Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register
  • The latest TMC Podcast (#14) is now available on YouTube and all major podcast networks. We covered FSD Beta's exciting v11 update, Enhanced Autopilot coming to the U.S. and Canada, and more!

Tesla CO2 emissions for 1250 mile trip

Just did a road trip from Leavenworth, WA to Boulder, CO in our Model Y and decided to run some numbers on CO2 emissions vs flying or driving a hybrid Rav4.

TLDR is that due to coal power generation in Wyoming and Utah, driving a Tesla emits about 84% as much CO2 as a Rav4 and 80% as much as two people flying. If superchargers were all getting their power from say hydro like Idaho, those numbers would be more like 23% of the emissions from a Tesla vs flying or a Rav4.

Methodology was to add up all the KWHs from our supercharges for each state and multiply that by the average CO2 emissions per KWH for that state.

You can check my work here:
Tesla: Leavenworth to Boulder

This was mildly surprising to me. I think I expected about half the emissions, not realizing that coal was just so prevalent in WY and UT. I was also somewhat surprised that flying on this trip is not that bad and is basically even to driving even an efficient car for two people. Any more than two in the car and you get real benefits and if you are alone you are better off flying. Note that I tried to pick a like for like car, a Rav4 but these numbers show that you would emit LESS CO2 driving a new Prius than you would a Tesla Model Y, which I wouldn't have expected.

This also makes me doubly glad our home is powered 100% by hydro, so most of our miles emit very little CO2. But I'm not sure I would pick to do this trip in our Tesla again until the grid is cleaned up in the states on the way.

Anyways, just thought I'd share in case anybody found that of interest.
 
wow. you must be retired. I wish I had extra time to do something like this. Anyway, good observation and certainly the numbers will change depends on locations.
I think most people will consider how much they can save money and time when they plan for their trips, not how much CO2 emission they will produce during the trip.
 
  • Like
Reactions: thinktwice
The emissions per gallon appears to be tank to wheel.
The numbers for the Tesla appear to be plant to wheel, but excluding charging losses on those.
Yes, right! Do you have a good number for full lifecycle for US sourced gasoline per chance?

I wasn't sure how to account for charging loss, these numbers are from Tesla and I wasn't sure if they counted only what was added or the total pumped in. Looking more closely TeslaFi does have a used vs added and it appears the Tesla number is the added one. So would changing to the TeslaFi "used" number capture charging losses then?
 
I wonder about that flight calculator - there should be some variation between airplane models. United, among others, gives an estimate of their own on the booking page, though I wonder how accurate it should be deemed to be. Passenger load might also matter, unless they can load missing weight as freight. The other missing element here is the transport to/from the airport on each leg. This can be insignificant, or more substantial if the airport is 75 minutes from the destination, as it is for visiting my mom in Bend.

WY clearly is the problem on your leg, unless the SC sources from non coal. But using the state average does seem appropriate - if the SC uses any clean sources, the coal fills in the vacuum.

This is one of those examples where power isn't priced at the true cost, so there's no incentive for WY not to use cheap coal.
 
I wonder about that flight calculator - there should be some variation between airplane models. United, among others, gives an estimate of their own on the booking page, though I wonder how accurate it should be deemed to be. Passenger load might also matter, unless they can load missing weight as freight. The other missing element here is the transport to/from the airport on each leg. This can be insignificant, or more substantial if the airport is 75 minutes from the destination, as it is for visiting my mom in Bend.

WY clearly is the problem on your leg, unless the SC sources from non coal. But using the state average does seem appropriate - if the SC uses any clean sources, the coal fills in the vacuum.

This is one of those examples where power isn't priced at the true cost, so there's no incentive for WY not to use cheap coal.

Ya, I think there's a land of hand waving with flight carbon calculators. In theory the one I used takes into account the variables you mentioned but it does differ from the United number which is ~280 kgs for two passengers, which would further close the gap with the Tesla. As mentioned earlier I don't think the flight calculators take into account co2 emissions during extraction and refining so that should probably be 20% higher even in the most optimistic scenario.

Tesla did make some claims last year that all their superchargers would come from renewable sources:
Tesla says it will power all Superchargers with renewable energy this year

But I haven't heard more about that nor do I think that's the case currently. (not sure how they would even swing it in WY unless they had a solar/battery array at each).

I did update the numbers to take into account co2 for gasoline extraction (very very hand wavy) which puts the Tesla at a pleasing 67% of the emissions of a Rav4. I do think the KWH numbers I have there are indeed taking into account charging losses. (at least the TeslaFi numbers seem to match close enough for me to believe Tesla is charging what is going into the car, not just what is being stored) There are probably further losses in the AC/DC conversion though.
 

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top