Forget it France, move over Brazil. Paraguay is the greenest place on the planet to drive an electric car!

Looking for the ultimate green road road trip?  Paraguay is your destination.

That is the finding of our new Shades of Green  report comparing electric car’s carbon emissions in twenty of the worlds leading countries.

Driving an electric car in Paraguay results in 60% fewer carbon emissions than the best petrol hybrid, or 75% less than the average American car.

Can’t get to Paraguay?  Iceland, Mozambique, Nepal, Albania, Zambia, Congo, Ethiopia, Norway and Tajikistan are almost as good.  In each of these countries an electric vehicle has lower carbon emissions than one using solar power.

Electric cars with low carbon power lead the way

Most people understand that to make an electric car a green machine you need to use low carbon power.

In our study we include carbon emissions from vehicle manufacturing together with grid emissions from fuel combustion, fuel production and grid losses.  So it is a well-to-wheels plus manufacturing emissions analysis, comparing the carbon emissions of grid powered fully electric cars.

The results?  How the power is generated makes a massive difference.

For all of these countries vehicle manufacturing is 70 g CO2e/km.  In Paraguay the power to drive a kilometre results in less than a tenth of a gram of carbon emissions, but in India it is three hundred grams.  That is completely down to the fuel mix.

The legend to the right show whats happening.

Starting at the top there is a lot of coal use, towards the middle it is a broader mix with lots of natural gas.  In the dark green at the bottom nuclear, hydro and geothermal dominate.

In fact in Paraguay they have so much hydroelectricity that they have to export 80% of what they produce.

Comparison to Petrol Car Emissions

To help understand how these results compare to traditional vehicles, we converted the results for each country into an equivalent emissions petrol car using miles per US gallon as our metric (MPG). The results look like this:

The results speak for themselves really.

Once you start using low carbon power even the best new petrol hybrid can’t come close to an electric car in terms of emissions.

For Paraguay the equivalent emissions is a 218 MPG car.  And this figure skyrockets if you can build the car creating fewer emissions, batteries being the major challenge.

Sadly for places like India and China electric cars won’t help to reduce carbon emissions much until the fuel mix improves.

Check out the report for more technical detail, a breakdown of emissions and discussion of manufacturing emissions and diesel cars.

Lindsay Wilson
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I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.

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