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Do Teslas Produce As Much CO2 As Gasoline Powered Cars?

Tesla assembly line

Teslas may not be any greener than their gasoline counterparts, research from UK-based climate data provider Engaged Tracking has suggested, based on data about the CO2 emissions linked to the production of a Tesla and also the emissions from fossil fuel-powered power plants that provide the electricity for charging the vehicles, The Times reports, citing the research company.

While most EV statistics come up favorable for the EVs, Engaged Tracking used a different approach. Instead of looking at the emission generated over the lifecycle of the vehicle, they looked into the total emissions generated during the construction of a Tesla Model S as compared to the comparable data for a gasoline counterpart.

Teslas are not cleaner to run than the average car in the UK. “The annual emissions of a UK car is 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide, based on an average of 7,800 miles a year,” the research firm’s chief economist told The Sunday Times. “Both the Tesla Model S vehicles we analysed have the same emissions as an ordinary petrol car of 1.5 tons of CO2 per year.”

The expert, Jonathan Harris then went on to compare Tesla Model S to the BMW i3, which produced less emissions, at 1.3 tons of CO2. Tesla rightly objected to this comparison: the BMW i3 is a much smaller vehicle than the Model S.

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On the other hand, Tesla said, if the Model S was compared to an equivalent gasoline car, such as the Mercedes S-Class S500, it would do a lot better, with the Mercedes emission level almost 300 percent higher.

Indeed, Tesla said, “It makes no sense to compare Model S to the average annual emissions figure for cars in the UK, because that average includes a lot of smaller models that are dissimilar to Model S.”

Any emission comparison studies between EVs and gasoline cars can be disputed based on the approach and data used. In this case, it’s interesting why Engaged Tracking chose to go with a famous headline-making luxury EV rather than with the best-selling EV in the world, which is the smaller Nissan Leaf.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • muahaha on June 26 2018 said:
    This is laughable; gigafactory has solar panels as well as the batteries are indefinitely recycleable with no loss of capacity. Is gas recycleable after its been thru an engine? You guys must be scared if you're running this tired premise. How about comparing the S to a similar vehicle, a large and extremely quick vehicle.
  • SCJA on June 26 2018 said:
    It's probably a bad sign that no articles "reporting" the findings of the Engaged Tracking report show the report itself. As just one issue, I'm curious about the claim that this report is somehow different because it took into account "total emissions generated during the construction of a Tesla Model S." The Union of Concerned Scientists' report, which shows EVs averaging about half the total carbon emissions of an ICE over a 10-year lifespan, also took into account the greater emissions created in the EV manufacturing process. That report found that small EVs (like the Nissan Leaf) repay that carbon debt in about 6 months while larger, 200+ mile range EVs (like the Tesla) pay it back in an average of about 18 months. If this report casts doubt on the UCS' findings, it would be helpful to see exactly how the findings differ so that people could see which approach has more merit and which conclusion is entitled to greater weight.

    I'm also curious what grid composition figures were used (and from when) and what measures, if any, were taken to account for the fact that grids everywhere will be significantly greener in 10 years than they are today. We don't know the answer to that, though, because the underlying study isn't linked.
  • Mark Hensley on June 26 2018 said:
    Stop lying.
    An EV produces a minimum of 50% less pollution over its lifetime, and that includes manufacturing.
    This has already been proven.

    ICE are a dead future.
  • Mario Neiva on June 26 2018 said:
    Again this?
    Are we dusting old drawers and finding our old articles or something?
    This has been around forever, and still makes no sense. How much CO2 to produce electricity? Come on. Please work your some new ideas, this topic is getting tiresome.
  • John on June 25 2018 said:
    " In this case, it’s interesting why Engaged Tracking chose to go with a famous headline-making luxury EV rather than with the best-selling EV in the world, which is the smaller Nissan Leaf."

    Because then it wouldn't make EVs look bad...

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