This is actually a fallacy. There’s a lot of misinformation like this being spread by big businesses with a lot to lose with the transition to electrification, i.e. anyone who makes petrol, diesel, engines, gearboxes, clutches, etc, all to try and sway people from considering EVs for as long as possible.
If we look at what goes into a claim like that (and this is no attack on you @Wise, just addressing the misinformation):
- Cars with engines don’t just magically appear, they are also built using materials mined or extracted from the earth.
- Petrol/Diesel is a one-time use of Earth’s natural resources. It gets extracted and processed (which is very energy intensive) and used once.
- Vehicle batteries have a long life. Far longer than those we get in phones, etc. Tesla batteries are proven to degrade by 6% over 200k miles of driving on average. The same cannot be said for phone batteries, etc, which aren’t designed to last a long time.
- Vehicle batteries once end of life will be recycled. The materials mined from the Earth are still present and can be re-used (in contrast to petrol/diesel). Countries around the world are requiring manufacturers to do this (i.e. China, Europe, etc).
- Battery technology is improving all the time, use of rare earth metals is declining.
- Electricity generation is getting greener every year with the increase in renewable energy sources. This also reduces the impact of EV production. In fact the UK is leading the way in the adoption of renewables. We’re running for longer and longer without burning coal to produce electricity.
- Over time the environmental impact of creating and delivering EVs is going to reduce. The same cannot be said for petrol/diesel.
Those points are just relating to the environmental impact of EV production, but they also help show that whilst EVs are getting greener and greener, petrol/diesels aren’t, the efficiencies have been had and we’re well into the effects of diminishing returns.
Overall, the impact a producing a vehicle battery has on the environment over it’s lifetime is far less than the impact an engine has, and will improve with time as technology improves and more things in the supply chain move to electrification - think factories running on renewable energy, car haulers being electric, ships running on solar/batteries, etc. All those small changes add up to us weening ourselves off fossil fuels and doing less and less harm to the planet.