An excellent article in Stuff looking at the full life carbon emissions of electric cars vs petrol cars. They found:
The total life cycle emissions from a fossil-fuelled car and an electric car in Australia were 333gCO2/km and 273gCO2/km, respectively. That is, using average grid electricity, EVs come out about 18 per cent better in terms of their carbon footprint.
So in Australia using an electric car doesn’t result in zero emissions. It results in a modest but useful decrease of 18%.
Likewise, electric cars in New Zealand work out a lot better than fossil-fuelled cars in terms of emissions, with life-cycle emissions at about 333gCO2/km for fossil-fuelled cars and 128gCO2/km for electric cars. In New Zealand, EVs perform about 62 per cent better than fossil cars in carbon footprint terms.
In NZ the reduction is much greater – 62%. We are fortunate to have so much electricity come from renewables.
But it is worth noting that a 62% reduction is not 100%. Electric cars still produce significant carbon emissions. So when activists demand zero emissions, they are actually calling for electric cars to be banned also.