The post about consuming a CAT994A to produce an electric car battery that misinforms

Electric cars are not the panacea to all the ills of our cities, although theirs are found to be environmental impact is – in the medium term – much lower than that of internal combustion vehicles, despite the fact that the production of the batteries inside them involves considerable CO2 emissions. Precisely for these the European Union has established that from 2035, internal combustion cars can no longer be sold. That said, some continue to argue that electric vehicles are as polluting as internal combustion ones, if not more.

For those in a hurry:

  • A post on Facebook suggests that the production of a single Tesla battery is extremely polluting, making it environmentally disadvantageous compared to an internal combustion engine.
  • Although it is true that the production of these large batteries emits significant quantities of pollutants into the environment, the use of an electric car is still advantageous in environmental terms compared to a traditional car starting – on average – from the third year of life.


This is what they call “green”, we read in a tweet posted on Facebook where a photo of a man appears Caterpillar bulldozer. “It’s a Cat994A,” the text continues, “it burns 1000 liters of fuel in 12 hours and moves about 250 tons of material to extract the necessary to produce ONE Tesla battery. But you, driving your battery-powered car, are proud to save the planet ». The comments under the post are of the same tenor: «I hate to death electric cars even hybrid ones THEY ARE TAKING X THE ASS !!!! ALARM CLOCK ……. !!!!!!!! », says a user, for example.

The data on the Caterpillar 994A are only partially back

Searching for the name of the bulldozer on Google, it is possible to verify that the one shown in the picture is actually a Cat994A. The fact-check of the post object of this article has already been addressed by the colleagues of Afp Germany And Afp Netherlands. By contacting a Official Caterpillar dealer, the newspaper confirmed that the fuel consumption declared on Facebook is in line with the real one. The 994A model consumes, in fact, between 1150 and 2600 liters of fuel every 12 hours. On the other hand, the timing and quantities of materials needed to extract the minerals from the mine that are useful for the production of a Tesla battery are wrong.

Marko Pakkinenleader of the research group on electric vehicles and energy storage at the University of Espoo, Finland, pointed out, in fact, that – for example – 95% of the cobalt used in batteries comes from the production of other metals, so the time for extraction is vastly overestimated in the Facebook post. However, even if 250 tons of soil were really needed to obtain the minerals, the bulldozer would be able to move and dig enough soil to produce 20 batteries in one hour. This would bring fuel consumption to 10 liters per battery. That’s the amount needed, on most modern cars, to cover one distance between 100 and 200 kilometers.

So, how polluting is driving an electric car?

It remains to be seen, therefore, whether the use of electric cars actually produces fewer emissions than gasoline cars. Everything, or almost everything, depends on how the electricity used is produced. This article from the New York Timespoints out that in the United States, electric cars are, for the same kilometers traveled, much less polluting than their internal combustion counterparts. The same is true in the European Union, as pointed out by this article by Carbon Briefwhich shows how emissions in the entire life cycle of electric vehicles are – for the EU – less than half those of traditional cars.

CARBON BRIEF / Zeke Hausfather | Chart comparing the entire life cycle emissions of internal combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles in selected countries

But, how long do you have to use an electric car to do that are the environmental costs of battery production outweighed by the benefits in consumption? Considering an average life cycle, this time frame varies between 1.5 and 4 years, depending on the vehicles in question, whether you choose to replace an internal combustion car that is still running or to buy a new vehicle, and other factors, such as the energy mix of the country in which you drive. The example of Carbon Brief proposed here takes the United Kingdom as a reference. At the end of its life, an electric car will have emitted just one third of the pollutants produced by a traditional vehicle.



A post on Facebook insinuates that the production of electric car batteries would be so polluting as to nullify the environmental benefits of these vehicles. However, the statement, as well as some data presented in the post, is misleading.

This article contributes to a Facebook project to combat fake news and disinformation on its social platforms. Laws here for more information on our partnership with Facebook.

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