When do electric vehicles become cleaner than gasoline cars?

By Paul Lienert

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If people are going to keep driving the same sized cars the same distances, is a "carbon zero" even remotely possible?

This study shows that that particular Tesla is better than than the regular Toyota Corolla (33mpg = 14km/l), but that Toyota is already obsolete in eco terms. The hybrid version of the Corolla, i.e., the same car with a different engine, gets 52mpg. Compared to the hybrid, the Tesla is not much an improvement even with a non-Norway-but-still-high percentage of renewable electricity. The real problem though is that people on their own going big distances in big metal boxes that weigh several tons is not compatible with carbon zero. They should be on an electric motorcycle or assist bike or public transport and/or should be working etc. closer to home. Tinkering with oversized cars and driving them the same amount is not going to reduce emissions to a level that the scientists say will be non-catastrophic.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Electric cars are nice, but private ownership of cars is always going to be a big issue. More widely available public transport, even gas powered, is going to improve things much more. Taking more and more cars off the road is way better than replacing them all with electric cars. I haven't driven a car in about 12 years and I don't particularly miss it, I would be honestly surprised if I ever drove one again.

You will have as much luck getting rid of cars in the US as guns though. Those are two things that americans place a weird amount of their identity in. It is only exacerbated by the sheer size of the country and the distance between literally everything that makes it harder to implement effective public transportation options.

Rural areas I get that it is going to be hard to implement, but bigger urban centers should go the Singapore route of heavily taxing private car ownership after they establish good public transportation. Unless you absolutely need one or are a hobbyist with a lot of disposable income, it is not economically feasible to own a car. Bonus of probably getting people to walk a bit more too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Very rosy estimates from Reuters which are misleading at best. A more accurate estimate of the break-even point would be around 120,000 miles (which also coincides with the warranty expiration for mileage on the Tesla 3, the lowest battery capacity one I believe).

The 12th of Never is the best answer to the title's question.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

EV's are probably as clean or if not cleaner than their ICE counterparts in terms of emissions.

I can't say that for their carbon footprint however.

Another thing about EV's is that they're fast. Really fast and powerful I will admit.

Despite this, not having the rumble of a big block V8, the banshee wail of an inline-6, not having the whoosh of a turbocharger, the whine of a supercharger or exhaust roar and vibration are my reasons to not make the switch to EV's. For me, driving (even a short commute) is a sensual experience that an EV does not/cannot provide.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That’s easy to understand and answer. Of course never, you need the same energy to move a heavy mass from place A to place B. Every other little details, differences in production process, car parts like combustion motor or batteries or other side effects don’t much play a role in the big general calculation of the whole global transport of goods and people.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have been saying this for a long time starting from the time first highbreed came out!!! Especially to salesmen when they try to sell me one of those cars...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Very few people are aware of how electricity is made. Instead of a smoking car, the chimney is smoking somewhere else. And there are extra losses along the way because the transmission of electricity is not even 80% efficient. What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't hurt.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Does the figures include replacement batteries during the car life ?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Azzprin, good question, the assumptions do not seem to take in to account all the environmental impacts of EV’s including the destruction caused by extraction of the lithium (not to mention child labour), the difficulty of disposing of the highly toxic batteries, or that a major part of the pollution from vehicles comes not just from the tailpipe but also from the brakes and tyres, both of which are considerably greater in EV’s due to their much greater weight.

That we ultimately need to decarbonise transport for a number of reasons not just the carbon footprint is undoubted, however EV’s are not necessarily the best technological solution, just the one that makes some people the most money at the moment.

Getting rid of cars is not the best solution, they give people a freedom that past generations lacked and we would go back to the wealthy can afford to travel where they wish while the serfs go where they are permitted. While I agree improved and more efficient public transport in urban areas is a good idea, that does not mean you take away people’s freedom. Cars do not need to be the massive behemoths they have grown in to, cars in the past were smaller and consequently had less environmental impact, we could easily reduce vehicle size, you really don’t need a Chelsie tractor in a city!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Interesting point about removing private vehicles. I took our public express bus downtown this week, 50 person bus had 2 riders, probably not eco friendly. No private vehicles would make for interesting economic and political changes, we may yet see it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Interesting and complete analysis, there are a lot of factors to take into account and most people never consider the topic seriously enough to understand the real meaning of going "carbon neutral" with their cars.

Still, trying to the best of your possibilities to pollute the less you can is always a good thing. Not everybody can use public transportation or bike to work daily.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well at least driving an EV will contribute to making the air that little bit cleaner in our cities. And anyway, renewable sources of energy are getting cheaper and more feasible all the time as technology and continues to improve. The age of petroleum powered automobiles is coming to an end and not a moment too soon.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is rarely mentioned is the disposal of depleted batteries in landfills.

Hydroxy-powered, water-fueled vehicles are the most eco-friendly transportation on the planet for cars and trucks. H-O-H is the sweetest spot Nature supplies and water is easy to obtain. See Knute's River: Water from the Air.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is rarely mentioned is the disposal of depleted batteries in landfills.

Hydroxy-powered, water-fueled vehicles are the most eco-friendly transportation on the planet for cars and trucks. H-O-H is the sweetest spot Nature supplies and water is easy to obtain.

See Knute's River: Water from the Air.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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