Coal Powered Cars

We can debate whether or not the carbon footprint of driving an Electric Vehicle is that much lesser when charged from the electricity that needs to be generated from a fossil fuel-based power plant than that from the emissions of a gasoline or diesel-fueled car.

Regardless, the electrical power requirements of the United States and other nations are generated overwhelmingly by fuels that have just as much, if not more, environmental impact than the combustion of automotive fuel.

So unless your house is completely off the grid and you've figured out how to charge your Tesla with a water or wind turbine or a gigantic solar farm, you can wipe that elitist greener-than-thou grin off your face.

- Excerpted from an article at ZDNet.


  1. Thanks. I've said it before, but I really like the way you put it.;

  2. Very interesting!
    Have a nice weekend Bob.

  3. Man, you take all of the fun out of hypocrisy.

  4. Whoa, Bob. ZDNet is not only unnecessarily snarky, they're also talking at the margins of the truth. The author is close enough to correct for ZDNet work that a first generation electric car has approximately the same carbon footprint as a fuel-efficient gasoline car, when measured as co2 emitted per mile from gasoline car compared to co2 emitted per mile by every process that goes into making an electric car run. However, that's comparing apples to orange farms.

    To compare apple farms to orange farms, you need to ask how much co2 was emitted when the oil was extracted from the Saudi Arabian sands, shipped across an ocean, refined, and transported to your local Shell gas station, too. The EAI adds 25% to the co2 ratings of the gasoline car to account for that extra cost. Second, you need to consider that the most efficient gasoline engine is a solid 5% less efficient than the coal power plant in the most optimized of conditions - and the coal power plant runs 24x7 in the most optimized conditions. The gasoline engine spends a part of its time cold and/or running at sub-optimal rpms, timing, or with ethanol-infused fuels for which it was not designed. The coal plant is optimized minute-by-minute by well-paid engineers to the fuel it's given, and it takes advantage of economies of scale the best computer-controlled engine can't match. Third, even the ZDNet chart shows how every single electric producer in the country is transitioning to using as many non-coal power sources as possible. The chart ZDNet provides shows less than 50% of the power going into the electric car is coal-generated. What the chart cannot show is that most cars are charged during off-peak hours, when coal-generation is at a minimum. Fourth, gasoline powered cars have zero outlook for improvement, while electric cars are absolutely in a growth phase. First-generation electric already sits at 80% of the carbon footprint of gas (in the worst case) and can hit 30% and less when the weather cooperates. As technologies improve in any of the automotive, electrical generation, transmission, or storage areas, electric cars will improve. Gasoline can essentially do no better.

    And after all that, electricity costs the owner under 30% as much per mile as gasoline and the Tesla (which the ZDNet specifically mocks) is the safest production car ever made. A Tesla once hit a concrete wall at 110 mph and both riders walked away. Having no engine allows the entire car to function as a crumple zone. (Yes, 3 Teslas caught on fire. Care to guess how many gasoline cars caught on fire in the same timeframe?)

    I don't own an electric car of any kind, but I'm not going to go out on a limb and start mocking those who do.

    1. Thanks for that thoughtful and informative comment Kevin!


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