Is Tesla really eco-friendly? image

While the CO2 reduction and environmental sustainability have been the main features advertised for Tesla’s Model 3 prototype, lifetime carbon dioxide from electric vehicles might not differ very much from the conventional internal combustion engines.

How so? Until we have clean and renewable sources to generate electricity, all claims made by eco-friendly cars are almost meaningless.

The new information can be applied to certain markets like China. Bernstein Research took a closer look to the automarket in Hong Kong and explained that because the production of electricity is carbon intensive (from coal), the EVs are actually adding to the pollution levels and the government subsidies are helping them even more to do that.

Bjorn Lomborg, Danish writer of the book named “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming”, explained that a Tesla Model S will produce around 13 tonnes of CO2 from generating electricity. The battery production will also emit 14 tonnes, to which 7 tonnes are added for production and decommissioning. The 34 tonnes total are similar to a diesel-powered Audi A7 Sportback, whcih produces 35 tonnes.

Neil Beveridge, an analyst for Bernstein Research, explained that because of the big carbon intensity of generated electricity in Hong Kong, EVs will produce 4.4 tonnes or 20% more CO2 over a lifespan of 93,000 miles in comparison with cars running on gasoline.

He added that “While EVs may be part of the long term solution, they are currently more of a problem. The reality is that EVs in places like Hong Kong will emit 20% more CO2 over their lifetime than conventional gasoline cars, given the high carbon intensity of electricity production and battery production. Taxpayers are being asked to pay for this, which is ironic given that EVs tend to be driven by those on higher income levels.”

Beveridge used a BMW 320i for his comparison, which is a direct competitor for the Model 3 from Tesla.