While Americans have long dealt with governmental regulation of tailpipe emissions for their gas-powered vehicles, there is something new to worry about. Car tires emit nearly 2,000 times more pollution than tailpipe emissions, and it’s only a matter of time until the government figures out a way to regulate them as well.
Americans are the bad guys when it comes to tire pollution. According to a 2017 study, the average American produced 10 pounds of tire emissions annually. In comparison, the global average for tire emissions was reported to be under two pounds per person per year. This discrepancy may be attributed to various factors, including driving patterns, vehicle types, and road conditions.
It’s an amazing condemnation of American drivers since recent studies suggest that tire particulate matter significantly contributes to air pollution. The research indicates that tires release over one trillion ultrafine particles per kilometer, with these particles being smaller than 23 nanometers. Such ultrafine particles pose a potential health hazard because they enter the human bloodstream and lungs, potentially crossing into the brain.
But wait, there’s more.
Recent studies have indicated that microplastic and nanoplastic particles from tire pollution threaten freshwater and estuary ecosystems. An earlier study estimated that tires release approximately 1.5 million metric tons of particles into the U.S. environment each year. Furthermore, this research suggests that tire particles contribute 5 to 10% of ocean plastic pollution.
And it seems that electric vehicle tires emit 20% more of these pollutants than their gas-powered counterparts. According to road tests conducted by the research company Emissions Analytics, under typical driving conditions, a gasoline car releases about 73 milligrams per kilometer from its tires. In contrast, a comparable electric vehicle sheds an additional 15 milligrams per kilometer.
Weight and speed contribute to the higher pollution levels from EV tires. Electric cars are around one thousand pounds heavier than gas-powered vehicles and tend to have faster acceleration. This combination increases the shedding of tiny particles into the air as the tires wear down.
Of course, increased tire pollution is only one environmental headache for green-energy activists.
There are also valid concerns about the ecological impact of lithium-ion batteries, which rely on increased energy and rare raw materials to produce.
Nick Molden, founder and CEO of Emissions Analytics, offered a stunning suggestion to combat tire pollution. He advises consumers to consider smaller, lighter, and more economical vehicles.
But for those who refuse to acknowledge EVs’ ecological and logistical challenges, all is not lost. Hybrid vehicles are lighter than their EV cousins, weighing little more than standard gas-powered vehicles. At the same time, they still offer a reduction in CO2 emissions.
A hybrid car uses an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, switching between them or using both simultaneously as needed. Hybrid technology is the best of both worlds, providing improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. They also have a lower price tag than EVs and do not require charging stations since the gas engine charges the battery.
A recent study comparing Tesla’s Model Y to Kia’s hybrid Niro found that Tesla produced 26% more tire pollution than the similarly sized Kia. The research proved that the Tesla was only marginally better than the Kia regarding CO2 emissions levels.
The tire pollutant revelation couldn’t be more inconvenient for green-energy advocates. There has been significant expansion in the electric vehicle (EV) market, with Tesla announcing record-breaking numbers, delivering 446,140 cars worldwide, which exceeded its initial projection of 445,000 units.
Federal tax credits have bolstered this surge in EV sales, but experts warn consumers not to get too excited about the tax break. With a hefty price tag of around $20k more than gas-powered vehicles, it will take nearly a decade to offset the upfront costs of EVs.
And the transition to EVs is not supported by most automakers. Prominent automakers criticized President Joe Biden’s plan, which targets two-thirds of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2032, labeling it “overly optimistic.” Their concerns mostly center on the nation’s woefully inadequate charging infrastructure and the high cost of electric vehicles for consumers and manufacturers alike.
As the challenges facing EVs continue to come to light, it would be in the Biden administration’s best interest to push hybrid vehicles instead. But progressives will never “tire” of dictating what cars Americans should be driving, and a sensible hybrid doesn’t fit their agenda.