Documentaries about people and their worlds

Can electric cars save the environment?

(Story im Ersten)

A documentary by Florian Schneider and Valentin Thurn

A production for ARD

TV premiere: 3rd of June 2019, 22:45, ARD

More broadcasts:

4th of June 2019, 04.45, ARD

26th of June 2019, 22:00, BR

TV premiere of updated version: How sustainable are electric cars? on 29th of January 2020, 22:10, ARD

Electric cars should save the environment. They are considered to be particularly environmentally friendly, are praised by the industry as emission-free, and have a decisive role in the plans of the Federal Government for the fulfillment of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.


And Germany wants to be at the forefront of the global growth market. In order to bring as many e-cars on the road, the Bundestag has already decided in 2016 a purchase premium for electric and hybrid cars. Car manufacturers are always introducing new top models. And with a current view of diesel scandal, excessive fine dust limits and imminent driving bans an electric future seems irreversible.


But the allegedly clean technology has dark sides. Because electric cars are considered anything but environmentally friendly by climate experts and scientists. The production of batteries consumes a lot of energy, and the depletion of lithium and other raw materials in batteries put a strain on the green conscience.


We ask: What is the extent of pollution in the manufacture of the batteries? How do e-car manufacturers justify the destruction of nature in the name of climate protection? Why does politics stick so stubbornly to the myth of the environmental miracle? And what alternative is there for environmentally friendly mobility?


A search for clues in the lithium mines of Argentina, where the indigenous population is deprived of their livelihoods, and in Germany, where the electric revolution is currently driving the car manfacturers in front of them.

Commissioning Editor: Jo Angerer, Martin Suckow (WDR) and Johanna Walter (BR)

Authors: Florian Schneider & Valentin Thurn

Editor: Bastian Bischoff

Camera: Christian Albrecht, Mariana Aguirre, Björn Schneider, Boris Fromageot, Matthias Zscheile

Sound: Miklas Rüssmann, Nariman Pauli, Till Möhrke, Michael von Harpe, Oliver Lumpe, Stephan Zwickirsch, Markus Habryka

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