Earlier this week, Alastair Lewis, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York, argued that particles emitted from the tires of electric cars pose a huge risk to public health. He therefore suggested that this was a bigger problem than CO2 emissions from petrol and diesel cars, calling for the introduction of a new tax.
Professor Lewis said charges for low-emission zones would likely be replaced by alternative taxes as drivers switch to electric vehicles.
Despite this, many have expressed concern about the proposals put forward, saying they hurt the further rollout of electric cars.
Mike Coulton, Fleet Policy & Product Manager and EV Consultant at Volkswagen Financial Services Fleet, commented on the prospect of a tire tax targeting particulate emissions from electric vehicles.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “It is essential that we continue to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) if we are to meet the government’s own net zero targets in 2050.
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“Claims that zero-emission electric vehicles emit more particulate matter (PM2.5) from tires alone than their petrol or diesel counterparts have been widely debunked.
“This apparently ignores the fact that exhaust NOx emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles are a major contributor to PM2.5 concentration levels in urban areas.
“A ‘tire tax’ focused on electric vehicles would have a worrying chilling effect on the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, which, in turn, will undoubtedly have a negative impact on air quality in the local level.”
Tire wear is the second most important microplastic pollutant in the environment, after single-use plastic, and accounts for up to 50% of airborne particulate emissions from road transport.
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The amount of air pollution is increasing because motorists are driving even bigger vehicles with bigger tires.
Mr Coulton went on to say: “It is also important for us to remember that as BEV technology improves, battery size (and therefore weight) will continue to decrease, as the same range can be obtained from a smaller battery.
“This in turn means that the weight (and price) of electric vehicles will continue to decrease, so the argument that electric vehicles are heavier and therefore have increased tire wear is already outdated.
“Indeed, anecdotally, we’ve heard from fleet drivers that tire and brake wear is significantly reduced in electric cars and vans compared to their petrol and diesel counterparts.”
The Tire Collective, a clean tech start-up, has developed a device that currently captures 60% of all airborne particles in tests.
Once captured, these particles can be recycled or reused in new tires and other materials.
Speaking previously to Express.co.uk, one of the co-founders Hanson Cheng said: “We are developing a retrofit device targeting post-market electric vehicles that would sit right behind the wheel, particularly on the vans.
“The long-term vision is to integrate this device into all future electric vehicles, whether cars, trucks or buses.”