New report issued by Swiss government research lab EMPA, titled Contribution of Li-Ion Batteries to the Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles. The Swiss boffins, having done some major research into the environmental burdens of making and disposing of li-ion batteries - to add to the established bodies of work on existing cars - say that battery manufacture and disposal aren't that big a deal. However, in today's world, with electricity often made by burning coal or gas, a battery car is still a noticeable eco burden:
The main finding of this study is that the impact of a Li-ion battery used in [a battery-powered car] for transport service is relatively small. In contrast, it is the operation phase that remains the dominant contributor to the environmental burden caused by transport service as long as the electricity for the [battery car] is not produced by renewable hydropower ...
A break even analysis shows that an [internal combustion engined vehicle] would need to consume less than 3.9 L/100km to cause lower [environmental impacts] than a [battery car] ... Consumptions in this range are achieved by some small and very efficient diesel [cars], for example, from Ford and Volkswagen.
Original article @ The Register