How did IIT Kanpur conclude that Electric cars pollute more than petrol/diesel/hybrid cars: Explained!

The Indian automotive industry is witnessing a shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) due to their environmental benefits and long-term cost savings. However, recently we shared an article that revealed a research conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur suggesting that hybrid vehicles, which combine an electric battery with an internal combustion engine (ICE), may offer a more favorable solution for the environment. A ton of people wanted to know about the key findings of the research and shed light on the advantages of hybrid vehicles over EVs in the Indian context. So without any further ado here are the highlights from the research report from IIT Kanpur.

How did IIT Kanpur conclude that Electric cars pollute more than petrol/diesel/hybrid cars: Explained!

Environmental Impact

The study compared the emissions of EVs, hybrids, and conventional petrol cars throughout their lifecycle, including production, maintenance, and recycling. Results revealed that EVs emit 187 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer (gCO eq./km), while hybrids emit 167 gCO eq./km. In contrast, regular petrol cars emit 244 gCO eq./km. The cars used for the analysis focused on the petrol and electric variants of the Tata Nexon and Maruti Suzuki’s hybrid Grand Vitara.

Battery Production and Mining

The report also highlighted the fact that the production of EVs requires substantial amounts of nickel, cobalt, and lithium, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions during mining and refining processes. It added that as India currently relies heavily on coal-based thermal power (80%) for electricity generation, charging EVs can indirectly increase CO2 emissions.

Hybrid Advantages

Next up the study highlighted the benefits of hybrids and added that these cars utilize a smaller battery, resulting in reduced usage of scarce metals and lower emissions during mining and processing. Unlike EVs, hybrids do not solely rely on external charging and can regenerate electricity through regenerative braking, thus boosting mileage.

Ethanol Blended Fuel

Another major point highlighted by the research was that as India has been increasingly incorporating ethanol derived from sugarcane into its fuel mix, which significantly lowers emissions. Hybrids can utilize this blended fuel, further reducing their environmental impact.

Cost Considerations

The research also revealed that the total Cost of Ownership (TCO) per kilometer for EVs and petrol-powered vehicles is approximately ₹13, while it stands at ₹14 for hybrids. However, when considering government subsidies for EVs, the TCO for hybrids falls to just ₹11 per kilometer. It stated that if hybrids receive similar incentives in the future, they could become the most cost-effective option.

Potential Limitations

The study also took care of the limitations of the research and it acknowledged that analyses are not infallible, as factors such as advancements in metal mining, energy mix transformation, and fluctuating fuel prices can influence future outcomes.

Promoting Hybrids

Lastly the research stated that hybrid vehicles currently face unfavorable taxation in India, with a 43% GST for large hybrids compared to a 5% GST for EVs. It added that to drive adoption and reduce emissions, top automakers like Maruti Suzuki and engineering institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology are advocating for affordable hybrid alternatives.


How did IIT Kanpur conclude that Electric cars pollute more than petrol/diesel/hybrid cars: Explained!

While EVs have gained traction for their environmental benefits, the research conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur highlights the advantages of hybrid vehicles in terms of emissions and cost-effectiveness in the Indian context. Hybrid vehicles emit fewer greenhouse gases, utilize fewer scarce metals, and have a lower Total Cost of Ownership compared to EVs and petrol-powered vehicles. To achieve a significant reduction in emissions, it is crucial for the government to consider providing incentives and support for hybrid vehicles, making them a viable and attractive alternative in the Indian automotive industry.

Utkarsh Deshmukh

Utkarsh is a passionate car enthusiast and Feature Writer at for over two years. He specializes in writing up-to-date news stories and deep dives into the auto industry. With a knack for cutting through the noise, Utkarsh delivers clear and informative pieces that keep readers engaged and informed about the latest in cars. (Full bio)