Electric Cars are Dirty! Not Really – Fully Charged

JUN 17 2016 BY MARK KANE 64

Fully Charged, based on Union of Concerned Scientists data, explains why electric cars are NOT dirty.

The Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3

As an example, Fully Charged references the Tesla Model S, which uses 20 kWh of energy for some 100 km (62 miles) and a petrol car, which needs 10 l of fuel (97 kWh).

“This is an experimental video we made to put on the Fully Charged Facebook page. I’ve been learning that on Facebook, super short with text is a good idea.

So this is super short, with text.
Many people have suggested we post it here too.

The figures come from many places, actual sceintific, peer reviewed academic papers.
The main source is here:

Categories: General, Videos


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64 Comments on "Electric Cars are Dirty! Not Really – Fully Charged"

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Heh! Nice obscene gesture at the end. 🙂

Some electric cars are dirtier than many gas cars. Mine is covered with dust most of the time. Speaking of, it seems all the EV I encounter are squeaky clean, almost to neurotic level. Why is this?

A dirty BEV, is less efficient. A drag. Cleaner cars typically have better range.

Also, most EVs are still pretty new. And shiny. I have yet to see one eaten out by sheet metal cancer.

But that day will come… Redneck BEVs.

LOL! Redneck BEV! SparkEV is certainly the trailblazer in all manners of EV!

I’m not so sure if clean car is more efficient. Mythbusters did an episode where they had golf ball surface on the car, and it was more efficient. Dust may or may not make the car more efficient, but given that I hit 5.3 mi/kWh on average after 10K miles, I don’t think I want to risk washing it.

Take this a grain of salt, but I know of one mushroom-picking Tesla owner whose Model S is “caked in dirt.” 😉

I’ll take that with pinch of magic dust.

“It’s cold outside, way above the atmosphere; I’m all alone, more or less….”

10 l per 100 km, thats alot. Id say 0.7 l per 100 km is more truthful.

Not if you compare a car with similar power to that of Model S. Even my Prius II uses 5 l/100 km and is thus worse than the Model S in my local Grid (120 g CO2/km vs. 107 g CO2/km).

The video compare the portly Model S to “a petrol car of the same weight.” That comparison favors the very battery-heavy Model S over a lighter weight petrol car like a Ford Fusion or Toyota Prius.

Considering the top 3 passenger vehicles in Tesla’s home country are the Ford F-series, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram, all of which range in weight from 4000 to 6000 lbs, I don’t think the Model S comes out to be that portly in comparison to the gas vehicles on the road.

“Considering the top 3 passenger vehicles in Tesla’s home country are the Ford F-series, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram”

Are they still “passenger vehicle” when some of the HD version are considered as “commercial vehicle”?

They are considered part of the light passenger vehicle category, I believe.

Ahldor says “0.7 l per 100 km is more truthful”.

Hmmmm! That’s close to 300mpg.
I might just reconsider an ICE car now if they’ve improved that much!

ups yes 0.7 per 10 km, or 7 l per 100 km should be more about right.

No Comment

Wow this is a lazy comparison.

It’s not just about vehicle efficiency. The energy in oil is free, we put zero energy in to make it. We only expend energy refining and transporting it. You need to look at the oil well to wheels comparison not total energy content.

Please be smarter than this.

“The energy in oil is free, we put zero energy in to make it.”

So, oil drilling doesn’t cost anything?

“We only expend energy refining and transporting it.”

To the tune of 4.6kWh of electricity per gallon of gas. That’s enough to drive my LEAF 20+ miles alone.

“Please be smarter than this.”

You too, buddy. You too.

This is just patently false. Oil refining requires a great deal of electricity. On the order of 292,000,000 Kilo Watts per refinery per year. Not to mention the costs in drilling, transporting, storing, point of sale, etc. Estimates reveal that the average gallon of gasoline consumed 7.5KW in its refining.

“Oil refining requires a great deal of electricity. On the order of 292,000,000 Kilo Watts per refinery per year.”

Per refinery? There are about 140 refineries in the US.

US 2015 electricity consumption is about 3,863,000,000,000 kWh per year.

292x140x10^6 = 40,880,000,000 kWh per year.

40,880/3,863,000 = 1.06%

Yes, that is a lot. But to put it in perspective, that is about 1% of the US electricity usage.

But the 40 tWh from the refineries would be enough to power over 12 million Tesla S over 10.000 miles a year 😉

SparkEV at 25 MPH = 7.3 mi/kWh, 40 tW can be used for 29 million SparkEV to drive 10K miles.

At 5.3 mi/kWh that I averaged after 10K miles of combined driving, that 40 tW would be 21 million SparkEV for 10K miles.

So about 14% of US electricity would be enough to replace all cars with SparkEV or something lke it.

What matters is whether that 7.5 kwh/gallon figure is accurate and represents energy that is really sourced from the grid. A refinery is producing lots of petrochemicals at the same time, some of which could be burned to produce energy to produce others. It’s supposed to be interactive and synergistic. But that’s still a lot of energy.

“whether that 7.5 kwh/gallon figure is accurate”

What? it is 7.5kWh now?

Geez.. It was 6kWh/gallon, how/when did it go up?

That myth has been debunked for a long time now. Even Elon admits about 4.5kWh/gallon.

The more accurate estimate is about 3-4kWh/gallon for the entire distillation that produces other products as well. Gasoline is only 40% of that total end product.

Lastly, that isn’t the actual electricity used, but the energy lost in the process that includes electricity used AND energy lost in the refining process.

So, it is a well overblown figure that all came out of the the old estimation from the study done by Wang using the 85% efficiency estimate which has been debunked in the last few years.

Regardless, the point is still that EV will always be 2.5x to 4x more efficient than comparable gasoline car with the energy at the point of the vehicle. That is a fact that nobody can refute.

As ModernMarvel says, that myth has been completely debunked. It’s a black mark against Elon that he ever repeated such garbage. He’s smart enough to know refinery margins are razor thin. 300 kWh per 42 gal bbl would cost $25-30. Refinery crack spreads often dip into the $10 range. The entire claim is laughable.

Some refineries EXPORT electricity to the grid…..

“Tobie” keeps repeating Pro Fossil Fuel Myths. Does he work for Exxon, Shell, ALEC, or the Koch Bros?

What about $ trillions spent on Iraq invasion to secure Iraqi oil for our oil addiction?

Big news in my little world:

“In Illinois, the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with the Sierra Club and EDF, are among the advocacy groups working with Exelon and state lawmakers on a legislative deal that would reverse a decision the company made in early June to close two nuclear reactors… ”

I’d bet Greenpiece and UCS will be holdouts, but it looks like “natural gas over nuclear” could become a minority view soon.

My first reaction was to say “Wonderful!” It’s great that they’re going to continue using a nuclear reactor producing clean energy, rather than replace it with fossil-fuel burning power plants.

My second reaction is to consider the fact that most commercial nuclear reactors in the USA are already well past the end of their planned lifespan, and to wonder if there are some safety issues with that.

I’d just love to see a new building program in the USA, based on IV Generation thorium reactor tech. But realistically, I realize there’s no political will for that. Far too much of the public has been brainwashed by anti-nuclear propaganda, including incessant scaremongering about “RADIATION!!” by the news media.

Of course, the news media could turn things around by pointing out the tens of thousands of American deaths caused each year by the air pollution from coal-fired power plants, as opposed to the near-zero American deaths from the nuclear power industry, as well as the very low worldwide figure when compared to any fossil fueled power plants.

But of course, these days most of the news media isn’t much interested in actual science and actual facts.

scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!)

Letwin did a very good show on relative efficiency of electric vs. gas lawnmowers:

EVs have an inherent advantage over other technologies. That’s why they will win in the long run.

Let me preface things by saying I’m a big fan of ELECTRIC home equipment – In fact I own one of the very few 230 volt 3 hp snow blowers (230 volt appliances are almost unheard of in the US since there is no convenient place to plug them in – the only electric snow blowers for sale here are just toys) – since I made it myself. I elaborate in a comment further down.

But his efficiency comparison doesn’t really show electricity is better than petrol for 2 big reasons:

1). There is a certain amount of ‘difficulty’ getting electricity to your average British Household. You can’t just plug a cord in the earth and get 230 volts/ 50 hz/. Any fuel used to generate 3412 btu of electricity at the lawnmower will actually have heat content approaching 10,000 btu (and much more than that will be required if you consider the battery chg/dschg efficiency below:)

2). The fast charger shown was probably around 60% efficient, seeing as it and the battery it is charging probably get good and hot. So 1 kwh battery capacity takes much more than 1 kwh of juice from the mains.

This inefficiency also applies to electric car charging:

1). My Volt and ELR are as efficient to recharge as they come, but If I charge both at 3.3 kwh during the summer time the garage gets too hot even with doors open, and they take 30% longer to charge up.

2). With the roadster, billows of heat used to be released by the air conditioner during charging.

End result is, to improve efficiency, I usually try to charge after midnight when it is cooler, and then at 900 watts to minimize the heat.

scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!)

PS. The video (and I love robert muchly) is misleading and wrong. Note it says that “a gas car of the same weight as a Tesla”….

Teslas are very heavy for a car of equivalent passenger capacity at 4000lbs. That need for weight is a direct result of the battery weight, so apples and oranges are being compared here. An equivalent car would be lighter.

I suspect the comparison would still favor the EV by a good bit, but not as much as 5 times.

As EVers we need to fight the consistent misinformation spread by the press against EVs with the truth, not more misinformation.

scott franco said:

“As EVers we need to fight the consistent misinformation spread by the press against EVs with the truth, not more misinformation.”

Well said sir, and thank you.

I appreciate Robert Llewellyn’s tireless advocacy for EVs, and he did a great service to EV advocates with his in-depth debunking of a notorious junk science “study”, apparently funded by Big Oil and cited as fact in many articles claiming plug-in EVs pollute more than so-called “clean diesel” cars do; see “The Truth Will Out”:

But unfortunately Mr. Llewellyn too often lets his enthusiasm run away with him, to the point of uncritical praise of all things related to EVs.

Still, to channel Mr. Llewellyn for just a moment: Let’s put an end to these smegging gas guzzlers! 😆

Just because batteries are heavy doesn’t mean the Model S is. Tesla put a lot of effort into making sure the rest of the large sedan is light-weight.

Tesla Model S base curb weight: 4323 lb
Mercedes S Class base curb weight: 4729 lb

Tesla S (per Tesla Website): 4,647 lb
BMW 740i (per BMW Website): 4,225 lb

Not the baseline model, which is what this video seems to be comparing with its quoted weight. Let’s throw in another one:

Audi A8: 4,464 lbs

All large sedans are around the mid 4000s. I don’t see the Model S as unusual in this.

“All large sedans are around the mid 4000s. I don’t see the Model S as unusual in this.”

The problem is that people keep comparing it with Large sedans such as S-class or 7 series. They are all larger than Model S.

Model S really is like a BMW 5 series with slightly more interior passenger volume.

Model S interior passenger volume is about as big as a Honda Accord and smaller than most of the 5 series class or the larger 7 series class.

The ONLY Reason it is bumped up to the larger class is by its luggage volume. But as far as passenger volume is concerned, Model S isn’t that large.

it is a in between size. Compare with the smaller 5 series which shares similar wheel base and overall length as Tesla, Model S is significantly heavier.

Ford Fusion: 3431 lbs
Toyota Prius: 3010 lbs

Chevy Sonic: 2,720 lbs
Ford Fiesta: 2,537 lbs
Smart Fortwo: 1,984 lbs
Honda NC700X: 474 lbs

SparkEV: 2866 lb

“Tesla S (per Tesla Website): 4,647 lb
BMW 740i (per BMW Website): 4,225 lb”

Cadillac CT6 AWD 3.0L TT weight 4,371lbs

Wheel base: 122.4 (Tesla 116.5)
Length:204″ (Tesla 196″)

Interior passenger volume: 110 cu ft (Tesla: 94 cu ft)

CTS TT 3.0L is faster to 60mph.

But its combined MPG is only 21mpg which compared with 103mpge of Tesla Model S 75D is about 5x worse in efficiency.

Agreed… Which is why I always call people out who say they get “300 mpg” in their Volt, neglecting to mention that they used 100kwh of electricity in the process.

I blame that one on GM. The dash display doesn’t take that into account. Volt owners really should know better, though.

Not if you care about gas usage over “energy usage”.

Gas will rarely be free. But free charging is fairly easy to find… So, it also matters on the wallet.

Free charging SUCKS! Somebody must pay, and in many cases people pay with their lives (ie, waiting) in addition to money.

However, it seems the waiting situation has got lot better past few months, I don’t know why. Lower Leaf / i3 sales? That still leaves bunch of legacy drivers.

Disagree. Incentives for the cheap are always useful.

free charging sucks? Man – you’ll get every S and X owner mad at you then..

Since I make more solar power than I can use even with 2 heavily driven EV’s, the charging of them can be considered to be more or less free. They wouldn’t be driven as much as they are if they used gas around the area (they only use gas on long trips).

‘somebody pays’. They haven’t taxed my solar installation yet. And they haven’t figured out how to tax sunshine , yet.

Of course, they do put a huge tax on a building block of Life, so I’m sure they are working on it.

The Tesla Model S70 actually uses 24 kWh to go 100 kilometers based on EPA figures which measure electr consumedicity on a wall-to-wheels basis.

Robert Llewellyn is being a bit disingenuous in his coal to petrol comparison saying it takes 20 kWh of “energy” to power a Tesla 100 kilometers. He should be comparing the kWh of energy in the coal before it’s burned to make electricity at about 40% efficiency and transmitted at about 92% to an outlet. Better yet, he should compare all the energy well-to-wheels energy to travel 100 kilometers in a Tesla using coal-powered electricity, and in a efficient petrol car, preferably a hybrid like the Prius.

sven said:

“…he should compare all the energy well-to-wheels energy to travel 100 kilometers in a Tesla using coal-powered electricity, and in a efficient petrol car, preferably a hybrid like the Prius.”

Wow, so many things wrong there.

1. There isn’t a single region of the USA, or for that matter probably any industrialized nation, where grid power is 100% coal.

2. A Prius is an EV: a HEV. The Tesla Model S is also an EV; a BEV. That’s not to say that there’s no value in comparing one type of EV to another, but if the intent is to compare pure electric cars like the Tesla Model S to pure gasmobiles or ICE vehicles, then stopping halfway with a HEV isn’t appropriate. One might even suggest it would be less than honest to do so.

Wow, so many things wrong in your response. I guess you’re just trolling me. That’s your modus operandi.

1. Robert Llewellyn made the comparison between electricity from 100% coal and gasoline, not me. Didn’t you watch the video?

2. Robert Llewellyn did not say his intent is to compare the Model S with “pure gasmobiles” or “pure ICE vehicles.” Please don’t confuse your intent with Robert Llewellyn’s intent. A Prius and all HEVs are 100% gas powered, and every single mile that an HEV travels is ultimately attributable to their ICE and gasoline. Even the electricity harvested from regenerative braking is attributable to the ICE, as it is just recapturing the forward motion and energy that was generated by the ICE. Hybrids are the most efficient petrol/gasoline cars, and the days of pure ICE cars are numbered as they will no longer be made/sold in the not to distant future. Thus, it is not “less honest” to use and HEV for Robert Llewellyn’s comparison.

“Even the electricity harvested from regenerative braking is attributable to the ICE”

Regenerative braking captures energy that would otherwise be thrown away as heat and brake dust. To not acknowledge that it is a benefit, and to say that it came from gasoline, is silly.
The gasoline was used in either case in getting up to speed. Normal braking wastes that, regenerative recovers (some of) it.

The only point SVEN is making is that a standard PRIUS gets all of its motive force from gasoline – and therefore what ever its gas mileage is, will be improved upon by the Prius prime simply because the engine will run less.

How do you propose we get energy out of the coal? The chunks keep getting caught in my gas tank and clog up my fuel filter. /s

I know you were joking, but a variation of that is currenly in use for some standby diesel generators. The machine starts as a diesel, but then, with heavy loading can use up to 80% natural gas (and the consequent great decrease in #2 fuel oil) blending while running, to take into account certain locale’s ‘greenhouse gas’ emission requirements, as well as the fact that Natural Gas is currently pretty close to free in the states. The marginal cost for the fuel for me at my house this summer has been around 1 cent / kwh (not including delivery charges).

I agree he should use the energy in the coal, but Prius vs. Model S is silly. A comparable hybrid like the Infiniti M35h or Mercedes E400 would make sense.

Another Euro point of view

The electricity needs to be made with anything BUT coal, then no need to twist the numbers. It seems they used 1964 V8 engine on a cold winter morning to get to that 5 round number. A power plant using a natural gaz turbine is already much better, not to speak of a wind turbine. The real difference is merely the efficiency difference between a petrol engine and an electric motor (about 2.8 using a MODERN petrol engine, but not 5).

I think the biggest key missing information is the fact that Tesla allow you to have a performance of BMW 5/7 series with the efficiency about 2x of the Prius.

That is easy to understand.

No ICE cars can do that to allow you to have performance and efficiency.

This whole “electric cars are dirtier” is a perfect example of a right-wing smear built around the meme that all liberals are hypocrites. But that requires accepting the corporate premise that a car is a universal product, that it is in no way affected by where it is being driven because we free men have a birthright to drive the same 6000 lb monster truck in Manhattan as in Idaho. Characteristically of such ideology, it completely ignores regional and international differences. Why shouldn’t people take their LOCAL electrical grid into account in buying a car? Where that grid is getting cleaner, why shouldn’t people exploit it? Because coal is dying, and the grid won’t get dirtier again.

If your central station is powered from Natural Gas, and you use the heater in your car for a substantial part of the year, a CNG vehicle would have the superior efficiency – as this is the only ‘apples to apples’ comparison. Volts and vehicles like it are also high efficiency for similar reasoning. I’ve given up trying to explain what a ‘Prime Mover’ is, and why it makes all the difference in the world with efficiency comparisons.

I’m not getting into the COAL argument although I miss the plant recently shut down in my town this year. I make more electricity than I can possibly use, so it won’t ‘cost’ me anything electrically since I have an over-built solar-system, but my property taxes will skyrocket.

CNG leakage makes using it much worse than other fuels.

His Lawnmower comparison was far more compelling. I seem to remember Toyota bragging that their new Prius gets a whopping 40% thermodynamic efficiency, even BEFORE you increase the efficiency further by using the heater. The point being, while EV’s are getting more compelling, refinement of gasoline powered vehicles continues, all for the better. Of course, a small electric motor can be much more efficient and cleaner than a small gas engine – although all the advertisements you see show different assumedly ‘low NOx’ models specifically for California. My Toro E-Cycler uses only about 10 cents per charge – about 1/4 the cost of an equivalent gasoline lawn mower. Unfortunately, this unit only has a 1/3 horsepower motor (250 watts) and is INCREDIBLY underpowered for this, a MULCHING mower. I’ve tolerated its limitations for over 4 years now, sharpen the blade every year, and long for my next electric model (either a plug in, or, hopefully a much more powerful LI-Ion model with around a 1 HP motor). My homemade snow blower, with a 3 HP 230 VOlt Harbor Freight “JUNK” Tools motor on it, costs around 1/6 th the cost of an equivalent 7 HP gas engine to run; –… Read more »