Wits researchers have reported that electric cars will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
"We found that, as the bulk of South Africa's electricity is generated from relatively low-quality coal and the advanced exhaust clean up technologies are not implemented in the current coal-fired power plants, the use of electric vehicles in South Africa would not help to cut greenhouse gas emissions now (2010) or in the future, " the researchers reported.
Electric vehicles have been suggested as a way to reduce the carbon emissions in urban centres, but researchers Diane Hildebrandt, David Glasser and Xinying Liu said that the generation of electricity should be taken into account.
"If you do a whole analysis of the entire system, the electric vehicle doesn't look necessarily, on the systems approach, to be the cleaner option,"
She said that if one based the impact of electric vehicles on the entire system of power generation, they were worse than petrol and diesel vehicles.
so, what is the answer???
"When you look at the system globally, you get various emissions at various points, now electric vehicles at their point - in other words - the vehicle itself is incredibly clean, but when you step further back and take the power station into account, then suddenly the answer is not as clear cut.
"With current technology, the emissions are at least as bad, if not much worse than say for example, other processes like using oil, or even coal to liquid."
Policymakers have suggested that electric cars are an answer to urban pollution and in 2011, the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle won the car of the year title.