EVs vs. Gas Engines: We Do the Math on Carbon Emissions
11:49

EVs vs. Gas Engines: We Do the Math on Carbon Emissions

Roadshow
Speaker 1: Are EVs actually better for the environment. Let's do the math and find out welcome to EVs exposed, where we look at some of the myths that people use against electric cars and find out whether they're true or maybe just a little bit misleading today. We're gonna do the math and find out if electric cars are genuinely better for the environment, then traditional gasoline powered ones. So before we started work on this series, I went to all the social media platforms and asked all of you for reasons that people have given you, [00:00:30] why EVs are maybe not the car for them, reasons, excuses, myths, whatever you want to hear. The number one response that I got was people saying that electric cars are actually worse for the environment than traditional gasoline powered ones. Now on the surface, this seems like a completely nonsensical argument. The idea that an electric car could legitimately be worse for the environment than a gasoline powered one. Speaker 1: I mean, if you get a new gasoline powered car and you sit in the thing, hit the engine, start button immediately, it starts burning gasoline in a spewing carbon dioxide [00:01:00] out the tailpipe me. And while if you get into a new EV and press the start button, if the indeed actually has a start button, nothing happens. They are of course completely emissions free. So they've gotta be better for the environment. Right? Well, hang on. A lot of people say that if you do the math and look at all the sources of energy that go into powering that electric car, if you look at all the coal that's burned, the natural gas, that's ignite it and everything else that provides the electricity and do the carbon offset for all of that energy generation, you'll find that your electric car [00:01:30] is actually worse from the environment than a comparable gasoline powered one. Speaker 1: Is that true or false to find out we're gonna have to dig pretty deep and look at a lot of numbers, but before we get there, I want to establish a few copy. First, we're going to be exclusively looking at data from here in the USA and not just because I'm in the USA, but because in America we have the luxury of a lot of data comparing the carbon generation of all of our electricity sources on a state by state and even a more precise basis than that. A lot of that data coming from the EPA that makes it relatively [00:02:00] easy to do the math here in the us. But it mean that these numbers that I'll be giving you will be completely irrelevant. If you are somewhere else in the world, it just means that you might need to skew the numbers higher or lower, depending upon the percentage of your electricity that comes from renewable sources like wind or hydro. Speaker 1: Secondly, I'll be citing my sources as we go through this. And I'm only gonna be relying on sources that don't really have any skin in the game. So for example, I'll be citing data it from the EPA or the argon national laboratory, but I won't be looking at too much data from OPEC or the world coal [00:02:30] association. Finally, I'm going to be exclusively focused on carbon dioxide output here and not just because CO2 is the most significant contributor to climate change, but because carbon dioxide output is the easiest way to compare the environmental impact of a gasoline powered car versus a battery powered one. Now, before we dive in the numbers, I want to talk briefly about why this is so important because there's a general misconception from a lot of people that the majority of carbon dioxide outputted into the environment comes from industrial sources, shipping [00:03:00] or airliners and that kind of thing. Speaker 1: And so therefore, consumer transportation doesn't really matter that much, but that's not true what you drive and how you drive. It has a huge impact on the overall carbon dioxide output. Here's a pie chart showing overall greenhouse gas output by category. It comes from the EPAs latest climate change inventory and shows data that's current as of 2020. Now the transportation wedge covers all forms of transportation, but more than half of that comes from light duty vehicles. Light duty vehicles are the ones that you and [00:03:30] I are driving to work every morning, or at least that we weren't driving to work every morning when we actually were driving to work in the mornings. If you were to factor in medium and heavy duty, another industry that's ripe for electrification, you can see that the overall potential impact of switching to electrification is absolutely huge. And believe it or not, despite our cars seemingly getting more efficient, actual overall CO2 output over the past 20 years has grown significantly. Speaker 1: If you look at this data from the UN yeah, yikes. So [00:04:00] with that in mind, let's look at the overall numbers. I'm gonna dive deep here, but we'll try to make this as easy to understand as possible if you're not a calculus major now to show the difference. I want to compare an electric powered car versus a gasoline powered car and calculate the emissions of the tube to do that. I had to pick two cars to go with on the EV side, that decision. Well, that's pretty easy. I wanna with the world's most popular are certainly the best selling EV on the market right now. That is the Tesla model three, specifically the Tesla model three long range, which as of now is priced roughly [00:04:30] $55,000 to start. But the way Tesla's been changing prices lately, I have no idea what it'll actually be costing. Speaker 1: By the time you watch this video, what do you compare the Tesla to? Well, I wanted a car. What with comparable cost and comparable performance. Unfortunately, Tesla does not post horsepower figures for its cars anymore, but we do know that the model three long range will do zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds. So it must have somewhere in the ballpark or 350 or more horsepower on the gasoline powered side. It's a little hard to find a direct comparison, but I think the closest would be [00:05:00] the BMW three 40. I xDrive it starts at about $55,000 does zero to 60 and 4.1 seconds with 382 horsepower. And it has all wheel drive. Just like the Tesla. It's not a direct comparison. The BMW for example, has a much nicer interior, but then BMW will charge you an arm and a leg for every interior option. So maybe they're not that far apart, but let us know in comments, which car would you like us to compare? Speaker 1: Maybe we'll pick a few of your favorites down the road and do a follow up video now without getting into too much detail. [00:05:30] It's impossible for me to do the math on these two cars in a way that will be exactly accurate for every one of you watching this video. Why, if we start with the BMW driving that car here in New York, we rate roughly the same emissions as if I were driving it in California, or let's say up in Alaska, for example, however, for an electric car, the source of energy has a significant impact on the overall carbon output of that car. That changes dramatically based on where you're charging your car. For example, according to EPA [00:06:00] data, Alaska is actually the most environmentally friendly state. When it comes to power generation, getting a whopping 65% of its electricity from renewable sources, the worst offender that's actually a wahoo believe or not, but since the longest road, there is only 44 miles. Speaker 1: It's not really a good comparison for this use case. So we're gonna stick to mainland United States of America. And here the least efficient power generation is in an area of the grid called the Midwest reliability organization east, which gets a whopping [00:06:30] 14% of its power from renewable sources. The majority of the rest of that comes from coal and natural gas. So to make this calculation as conservative as possible to make the EV have the worst possible environmental impact, I'm gonna do the math as if you lived in green bay, Wisconsin, go Packers. And here's what that data looks like. Again, using carbon outputs as provided by the EPA, a Tesla model three charge in green in bay would admit approximately 210 [00:07:00] grams of carbon dioxide per mile. That includes all emissions from power generation and even the losses in the grid required to get that electricity from the generation to the car itself. Speaker 1: Now let's look at the BMW BMW rates. The three 40 I xDrive as generating 168 grams of carbon per a kilometer driven. Now, since 1.6 kilometers are in a mile that comes out to 269 grams of carbon per mile in the BMW. In other words, charging your Tesla in the worst possible area [00:07:30] of the United States still comes out ahead, cleaner than the BMW, but hang on, cuz we're not quite done yet. The us department of energy estimates that for of before gallons of gas that you burn in your car, roughly one gallon of gas was burned just to get that gasoline to your car. And that means we need to increase the BMW's overall carbon dioxide per mile estimate by 25%, bringing it up to 336 grams of carbon per mile. That's about 50% higher than the Tesla. Even if you charge the Tesla in the, the worst possible place [00:08:00] here in the continental United States, that seems like a pretty comprehensive win for the Tesla, but there's one more thing we need to factor in. Speaker 1: And this one, unfortunately, won't work in the Tesla's favor. We need to figure out the amount of carbon generated in the production of the battery pack in the Tesla model three, because that's something that you don't have to do if you're going to buy BMW. So how much carbon dioxide is generated in the creation of a Tesla model three battery pack? Well only Tesla knows and sadly they ain't talking. The company does not produce [00:08:30] any reports, estimating the overall carbon impact of the generation of its battery packs. And so we're stuck looking at estimates. There are a lot of estimates out there, some more scientif valid than others. And I've read dozens and dozens to try to find a concrete example for how much CO2 is generated for the production of Atez model three battery pack. One of the most comprehensive studies that I read came from a Swedish PhD by the name of Simon Davidson Keland at Ole university. Speaker 1: It was a very comprehensive study in 2020 estimating energy production for [00:09:00] the Tesla gigger factory. And it estimated approximately 65 kilowat hours of electricity going into the creation of a single kilowat hour of battery for a Tesla battery pack. So if we do the math, that's forty eight hundred and seventy five kilowat hours of electricity just to produce the battery pack for at Tesla model three. However, there's a problem. That's only for the creation and manufacturing of the pack. Doesn't have anything to do with the actual mining of the resources that went into that pack. So I had to keep looking in the most comprehensive study overall that I found that had a really [00:09:30] complete picture of the package came from a resource called circular energy storage data, that it came from the argon national laboratory, which produces incredibly comprehensive data tracking everything to do with transportation in the United States of America. Speaker 1: That data concluded that a 100 kilowat hour battery pack from Tesla would generate approximately 7,300 kilograms in CO2 for its production. Now, since the Tesla model three has a 75 kilowat hour battery pack, we can scale that down a little bit, coming to a figure of 5,500 kilograms [00:10:00] of carbon dioxide released into the environment, just for the creation of the battery pack in the Tesla model three. So that means before you even drive your Tesla model three off of the Tesla dealership, lot, you're already 5,500 kilograms of carbon behind someone who bought a new BMW. Now, the question becomes, how far do you need to drive before we can balance the scales? As we did the math before the Tesla model three is roughly 116 grams, more efficient per mile, if you're driving in Wisconsin. And if you do the math on that, that comes out to 47,413 [00:10:30] miles before you reach that break in point. Speaker 1: And that sounds like a lot of miles, but that's actually three years of average driving for the average American. And after those three years, the Tesla is only gonna get more and more good for the environment than the BMW. Now, remember that's the worst case scenario. If instead you're charging your Tesla up in Alaska where it does only 130 grams of carbon per mile there, the BMW is a whopping 206 grams, less per mile. That brings those miles before [00:11:00] you break even down to 26,699 miles, or just about two years of average driving for the average American. So in the end, it really comes down to how much you drive and where you charge your electric car. But as we've shown, even if you're using the dirtiest possible electricity here in the continental us, it really doesn't take that long to break, even with a gasoline powered car. And after that, you're only doing good things for the environment. And as we move further into the future, as more and more of our electricity comes from sources [00:11:30] like hydro or wind or solar, those numbers are only going to get more favorable for the electric cars. So our EVs worse for the environment than gasoline powered cars. We can say, conclusively, no, no, they're not.

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