLs production growth since 2007.

So, with all this extra NGLs production, the United States has a monopoly on the Global NGLs Feedstock for going GREEN.  Of the 3.8 million barrels per day (mbd) of NGLs global production growth since 2007, the United States added 3.4 mbd of that total.

In tearing apart the “Green Electric Vehicle Myth,” I will focus this article only on the plastic component.

There seems to be this notion that cars manufactured 50 years ago were much heavier than vehicles today due to a higher percentage of metals used.  This turns out to be false when we look at the data.  According to an Autoweek article by Murliee Martin titled, 50 years of car weight gain: from the Chevelle to the Sonic, the Fairlane to the Focus, a 1967 mid-sized Chevy Chevelle weighed in at 2,915 pounds versus a 2,955 pounds for a 2017 Chevy Sonic subcompact car:

(image courtesy of Autoweek.com, General Motors & Pinterest)

Looks are deceiving… eh?  If you read the article linked above, the 1967 Chevy Chevelle with all that metal and very little plastic actually weighed 40 pounds less than the subcompact 2017 Chevy Sonic.  Go figure…

I know what you all might be thinking.  How much plastic was in that 1967 Chevy Chevelle?  Well, I don’t have the exact figure, but using data from the Chemical & Engineering News article, Plastics makers plot the future of the car, the chart below provides the amount of plastic for each year.

I estimated about 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of plastic for the 1967 Chevy Chevelle and 150 kilograms (331 pounds) for the 2017 Chevy Sonic.  So, with both cars weighing about the same, the 1967 Chevelle only contained 2% of plastic while the 2017 Sonic held 11%.

How interesting… the newer cars contain more than 10% plastic, but the vehicle’s weight is heavier than the older cars built 50 years ago.  Again, the 1967 Chevelle is 40 pounds lighter than the 2017 Chevy Sonic… and the Sonic is a smaller car.

Now, let’s move to the supposed “GREEN” Electric Vehicles.   To keep the weight of the EV as low as possible, more plastic is being used.  In the VisualCapitalist.com INFOGRAPHIC, How Much Oil Is In An Electric Vehicle, they provided the following quote:

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