There is no such thing as a truly green car.
All cars require raw materials and energy to produce, use energy during their time as transport, and require energy to recycle–the components that can be recycled, at least.
To mitigate such pollution issues and increase supply chain transparency, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has announced it will source raw battery materials from North America only, when it opens its $5 billion battery gigafactory.
Batteries are the subject of much environmental debate, requiring large quantities of assorted metals and minerals in their manufacture.
These are often mined, produced and transported at great expense and energy–leaving behind a large and dubious pollution footprint as they do so.
The plight of China has brought such issues to attention recently, where government regulations have closed several graphite-producing plants amid pollution concerns.
Used in battery anodes, graphite creates polluting dust during its mining, and requires corrosive chemicals like hydrochloric acid to process into a usable form. These, and other forms of pollution, are causing great damage to the surrounding areas.
Unfortunately, graphite and other materials are used in significant quantities in electric car batteries–particularly batteries as big as those fitted to Tesla’s vehicles.
According to Bloomberg, Tesla says its local sourcing will be “focused on minimizing environmental impact while significantly reducing battery cost”.
Cost will be a defining factor, as U.S.-sourced graphite may not be as inexpensive as that sourced elsewhere–even if it’s greener, and as one analyst puts it, “more patriotic”.
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