Pollution Because of Electric Vehicles: How Bad Are They for Air Quality?

This article was issued four days ago by the BBC in response to a report from the Air Quality Expert Group. A lot of EV driver said are saying that because of regenerative braking it won’t be that bad. Particular matter should fall because of less diesel and petrol but this article doesn’t really acknowledge this. What do Better Century member (esp. @EV_Enthusiasts) think?

Would be good to gather evidence and information here so others are well informed…

This piece has so many interesting facts. Really impressed with the panellists G Erlendsson (CEO of Enso Tires), Richard Lofthouse (Air Pollution Expert), Chiarinna Darrah. Very interesting and important facts shared here:

Tires used to be white because that was the colour of rubber, but engineering through the use of ‘black carbon’ and other oil based products helped increase durability, ability to deliver speed and efficiency. However an industry was born which nets more than the sales of cars, so long wearing wheels were not a priority.

Incredible to learn that plastic particulate matter is equivalent to visible plastic waste (e.g. plastic bags, drinking receptacles), and 30% of microplastics in the ocean is attributed to tires and clothes (but mostly tires). The IUCN report was quoted.

The fact that 10% of every tire goes into the atmosphere is just ridiculous - 1 KG of tire every 20,000 miles! Potentially this represents three times as much particulate matter than from the tailpipe. This means the report from the BBC could be accurate with traditional tires.

G was incredibly interesting in terms of solutions. The idea of creating long-lasting tires has to be the answer. I love the fact they’re looking at tires built from cellulose and other organic materials, which are able to broken down again even as particulates, and be re-manufactured, is pretty cool.

Thanks @Heatherdlc

Has anyone switched to long lasting tires and what does the cost/benefit look like?

Thanks for sharing this @Heatherdlc. I have to admit, I didn’t know that EV cars got through tyres quicker than ICE cars. I probably drive my car quite conservatively, so according to what Richard Lofthouse was saying, the wear (and therefore presumably the particulates) should be less. However, I would definitely consider switching to a long lasting - and will be following what Enso are doing closely. The government really needs to put pressure on the industry to do more about this!

Worth looking at Riversimple. They are building a hydrogen electric car (electric motors, with h2 generating the electricity). They are aware of the tyre and brake issue (the founder Hugo grew up in a beautiful natural environment that suffered run off from the M3 nearby). Hugo is an environmentalist and has designed the car to have far lower impact than current cars (or Tesla!). A key factor is weight - you get much less tyre wear with a lighter car. Also, Riversimple uses regenerative braking, to a far greater degree than any other manufacture, so that 50% of the energy is recaptured, rather than being lost in friction (and worn tyres). As usual, the solution is available (or soon will be) - the question is whether we will choose it or allow the existing motor industry to decide what sustainable looks like.


Thanks Patrick. Really interesting to hear of a British company working on hydrogen cars (with long lasting tires).

Thanks Patrick - that’s definitely worth investigating. Sounds like they are really doing something different from other car manufacturers…

The first thing everyone can do to reduce tyre wear immediately is to check your tyre pressure regularly (1-2 months, when the tyre is cold).

An interesting report on Tyres in Europe says:

“Underinflation is a significant source of tyre wear. It unnecessarily adds to the emission of microplastics. 60% of the cars in the Netherlands have underinflated tyres and 19% have at least one tyre with an underinflation of 30%… [which] will increase wear by 50%.”

Remember that the tyre pressure monitors fitted to cars (as standard since 2014) only have to alert you when a tyre becomes dangerously underinflated. The tyres need to be pumped up well before this warning comes on. This is easy to forget when EVs (and most modern cars) require so little maitenance.

All of the other efficient driving techniques help too (accelerating and braking more gently, removing unessary weight from your boot).


This is so useful!

Such a simple but important piece of advice…

Linking these two conversations:

I am quite surprised that folks are saying that tyres wear quicker on EV to ICE. From what I have experienced they last longer due to the smoother driving experience. As for the particulates from the braking system, surely there must be evidence to prove that EVs produce significantly less particulates due to the simple fact that they use regeneration to convert kinetic energy to chemical energy, as opposed to ICE cars that simply use the friction of the asbestos free break lining to convert kinetic energy to heat. This ICE process surely must generate more particulates… ??


I haven’t seen anything here to suggest that EVs are a bigger culprit than petrol cars. I do know that one of the things that increased tyre pollution though was the weight of EVs being more than that of a car. The brakes have a much smaller emissions than tyres so perhaps it was being based on that?

EVs have the use of regen braking which creates no pollution, but yes there is some increased tyre and brake pad pollution due to the extra weight. There are new type and pad compounds in the pipelines atm to deal with matter, and deal with it proppa!


Brake pads being worn more on electric vehicles is simply not true, due to the regen braking as mentioned above.

For example: C&C taxis, an all-electric taxi firm in Newquay, clocked up 100,000 miles on their first Nissan Leaf, which was still on its first set of brake pads after that time. https://www.zap-map.com/electric-taxi-company-clocks-100000-miles-in-nissan-leaf/