How eco-friendly are BEV and FCEV electric vehicles?
How eco-friendly are BEV and FCEV electric vehicles?
19 May 2023 - by: Silvia Pedrotti

How eco-friendly are BEV and FCEV electric vehicles?

The global automotive industry has been investing in innovation and research on increasingly advanced technologies to reduce emissions and enhance road safety. In this context, electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, but the terms used to identify them are not always clear to everyone. In this article, we will examine the characteristics of BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) and FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) vehicles

BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)
BEV vehicles operate with an electric motor powered by a battery. They have a nearly negligible environmental impact as they do not use polluting fossil fuels, and their silence also contributes to reducing noise pollution. They are particularly suitable for use in highly populated urban centers, as their emissions are eliminated from the exhaust pipe. BEVs have a moderate range of about 300 km and require longer charging times at charging stations. The charging duration varies considerably depending on the provided voltage and whether the charging is done in alternating or direct current. One drawback of BEVs is that their range can significantly decrease in extreme weather conditions, especially with large temperature fluctuations.

FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle)
FCEVs, also known as hydrogen vehicles, are hybrid electric vehicles that use hydrogen to produce electric energy through a fuel cell. This energy powers the vehicle's battery. The energy production process occurs through reverse electrolysis, which combines hydrogen with oxygen and produces only water as a byproduct. FCEVs also have a negligible environmental impact, but their main advantage lies in greater range, ranging from 800 to 1000 km, and reduced charging times. This is because electricity is produced directly on-board the vehicle, which only needs to be refueled with hydrogen. Refueling times vary depending on the tank capacity but are comparable to those required for refueling with fossil fuel. However, due to high costs and the lack of widespread hydrogen refueling infrastructure, FCEVs are produced in limited quantities and are not easily accessible to the public.

Are electric vehicles really beneficial for the environment?
Undoubtedly, they are, as demonstrated by the most accurate studies conducted by international research teams. However, in the current state of technology, their contribution is not decisive. It will only become so when the entire associated supply chain becomes fully sustainable. For example, when it becomes possible to produce electricity solely from renewable sources and as the battery production process and overall efficiency improve. Additionally, new technologies will be needed to address the issue of disposal of used batteries, which is also highly polluting.


  • CNR-ITAE (National Research Council - Institute for Advanced Energy Technologies)
  • Studies conducted by international research teams