The ‘electric cars aren’t green’ myth debunked

Electric cars green myth

It’s time to bust this thing wide open.

‘Electric cars aren’t green’ is a great bit of counter-intuitive headline bait, but it’s bad maths.  This is how the argument goes, again and again…

Electric cars have higher manufacturing emissions than normal cars.  Electric cars also use electricity that has its own footprint.  And put together these two factors are a ‘dirty little secret‘ that negate any climate benefit of electric cars!

No.  Let’s clear this thing up once and for all.

It’s all about the juice

One of the most irritating things about articles discussing electric car emissions is the way it’s always very black and white.  In one corner you have the ‘zero emissions’ brigade and in the other the ‘worse than combustion engine’ crew.

But as ever, real life comes in shades of grey.

The reality is that even after you account for the bigger manufacturing footprint of an electric car it is all about the fuel mix of the power you use, the ‘juice’ if you will.

Using coal powered electricity electric cars do nothing to cut emissions, using natural gas electricity they’re like a top hybrid and using low carbon power they result in less than half the total emissions of the best combustion vehicle, manufacturing included.

In our recent study ‘Shades of Green: Electric Cars’ Carbon Emissions Around the Globe‘ we calculated grid powered electric car emissions in twenty countries. But we actually had data for quite a few more countries we didn’t include.

So let’s break out the data and put this thing to rest.

Mapping electric car emissions

The following map compares the carbon footprint of electric driving using average grid electricity in 40 or so countries.  The actual carbon intensity of electricity you use may differ from the national average for a number of reasons, but it’s a great starting point.

The results are shown in terms of grams of equivalent carbon dioxide per vehicle kilometer (g CO2e/km).  Each estimate includes emissions from vehicle manufacturing, power station combustion, upstream fuel production and grid losses.

The specs are based on a full electric vehicle, similar to a Nissan Leaf, using the 2009 average fuel mix in each country.  For each country vehicle manufacturing emissions are assumed to be 70g CO2e/km, based on a number of studies detailed in the report.

EV emissions by countryClick image to expand

Of the 40 countries covered in this map emissions vary from 70g CO2e/km in hydro loving Paraguay, up to a 370g CO2e/km in heavy coal using India.  The US average is 202g CO2e/km, in China it’s 258g and in Canada 115g.

In Paraguay virtually all the emissions are from vehicle manufacturing, as the power is incredibly low carbon.  Whereas in India the breakdown is 70g for vehicle manufacturing, 200g from power plants, 30g for fuel production and a whopping 70g for grid losses.

The colors in the legend split the countries into five different groups based on carbon intensity.  As you can see, even after vehicle manufacturing is included the carbon intensity of driving an electric car varies 5 fold based on the juice.

For a bit of reference, the average American gasoline vehicle is up at about 300g CO2e/km, while a new hybrid might manage 180g CO2e/km after you include vehicle manufacturing, fuel combustion and fuel production.

Compared to combustion vehicles

Because grams per kilometer is such a funny metric it is nice to convert these results to something more familiar.  Working backwards from the data we can estimate what type of conventional vehicle (if any) would produce similar emissions.

For want of a better phrase lets call this the ‘Emissions equivalent petrol car’.

EV emissions equivalent

Click image to expand.

Now the figures are much easier to get a grip on.

In coal heavy India, China, Australia and South Africa electric cars using grid power are just like typical gasoline vehicles, in the 25-30 MPGUS range.  In the UK, Germany, Japan and Italy they are as good as the best petrol hybrids, in the 45-50 MPGUS range. But in low carbon supply places like France, Brazil, Switzerland and Norway they are in a different league, averaging well beyond 100 MPGUS for equivalent emissions.

It is important to remember that the electricity you get might not match your national average for any number of reasons.  The night time intensity might vary, you might have solar panels or live in a country like the US, where the grid is actually a bunch of separate grids.  For example in Colorado a grid powered electric car is equivalent to about 30 MPGUS, whereas in California it’s up around 70 MPGUS.

For all the comparisons in this map the vehicle manufacturing of a gasoline car is just 40g CO2e/km compared to 70g CO2e/km for the electric vehicle.  This is because we have accounted for both a greater manufacturing footprint and lower lifetime mileage in an electric car.

If you are interested in the detail check out the full report.  It includes a breakdown of all figures, sensitivities to manufacturing, vehicle performance and comparisons to diesel vehicles.

Electric cars are as green as their juice

Critics of electric cars love to talk about manufacturing emissions and putting horses before carts.  But they never seem to offer any better solutions.  If they were waxing lyrical about urban densification, electrified public transport and the joys of bicycles their critiques would ring true, but that’s not what you hear.

Electric cars are relatively new at a commercial scale and are dealing with issues of cost, range and charging speed.  Each of which will be helped by improving batteries.  Despite this they offer enormous hope for reducing carbon emissions, improving local air quality and limiting noise pollution.

Electric cars are far from perfect, and there are plenty of valid ways to critique them.  But let’s not pretend that a gasoline vehicle can compete with an electric car in terms of carbon emissions.  It’s just not a contest.

Give an electric car the right juice and it crushes combustion engines.


Download the report here: Shades of Green 

Author’s note: in case you are wondering, I don’t own an electric car. We have an efficient Skoda diesel which is mostly used at weekends with 4 people in it.  My preferred mode of transport is my old dutch bike, which in terms of gCO2e/km trashes all comers (foodprint included).

  • Parax

    Emissions are not just CO2, It would be good to include CO, O3, NOx, THC, PM10 in Emissions discussions also and contrast Street Level Emissions verses Grid Emission and its impact on Public Health.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      So true. To much for me to get into hear I’m afraid. Also particularly important when assessing the benefits of diesel cars in Europe. Generally an argument for electric cars, particularly in cities. Although with the wrong power source this again creates problems:

    • Kevin Jackson

      Hey! Screw you, I live in the country. Moving your pollution from the city to where I live is BS. Why should I die from power plant emissions in order to save someone in the city? You are the one that wants to drive around in the city, keep your pollution to yourself.

      • Parax

        It’s your choose to live next to a power plant. #SameArgument

        In many big us cities the power plants are in the city (power where it’s needed).

        However, powerplants are much better at filtering emissions than vehicles, electrostatic precipitaters and gaseous capture work well at large scale whereas filters on vehicles are rubbish. Powerplants also discharge gases at a far higher altitude giving better dispersal and so nowhere near the concentrations of pollutions you would find at a large interstate interchange (note that interstates run through the country too). go look at the pollution charts near power plants.. they are mere fractions of the levels you find on busy junctions (city or country).

        Finally are you familiar with the Trolley Problem?

        • Kevin Jackson

          I am now, thank you.
          Unlike happenstance, coincidence or chance, we are actively planning where to send the Trolleys.
          Please don’t send anymore Trolleys my way.

        • Kevin Jackson

          I assume you are in the “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one” philosophical camp.
          The issue I have, in this instance, is “the many” created the problem.
          To me it is analogous to a group that are hungry but don’t feel like going to the grocery store, so they just kill and eat one of the group. In this way the “needs of the many” are satisfied.
          I don’t like that plan, whether I am the one eaten or not. I think “the many” need to resolve their problems themselves.

          • Parax

            [“the many” created the problem.] Yes! but it is a problem for all, not just for some! So what is your solution?

            Mine is that the many need to switch to greener electricity from renewable clean sources. and emission free vehicles so our kids don’t get sick. I opt for an EV, for solar panels, and a clean energy supplier – that is all I can do physically, but I also vote for government that intends to stop taking the easy route of building coal stations and start taking the harder choices for cleaner future. (I chose to do these other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. – and they are the right thing to do not just for my future but for everyone’s future.)

            If you want to see why power plants are cleaner than cars, have a read of this DoE website which explains sulphate scrubbing, NOx clean burners and catalysts.


            (note some cars have catalysts for NOx but don’t scrub any Sulphates from the exhaust fumes.)

            and if you want to get into the CO2 debate, have a read up on carbon sequestration.


          • arikstudy1 Cohen
          • Martin Winlow

            I think you might just be one or two sandwiches short of a picnic…

      • Martin Winlow

        Ah! The voice of reason rings out once more…

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  • Craig Wolfe

    Lindsay – All of your data and and all of your writing are very helpful. I will keep pushing you out there. Concert for the Climate Guy.

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  • Mike Speck

    Great info Lindsay. Appreciate the clear concise comparisons. One thing though. Do you have any data on the effect on the environment of the spent Lithium ion batteries once the cars are “put out to pasture?”

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Sorry, had missed this. I’m not really to sure about this stuff. I know that the batteries can be used in lower grade situations when they are no good for cars anymore, but not too knowledgeable on the recycling front

    • Randy

      In Japan or Australia (maybe both, i cant really remember) a bunch of old EV batteries were recently put into service as grid storage. They will operate for many more years until they are too old to be effective anymore. They will then be recycled, with over 90% of the materials being reused (generally stuff like the plastic casings in the batteries is not recycled because it isnt cost effective from the company’s standpoint). Tesla Motors plans to integrate battery recycling into their battery manufacturing plant, where the batteries will be made into new batteries.

      Currently 96% of a lead acid battery is recycled. A battery that weighs 10x or more and is more valuable (still worth over a thousand dollars at the end of life in the vehicle) will surely be recycled, especially since the batteries can not be removed easily…

      The batteries should last a long time, as long as a car today is expected to last. In 10 years, a battery replacement for a Nissan Leaf should only cost 2 or 3 thousand dollars and the car should keep on going. Unlike in a conventional ICEV, not much can go wrong in an EV. So EVs should last much longer.

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  • Esther C

    I understand that the source of our electricity determines the emissions from driving EVs.

    But I think that in order to approximate the environmental impact from manufacturing, we need to know: where/how is the lithium (and other minerals and metals) mined, is it shipped elsewhere for battery assembly, and then is the battery shipped again somewhere for vehicle assembly?

    Consumers need to be able to estimate the overall impact. Just because I live in Vancouver, and ultimately driving an EV is very clean (we are essentially 100% hydro electric) — I can’t use your “made in Canada” electricity stats to calculate environmental impact from manufacturing.

    Is there a list, anywhere, of EV cars and where the batteries are made and cars assembled – that might provide a somewhat accurate estimate?


    • Lindsay Wilson

      Links to the three studies I used to reference the manufacturing emissions are in the report. At the end of the day vehicles have a global supply chain. Lithium comes from Chile, Australia, China . . but the primary driver of emissions is process not transport. Here’s the study: I’m not aware of a list of assembly locations, though it may exist

    • Randy

      Nissan leaf battery and car is made in Tennessee (some battery materials come from Japan, a lot of Leaf materials come from Japan)

      Tesla Model S battery cells are made in Japan, packaged in California, and majority of the car’s components are North American (Canada or USA) and the car is made in California

      Volt battery is made in Michigan. Car is built in MI. I think some cell material comes from Korea, not sure.

      I think that the new Smart EV is different, but I believe last one was made in France and the battery cells made in Japan, assembled in France, probably…

      Most lithium comes from South America. There is only about 9 pounds of lithium in the Leaf. As far as I know, there is only one lithium production operation in the United States. I dont think there is any production/mining in Canada, not sure…

      A gasoline vehicle has a lot of heavy medals, expensive metals (like platinum), and rear earth elements. These often come from China. The Model S and Chevy Spark EV do not use rear earth elements (although the touch screens may have some in it, if it is capacitive, then likely does)

      The batteries are fully recyclable and will likely be used in NA for grid storage after the battery is replaced. Then the batteries will be recycled into new batteries.

      EVs dont require transmissions, emissions equipment, ICEs, oil changes, filters, and many other bits. That is a LOT of savings. Lithium does not make up much of the battery. Over the life of the battery, it would take many times more (think over 100x) motor oil to run a conventional ICEV than it would take lithium to make that EV battery… And that battery will be reused then recycled.

  • Ricardo Fraguas

    Thank you very much, Lindsay. It is very clear. More than ever, let’s generate clean energy at home, let’s push the eradication of fossil fuel use for energy production and promote renewables. when driving, let’s drive electric.

    Best R.

  • gasdive

    You’ve included the CO2 generated in the manufacture of the electricity when you compare petrol cars with electric. Why then have you not included the electricity required for the extraction, transport, refining, transport and dispensing of petrol for petrol cars? Given the revolting stuff that crude oil is and the lovely clear pure liquid that petrol is, it’s got to have a fair bit of processing. Paper which is just wood ground up with water and then rolled flat uses 7 kWh/kg. The lowest plastic is twice that. So conservatively 7 kWh/litre (a bit less than a kg so slightly more than paper and much less than plastic). The Leaf has a 24 kWh battery that takes it 160 km. My petrol car uses 16 litres of fuel to cover the same distance. That’s 112 kWh of electricity to refine (ignoring extraction and distribution) the petrol to cover the same distance that the leaf covers on 24 kWh. To say as you do: “Using coal powered electricity electric cars do nothing to cut emissions” is simply, and obviously wrong. If you include the extraction (from some miles down) and the various pumping that occurs into and out of tanks or through many km of pipeline, (much of it as very viscous crude) then you’re even *more* wrong.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      I do the full life cycle for both. It’s all shown in more detail in the study

    • Randy

      It depends on the oil, but I read that the best “conventional oil” has about 7kWh of electricity in it per gallon of gas, while the worst case scenario, tar sands oil, is about 22kWh per gallon of gasoline. But its hard to find good sources for the amount of electricity it takes to refine and transport oil and its fuels…

      • Lindsay Wilson

        The figures in the report are made using conventional oil. If you add in the amount of tar sands oil the equivalent MPG figure jumps by 3 in the US

    • Lindsay Wilson

      I have included the full lifecycle for both the gasoline and electricity pathways. Please see the report

      • gasdive

        I read the full report. You use the figure of 0.46 kg of CO2 per litre of fuel production and distribution. You keep that as a fixed level for all fuel production regardless of where it’s refined. I’d suggest that 0.46 kg of CO2 per litre is far too low. Your figures are that in India 300 g of CO2 is emitted to make 211Wh of wall electricity. So you’re saying that to make a litre of petrol in India requires less than 324 Wh electricity. I say “less than” as there are other carbon emissions related to fuel refining that are not electrical in nature. Can you point to *anything* that would indicate the amount of electricity required to refine and distribute fuel is so low? It’s hard to say for sure as the oil companies are very coy about revealing the amount of electricity it takes to refine fuel. However figures are available for other products. Paper takes 7kWh/kg which is about 20 times more than your figures for Indian fuel production. Plastics like PVC (more similar to petrol than paper) has about 21 kWh/kg or about 65 times more than your estimate. I’d have to guess that fuels come somewhere between paper (ground up wood soaked in water and rolled flat) and PVC. I’ve worked in an oil refinery and while I wasn’t privy to the amount of electricity it used, the power lines that came into the plant were huge high voltage transmission lines bigger than the ones that serve large towns. I feel the figures you’ve used (which admittedly were not yours) are absurd. The Fawley refinery in the UK has it’s own power plant with a capacity of 135 MW. They don’t use it to toast chip butties.

        • Lindsay Wilson

          I’m using figures based on meta studies of numerous lifecycle analyses across different countries. Yes, these figures will vary across refineries and countries, but the variation isn’t too large. I can’t see the point in using kWh metrics when a whole literature of lifecycle analysis is available. So many of the energy inputs are non-electric

          • gasdive

            I’m not following how you can have a whole essay on how the amount of carbon emitted by an electric car varies depending on which country it’s in but you then say of carbon emitted due to the electric inputs into oil refining (at least 50% as large as the electric inputs into electric cars but more likely more than 100%) the “variation isn’t too large”. I agree with you that “many of the energy inputs [to oil refining] are non-electric” but just the electric ones *alone* are at least a sizeable fraction of the electricity used for electric cars. I’m not sure how to phrase it differently and I’m just repeating myself now. “Petrol cars use at least 50% as much but quite likely much more electricity than electric cars”. If you’re going to count the CO2 used in the production of electricity for electric cars, you should count the CO2 used in the production of electricity to make petrol. Your figures appear to show the CO2 released directly during the refinement of oil but neglect the CO2 produced to make the electricity used to refine the oil. Randy’s figures below of 7 kWh/gallon (we can assume US gallon given him calling it “gas”) equates to around 2 kWh/litre. For a country using coal that’s about 2 kg of CO2/litre of fuel, 4-5 times your estimate of 0.46kg/l.

            Looked at another way, the 2 kWh needed to make a litre of petrol will run an electric car about 10 km. That’s about the same as the distance a litre of petrol will drive a car. So no matter how much carbon is needed to make the electricity, the petrol car will be at least the tailpipe emissions worse than the electric. That’s even before you add in the 0.46 kg of non-electric inputs.

            I agree whole heartedly with your website, what you’re doing, how you’re going about it. The only detail I disagree with is that you’re far too soft on the emissions from refining petrol for petrol cars.

          • Lindsay Wilson

            I take your point about the variation that would result from differing locations of refining, that’s fine. My point is simply that when I looked at a whole number of upstream lifecycle analysis for gasonline from DEFRA, LBNL, EPA . . . there wasn’t much variation in the figures. My understanding for that is that many of the inputs are for extraction, or not electric, and that the refining variation isn’t too great. From what I could see much more variation resulted from whether it was conventional or tar sands oil. When I see multiple lifecycle analysis from different independent government bodies around the world in close alignment I’m not going to spend my time deconstructing them

          • Lindsay Wilson

            I looked a little more, it seems that majority of refining energy inputs are non-electric by products of refining, eg gas and coke. That may explain why I found limited variation

          • gasdive

            I’m going to split some hairs, please don’t take it as a critique. I just want to nail down the figures.

            I now get what you mean. Given that most of the CO2 generated from refining a constant, coming as it does from the oil that’s being refined, the differences between locations should not be *as* important as they are for electric cars.

            I’ve read through the link you provided but I can’t find a point where they talk about imported electricity. I can see at the end where they say gasoline has 20g of CO2 emission per MJ well to pump (fig 4) which equates to about 0.6-0.7kgCO2/litre of petrol.

            During the introduction it says that 80% of the energy required for refining comes from the feed stock. The 20% remaining is 4-7 times more than the figures that you’ve found in the paper. It also says that oil refining consumes 7% of the total energy budget of the USA. So the electricity consumption should be 20% of 7% of the total US energy consumption. Yes?

            Current US energy consumption is 25 155 TWh (2009). 25155×0.2×0.07 is 352 TWh or 3.5×10^14 Wh. The USA consumes about 5×10^11 litres of fuel per year. 700 Wh per litre.

            So for fuel refined in India or Australia that’s 995 g of CO2 per litre in *addition* to the 700 g per litre that comes from using feedstock to drive the refining. Wow, the CO2 released by making the fuel is twice the weight of the fuel!

            When it comes down to it I’m nit picking.

          • Lindsay Wilson

            There are some bizarre assumptions in there. I’ve seen refining emissions figures from 5-13 g CO2/MJ. The variation is not coming from electricity, it is coming from flaring practices and efficiency. For example Fawley refining emissions are 10% lower than Coryton largely due to the CHP at Fawley. Flaring practices (or lack of) are a big deal

          • gasdive

            I’m clearly not explaining myself clearly. Here’s someone else’s explanation

          • Lindsay Wilson

            I’ve given concrete data from proper studies, this is just so waffley. It varies from place to place but generally such a large chunk comes from their own plant, using the gas from the fuel itself. That’s why the figure are far more consistent than people expect

          • gasdive

            Hmm, I took the figures and studies you used and calculated 995g CO2 per litre of fuel made and you considered the assumptions “bizarre”. I didn’t make any assumptions, I calculated based on *your figures* and showed my calculations. (much less CO2 than any back-of-the-envelope comparison with similar industrial process would indicate) It seemed you weren’t following the calculations and thought I was assuming things. So I linked to a simple explanation. Which is that when you actually go to an oil refinery there are giant power cables feeding the plant. Then it’s “waffley”. The long and short of it is that if you actually visit oil refineries (as I have) you’ll find that vast amounts of externally supplied electricity are consumed in the refining process. True, some plants generate on site from gas. That gas could have otherwise been used for load matching in an electricity system that has a high percentage of renewables. So not only is that electricity not being used for normal electrical tasks, it’s worse. It’s being wasted on this rather than allowing a stable grid that has very high renewables. We’re going to need that desperately if we’re going to transition off the system where we just generate enough coal power to cover peaks in demand and throw the unused power away at times of less than peak demand as happens now. So the situation is that the electric vehicles use off peak power from coal that would otherwise be generated and *thrown away*. By using power that would have been thrown away in any case, they add no “extra” CO2 to the atmosphere. In contrast petrol vehicles use electricity that could have been used to manage peaks. Without that demand power available, much more electricity has to be actually produced beyond the electricity that’s consumed in the production of the petrol.

            While some plants use the gas, other plants either flare it away or use it in other products and bring coal fired electricity in to run the plant. That’s what the plant I worked at did. It seems that’s what the plant that Robert Llewellen visited did too.

          • Lindsay Wilson

            Fair enough, I was a little loose with my wording. If you recall I did actually go back a dig into the numbers a little more based on your concerns. In the figure I checked the vast volume of electricity being used was generated from the oil itself (in the 90% range I think). That was in the US. Then I checked some UK figures for three refineries and they were all in the ballpark of my figures. I don’t know what more I can do. I do think it is an interesting point you have, but I really couldn’t find much fault in my data and I compared it to many different sources. I would have changed it if I did. No offense intended. Lindsay

          • Lindsay Wilson

            Oh, and the question of how the electricity of EVs matches the average grid is a really big one I’ve had many discussions about since publication. Some people tell me that it is electricity that would have been wasted elsewhere, thus EVs can improve intensity by manage load. Others insist EVs are adding to the grid and hence should only have the intensity of the load following sources. Obviously its mixed. Personally I think managed well they could be a god send for the grid and renewables . .

          • gasdive

            I think you’ve done a great job. I said that at the start and I still think that. I also think that the oil companies are a bit strangely coy about the actual consumption. Figures seem a bit odd and they’re not keen to clear them up. Does “onsite” generation count or not. It’s not immediately clear to me if it should or not. It’s not clear if onsite generation is or isn’t included in the figures that do exist. The refinery I worked at abandoned onsite generation as they could buy coal fired electricity cheaper than they could make it themselves. That’s not going to be the case everywhere.

          • sib

            Totally agree! The electric car is probably even greaner then we think. The emissions from charging your battery(imo even using coal power) can’t possibly be as much as burning a whole tank of gas. I mean you could use a small power generator(using gasoline) and if you you could covert it to the right voltage to charge an electric car battery….how many time over do you think you could charge that battery with the equivalent of a full tank of gas? Probably many time over.

        • markpetersonii

          Best back and forth I’ve ever read online! So composed and there weren’t any personal attacks. Amazing. People can be civil online.

          • Level Minded

            So true!

          • Alan Fitzgerald

            Not really when both parties are in the same camp. They basically agree on the main tenet that electric cars are green they are just debating the fine detail.

          • sib

            It’s seems logical. The emision from burning a full tank of gas can’t be lower or equivalent to the emission from charging your battery on the electric grid….even if it uses coal. When using hydro, nuclear and other cleaner sources of energy, a gas car can’t even compete as far as emission goes. Anyone trying to convince you electric car are the same as gas car are either working for the oil industry or have read the bias report sponsored by big oil.

          • SpringerRider

            you failed to go back to the plant and determine the total emissions. There is no free lunch. Electricity suffers considerable losses while be transmitted from power station to car. Increased nuclear power means more nuclear mining and more nuclear waste (that is an emission). Solar and wind power have tremendous side-effects are extremely inefficient.
            Remember, when you are talking about a world conversion, you are talking about rebuilding (or building) the entire grid (tremendous emissions here).
            Cherry picking the facts you like that support your position is not science.

          • thick head

            Your point is well taken. However, centralized the use of fossil fuel for electricity generation provides a greater opportunity to capture the emission and process it – or even create usable byproduct like graphene. However, decentralize the use of fossil fuel will make carbon capture impossible.

        • Arthur

          Your logic and math has a fatal flaw in it. I would tell you what it is, but since you have decided to deceive everyone here…you already know what it is.

          Thank you for giving us another reason to cut all BEV and green energy subsidies.

          First thing we should eliminate is Nuclear Energy.

          • gasdive

            I have an elegant proof that you’re wrong, sadly the margin is too small to contain it.

          • Kameko Bruns

            Why would you possibly want to eliminate nuclear energy? It’s literally one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy possible.

            Use of nuclear energy has saved an estimate 2,000,000+ lives from air pollution related deaths.

            So long as you don’t build a square reactor or place the reactor in a level 3 or 4 seismic zone, you’re golden.

            If we really wanted clean, sustainable energy, nuclear is the absolute best option and with space launches becoming cheaper and cheaper, dealing with their mess is easy. Just shoot the waste into the Sol, the huge freaking furnace in the center of the solar system.

          • GlasgowDave

            Radiation is natural and it comes from the Earth. The idea of returning it to the Earth (deep geological storage) is a reasonable idea that avoids the risks of a space rocket malfunction.

          • Kameko Bruns

            Granted. The “space rocket” thing was admitedly a bad idea. You got me there sparky.

          • Gary

            You might think that launching a rocket loaded with nuclear waste into the sun is no big deal, but fact is, it is not. To hit the sun directly requires that a rocket be launched in the opposite direction as Earth in its rotation around the sun, and at an equal speed, which is about 18 miles per second. This is more than double the speed needed to get to the moon, and I’m sure you have seen how big a rocket is needed to do that with a payload of only a few tons. Multiple the amount of fuel need per pound to hit the moon by maybe 4-5 times to hit the sun. I’m pretty sure there must be lower-energy trajectories that can be calculated that can utilize gravitational assists from other planets, but probably only by some nominal percentage. It still won’t be cheap by a long shot.

          • Matthew

            Just shoot the waste into the Sun? It’s the heaviest matter on Earth, the most expensive to shoot away from the Earth. There’s also a lot of waste, so many shots would be required. Even today a significant percentage of shots out of orbit explode and crash back to Earth – carrying nuke waste would be catastrophic.

            Nukes are already too expensive when their full costs are counted. Like in NY, where Indian Point is finally being shut down after running twice its designed lifetime, leaking radioactivity into its highly populated area – including the Hudson River a couple dozen miles upstream from NYC. That plant’s owner just made its first public disclosure that the cleanup site will remain too dirty for any new occupants for at least 60 more years, making a century of lethal filth on those hundreds of riverfront acres. And we’re all expecting that duration to just extend as more truths are known. Counting that, plus all the nuke subsidies, including insurance that no private bank has ever been willing to cover, nukes are much more expensive already than wind and solar.

            Those are the safest and cleanest forms of energy we have.

          • Kameko Bruns

            Literally nothing you said is even remotely based in reality. Seriously, where do you assholes come up with this nonsense.

            “Even today a significant percentage of shots out of orbit explode and crash back to Earth – carrying nuke waste would be catastrophic.”

            What the fuck are your talking about?

            As for Indian Point, no such disclosure was made. Indian Point is being shut down because Cuomo wanted it shut down. Nothing more. What Cuomo doesn’t tell is that due to this forced shut down, we New Yorkers are now going to have to buy our power from natural gas powered plants.

            Which will also have to be imported from other states since Cuomo also effectively banned fracking.

            We New York City resident already pay the highest rate outside of Hawaii and you’re posting thing nonsense bullshit?

          • Matthew

            1. Even manned launches failed 0.79% in the past 20 years; 6.68% of unmanned launches failed (not much lower than the 8.08% of them since 1957).
            Those are *significant percentages* when considering whether to launch nuke waste along with them.

            2. The US nuke waste you casually suggest launching into the Sun weighs well over 76 thousand tonnes.

            Launches even just to Lunar orbit, forget “straight into the Sun” cost over $100K per Kg. That’s far more than $7.6 TRILLION, even if 6.68% of the launches didn’t explode.

            3. The largest “heavy lift” rockets carry up to about 25 tonnes, but only into Low Earth Orbit; even Geosync Transfer Orbits take 1/2 or 1/4 that payload. Plus the nuke waste will be packaged, perhaps shielded/etc, so at least 100K tonnes. That’s at least 3000 heavy lift rockets, probably more like 30,000 of them. At 6.68% failure, that’s over 2000 failed launches carrying nuke waste.

            3. At the current rate of unmanned lauch failures, well over 5 million kilograms of nuke waste would ride failed launches. Even a tiny fraction of that exploding or crashing inside the US is unacceptable.

            4. Con Ed’s 2016 profit was $176M, 6.5% of its revenue, $64 per ratepayer.

            5. Indian Point’s decommissioning will take at least about 60 years, like other nuke plants do. Entergy says not to expect any other development on the site until that’s over.

            6. NYC gets gas from outside NYS in pipelines. It also get electricity from a large grid extending beyond NYS, including new lines down the Hudson from Canada. So what? NYC has also already replaced something like 25% of Indian Point’s peak generation with reduced consumption, a trend that’s accelerating.

            Those are the facts. There are other facts about you, the way you attacked me with no facts – but some lies and baseless, obnoxious insults. Those are left as an exercise for the reader.

          • Kameko Bruns

            You are such an idiot.

            Superman scooped up all the worlds nukes and tossed them into the sun so obviously it can be done.

            By the way, it fun to see how easily you manipulated.

          • Matthew

            Oh, so you’re nothing but a troll.

            It’s always amusing that you trolls think that getting us decent people who are interested in an actual discussion to actually discuss something with you somehow is bad for us. *We like it.*

            All you did was prove you’re a troll, beneath contempt, and give me the excuse to explain to the readers of this thread how big a problem nuke waste is. Oh, and you proved you’re nothing but a troll.

            How did you grow up missing the obvious part at the end of all stories, fantasy and real, where the evil little impotent snot shows themself the fool by getting the normal person to be true to themself? The part where everyone laughs at you because all you can do is troll, while the rest of us are real people.

            I’m glad it was fun for you to “manipulate” me into showing you’re wrong, that you’re nothing but a troll. That’s the only solace trolls have: their fun in being a troll. It’s a booby prize.

          • Kameko Bruns

            Dude. Not my fault the stick is so far up your ass you can’t handle a little humor.

          • Matthew

            Only trolls like you think the sticks they shove up their own ass in public is “humor”. It’s just being a worthless dick.

          • Kameko Bruns

            And apprently you don’t have a fucking clue what it means to have a stick up your ass, you uptight, ignorant fucktard. May try figuring out what it means before you respond again?

            Or just keep looking like the raging arrogant asshole you clearly are.

            Which ever.

          • Matthew

            You are the steaming pile of clue what it means to have a stick up your ass, troll.

          • sib

            Oh i get it…you are a useless troll! Good on ya!

          • Matthew

            If you really cared about this discussion and its global consequences you would have posted whatever “fatal flaw” you found in the logic and math. Instead you posted something impossible to argue with, that gives no one any value. It’s merely some kind of ego gratification.

            Most probably because there is no fatal flaw. You’re either just handwaving without actually finding any flaws or your own disagreement has fatal flaws you’re afraid to have debunked.

        • Level Minded

          Can I just say I am impressed with your knowledge. You should go work for the EPA. Oh wait… 😉 good work as I would have no response but the article failed the “smell test”.

        • Daniele G

          100% agree with you! People deliberately underestimate the amount of electricity required to bring / refine oil from extraction to the pump

      • guest

        I agree with your approach and that is how it should be looked at. pls share the report.

      • gasdive

        Lets look at it another way. The Fawley Oil Refinery has it’s own power plant that makes 135 MW. That’s 1.1×10^12 Wh per year. Divide by 211 gives you the number of electric car km that it could charge. It’s 5.6×10^9 km. The average car in England drives 8200 miles or 13000 km. That means that the power station that refines oil could if used to power electric cars instead cover the needs for about 400 000 electric cars.

        It produces a million gallons of motor spirit per day. At 20 mpg that’s enough to cover the needs of just under 900 000 petrol cars.

        So looked at that way, if you assign any CO2 to electric cars you really should assign at *least* 50% of that figure to petrol cars on top of their tailpipe emissions. If you do that you can’t say that in the worst countries the CO2 emission of an electric is similar to a standard car because the electricity used to refine the fuel for the standard car has itself emitted far more CO2.

        • Randy

          Over a third of a barrel of oil goes to things other than fuel though…

          • Stephen Garner

            yes, but 90% of oil is burned.

        • Guest

          I must say, I really enjoyed reading both your inputs to the discussion. It is too rare that I actually find something enlightening and civil in the comment section. Props.

        • Alan Fitzgerald

          The point of an oil refinery is to separate the different fractions so petrol is only a small part of the production, so this is not a reasonable allocation of carbon

      • Arthur

        Don’t worry Lindsay….if you took a closer look at gasdive’s favorite BEV, you would need to cut the efficiency by at least 80%, on average.

        Gasdive knows about all the immense BEV efficiency losses, but because he could care less about the environment he decided to deceive you.

        • anonim1979

          It is “could NOT care less” /grammar nazi
          Food for thought: do you say “I could agree more” if you agree with someone in 100%?

          • Matthew

            I find that people who “could care less” about that grammar also don’t care about the facts they’re arguing about, and are usually factually wrong too.

    • Krez

      Since you’re pointing out that the study did not include the emissions related to petroleum extraction and refining, do you think the manufacture figure for electric vehicles includes the mining and refining of heavy earth metals for batteries? I’d be interested to see any estimates of the emissions related to that process.

      Disclaimer – I didn’t read the full report…

      • gasdive

        Much fuss is made of the rare earth Niobium magnets in the electric motors. In actual fact the main use of Niobium is not magnets for motors but steel for petrol cars. Battery chemistry varies, the cells in my Zero electric bike are actually non toxic and don’t contain any heavy metals at all. The article you linked to contained a factual error in nearly every single line and deliberate muddling in the remaining ones. Refuting everything would take pages, but it’s basically twaddle. I’m not the first to think that about the author of that article. Though the Ministry later quashed the findings, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty cited him for

        Fabrication of data;
        Selective discarding of unwanted results (selective citation);
        Deliberately misleading use of statistical methods;
        Distorted interpretation of conclusions;
        Deliberate misinterpretation of others’ results.

        • Anti Lord Kelvin

          He tried his nasty agenda again—elon-musks-electric-cars-arent-about-to-save-th/
          But the most I see such articles the most I think that Tesla is doing well (and the timing of this last article about Tesla is the prove of that they are panicking with all these reservations for a “niche” car technology).
          More and more, these guys (that are supposedly intelligent persons) are becoming the Lord Kelvin of our time, denying the obvious, like Lord Kelvin (a very intelligent and a great scientific of his time) denied the possibility of flying machines heaver than air, X rays, radio waves and evolution.

      • Jim Balter

        No remotely honest person cites the WSJ on energy issues … and Bjorn Lomborg is well established to be evil.

    • sundayDX .

      and how about taking into account rare metal extration in your battery content… ? Transformation and transportation techniques for that highly reactive metal? You can’t get away with your electric car, in this battery, there is… plastic…

      • Anti Lord Kelvin

        There is no zero emission thing, even us, we consume oxygen and produced CO2. It’s true that some metals that are needed to make batteries are not easy to work with, as cobalt and nickel for example. But, their production and transformation are very local…and their transportation is not so difficult than oil and gas, by far. Extracting oil is a poor efficiency process, transporting it is costly and dangerous (pipelines are thousands miles long with costly leaks and a lot of electric pumps to make it go through the pipe, with even the necessity of heating it in extreme cold climate, but oil tankers can be a very big pain in the ass for oil companies to, when they have an accident and leak all their oil and jeopardize hundred miles of coast and all the economic of one region. And you can’t forget when this oil is extract at sea, the dangers are huge, both for workers and for the ocean life. Not to speak of all the taxpayers money invested in trillion dollars wars to control some oil rich region and all the american soldiers dead for that.
        To come back to the batteries, when they end their work as a car battery, they are put in houses and commerces to used as stationary storage for some more long years, then, at the end of their life time, almost all their material is recycle to make new car batteries. But do you haven’t see recycled oil? No, because it burns in your car engine, and you have always to put more, which is all benefit for the handful of oil majors companies that control the market. They had makes us so addicted to their dirty product that they are always going to our wallet, and we like it!

        • Gen Eral Richh

          Beautifully analyzed !

        • Dls2k2

          >>But do you haven’t see recycled oil? No, because it burns in your car engine, and you have always to put more,<<

          You must own an old oil-burning clunker. 😉 Automotive engine oil is routinely collected (we take the car in for an "oil change") and recycled for various uses, including being re-refined back into engine oil.

          • KilonBerlin

            motor oil you change… I do not know, but I think motor oil could be recycled, but the costs would even at 150 US-$ per barrel higher than new oil I guess.

            A usual plastic bag sold by German discounters contains 40ml of crude oil directly, I think transport (even the almost no-weight bags need to be transported), also in the petrochemical complex electricity is needed to produce the PET or whatever plastics are used…

            I guess the bags will be added to trucks which have much of heavy load… so 60% can be very heavy load and 40% can be easy load… heavy is for example every product in glass…

            but I do not know if most of the motor oil is consumed?! In East-Germany the Trabant had first a demand of 1 part of motor oil and 33 parts gasoline, later models were improvied to a 1:50 mix… it was burned the normal way… largest threat for energy companies:

            On 1. September 2016 in Germany the production of the Halogen lamps which are only ~20% more effective than “Edison”-bulbs have a production ban… I will go buy some since I have a energy flatrate (very lucky, with this desktop PC I could not pay energy otherwise, we pay more than 3-times the US average (including Alaska and Hawaii…),

            but of course oil products are recycled… recycling oil (to produce PET bottles) or collect the bottle and recycle it… where is the difference? In both cases oil is saved…

            Cars mileage is soo good now that really only a complete new fleet of tens or hundred millions of motorized vehicles can bring demand heavily up, natural gas is the winner of the 21st century I would say, or for the first 25 years at least, Electric-Cars boom (look at Tesla Motors! If I would have money I would have bought shares long time ago),

            but the energy needed for transportation (now oil, a bit natural gas and Ethanol/Alcohol) is soo extreme, Europe and North America alone would need to add far over 100 strong power plants, almost all powered by natural gas, a few by coal in Europe and US, and in Canada maybe even a few ones by heavy oil (like the power plant which wanted Orimulsion from the Venezuelan Orinoco belt, but Venezuela did not produce it, it was a trial about it, but Venezuela is done, even if they would have won, which they did not I think, Venezuela can not pay back anything, its collapsing, only the increasing oil price (OPEC “freeze”) gives them a hope and they need to invest, they have soooo much oil, most heavy, but wayne… they need to produce….

        • sundayDX .

          oil is recycled, indeed, we call it photosynthesis, transformation of co2 to o2…( all the real dangerous gaz emissions are virtually eliminated except to the warmup period of the emission control system in cars). something plants and basic life forms in the ocean needs. To come back to batteries, there is almost no forms of recycling whatsoever. And third world countries where some of those rare earth materials are found, populations and workers are getting exposed, increasing cancer diseases in those population and other neurological sickness apparitions.

    • sundayDX .

      it takes 6 kilowatts to charge a leaf. This, load on the grid, must last at least 8hrs from a depleted charge level to a full charge. This means, it takes 42kW.Hr, just to mention, If by any chances, you are lucky and live not far from work, you’ll spend two days without having to fully charge it. If you then charge it at least 15 times on a monthly basis, you will have spent 630kW.Hr.

      Then, let’s do an estimate, if half of NYC would drive Nissan Leaf, no, not even, let’s do a conservative number of 3 millions Nissan Leaf, of commute transit and normal uses. What would it take to supply those uses enough electricity to charge them? let’s do again, playing with numbers- 630kWhr times 3 million. This means 1890 MWhr only for a small 3 million cars.

      Do you think New york has the power distribution to supply this load? Do you think cop wires, substations and distribution transformers will be able to locally supply each clients, this much current without any major impact on their electricity bill? Let’s be honest, and scale things a bit before fuses blow and before shutdowns occur.

      Yet we, did not talk about life duration of those li-po or li-ion batteries that aren’t what you did not even covered yet in your comment. Do you have any experience with laptop batteries, cell phones, or even tablets? If your initial distance is 160kms in perfect conditions, after 4 years, of charge and discharge cycles, it will be no better than 60% of that ideal life condition. And yet, we did not speak about energy density and how improved from the industrial era in the early 20th century, over what are the otto cycles engines today. From 20 litres to produce few kilowatts, to basically, 1400cc to produce 140hp. Back in early 80’s, some engines with 5000cc were producing a basic 150hp or less. Now 2000cc’s are enough to largely be much more powerful than back then.

      So we improved a lot, since the engineering of the 4 cycle internal combustion engines. But your argument of supply chain is maybe valid, but you have to scale things a bit, If we replace all the petrol engines with electric cars, you will face some MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES, from ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION, all the way to your HOME.

      And on a much funnier note, if your car is digging 16 liters to cover up 160kms, I strongly suggest you to replace it.

      • gasdive


        Most places use a system where electricity is charged at different prices at different times, so cars will be recharged when the electricity is cheap and demand is low, at night. Even without the financial incentive to charge at night, as you pointed out, you’re at work all day. The car will just naturally be charged at night when demand is low. There would be no major or even minor infrastructure issues at all. As I said, most places offer a time of use option. NYC is no exception. ConEd offers off peak electricity at 1.34 c/kWh so if you did have an electric car it would be worth your while to switch to time of use rates. If you drive the average of 33 miles per day then your total fuel bill for a year would be 59 dollars to drive 12000 miles.

        Your figures are also way out of whack. You dropped three orders of magnitude in the calculation you did. The Leaf has a 24 kWh battery not 42 kWh. The average US commute is 33 miles (most NYC residents would travel far far less by car, but we’ll take that anyway). That would use less than 12 kWh. There are only 1.8 million vehicles registered in NYC, not 3 million. So that’s 22 000 MWh per day. NYC draws 160 000 MWh per day. If 22 000 MWh (14%) drawn at night when demand is normally down by 50-70%, causes the network to collapse it’s got much bigger problems than electric cars.

        Additionally, the oil refining side of the Bayway refinery draws 175 MW, 24 hours per day, even during peak times. Closing that (which I’d think you would) would cut the draw by 4200 MWh per day. Leaving only 18 000 MWh additional load on NYC. Only about 10% more than it’s current load and a significant cut during peak hours.

        As far as my vehicle using 16 litres to cover 160 km, I thought I was generous using that figure. The average US consumption for a vehicle of the same sort as mine (Average Fuel Efficiency of U.S. Light Duty Vehicle long wheelbase is 17 mpg ) would be 26.5 litres for that distance.

        • Dave

          It shouldn’t overload the grid but hat 14% is all residential where a big part of that daytime use is industry. Transmission is actually at least as difficult as generation (which is why transmission losses are high: saves money on infrastructure). For transmission strain you have to consider the particular circuits in use so 14% is not the right way to look at it since much of the daytime use is on completely different circuits.

          I guess they might have to beef up some residential circuits a bit, but not drastically, and there will be some time to do it. However, do notice that there will be less reason for them to continue to discount off-peak use once it reaches that level. So you might need to adjust that discount rate up a bit..

      • Ray Rippey

        I actually have a leaf.. I don’t remember my electric usage, but the last time I checked it cost around $20 a month. I’m driving an average of about 800 miles per month. I’ve had it for 3 years and my battery is still at 100%. It takes about 4 hours to charge it completely if I run it completely down. At the charging station (We have them every 65 miles or less all the way from Seattle to LA), it takes less than 20 minutes.. but if I’m in a hurry I can get enough charge to get home in less than 10.

        When we replace most gas powered cars with electric, we’ll fill in the needs as we go.. just as we did when cars first came about.

        The electric car of the future will be completely rechargable on it’s own via solar paint (allowing it to basically run non-stop). The batteries will handle 500 miles or more, and will be able to be charged via plug-in completely in under 5 minutes. These things are in the R&D stages right now.

        • Gen Eral Richh

          BINGO !

          • Chris

            Billions of people around the world have stopped driving gasoline and diesel vehicles and now all use Electric. old cars, and wrecked vehicles start to pile up. Can’t put them in a landfill because of the batteries which you can’t recycle, and some of the plastics. Now where’s all that unusable waste going?

          • gasdive

            EV batteries are just about the most recyclable object made by humans. You can put them in landfill if you are so mad as to throw away such a valuable thing because they don’t contain toxic metals (unlike the battery in your petrol car). The battery in my electric bike is certified for the ordinary waste stream and the manufacturer claims you could, if you wanted, eat it.

          • Chris

            There is no battery in the history of humanity that can go into a land fill. Not one. Batteries will make pollution so much worse, acids will destroy underground water supplies and oceans will become more toxic. Complete soil contamination where nothing will grow for millennia. Don’t you even try to pass your BS facts off to me. There are no batteries allowed in land fills because they do not decompose or be recycled, the lead in them is toxic along with the acids. And if they’re using lithium oh well good luck then because prolong contact causes almost immediate symptoms of acute poisoning oh and make sure you don’t get it wet, cause you know, BOOM.

          • gasdive

            I’ve got into many arguments where the other side specifically stated that they’re going to ignore the facts. No good has ever come of it.

          • foxmolder

            It’s amazing isn’t it? No wonder the world is so screwed, all one has to do is read the comments section on just about any website to see how embarasingly clear it is.

          • Craig

            Billion of people, really, I didn’t know there were that many electric vehicle in existance.

      • Martin Winlow

        Er… right. Not!

        If you mean it ‘takes’ 6kW of electrical *power* to charge a LEAF, well that’s wrong as it’ll happily charge all the way down to about 400W (2A). It will also charge at up to 50kW.

        If you mean it takes 6kW-HOURS (6kWh) of electrical *energy* to charge a LEAF, then that’s wrong too as it actually has a 24kWh battery pack.

        Really, I should not bother responding to your nonsense any further but I see you go on to confuse power and efficiency improvements of ICEs when even the very best of today’s ICEs only achieve a paltry 30% efficiency compared with the 98%+ efficiency of the best electric motors. I fear you need to do a bit more research.

        Whilst I am at it though, consider this:- I have a small EV (a Mitsubishi i-MiEV) which I use for my 45 mile/day commute. I also have a 1.2kWp PV array on my garage. In the first year of its use, the PV array generated fully 2/3 of the electrical energy used by my EV. Consider also that the array is less than ideally situated, from a shading perspective, and that 45 miles is more than 50% more than the average daily car mileage here in the UK. It would not be unreasonable to believe that a better situated 2kWp array would easily satisfy all my motoring needs which, if combined with adequate battery storage, would make me effectively ‘carbon neutral’ in this respect.

        • Bob Coco

          If you take your i-MEV to work, how do you charge off solar during the day? Your math doesn’t add up unless you work at night. I too have solar but I’m at work all day when the sun is out so I can’t use it. Solar is not practical as a charging source.

    • Érico Galindo

      Do a little bit of homework before writing protests like this. Biggest problem of clean cars are actually the abysmal short life cycle of their batteries. Li-ion batteries lasts at best 3 years and/or 1000 recharges. After that you have to dispose them, since they can´t be recycled, and buy more 200 kilograms of it worth over 10.000 USD (roughly 1/3 of the value of the car itself). While the production of LI-On batteries does not consume as much CO2 as the production of Petrol, the waste generated is the real problem, as they are highly toxic.
      I know this is a old post but the future is actually Fuel Cell cars.

      • gasdive

        Well that’s just factually wrong. The Tesla Model S has an 8 year unlimited km warranty on the battery and drive train. They’re completely recyclable and the valuable lithium can be (and almost certainly will be) removed and used in a new battery. While battery chemistries vary, they’re not “highly toxic”. The battery in my (4 year old) bike is certified for disposal in the general waste stream as “non toxic material” and the maker claims you could, if you wanted, actually eat it.

        Even if your claim of 1000 cycles is true, that’s 400 000 miles for a Tesla which is longer than the normal lifespan of a petrol car. Most petrol cars require replacement of the engine after that distance and that cost so much that I’ve never heard of anyone buying a new engine for a car. Occasionally an old engine is put in, but never heard of a new one. The actual life of some Li batteries (again varies) is around 6000 cycles. For the Tesla (I don’t know if they use that chemistry) that would equal 2.4 million miles of driving. Far beyond the expected life of even taxis. After that the battery can be swapped in 90 seconds. The recent version of my bike has a battery rated at 6000 cycles and a range of 150 miles. That’s 900 000 miles. I’d challenge you to find any motorcycle that’s covered 900 000 miles except bikes odometers don’t even register over 99 999 until electronic odos were introduced. Even taxis rarely break 400 000 miles.

        That doesn’t compare too badly with the life of a fuel cell anyway. For the ones you can buy today, you’re looking at about 100 000 miles before needing a new 40 000 dollar cell (figures from Daimler). So that’s less than 1/4 the life (even using your pessimistic figures) of a battery solution. Daimler charges 40 000 dollars for a fuel cell, and while Tesla is yet to sell one, they’re forecasting “less than a quarter of the cost of the car” so that’s about 20 000 (They were offering exchange for 12 000, but they think they’ll actually get the cost below that when the time comes). The much smaller Leaf pack, good for about 100 000 miles is $5500. So a 40 000 dollar fuel cell every 100 000 miles or a 20 000 battery every 400 000 (at least) miles.

        Maybe they’ll sort the problems of the fuel cell car out and maybe they won’t. The thing is that right now, I can walk into a shop and ride/drive out with a battery vehicle that will do everything I need/want and I can fill it anywhere including my garage. Right now there are 12 H2 stations in the USA and none in my country at all. In comparison there are 8 EV fuel stations within my current line of sight as I sit in my lounge room with another maybe 200 million of them in my country and well over a billion in the USA.

        • Biel_ze_Bubba

          A billion fuel station in the USA, eh? That’s about three per citizen, so I guess we’re all set for quite a while.

          • gasdive

            I did say “at least”. I’m sure that there are more than 3 power points per person in the USA. I’ve been to your country. Have you been to mine? (or any other country for that matter)

        • yellowdogdemocrat

          Dude I don’t know what you’re smoking but it’s obviously not helping your credibility. Now I didn’t count the EV fuel stations on this map but as you can see, there are far less than a billion lol; And I can say with total confidence that there are far less than 200,000,000 EV fuel stations in Australia.

          • gasdive

            Well you may be confident but you’d be wrong. You can refuel an electric vehicle at any Australian 240V 10 amp power point (the standard household power point). That’s an EV fuel station. As I said, there are literally 8 of them in my lounge room that I can see without turning my head. The computer I’m typing this on is plugged into one. There are 4 in my garage one of which I use to refuel my EV. I could (and did) refuel at work. Read the whole thread. Érico Galindo was claiming Hydrogen Fuel Cells are the future. Trouble is that there are very few places to refuel them in contrast to electrics where you can refuel them in almost any building. Certainly every petrol station has a power point. That’s my point. The fuel stations are *everywhere* for electric and *almost no-where* for hydrogen (actually no-where in Australia).

          • Dave

            A petrol station having a standard plug outlet is useless. Who is going to sit for hours at a gas station?

            Teslas get about 3 miles/kWh on a good estimate. A standard wall outlet in the U.S. is fused at 15 Amps and it’s rare to design anything to pull over 12 Amps (for obvious reasons), so that comes to 1440 kW or 1440kWh per hour so about 4.3 miles of driving per hour of charging. If you have to drive a mile to get to the station, that already cost you 17 minutes of waiting. And if you’re planning to top off just enough to get home, which isn’t that far.. well I can walk home faster.

            Plugs are fine overnight or while at work, but beyond that you need actual fast charging stations, which certainly are not everywhere.

          • gasdive

            Well I can certainly understand if you don’t like waiting for the very slow fill on 110, but my point was that it doesn’t matter how long you wait for hydrogen. There isn’t *any*. If you hydrogen car runs out on the way home you can’t put fuel in a can. There’s no way to refuel it. Someone can tow it home for you but you can’t fill it at home either. They’d have to tow it to a hydrogen fill station. Which don’t exist in Australia. There’s only 12 in the whole USA

            The Tesla (that you brought up) also comes with a “dryer” plug in the US that lets you charge at 29 miles per hour. Most houses have a dryer plug.

            Oh, and I caught that snide remark about stealing electricity. My employer was happy to give me the 5-10 cents per day worth of electricity. There were a few trouble makers like you who tried to stop me from charging even after the general manager personally stepped in and said that EV use aligned with the company’s core values and needed to be encouraged. The Property Services Manager still tried to stop me charging. Amazingly he didn’t seem worried about the Coke machine that was plugged in the socket next to the one I used. It ran a big refrigerator and an illuminated sign 24/7, but that was ok despite using hundreds of times more power and being owned by another company. I really don’t know what you guys have got against electric vehicles. Their very existence seems to be some sort of personal affront.

          • Anti Lord Kelvin

            “I really don’t know what you guys have got against electric vehicles. Their very existence seems to be some sort of personal affront”.
            Any drug addiction is difficult to surmount and the addicted person will become very aggressive if he see someone or something that can eliminate the source of their drug. Oil addiction is a very powerful one.

          • Qantum Ice Breaker

            @antilordkelvin:disqus I am not sure if some folks understand the big picture beyond, how about letting the EV technology mature just about 1/2 as it has for gas engines…Regardless, competition is good, and if anyone feels uncomfortable, take aspirin for headache.

          • brec

            “The Tesla … also comes with a “dryer” plug in the US
            that lets you charge at 29 miles per hour. Most houses have a dryer plug.”

            My U.S. Tesla Model S came (Sept. 2015) with three plug adapters, but none is a “dryer” plug. One is a NEMA 14-50 plug adapter. Many owners get 240V 14-50 outlets installed in their garages; they are fused at 50 amps and deliver 40 amps, which yields 29 mi./hr.

            Dryer outlets are fused at 30 amps and deliver 24 amps, which yields about 17 mi./hr.

          • gasdive

            Oh ok. Sorry I mis-understood the weird and wonderful world of US household plugs.

          • Peter

            The 14-50 is probably better described as the “RV plug”.

            An electric dryer plug adapter is available to buy.

      • Retty

        As well as GasDive’s points, bare in mind that the battery could also be re-used for non automotive uses once it’s lost a load of it’s capacity. A leaf battery at 24kwh for example would be fairly unusable in the car once it goes down to say 15kwh, but would be perfect for taking a solar powered house off the grid and being used to cover the nights.

        I’m not up to speed with the latest Fuel Cell cars tech, but for 20 years it’s been 5 years away, and I can’t really see the benefit when you compare to a Tesla. Also I’d imagine that recycling the cell would be a nightmare.

      • Martin Winlow

        Do a little homework yourself!

        There is ample empirical evidence that modern lithium-based batteries are barely degrading at all, even with regular rapid (high-power, DC) charging.

        As for (hydrogen, I assume) fuel cells and CO2, don’t make me laugh! Don’t you know that nearly *all* H2 is currently made from natural gas? And why on Earth would you want to make H2 when you can use all the electricity used to make it 3 times more efficiently directly in an EV?

        • Timothy A Clawson

          Lithium-based batteries not degrading? Then how come I keep seeing used Nissan Leaf and Tesla batteries popping up on E-Bay? Why are people cannibalizing good batteries and selling them for premium prices? Something doesn’t make sense here.

          • Peter

            Tesla batteries on eBay? No shit! There’s no possible way they’re just selling it as a usable part from a crashed vehicle or anything!

      • Anti Lord Kelvin

        I think you are confuse about car batteries and cellphone batteries…

      • Peter

        > Li-ion batteries lasts at best 3 years and/or 1000 recharges

        LOL come on, man. This is completely refutable bullshit. The first Teslas are still bumming around and their battery longevity is actually much better than expected:

        23 miles of range loss for every 100,000 miles driven.

        Fuel cell cars will never take off. Better batteries are the way forward.

    • Overture33

      If your petrol car is only getting 10km to the litre, then you are driving a very poor car. My VW diesel gets just over 24km to the liter.

      • gasdive

        The average in my country (Australia) is 7.3 km/l so I’m not driving a “very poor” car. I’m driving a “better than average” car. I’m also driving a *petrol* car, which isn’t a *diesel* car.

      • Anti Lord Kelvin

        I hope VW will give you something to compensate all their cheating with your car…

        • gasdive

          And as it turns out he wasn’t actually getting 24 km/l…. My 10 l/km was actually measured over 50 000 km rather than drawn from the imagination of VW

    • Retty

      • GGOO

        Thanks for posting this. I’d rather ignorantly been in the “the electricity you charge your car with isn’t green, bozo” camp without considering how much electricity is used to refine oil. You’ve managed to change a stranger on the internet’s mind. Take a gold star

        • gasdive

          GGOO, somehow I missed your kind words! Thanks for that.

    • aniptofar

      I’d like to know what roads you ride on but a lot of that naturally produced juice is used in building roads.

    • Arthur

      Why are you deliberately omitting so many other inefficiencies of battery electric cars, and yet you seem to have a magnifying glass on petrol? Sounds to me like it is all political for you and has nothing to do with the environment.

      Batteries degrade at about 5% for every 20,000 miles and will typically not last past 100,000 miles. A good Honda or Toyota is still a teenager at 100,000 miles. Anyway, you should deduct 10% efficiency for average battery degradation.

      Unless you live in a perfect 60 F climate, temperature effects on BEV efficiency are huge…50% loss in 20 F climate and 33% loss in 95 F climate.

      Perhaps you can also tell us how many tens of thousands of gallons of water need to be evaporated to make just one Tesla battery?

      Water Vapor is our #1 Greenhouse gas.

      Actually, if you want to talk about global warming from a scientific point of view and not the illogical political point of view, you have to make the heating of the world’s water supply as your #1 focus. Nuclear power is the greatest water heater ever created by man, resulting in ten times more heat being dumped into lakes, rivers, seas and oceans per kWh than the next competing power source. I can drive my Ford F150 pickup without heating up any lake or river or ocean.

      Indonesia produces more CO2 by burning vegetation than the entire oil and gas industry.

      I can go on and on….but the bottom line is… BEVs are a great big lie, and the simple fact that the 88 MPGE rating on a Tesla by the BEV loving EPA does not include any of the unavoidable inefficiencies that affect the process of getting that e-juice into the battery speaks for itself. The battery charger itself is a 10% loss.

      • anjanson

        ”will typically not last past 100,000 miles”
        There are tons of Teslas still on road with over 100’000 miles going strong… and batteries are improving each year.
        ”Unless you live in a perfect 60 F climate, temperature effects on BEV efficiency are huge…50% loss in 20 F climate and 33% loss in 95 F climate.”
        Again pure BS based on old early 2000s tech… Tesla maybe loses 50 miles of range in 20F and probably less in 95F.

    • humpidumpi

      why are you comparing small leaf with a fuel hungry petrol car? You know most cars today that are of the size of a leaf are in under 6L per 100km area.

      Also, to get the 24kwh into your battery you lose 20%. From outlet in the wall to a spinning engine 20%. Plus you lose a few over wires. Plus you lose from the coal/gas burning in a power plant.

      So, guess what, from fossil fuel to engine electric cars are equal to gasoline cars. What you win by more efficient burning at a power plant you lose by transporting electricity over wires and through a battery before it’s used.

      There are calculations on the internet, from fossil fuel to rotating the engine. The efficiency is… exactly the same.

      • gasdive

        Ok, we’ll use your 6l/100km car (and to answer your question, I used my car because I know it. It’s a 2009 build, it carries the same number of people as a leaf and has about the same luggage capacity, it seemed like a fair comparison. I’ve never driven, and as far as I know never even seen a car that actually gets 6l/100 km. That’s less than a Smart ForTwo Micro Hybrid uses and that’s rated by the EPA as the most fuel efficient two seat car sold in the US at 6.5 l/100km combined cycle)

        So, redoing the calculations above, with 6l/100 km. A petrol car uses 9.6 litres to cover 160 km. At 7 kWh/litre to refine, that’s 67 kWh.

        Now assuming the leaf uses 24 kWh to cover that distance, and taking your figures for losses (which I don’t agree with), that’s 24 x 1.2 or 28.8 kWh.

        So your (imaginary) petrol car is still using more than twice as much *electricity* as an electric car. The losses in the wires apply to the refining of petrol, just as much as they apply to the recharging of an electric car, but even counting them for the car and ignoring them for the refinery, the electric car still uses far less electricity than the petrol car.

        Don’t like that comparison? How about a Tesla P100D. It has 100 kWh and that takes it 289 miles. (460 km). It’s blisteringly fast. 0-100 in 2.8 seconds. Few supercars can match that. It’s quicker than a McLaren 12C. It seats 7 in comfort, real adult size seats. Huge luggage capacity more than twice what my car carries.

        Your imagined econobox would drink down 27.6 litres to cover the same 460 km. That would take 190 kWh to refine, nearly twice as much electricity as the giant Tesla suupercar would use. Even if you say the supercar would draw 120 kWh to charge, it still uses less electricity than a tiny econobox petrol car that would probably fit in the luggage space of a Model X.

        • humpidumpi

          you forgot that coal needs to be mined, that’s moving earth, employing people, transported to power plant, burned there at low efficiency, then the energy transported through power grid losing 10%, then it loses from wall to wheels another 20%… At best you get 35 units out of 100 of energy left of what’s burning up in a power plant.

          There are hundreds of models that use under 6l of gas per 100km, just google it yourself.

          The biggest problem are batteries. Tesla weighs 400kg more than an equally sized ice car (Lexus IS for example).

          When they fix this problem, and it’s at least 20 years away, then we can move on. But ICE cars won’t sit idle, there’s a lot of progress that can still be made, so add another 10 years until that cross happens.

          • anjanson

            But ICE cars won’t sit idle, there’s a lot of progress that can still be made
            Sure, more complexity to add to the ICE engines so they break down more often… for 5% performance gains. But we’ll see…
            And I don’t see where this ”20 years” for electric cars comes from. I bet in 2020-2022 somebody will build a car with Model S range for 20 000 bucks or so. Add to that better and more efficient battery and even if recharge to 100 mile range still asks for 20 minutes or so at Supercharger, people will switch over in droves…

        • Rusdy Simano
    • ERR

      Another item left out of the equation is the CO2 released during the mining of lithium for the electric car batteries.

      We need CO2 or earth will look like Mars.

    • SpringerRider

      and that coal just popped into the powerplant?

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  • guest

    It all depends on what is the source of electricity and what is the boundary/scope.
    If we talk about the total life cycle impact of an electric car it will not be as green as we think. Of course if the electricity is generated using renewable energy sources then the impact will be much less.
    The answer lies in the tapping the solar energy which is the ultimate source of energy in the universe.

    • Randy

      Geothermal and nuclear power both use non-solar energy. And the sun is only good at giving our solar system energy, not the whole universe… But EVs are the best vehicles on the road.

  • Randy

    Using coal powered electricity electric cars do nothing to cut emissions, using natural gas electricity they’re like a top hybrid and using low carbon power they result in less than half the total emissions of the best combustion vehicle, manufacturing included.

    STRONGLY disagree. They DO cut emissions. An EV in the US on 100% coal still puts out less CO2 per mile than the average car, for one. Two, you are ONLY looking at MPG. If a large city goes electric, then the smog problem likely disappears with the ICE. No more oil spills. No more gasoline is spilled at the gas station every day. There are a LOT of benefits to EVs. The grid is getting cleaner, oil is getting dirtier as we head toward oils like tar sands. And countries with high levels of coal usage have low emissions standards on cars. This means an EV will save a lot of smog and other non-CO2 emissions.

    This is because we have accounted for both a greater manufacturing footprint and lower lifetime mileage in an electric car.

    That makes no sense. EVs are virtually zero maintenance and can last MUCH longer than an ICEV. The battery may be replaced in over a decade, which should increase range significantly, last longer, and the car will keep on going. The batteries are fully recyclable and can be reused for grid storage. EVs should last LONGER than ICEV.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Please click through to the report. The production of EV batteries is hugely carbon intensive using current practices. This may improve in the future, but its just a fact, verified by endless studies

      • Randy

        The “and lower lifetime mileage in an electric car.” was what i was strongly disagreeing with.

        • Lindsay Wilson

          This is a standard assumption for these studies. If you want to assume longer lifetime milege you then have to account for the manufacturing footprint of a replacement battery, or a much bigger battery (tesla)

          • Randy

            The cars will not be scrapped when the battery is replaced. That battery will be reused then recycled too. EVs should last longer because they do not have all the complex internal combustion engine bits that start going bad.

          • Lindsay Wilson

            Sure. But the new battery has a footprint of about 5t CO2. Hopefully this will get better with the likes of tesla going after their manufacture

          • Randy

            And that battery will have a full life, either as a source of energy for the car, or as storage for something else.

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  • lauralouise90

    I’m so glad you’ve wrote this – I’m pretty on the fence when it comes to electric cars or standard battery cars but it does frustrate me how both parties are very black and white in why their way is better…. nothing is ever black or white, the very nature in how people drive is different so emissions for example will always vary from person to person!

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  • JakoAnoniman

    While this CO2 newspeak is all so amusing, could someone please explain why a new battery for a Nissan Leaf costs me (and the unsuspecting tax payers) US$100 per month of a battery replacement program, which is equivalent to 700 miles or so in a normal car, charging not included. It runs for only ~50,000 miles between changes, if you are gentle on the pedal.
    The paper cited in your report says that “Li-ion battery plays a minor role in the assessment of the environmental burden of E-Mobility”, but at battery cost this high … not so much. It is comparable to the fuel cost for the same mileage, yet without recharging.
    CO2 or not, money-wise your calculation sucks. Big time.

    • Emil Skogli Fosshaug

      batteries suck, hydrogen fuel cell cars look more promising, their testing them here in norway atm. chemical batteries is just ugh

      • LynnnDeee

        promising is the keyword. someday, fossil fuels will be obsolete. that will be a long time from now. liberals act like the technology is already perfect.

  • ManaMoffa

    It doesn’t matter what the power plant uses to produce it’s energy.
    Electric energy is lost in it’s transfer , making the entire processes wasteful
    You’d have to produce your own electric energy via solar and wind to make it “green”
    Just as important, regardless of how much gas you use in your hybrid, costs are not reduced when you include your electric bill.

    • Keith D.

      That’s not even close to true.

      • Vance Morgan

        Except, for the fact that it is absolutely true. “Greenies” and climate alarmists have substantially larger carbon footprints than the average person that drives an SUV every day.

        • Thats..

          ..a stupendous generalisation to claim with no sources or even further detail. So vague, in fact, that it couldn’t possibly be true itself.

        • Jim Balter

          What’s absolutely true is that the science deniers are ignorant liars.

          • LynnnDeee

            you just created pollution by writing your comment because you used electricity produced with coal.

    • ThisNameInUse

      “Electric energy is lost in it’s (sic) transfer , making the entire processes wasteful”

      Ooh, I see what you did there. You highlighted the fact that no process of energy transformation is lossless, while cleverly dancing past the much bigger factor involved. Which is that electric motors are much more efficient at turning the battery’s stored electrical energy into kinetic (movement) than ICE’s are at turning the chemical energy in gasoline into kinetic energy. That’s where EVs make their efficiency gains.

      Your check from the Koch Brothers should be in the mail by morning. I think you also get partisan political points for the comment, assuming you vote with the party that has an intravenous feed of cash coming in from the oil & gas industry. That would be the GOP, in case you’re not aware. $26 million and counting in this 2014 election cycle alone.

      Well done!

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  • Scott Dee

    The Earth and ourselves are pretty much hosed in the near future.
    No government is acting with due respect for the present situation.
    Since underdeveloped countries will be the first to suffer famine in the next few decades, it could easily be construed a humanitarian crisis sufficient to start a war-
    to curtail emissions globally and save a large amount of humanity.
    We in our country will see it through our grandchildren’s eyes…

  • James Shirley

    Very thorough report, however Nissan has its own ‘unbiased?’ report pegging the Nissan Leaf at 40% less C02 than a comparable petrol car (in Japan).

    Your report stats its 0% in Japan, both at 175g C02/km?

    I haven’t read the details however though it worth a mention…

    • Lindsay Wilson

      No real contradiction I can see. They are comparing to a comparable petrol car in the same class (not a top hybrid). Also the Japanese grid has become more carbon intensive lately with nuclear closures. Finally it looks like the use 100,000 km for both vehicles, whereas I assume the EV does fewer than the petrol or needs a replacement battery (upping the manufacturing footprint)

  • Kevin Jackson

    It is very well established now that: electric cars that run off coal based electricity are roughly equivalent to a small, economical gasoline powered car; an electric car that runs off natural gas based electricity is roughly equivalent to a hybrid; and an electric car that runs off a solar panel is almost totally clean.

    That being so, I am sick of hearing “Zero Emissions”, it is just not true.

    • ThisNameInUse

      Man, you beat the heck out of that strawman. Where did you get him? Can I get one like him? I’d love to punch at something that can’t punch back and then feel really big.

  • Kevin Jackson

    This article didn’t debunk anything.

    I am really tired of misleading headlines.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      It’s a response to the ‘Dirty little secret’ myth, best articulated by the Lomborg article linked to at the start of the article. It tackles the realistic stats on manufacturing and power emissions. Clearly the headline is fishing for attention, but I would argue it does do some serious debunking of those two persistent myths about EV emissions

  • litesp33d

    But what about the biggest cost to running any car that kicks the other calculations out of the arena. The one everyone ignores when doing these calculations. DEPRECIATION.

  • Michael

    I don’t like thinking complicated about things. To me it doesn’t make much sense to charge batteries of electric cars when not even 10% of the US electricity is “green”. Why don’t you first make the grid green and THEN think about electric cars? It would be much better if people would drive less in more fuel efficient cars. And consume less. Keeping all these trucks on the road is part of the economy (well, until we change something) but it won’t help reducing CO2.
    Back to the cars: Am I missing something by thinking that it would be more efficient to use green power for the electrical grid instead of electric cars?

    • ThisNameInUse

      You’re putting the cart before the horse. I put my house on wind energy credits, so it is driving more turbines to be installed. That will be my “juice” after we buy an EV.

      • notoptimistic

        Did you get an energy audit done on the house, air seal it, beef up insulation, and replace the windows and doors with Passive House standard ones? If not, you are wasting some 30-80% of the wind turbine energy. I’m not being a jerk (tho I know it sounds that way). Conservation is our best source of green energy. The average US house wastes 30-80% total energy.

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  • georgevoll22

    “Give an electric car the right juice and it crushes combustion engines.” Give a diesel the right fuel and it will crush an electric, give a gas vehicle the right fuel and it will crush the electrics.

  • falstaff77

    ‘Electric cars have higher manufacturing emissions than normal cars.Read more at

    Several of your posts/articles *assert* this is the case, but I don’t see anything reference/data behind it. Yes the battery requires mfn energy that a combustion vehicle does not require, but then the CV requires water/oil/fuel pumps, fuel/oil filter, exhaust system, 250 kg engine block with hundreds of components, firewall, starter battery, starter motor, 4 or 5 gear transmission, large cooling system (100 kw at least), differential, oil/fuel tanks, on and on.

    I’d be surprised if EV’s came out 10% more energy expensive, instead of less, to make, but double? Nah.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Hawkins was updated with a corregendum after a lot of valid critiques, I used their updated figure. I don’t necessarily assume the vehicle will only do 150,000 km necessarily. But the per/km runs about the same with a replacement batter at 150, then lasting till 250. I’ve read a lot more studies than the three I quoted in the report and I was very comfortable with my assumptions. In most cases the EV without battery manufacturing emissions easily eclipse the standard drive train, despite the seemingly simple setup. I do however expect it to come down in the future and for the batteries to have an afterlife. Hence the inclusion of the sensitivities. Lindsay

      • falstaff77

        “In most cases the EV without battery manufacturing emissions easily eclipse the standard drive train, “

        Emissions based on what driver then? Take away the battery, the e-motor, and the vehicle is no longer an EV. How can the chassis (?) have more emissions for mfn than a loaded traditional combustion drive train? Low mfn volume for the existing EV models?

  • DJ

    Ya the battery is shipped to and from 6-10 nations on a freightliner. It only lasts 5-10 years if you don’t use the right pedal, and it’s almost entirely made of plastic (petroleum?). So it pollutes like crazy when it’s made, it pollutes like crazy when it’s shipped, and it pollutes the worst after it dies and is buried. Green movement = the new home for extreme socialism.

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  • Bill Williams

    •2.4 pounds
    of CO2 are produced with each gallon
    of gasoline refined.

    pounds of CO2 are produced when each refined gallon of
    gas is burned.

    •A total
    of 21.4 pounds of CO2 are released into the atmosphere for every
    gallon of gas consumed.

    the gas must be shipped and driven to the pumps everywhere!

    is already delivered to more places than gasoline.

    gallon of crude oil contains about 38.6 kWh (132,000 BTU).

    •A gallon of gasoline
    contains about
    33.7 kWh (115,000

    5 kWh are lost in the refining process.

    average of 4 miles or more per kWh is common among EVs.

    motors are over 90% efficient.

    combustion engines are only 25-30% efficient, the remaining energy is lost
    mostly to heat.

  • RB

    Its always so convenient that the folks who go to such great lengths to write stuff like this leave out the footprint size of the ship that brings the cars half way around the planet from where they are built. Sure, the largest one on the planet can haul around 3000 cars at a time…but they go no more than 5 INCHES for every gallon of petrol they consume. Given that, my 20 year old gas guzzling F-250 that was shipped to a dealer on a train 1500 miles away still has a much smaller lifetime “carbon footprint” than any of these so-called green cars. I’d be willing to bet none of them will still be on the road in 20 years, which means yet another whole car made and delivered to replace it….while the F-250 plugs on endlessly….

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Container emission are 0.015 kg CO2e/ So even if you are shipping one from from Japan to the US it is just a month or two’s driving emissions, it barely figures. Container shipping is a comically low carbon way to move anything. 100 times lower carbon than air freight and 10-20 times lower than trucks. What does a F-250 get, 15 MPG? That’s 5t for each 10,000 miles, almost enough to cover the manufacturing (an shipping) of something that can do 50 MPG. But hey, the real green vehicles are bicycles. Even EVs can’t touch them

  • Gregg Hardy

    Hi Linsday, thanks for putting this analysis together. I was just having this debate in Portland, Oregon with some colleagues over a beer. I had speculated that the manufacturing emissions were about 5 tons, so I’m glad to get sourced data from this report.

    Figure 1.2 is clear to me, but I get a bit lost in Figures 2.1 and 2.3. In figure 2.1, I’m used to MPG indicating fuel consumption only, but I assume that the values in 2.1 include manufacturing emissions based on your discussion of Paraguay below the figure. The figure might be more clear if you state that it factors mfg emissions in the discription of the figure.

    I’m a bit lost with Fig 2.3. I was expecting to see a breakdown of gCO2e/km for a petrol equivalent of the Lief (e.g. Honda Fit in the US), but it appears to be a chart that shows how you might map petrol emissions against the total gCO2e/km calculated for electric vehicles.

    Given that petrol has about the same gCO2e/km in all geographies (I think), the chart I would like to see is Figure 1.2 with the addition of a Honda Fit reflecting actual mfg emissions (40 gCO2e/km) plus actual emissions from petrol per km. Then one could make a direct comparison in a single figure.

    I hope my feedback is clear. Pardon me if you have already responded to this feedback below. I haven’t read all of the comments.

    With respect and gratitude for your work,

    Gregg Hardy

    • Lindsay Wilson

      It’s been a while 😉 2.1 and 2.3 are the same data really. 2.3 shows how its breaksdown of 2.1 essentially. All figures in the whole report include manfacturing, combustion and fuel production, to make it a full comparison. The labelling would indeed have been better. If you are interested in the fit just got to the comparison of energy use later in the report with the performance of the fit.

      I use the MPG equivalent so people can see how electrics compare against different petrol vehicles and good hybrids at around 50 MPG. It is similar to how the Union of Concerned Scientists displayed their numbers but I include manufacturing. They have state based emissions for the US, Portland should look pretty tidy with all that hydro?!

  • dlylis

    There are a three sides to this discussion. First, we have the footprint generated by the manufacture of the vehicle. Second, we have the footprint of the owner of the vehicle, and third we have the footprint of the vehicle itself. When I discuss this subject I most often discuss this from the standpoint of the vehicle owner as the argument is usually centered around an individuals ability to lessen his or her individual carbon footprint.

    Each is obviously tied to the footprint of the manufacture of the vehicle. The reason I have segmented this discussion is that the subject often comes up that the footprint of the manufacture of an electric vehicle is larger than the footprint of an internal combustion vehicle.

    The most confusing part of this discussion is the footprint of the owner of the vehicle.

    Lets look at it from this standpoint. Generally speaking, it has been said that the manufacture of the vehicle represents 28% of the total footprint of the vehicle (and this is very important), over a 100 thousand mile life of the vehicle. This is arguable, but for the moment, let us accept it.

    Now, let us take a vehicle owner who buys an electric vehicle, drives it 20,000 miles and trades it in for a new one. That an electric vehicle is going back to the market with low mileage is highly likely given the limited driving range, and the limitations in recharging. The footprint of the manufacture of the vehicle is being amortized over a much lower mileage meaning that the vehicle may be green, but the owner is very much not. In fact, he or she may be better off driving a 5.0 liter Mustang for 15 years. :)

    • Guest

      Ok, but your assumption is absurd. Why would someone trade in his car after driving 20,000 miles, considering the theoretical lifespan of the battery is 2.1 million miles (6000 charges x 350 miles/charge)??!!

      • Carl Borrowman

        What current model EV battery is capable of “6000 charges x 350 miles/charge?

        As for who would trade in their car after 20,000, my guess is it’s not mostly trade in’s, but rather leased vehicles at the end of their lease going back on the market.

        However, this isn’t a bad thing at all, as people who could previously not afford an EV can now afford a used one (e.g. there are several Leafs available in my area for around $11K).

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