To be green, the electric car must be light, says Ademe

Electric charging station, in Lille, on September 27, 2022.

This is an opinion intended to reassure the French who doubt the real environmental impact of the electric car. A few days before the opening of the Paris Motor Show, which will take place from October 17 to 23, the Agency for Environment and Energy Management (Ademe) is putting the finishing touches on the i face criticism (use of rare earths, access and cost of electrical energy) ) that could lead to drivers giving up the switch to electric for their daily journeys.

We must not cut the momentum of the French when in September for the first time in France more new electric vehicles were sold than diesel. But in this view, Ademe also acknowledges that the largest electric cars, SUVs and sedans really outperform diesels beyond 70,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the model.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers The challenge for cities to accept the transition to low-emission zones and the ban on the most polluting cars

“Over its lifetime, an electric car running in France emits two to three times less CO2 than a comparable thermal model, provided the battery has a reasonable capacity”, says the message. The battery must therefore have a capacity of less than 60 kWh, or the equivalent of a Peugeot e 208 or at most a Renault Mégane, with a range of 400 to 450 kilometers. Every electric car starts with a “carbon debt” – the energy and material needed to build it – two to three times greater than that of a thermal vehicle.


For the lightest cars, the “city cars”, this all disappears “after about 15,000 kilometers”. For large electric cars, SUV type, given their weight that can go empty up to 2.5 tons, you have to wait 100,000 kilometers. It is therefore advisable to choose a battery that is suitable for the most use of the vehicle (home-daily work), by choosing the smallest and lightest possible vehicle model.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers The Paris Motor Show with a headwind

Agency warning also on plug-in hybrid vehicles. They can be adjusted when the driver has to travel long distances. But Ademe recalls, citing the latest INSEE study, that an average French household makes just three trips a year more than 200 kilometers from their home. However, because hybrid vehicles are much heavier than non-electrified thermal vehicles, they consume much more fuel in thermal mode. Here too it is therefore necessary to adapt their use well and to charge them very regularly in order to be able to use them as much as possible in electric mode.

You still have 54.18% of this article to read. The following is for subscribers only.