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Does my Tesla create more CO2 than an efficient ICE vehicle?

XDriver007

Member
Feb 22, 2018
17
18
Phoenix, AZ
After learning of my Model X purchase, a friend of mine in the biofuel industry commented that my car "runs on the dirtiest fuel there is" (coal).

I know my electricity here in Phoenix comes from multiple sources so I did some Googl'ing and found the EIA website, which shows the CO2 lbs /mWh for every state in the US. An easy conversion showed that in AZ, my X was almost 3 times "cleaner" in terms of CO2 production compared to a 3rd row SUV of similar size, getting 20.5 mpg.

Given I now had a good data set and easy formula, I figured why not publish a calculator for others to use to compare EVs to ICE vehicles in terms of CO2 production.

So here it is, an EV CO2 calculator.

I hope it provides some value for other EV (or prospective EV) owners out there.

Thanks for having a look!
 

acoste

Member
Nov 1, 2018
742
361
California
After learning of my Model X purchase, a friend of mine in the biofuel industry commented that my car "runs on the dirtiest fuel there is" (coal).

I know my electricity here in Phoenix comes from multiple sources so I did some Googl'ing and found the EIA website, which shows the CO2 lbs /mWh for every state in the US. An easy conversion showed that in AZ, my X was almost 3 times "cleaner" in terms of CO2 production compared to a 3rd row SUV of similar size, getting 20.5 mpg.

Given I now had a good data set and easy formula, I figured why not publish a calculator for others to use to compare EVs to ICE vehicles in terms of CO2 production.

So here it is, an EV CO2 calculator.

I hope it provides some value for other EV (or prospective EV) owners out there.

Thanks for having a look!


That's a useful link, thanks for sharing.

One comment: it does not contain vampire drain. That's another 5-15% if one drives 14k miles annually.
Also add some loss due to charging efficiency.

The Model X may lose on CO emission in certain states (like Indiana) compared to a new small car, like the Toyota Corolla, 36mpg combined. But will be always better when comparing to the same category.

There are still developments on the ICE engine, for example this with microwave ignition that promises 80% cut on emissions: Ex-Porsche CEO tries to save combustion engine from scrap heap
 
Last edited:

XDriver007

Member
Feb 22, 2018
17
18
Phoenix, AZ
That's a useful link, thanks for sharing.

One comment: it does not contain vampire drain. That's another 5-15% if one drives 14k miles annually.
Also add some loss due to charging efficiency.

The Model X may lose on CO emission in certain states (like Indiana) compared to a new small car, like the Toyota Corolla, 36mpg combined. But will be always better when comparing to the same category.

There are still developments on the ICE engine, for example this with microwave ignition that promises 80% cut on emissions: Ex-Porsche CEO tries to save combustion engine from scrap heap

It's a good suggestion. I could pad the EV CO2 by a % or something but then I'd feel bad for not including other factors as well, like CO2 created mining/transporting metal for batteries, along with exploring, extracting, refining for fuel. I decided it was a rabbit hole and to keep it simple for now. :)
 

acoste

Member
Nov 1, 2018
742
361
California
It's a good suggestion. I could pad the EV CO2 by a % or something but then I'd feel bad for not including other factors as well, like CO2 created mining/transporting metal for batteries, along with exploring, extracting, refining for fuel. I decided it was a rabbit hole and to keep it simple for now. :)

I read a lot about this but it became way too complicated and my calc didn't match the numbers in the article it came from (see FT below).

Here is the study: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b00177
The equations are in the supporting doc: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/pstorage-acs-6854636/6054042/es6b00177_si_001.pdf

Financial Times made an article based on this. They came up with the calculation, see attached image. The trick is that they calculated this for MidWest that has the worst electricity mix.
 

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gnuarm

Model X 100 with 72 kW chargers
Aug 17, 2018
1,273
144
Tennesse and Mid Atlantic
That's a useful link, thanks for sharing.

One comment: it does not contain vampire drain. That's another 5-15% if one drives 14k miles annually.
Also add some loss due to charging efficiency.

The Model X may lose on CO emission in certain states (like Indiana) compared to a new small car, like the Toyota Corolla, 36mpg combined. But will be always better when comparing to the same category.

There are still developments on the ICE engine, for example this with microwave ignition that promises 80% cut on emissions: Ex-Porsche CEO tries to save combustion engine from scrap heap

The calculator requires a user input for Wh/mile. If you just entered the total energy consumption and the total miles, that would factor in all energy losses.
 
Sep 30, 2017
212
198
Calgary, AB
Those calcs will be evolving for years to come. But it seems if we are to look at dirtiest electricity production (coal) we should look at dirtiest oil production as well for ICE cars. Seems a no brainer to me EV wins easily.
 
Sep 30, 2017
212
198
Calgary, AB
Gas comes from oil. Oil is produced from greatly different CO2 levels depending on method (conventional, fracking, solvent recovery, SAGD, oilsands) and then also transport CO2 depending on region (Saudi, US, Canada) varies greatly. And then there are soooo many chemicals used in refineries. So technically we need to take into account all the chemical production/facilities when looking at the refinery. Gasoline is wayyyyy more intensive than lithium. Like crazy more.

To measure environmental impact is incredibly complex. Battery lifecycle is often talked about but those same people are yet to be heard mentioning oil spill effects/cleanup costs, ocean impact, and oil land reclamation (which is a dirty process).

To me it’s a non comparable. New age li-ion batteries are a win every time. Easily.
 
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