Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Let’s face it. Most electric cars are coal-powered.

Are electric cars greener than conventional gasoline cars? If so, how much greener?

What about the CO2 emissions produced during electric cars’ production? And where does the electricity that powers electric cars come from? Environmental economist Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, examines how environmentally friendly electric cars really are.

Thanks to Gabriel Rychert for this video.

24 thoughts on “Are Electric Cars Really Green?”

  1. It’s called “Virtue Signaling”

    You feel so good about yourself. You are letting others know that you are cool, hip, mod and environmentally groovy.

    You’re nothing but a sad, pathetic loser driving a whimp “car” and going way to slow down the road as well.

  2. I have also read that it takes 80,000 miles to break even on the CO2 emitted for the production and manufacture of the batteries.
    If the goal is to reduce CO2 emissions the greenies are a total failure.

  3. I think the problem is that the U.S. (likely China too) lives decades behind the rest of the world. Not every country has a badly outdated power system. Look at Europe. The Dutch rail network runs 100% on renewable resources. The German railroad is going there too. I know Germany is shooting for 100% electric cars on all renewable energy. It takes an investment in your own country to make things like this happen. Sadly that isn’t something that happens in the U.S. We spend trillions on wars and various wasteful endeavors.

    • I didn’t know that the Dutch rail network only works from time to time as anyone must know, there is no such thing as 100% renewable energy. As for the Germans – that will be no more than an aspiration that will never be achieved.

  4. “Renewable” energy. What a joke! Try making a solar panel with solar energy… impossible. Silica (sand) must be refined into Silicon and that takes huge amounts of natural gas in a furnace, several firings in fact.

    Those who proudly install solar panels are proudly and publicly showing their support for the oil and gas industry that makes their feel good “Rolexes on a Roof” possible. Unfortunately they aren’t sufficiently educated to realize their folly.

    • Some of us put up solar panels as a “noblesse oblige” duty to relieve pressure on our aging power plants. Around here, in the northeast, there has been no new plant approvals in far too long.

      I absolutely agree that plenty of people shell out the money as value signaling (what a stupid concept, really). But not everyone.

  5. The ONE thing everybody misses about electric cars is they don’t don’t pay any road use taxes …taxes added to fuel that I have to pay at the pump.

    How are electric and hybrid cars paying their fair share for road use taxes???? As I see it they are illegally driving on our roads that are financed and maintained via fuel taxes; they do not anti-up on anything.

    It time someone evicts them from road use.

    • Eventually the scalextric cars will have to pay their share. There is no other way. In the UK they urge people to have water meters and cut their bills by 50%. So everyone has a meter and pays half as much. Water company now has a shortfall of 50% in its income. Prices double.

    • In California we pay carbon taxes on our electricity (and other taxes) which make the average price 22 ¢ per kwh. This is roughly double the national average. I am sure the state can figure out how to transfer some of that over. Of course some of that cost is me paying to produce energy for free for those who install solar on their roofs so no longer pay for the public utility energy they use and need.

  6. It seems to me electric cars emit much more because you taking a lot of power out of the grid to charge up the car. Good gas mileage cars are just a good if not better.

    • They get around it by being low powered and slow for most of the cars. (Tesla fan cars for the rich excepted) The real reason a Prius gets great mileage is the 75hp gas motor. If I took out my 160hp engine in my Focus and put in a 75hp one – I would get similar mileage.without the battery nonsense. As for Leaf – the true mileage is 36mpg per gallon of gas equivalent – but they do some wacky math to pretend it is + mpg equivalent and they are underpowered and short range as well.

  7. the avg normal fuel vehicle should(or the older ones do) well over 20yrs use with minimal upkeep.
    the new versions arent that flash for longevity
    and the fibreglass RE minerals and tendency to pollute far more when the damned teslas go into flambe mode?
    let alone dead drivers..
    the fact they cant be put out unless the firebrigade get to it really quickly and carry special retardant
    normal cars recycl pretty well
    dont see these new NOT so green toys looking good there either
    as for road taxes yeah hear the squeals as they talk of trying to hit them for mileage travelled;-)
    but but im “special”
    err no buddy , only in the meaning of “special” in Aus doubling for idiot /dropkick/ thick as a brick/mentally challenged;-)

  8. It is correct to say that it takes a lot of energy to manufacture all autos. Gas or electric. The difference is in the operating costs and usages. How much fuel and other liquids like lubricating oil, brake fluid, coolants are consumed in the lifetime of the car after it becomes operational? How much does it cost the owner to keep it operational? My EV uses no oil for the ‘engine’ and no coolant.

    I am not green. I just enjoy driving my Nissan Leaf for local transportation. I still have my gas driven cars for hauling and long distances. The electric car is thrilling on the takeoff and speed on the freeways is not an issue. The instant 480 volt electric motor torque can easily spin the wheels on the takeoff and will out accelerate most standard gas driven vehicles in the short distance. It is crazy quiet as well. It does not cost a lot of money to charge it at home. About $2.49 to give me a full charge which in turn gives me sufficient energy to comfortably reach about 80 miles. That is a huge savings when it comes to energy consumption per mile. These results may vary, depending not only on the efficiency of the EV you’re driving but also where you are living and when you’re charging it.
    Battery replacement? Yes, I had it replaced once but the 7yr warranty paid fully the cost. It uses lithium batteries like we use in our cell phones. What kind of battery warranty do our phones have?

    Again, I am not green and as long as we are able to use our efficient gas driven cars, I will have one but I am not going to turn my nose up at the EV world just because it’s not gas driven. The technology is improving every day both in the battery world and the electronics it drives. Look at how far we have come from slide rules to miniaturized ‘computers’ in our cell phones in just a few decades. It is mind twisting.

    Like most of you though, I agree it is wrong to try and squeeze out carbon usages. As long as it is available, we should be using it in any way to make a better world. I also am enjoying our other electrical world and some day it will be much more efficient to produce….and use. I like our chemical world as well as so much is being tapped into to better our lives.

    I just wish they’d look more into bug guts which is near impossible to remove from our cars and create some kind of supper glue or protectant.

      • Lol. Huge exaggeration of course. If I lead foot everywhere, I might get 60 miles on a full charge but then lead footing in a gas driven car has the same issues. Worsening mpg.

  9. There is a car developed in France called the AirPod – it runs on compressed air – cheap to make and no batteries (no need to replace them either). It will never set the world alight for performance but will do the job of getting you from A>B.

  10. I looked at a hybrid Honda accord several years ago.

    Cost $6,000.00 more to save an estimated 2 to 4 mpg. Even at $5.00/gallon, the payback period was more than my lifetime.

    And the battery pack would go by around 80,000 miles. When I asked if they replaced it as part of the purchase price, they laughed at me. Cost several thousand to replace.

    And 2/3 of the trunk was lost to batteries.


  11. An electric train is green. How? Overhead electric wires supply power. But in general these trains come into their own on busy suburban routes in mega cities like London where I live, hence the ‘tube’ LOL, and ‘bullet trains’ connecting equally big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Diesel and steam trains are best for less busy routes. Study economics not ideology and that is an order, grr.
    I have this perception that the only winners in the lectric car debate are the battery manufacturers, grr.
    And the fools will expand their dirty business to give us battery powered trains, battery powered aeroplanes, battery powered ships.
    The only thing they will not succeed at is a battery powered rocket, grr.
    Now you must excuse me as I go to charge my mobile up and order another whisky in the Spoons LOL.

  12. The energy here in Norway is 99% hydroelectric plus 1% wind energy so electric cars are green ( just in this country). You can recharge them at work for nothing and you get a big reduction in ferry fees ( a big thing here in the west of Norway). When buying new you get let off some of the stupendous taxes you pay.
    it seems here on this island every other car is either a Leaf or a Tesla but there again we are just about the richest commune in a rich country.

  13. The point I was trying to make about the air powered car is on several levels as is superior to battery \ fossil fuels due to the following:

    1. Compressed air has little to no maintenance
    2. It has very little energy loss between energy phases – electricity grids loose a large amount of electricity just moving t from A>B.
    3. They do not require the mining of minerals meerly the recycling of existing materials.
    4. They are are efficient exactly because they cannot be driven very fast so do not incurr the exponential drag.
    5. Do not interest many groups that provide the fuel (utilities and fuel companies) – no profit. Less energy per mile due to less energy conversion loss and less weight of the vehicle.
    6. The fuel (compressed air) does not require advanced technology.
    7. The recharge is as quick as a conventional petrol pump.
    8. No pollution – the energy can be locally produced and stored with simple reneable technology.
    9. Compressed air is a battery and can be used to run a generator.

    Sadly they are deemed uncool as they cannot “go fast” on our “go slow” roads. They look “uncool” as they need to be light and importantlycan be light. If all cars were the same lighter materials could be used all round.

    They are obviously not THE SOLUTION as farming equipment, haulage and rail could not be relistically replaced, no should they by this technology. Rail especially is a great electrically powered option. It is just a simple solution that is being ignored in our world searching for technological marvels.

    So why the focus on electric cars?

    • I don’t think the energy density of compressed air is that great – which is why there is more research into compressed NG cars. I am not sure why we should all drive vehicles that seem like they are from third world nation’s so we can accommodate an technology. Note if I drove a motorized bike cart like in India with a gas engine I would probably do better eco wise than with your compressed air bottle version due to the weight of the tanks.

      • You are right the “power” is no where comparable to petrol:

        “430cc 2-cylinder engine that develops 7kW at 1,500rpm – enough for it to reach 70kph. This is ample for city driving.”

        The tanks for the air are carbon fibre so they are not heavy.

        “MDI originally declared the Airpod’s range on the urban cycle ….. is now between 120km and 150km. Total weight is around 200kg, with 24kg of that accounted for by the engine.”

        So cheap to make \ buy, very light, very cheap to run and maintain – challenge for it is that “change in perception” from “normal cars” to accomodating an alternative like this on the road for different types of trips. It will probably take some time.

  14. @ Dan,
    @ Gerry England,
    @ Whisky Drinker,
    @ all others

    Yes, electric trains/streetcars/buses that run on overhead wires make sense — however, NOT because they are “green” but because they run along fixed routes.

    For example, in Germany, many of the larger city-connecting trains have been running on overhead electric wiring for many decades already, certainly long before any “green ideology” came about.
    Rather than having a “coal fired power plant” in each locomotive, there’s just one every hundred miles! Makes perfect sense.

    With electric cars, the propulsion energy (stored in batteries) needs to be carried along in each car — a vast difference to e-trains!

  15. Maybe we could use gas powered generators instead of coal plants. Lol! And last time I looked, air compressors ran on electricity!

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