BEVs Facing Urban Ban Over Pollution Risks

Pressure is mounting to ban BEVs from city centers amid fears they will continue polluting the urban environment.

Having effectively won the battle against ICE vehicles in urban areas, clean air campaigners have now turned their attention against the BEV, up until now seen as the ‘clean’ alternative. However, the BBC reports that a UK government commissioned study reveals electric vehicles will still pollute city air because more than half of a vehicle’s overall emissions come from particulates discharged by brake materials and tires.

These microplastics from tires, road surfaces and brakes will also flow into rivers, and ultimately into the sea, government advisers have warned.

While government ministers are calling from standards to make tires and brakes less polluting, campaigners want to go further even to the point of banning all privately used BEVs in city centers.

On the particulate pollution of current vehicles, the government’s Air Quality Expert Group warns: “No legislation is currently in place specifically to limit or reduce [these] particles. So while legislation has driven down emissions of particles from exhausts, the non-exhaust proportion of road traffic emissions has increased.”

One of the authors of the report, Prof Jillian Anable, has called for a greater future focus on public transport to persuade commuters and city dwellers to abandon personal vehicle use. She said: “For many years ministers have adopted the principle of trying to meet demand by increasing road space. They need to reduce demand instead.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


  1. Avatar William C. Knapp 15th July 2019 @ 10:37 pm

    I hope the “clean-air-campaigners” don’t get “back-fired” with their claims of microplastics from tires, road surfaces, and brake pads. Those that walk and bike might be banned from city centers from the microplastics from bicycle tire surfaces and artificial shoe soles!

    • Avatar Alan Thomas 17th July 2019 @ 2:12 pm

      As always with environmental matters, the law of unintended consequences is enforced more rigourously than any other legislation. A careful examination of all the related science and technology should help identify practically all consequences and decide which is least damaging and feasible (and not just for urban millenials). Otherwise we are just re-arranging the sunloungers while the planet toasts.
      After the next iteration will we worry that a person cycling or running can emit six times as much CO2 as when sitting down, and all that CO2 comes from extra sugar and protein, which comes from agriculture, which is a major source of greenhouse gases, which …

  2. Avatar MOHAMMED SAGHEER 16th July 2019 @ 12:18 pm

    Measuring suspended particulate matter (SPM) emission from tailpipe is easy and proven. How do you effectively measure and quantify SPM emission due to Brakes, Tyres and Road?

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