Do not be mislead, an electric car always has lower emissions than an equivalent combustion engine car

There is a constant argument made by those who like the combustion engine car. They want to add up all the emissions that are released creating the electricity and therefore suggest that the electric car is worse.

This shows that the BMW 3 and tesla 3 are similar sizes, though electric cars tend to be bigger inside

This argument quickly runs into problems: an electric car is so much more efficient that it is irrelavent.

If you charge a tesla model three from 100% coal power stations, it is still has emissions 18% less than a BMW model 3 – a similar sized car. In India coal produces 75% of the electricity, in China it is 57% so you are going to be hard pressed to find a country as dirty as these numbers suggest. Coal use plateaued in 2014, and has been falling ever since.

If (as I do) you live in the UK, this is not going to be the case (indeed, in 2021 you would be hard pressed to find a country which uses 100% coal). In 2021, coal provided less than 1% of the power in the grid. Now it is true that at the moment still a sizeable amount of British power comes from Gas. However, these power stations only last a few decades – and it is highly unlikely that they will be replaced with gas again. Therefore, by 2050 at the latest, there should be no more fossil fuels in the British energy grid. It may take slightly longer to stop using it to heat our homes, but even here heat pumps and other devices are likely to replace gas boilers in the next few years.

In 2020 the carbon footprint of 1kwh of electricity was 223g, and a tesla 3 can drive 4.54 on each kwh. The emissions from 1 litre of petrol is 1kg. Therefore we get 4.84 kwh for every kg of emissions. 4.84 kwh can drive a tesla 3 20.4 miles.

How far can a BMW model 3 drive on 1 litre of fuel? 11.5

In other words, at the current time with the carbon footprint as it is a tesla model 3 is almost twice as clean as a BMW model 3.

The grid is only getting greener, there are also an increasing number of tariffs that guarantee all your electricity coming from green sources, as ours does. In that case all our electricity comes with zero carbon emissions for its generation – of course it has a small carbon footprint for the creation of the wind turbine or solar panel, but this is negligible. One estimate suggests that the carbon footprint of solar is 6g and that of wind is 4g. So on this basis, a tesla 3 charged on wind will go 1135 miles per kg of carbon emissions. This means that the tesla 3 comes out just short of 100 times more efficient per kg of emissions.

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