Video Explores Truths Behind EV Emissions Claims



It’s actually true that manufacturing an electric car (especially a Tesla, due to the large battery) produces more emissions than that of an ICE car, however …

We have heard the arguments time and time again. There are so many variables that make the lifecycle emissions comparison between EVs and ICE cars not so cut and dry. Recent studies actually argue for ICE compact cars, and/or traditional hybrids having a better chance of the lowest lifetime emissions. This makes sense if you think about it. A small fuel-efficient vehicle uses less materials to build, and a hybrid or even a plug-in hybrid, use a small battery.


Kim from Like Tesla, in her Tesla Model X

When we are talking about electric car manufacturing, as well as battery manufacturing, and how much emissions are created, unfortunately Tesla is probably the leader. Fast cars, big batteries.

The Like Tesla channel on YouTube provides some valuable information. And, likely because most people would think that their opinion is bound to be biased (look at the name … and they are Tesla owners c’mon), they do a fair amount of research, and divulge the truth, even if it’s not what Tesla owners may want to hear.

While the source, and all of its evidence shows that the electric vehicle manufacturing process has the potential to produce a hefty amount of carbon, we have to look at how much less is emitted in the remainder of the vehicle’s life cycle. The ICE car emits from the tailpipe for the rest of its life, whereas the EV does not. The EV may produce more emissions up front, but it saves later. This is even more true depending on details related to where the energy is coming from, for not only the manufacturing process, but also when charging the car.

The video spells it all out very well and in-depth. It’s chock full of data, charts, graphs, and figures. There’s even some information concerning rare earth metals, and battery material recycling. Be sure to check out the “Sources and References” listing for the video. There’s a wealth of information available.

We should note that many studies, also do not account for the common after-market use of EV batteries in the secondary storage market, which again offsets more emission waste down the road.

Source: Teslarati

Category: Tesla, Videos

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75 responses to "Video Explores Truths Behind EV Emissions Claims"
  1. mx says:

    Conversely, what’s the cost of just building a refinery, and then the annual and lifetime cost of powering a refinery with electricity, and what’s the source of refinery electricity??? Not Unicorn tears.

    What’s the cost of building one natural gas export ship?
    Where did the steal come from for the ship? And where did the electricity come from to create steel out of iron ore?

    What’s the fuel cost of transporting natural gas to China, and where does that fuel come from, and where was it refined, and with what Electricity?

    Did you know pipelines are made of steal too?
    And they leak like sieves?

    1. energymatters says:

      Nissan put out an analysis a while back on the total energy used to refine a gallon of gasoline. The figure was appx. 7KWH per gallon of gas. I.e., about 25-28 miles of electric range embedded in the gas.

      To make a fairer comparison this would have be taken against(!) the efficiency and carbon load of an ICE vehicle.

      1. SJC says:

        The refineries claim 80% efficiency then it goes into vehicles with 20% efficiency which emit particles, NOx and other unhealthy waste.

        The grid is about 40% efficient with 40% coal fired and maybe 40% natural gas in the U.S. The key is that some of the electricity can be from wind and solar.

        1. Alan says:

          “efficiency” is a vague term. My understanding is that the “grid” is much more efficient for *power* distribution – between 85% and 92%.

          You really want to compare the whole “well-to-wheels” efficiency; that means looking at not only the power lost energy in the fuel in the ground, to energy as it arrives at the car, but the efficiency of the car itself. Since electric motors are far, far, more efficient than gasoline motors in cars, even with fossil-fueled power plants, you have much better efficiency overall. The turbine generators in power plants are much more efficient than the gasoline engines in cars.

          1. SJC says:

            You put in 100 BTUs into a fossil fueled power
            plant then you get out 40 BTUs worth of electricity. There is not mistaking the term efficiency there.

            1. Devin Serpa says:

              I think he’s referring to line losses on the grid. About 20% loses.

              1. Brandon Fouts says:

                8-15 percent

        2. pjwood1 says:

          EIA data browser will true your numbers. 40/40 is pretty far off. Natural gas has never been close to this high, having reached about 34% for ’16, with coal down around ~31%, but use the browser.

          Also, the grid is much more than 40% efficient. Wire losses are closer to 10%. You may have meant BTU losses, at the generating plants (~40% for natural gas). Regardless, the btu losses are accounted for, when we say things like ~1,800lbs CO2/MWh, or 2lbs NOx/MWh for coal. From there, come generally better CO2 EV numbers and potentially worse NOx numbers (which away from cities, matter less).

          1. SJC says:

            I was referring to production efficiency not transmission.

        3. Nix says:

          Unfortunately we have no way to fact-check the oil industry claims. Because shockingly, they are not required to actually track or report how much energy they use during the refining process. Even the DOE has to estimate their numbers.

          If the oil industry actually had to track and report all actual energy inputs, I would be shocked if the actual numbers were what the oil industry claims.

          1. Martin Winlow says:

            We need an insider at the electricity supply company to leak what the refinery’s electricity bill is.

            1. Mikael says:

              Electricity is a very small portion of the energy used when refining oil. I did the calculations for a Swedish refinery. It is one of the most efficient in the world though, but they are using 0,028 kWh/liter (or 0,1 kWh per gallon for those “world standard”-challenged people 😉 )

              1. While true in this case most refineries make a lot of power internally. For example the chemical plant I worked at purchase less than 5% of its power needs from the grid. But we burned about 70 rail cars of coal a day making our internal power and steam. A lot of emissions but it will never show in electric usage. So refineries use part of the oil for the energy needed to refine the oil into gasoline

      2. SparkEV says:

        Does that Nissan figure account for the emissions from all the wars we fight to keep the oil flowing? Now with security theater, even more energy is wasted in various charades.

      3. Chris says:

        God I wish more people understood this an electric car uses less electricity per mile than a gas car so no matter what kind of carbon footprint has to produce it will always be cheaper both monetarily and environmentally to produce electric cars even if you chuck them in the ocean when they wear out.

    2. Eco says:

      Tesla’s Gigafactory is totally powered by solar and wind using energy storage (batteries) for intermittency (according to tour videos). That drastically reduces manufacturing emissions for Tesla EVs.

      1. Dave K says:

        Bottom line is no way ANY ICE car pollutes less than ANY EV, the only way to claim this is to rig the assumptions. Also I can put solar panels on my house and charge my EV today, I suspect this will never be possible with an ICE… Enough said!

        1. BenG says:

          That’s not quite true. If you do full lifecycle emissions and you live in an area where the large bulk of the electricity comes from old coal plants with no pollution control, then you are better off driving a Prius or Ioniq hybrid

          Most places a comparable EV will beat a Prius.

          And of course if you get the bulk of your electricity from clean power like renewable or nuclear then you beat a petro-car anywhere.

          1. Chris says:

            It really does not matter where you live and it really does not matter where your power comes from a gas car uses more electricity per mile that an electric car does so the gas car will always produce more missions without exception even if you chuck the electric car in the ocean when you’re done

            1. BenG says:

              What are you talking about: “a gas car uses more electricity per mile than an electric car”? False.

            2. BenG says:

              This page has a map showing the miles per gallon that a gas car needs to get to have lower life-cycle well-to-wheels CO2 emissions than an average EV running on grid electricity.

              There is quite a lot of the country where a modern Prius or Ioniq beats an average EV running on the local fossil fuel powered grid. I.e. there are some regions in the middle of the country where the gas car only needs to average 35-36 mpg to beat the grid powered EV.

            3. Timmy says:

              False. Where did you pull “a gas car uses more electricity per mile than an EV” out of?

              EVs are far superior of course, but that is patently false.

          2. philip d says:

            But you could live in a place that burns 100% coal and spend around $20,000 for a 5 kW PV system with 2 Tesla Powerwalls and take care of you daily fuel needs for your EV for the next 25 years.

            And this fuel would be immune to price flux which won’t be the case for gasoline in the next 25 years.

            1. BenG says:

              $20k for a 5 kw solar system and two powerwalls sounds optimistic.

              Some people don’t have the option of buying a solar system for one reason or another.

              You are right, though, there are often options to clean up the emissions attributed to your electric consumption.

    3. sj23jas says:

      Would it be of any help, to have a Renewable Tech tab like the Battery Tech?

    4. Brandon Fouts says:

      ICE engine plus transmission
      Battery plus electric motor

      Any calculation?

  2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

    Sure advertising videos are superior to any scientific peer reviewed studies 😉 Just watch ads and you will know everything!

    Pu-pu will be next confirming it 😉

    1. William says:

      When Pu-pu brings his “well to wheels” ICE analysis, his objectivity may bring with it, some high compression ratio/rev perspective!?
      Let the sins, of Friction and Fact, begin!

    2. Get Real says:

      I don’t know about what pushy might say here but zzzzz has sure identified himself as nothing but a fossil fuel shill who trolls his fact-free anti-EV (especially anti-Tesla)FUD here on InsideEVs.

    3. says:

      You mean the studies that researche half the variables so you can finally get the conclusion you want…yeah we know what gets you wet.

  3. Krishna says:

    Why are we not accounting the emissions related to the entire process from drilling the oil to getting it to the pumps. That should be a lot of emissions for the life of an ICE car apart from the car emissions for its lifetime. It is possible in the future to produce electricity for the entire world with solar and renewables. In such a scenario, no emissions to drive the EV through out its lifetime. But its not possible to drill the oil and get it to the gas stations with no emissions added to the emissions by the ICE car as well.

    1. needa says:

      I’d imagine most of that is done with electricity and pressure. About the only fuel emissions would be when the trucks are driving from the refinery to the station.
      And don’t forget about the emissions created from producing the solar panels. There are loads of it. Some gasses it produces are exponentially worse than burning fuel. The world is better off just opening up a dam. /sorry fishies.

      1. KumarP says:

        Your imagining is way, way off. Also, pressure is not a souce of energy.

        1. needa says:

          No my imagining is not way off. They use electricity to run their pumps. Pressure is what causes blowout. Pressure is also a factor in natural gas extraction.
          I have to say… I do enjoy it when my ability to figure out how things ‘tick’, are backed up by national geographic.

          1. earthzero says:

            Except that the “electricity” for an oil rigs drills and pumps is generated using diesel generators. So I’m not sure what your point is here:


    2. abc123 says:

      Because the oil industry lobbyists want you to think that the source of fuel for your car only comes from the gas station…. not some oil field in the middle east that gets extracted, shipped to Texas, refined, then shipped to your gas station.

      Let’s not forget that we need to include the impacts of all the major oil spills that have happened since the extraction of oil.

      Let’s not forget the multitude of “things” that need to be changed over the lifetime of an ICE car – transmission oil, power steering, engine oil, o2 sensor, sparkplugs, various filters, belts, etc. These also have an impact during it’s creation process and no doubt will have impacts on disposal.

      Let’s not forget that there are still some weekend warriors that do their own oil changes and dump the used oil down the drain.

      1. Damocles Axe says:

        Let’s surely not neglect the cost of MILITARY intervention in the middle east due ENTIRELY to protecting our oil supply. If we were to include that cost as a gas tax instead of hiding it as a general tax the price of gas would be DOUBLE!

        1. Serial anti tesla troll thomas says:


        2. says:


        3. DCP123 says:

          Middle Eastern oil mostly goes to Asia these days. Extremely little goes to the US, which produces a very high percentage of the oil it uses and gets most of its imports from closer to home.

          1. Chris says:

            We fight over oil for two reasons one is to keep our military production of equipment and Hardware going we are an imperial Nation after all second we want to keep everybody selling oil in US dollars that is how we keep our BS currency worth anything

          2. Nick says:

            Oil is fungible.

            If oil from the Middle East stopped flowing, I think we’d find buying from Canada was much more expensive.

      2. DCP123 says:

        I’m not disagreeing with your main point, but almost no oil comes to the US from the Middle East. The US no longer imports a large share of its oil and what it does import largely comes from close to home: Mexico, Canada, and Venezuela.

        1. RC368 says:

          But the point is that both Iraq wars (one still continues) were started to secure our oil supplies. 2 trillion spent, 4500 US soldiers killed, ten times that wounded. How will geopolitics change when the sun powers most cars, homes, businesses?

  4. Bonaire says:

    The best transportation emissions come from people who decide to car-pool “any car”, cutting down on cars on the road and adding to your “people miles per gallon” or “people miles per kWh”. Driving around alone in an EV or ICE is worse than trying to come up with cultural changes to share a vehicle.

    1. BenG says:

      Good luck with those cultural changes, Bonaire. You are right they are crucial.

      It’s actually pretty easy to engineer those cultural changes: just put a low (but noticeable) and rising price on carbon emissions, then people will adapt with both technological and cultural changes to the price signal.

  5. Nada says:

    While there is no such thing as a green vehicels EVs are defianetly geener than ICE…
    One thing that I have not seen in these studies is that an average ICE vehicle lifespan is generaly about 17 years…
    EVs have the potential to go greatly beyond a 17 year life span and could realy doube or triple ICE lifespans…
    And FYI EVs are not going to stop global warming but will slow it compared to ICE…
    Some beleive that a man who reguarly eats red meat and rides a bike to work contributes more to global warmiming than a vegiterian who drives an ICE car…

    Autos do not even crack the top 10 list for reducing global warming in a neww boow with the top 100 ways to reduce it…

    1. needa says:

      The first one on that list is a doozey. One that I have mentioned a couple of times. But people only want to talk about the things they cannot see and control. Much better to blame ICE cars that they don’t have to drive vs an HVAC system that keeps them cool or warm.

      1. DCP123 says:

        Calling family planning the best way to reduce carbon emissions may be fun, but it’s essentially meaningless.

        I’m sure it’s true that fewer humans means less emissions by humans of fossil carbon, but the logical conclusion of this line of thought is that mass suicide by all humans would be even more effective. After an initial spike in methane emissions from all of our rotting corpses, human greenhouse gas emissions would end completely if there were no humans.

        Neither eliminating the human race nor halving it’s population is a way for humanity to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions per person is a greenhouse gas limitation strategy. Reducing the number of humans on the planet is a different iasue.

    2. DJ says:

      The whole EVs will last 50 years argument is complete BS. Batteries degrade and need replacement, motors will go bad, etc.. you can easily replace an engine in an ICE car for less than it would cost to replace the battery in an EV yet people dont often do it. At some point it is everything else that needs replacement, the things that have nothing to do with the power train like shocks, seats, wheel bearings which is usually the reason why it is scrapped. Usually it is just cheaper to get a new car than replace everything that goes belly up.

      1. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

        I agree that 50 year electric motors and batteries are BS, but your comment about battery packs degrading and having to be replaced more often than ICE motors is not born out by data so far.

        Yes, some cars had battery problems (2011-2013 Nissan Leaf), most didn’t. The data so far on battery degradation is not bad in Tesla S, Volts, and later model Leaves.

        Also, battery packs don’t just stop working, instead range fades over time. Given that battery prices have been falling about 7% a year, that means that by the time a pack is out of warranty and may be suffering enough loss of range to be a problem, the cost of a replacement pack will be about 70% less than today.

        Electric motors, with several orders of magnitude fewer moving parts, have an excellent historical track record of reliability and should last as long as any ICE, probably longer.

        In the coming years ICE is doomed in all but narrow applcations.

        1. DJ says:

          It isn’t that they need to be replaced more often (although that may be the case) it is that they cost more. A Leaf pack costs $5k to replace. Engine replacements are what $2k-$4k?

          I think the battery replacement won’t be as bad in the future once they work some of the kinks out but to get there surely it is a factor, sure as heck if an EV is supposed to last 50 years!!!

          1. Electric Motors in Industry last far more than Diesel Engines in Large Trucks, since 40+ years has been demonstrated to be easy, and some Electric Motors are running after 80-100 Years, still!

            Changing the Battery in an Electric Vehicle should be more like compared with the cost of changing the Tanks at a Gas Station, since both just Store and Transfer Energy!

            As to Oil, how much pollution was created for persuing Operation Desert Storm, and the Ensuing Oil Wells on Fire, and the Teams needed Just to put out the Fires, and recap or seal the continuing Oil Geysers after the Fire was Out, or the Pollution caused by the Deep Sea Horizon BP well, just for a couole issues? Or the Famous Exxon Valdez in Alaska, the many ruptured pipelines and Train Derailments and Tanker Truck Wrecks?

            How much Pollution was caused by an ICE STORM that shut down a few miles of High Tension Power Lines, in comparison? Or, a vehicle wreck that hit a Power Pole?

          2. Chris says:

            Actually bay leaf battery is about $12,000 the $6,000 price is hugely subsidized although it’s probably a lot closer today than three years ago so it might be a lot less than $12,000 but it’s certainly not $5,000 your gasoline engine to replace is about $4,000 you pay less if you buy it used which is not a fair comparison I can get a used motor for my leaf for 500 bucks want to compare that?

            Now even that $4,000 price is fiction because you don’t compare the fuel used in that motor for me it’s about $800 a year in electricity or $7,000 a year in gasoline so a single year of gasoline usage with 100% offset the cost of replacing my battery which I estimate I will get four years maybe 5 out of 2012 leaf but I drive it hard two and a half years 60000 miles

            So add up the electricity you use in 100,000 miles and add up the gas you use in a hundred thousand miles and now total out the price difference you’ll be surprised

          3. philip d says:

            But the battery packs going into EVs today wouldn’t be replaced in 10 years at 2017 prices but would be replaced at 2027 prices. The battery packs from EVs built in 2013 will need to be replaced at 2023 battery prices which will be much lower than now.

            Also there have been a number of articles on the current cells going into Tesla Powerwall/Powerpacks which are a new chemistry that have improved their cycle life by double. The cell life of the new Powerwalls will be 25 years.


            The chemistry for the automotive batteries are different but they are close to implementing this improvement in those cells as well.

  6. needa says:

    I would be interested in knowing how much the emissions part of mining and transporting the metals for the batts will go down once batteries power the equipment doing the mining and transporting.

  7. Nix says:

    EV + solar and you get to give the middle finger to even grid pollution.

    It amazes me how often average grid numbers still get thrown around as if they were at all relevant, as if nobody with an EV ever installed solar.

    Meanwhile, back in reality, Tesla’s solar roof is already sold out until well into 2018 after only a few weeks of people being able to finalize their wait list pre-orders.

    Any math done with grid numbers that doesn’t somehow also factor in solar penetration among EV buyers is simply bogus math.

    1. DCP123 says:

      Almost all home solar installations are grid connected. Increasing your personal consumption of electric power by adding a BEV does increase fossil fuel power demand. Adding solar panels on your roof does decrease demand for fossil-fuel generated electric power. Unless you are aff the grid, these changes are not linked. So, it will always be relevant to compare emissions from the grid power used to provide the amount of electric power used by a BEV to the emissions from an ICE. Fortunately, the BEV will almost always have lower emissions.

  8. abc123 says:

    Two words: Deepwater Horizon

    The environmental impact of this disaster will last for decades and I guarantee it won’t be the last.

    We cannot just compare the emissions from production and use. Emissions is just one part of larger picture.

    1. ffbj says:

      Amen brother.

    2. Damocles Axe says:

      Two more words: Gulf War. I don’t think anyone pretends that we didn’t spend roughly $1T to protect our oil supply (and didn’t add one penny to the price of gas at home).

  9. Bacardi says:

    Let’s not forget, the grid will only get cleaner…

    1. philip d says:

      Exactly. And battery cell and pack prices are dropping.

      It’s a common ploy by many arguing against the viability of EVs to use today’s cell prices and worst case scenario grid usage without looking at grid trends and price trends and where they are leading even in the near term.

  10. Mw says:

    The Amount Of Land Required To Run America On Solar Power:

  11. Bidoas says:

    Even if the grand scheme totals are the same I would rather it be in a controlled environment of a factory (which can be made any size to improve efficiency) rather than in the city I live.

    1. Bidoas says:

      By factory I meant power plant/solar farm etc.

      1. ffbj says:

        Right, and that’s where solar shines, in boutique design.

  12. Ambulator says:

    They were a bit too kind about rare earths in batteries. There aren’t any in lithium ion batteries. Neither are they used in automotive fuel cells.

    They are used in NiMH batteries (Prius) and in some solid oxide fuel cells (not used in cars).

  13. John says:

    Full of pos statistics B’s. You work for auto oil oligarchy. That’s it, end of the story. DO NOT EVEN ATTEMP TO BRAINWASH PPL AGAIN!!!

  14. Oswald says:

    Wow a lot of people sporting their tin hats in here. I’m glad one person posted the article from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Also all of you can just download the exact well to wheel data directly from the EIA instead of arguing about it without backing it up, it’s literally public knowledge. It includes refinery, transportation, distribution etc. The EPA GREET model and eGRID models account for transmission losses (~10%) and upstream emissions for electricity generation in every state.

    EVs are dirtier than gas cars in some locations, get over it. As the grid gets cleaner the electric vehicle will become cleaner. I hate that Colorado includes a $6000 state credit for BEVs because they use all coal, and yes that matters. A vehicle getting over 35 mpg is cleaner than an EV in Colorado.

  15. Edfie says:

    Oil companies spreading propaganda. Have you noticed you can sometimes smell when you are near a gas station. Just the vapors around the station is bad. What about are those oil changes with ICE cars. When you look at pictures of many foreign refineries, they are ecological nightmares. I traveled to Midland Odessa Texas(many oil wells) and in the plane you could smell the odor of oil. The whole fossil fuel thing especially shale oil is horrible to the environment. I have a Model X and will never own another ICE vehicle. I love the convenience of filling up at home and not traveling to some dirty gas station .

  16. Peter says:

    A very important point here that most people forget is that a EV will run much longer than a ICE car. If you take that under concideration the carbon print will be much smaller. For sure all ICE cars that get old will pollute much more when it gets older, than it did when it was brand new. EV cars pollute less in time as the mix on the grid gets better.

  17. Peter says:

    Energy losses and transportation I another thing that people forget when they discuss EV cars.

    Oil needs to be transported a lot and energy gets wasted.

    To produce Hydrogen you need electricity and when you drive such a car the hydrogen needs to be converted back to electricity. You loose all the time. The more you convert the more energy you loose.

    Wind and solar energy are the best right down in you DC batteries and then converted to AC while driving.