Unless they live off the grid, or purchase their power from a utility that offers renewable energy, most people are required to rely on fossil fuels for some of their electricity. This has many people wondering if they should forget about buying an electric car and focus on making their gas-powered vehicles as efficient as possible.
A few years ago, Brenden Koerner of Slate.com fielded this same question from a reader (the makes and models are dated, but the comparisons are still relevant). Here’s how he broke it down:
“The relatively fuel-efficient 2006 Corolla gets an average of 31 miles per gallon of gas, assuming it has a manual transmission. Over 100 miles, then, the Corolla will consume 3.23 gallons of gas, which in turn produces 63.11 pounds of carbon dioxide. (According to the Energy Information Administration, a gallon of gas produces 19.564 pounds of carbon dioxide—yes, seriously.) That figure, of course, doesn’t include the energy expended to pump the oil out of the ground, ship it across the oceans, refine it, and get it to your local filling station.
“Now let’s look at the Tesla Roadster over that same distance. Analysis by Automotive Testing and Development Services found that for every 100 miles of travel, a Roadster needs to be recharged with 31 kilowatt hours of electricity. (Only about 70 percent of that charge goes toward creating motion; the rest is lost due to inefficiencies in the charging process.) Generating a kilowatt hour of electricity produces an average of 1.55 pounds of carbon dioxide, which means the Tesla vehicle emits 48.05 pounds of CO2 per 100 miles.”
In a nutshell, this means that while not as green as we might assume, electric vehicles still come out ahead of cars featuring internal combustion engines, especially in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
>>Up Next: Reasons Electric Cars Are Still Better For The Environment
Image Credit: Flickr – Jane Tierney