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Lots of feedback on my last post: EV Efficiency: Miles per Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent. Friends and colleagues sent me … Read more

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Amost nine years ago I wrote a series of articles explaining why we chose to drive electric. These essays were … Read more

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In this post, I crunch through all the data on the carbon footprint of EVs compared to conventional fossil cars.

The summary is that, yes, EVs emit less – often one-half to two-thirds less over their lifetime. EVs still emit less when the battery is produced in countries that rely heavily on coal.

And, this is true, regardless of whether you’re thinking about buying a new car, or a second-hand one.

As the world moves towards lower-carbon electricity, the emissions of EVs will fall even more. When run on renewables or nuclear, the footprint of EVs could be tiny.

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As U.S. EV sales rise, more cars than ever are using the electrical grid to power up. It would be reasonable to assume that means the grid must now supply a vast amount of energy to those cars — but it actually won’t take as much as you might think.

The reality: EVs require much less energy to operate than gasoline-burning vehicles. In fact, with the nation’s current electricity blend, an EV requires only about half the energy needed for a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine.

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You emit about seventy percent less CO2 compared to fossil fuel cars. That’s a factor of three less, a significant difference. People who claim otherwise often assume outdated figures, about emissions from battery production, for example. Emissions have already been greatly reduced over the years, thanks in part to gigafactories that can produce batteries much more efficiently. Or they assume that the amount of CO2 released from electricity generation remains the same over the years when it does not. Also, many critics forget to include CO2 emissions during fuel production in their calculations, which unfairly makes combustion engine cars look better.”

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As electricity generation becomes less carbon intensive – particularly at the margin – electric vehicles will become preferable to all conventional vehicles in virtually all cases. There are fundamental limitations on how efficient petrol and diesel vehicles can become, whereas low-carbon electricity and increased battery manufacturing efficiency can cut much of the manufacturing emissions and nearly all electricity use emissions from EVs.