Craig Kelly Is Wrong: Electric Cars Are Better For The Environment Than Petrol Ones

Craig Kelly on electric cars

Craig Kelly Is Either Illiterate, Incompetent, or Machiavellian.  But I’m pretty sure it’s the middle one.

Toyota Prius Beats Nissan Leaf And Tesla S On CO2 Emissions In Australia

It has become clear to me there is some confusion over whether electric cars offer an environmental benefit in this country.  Craig Kelly, who is an extremely honorable Member of Parliament, has told the nation they result in more greenhouse emissions than conventional petrol cars.

If you are standing up while reading this you may want to sit down due to your shock when I tell you Craig Kelly is actually wrong on this.

When charged from the grid an electric car will result in around half the CO2 emissions per kilometer driven than the average Australian passenger car.  When the greater emissions resulting from its manufacture are taken into account, EVs emit around one-third less per kilometer.

But at the moment what beats both conventional petrol powered cars and electric vehicles charged from the grid is a fuel-efficient hybrid.  Currently the most efficient model of Toyota Prius is almost certain to beat a grid charged electric car on total emissions over an average lifespan of 10+ years.  But as Australia’s grid becomes cleaner, grid charged electric cars will eventually beat hybrids on total emissions.

How Much CO2 Does A Petrol Car Emit?

According to the Department of Environment and Energy a litre of petrol contains 629 grams of carbon1.  When burned this will combine with 1.68 kilograms of oxygen to create 2.3 kilograms of CO2.  While this is bad enough, it’s actually much worse because:

  1. Small amounts of other gases that are very strong greenhouse gases are also released, such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) which has 300 times the warming potential of CO2.
  2. Large amounts of greenhouse gases are released extracting, transporting, and refining oil.

This study gives a total CO2 equivalent of 3.15 kilograms of CO2 emitted per litre of petrol burned with around 81% of the emissions directly from burning the petrol, 13% from extraction and transportation, and around 6% from refining2.

The average Australian passenger car gets 9.1 kilometers per liter so each kilometer results in greenhouse gases equal to 346 grams of CO2 equivalent being emitted into the atmosphere.3  This is mostly CO2, but the figure is bumped up slightly to account for other greenhouse gases.  As the average Australian passenger car is driven around 14,000 kilometers a year this comes to around 4.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year.

Not All Petrol Powered Cars Are Equal

The modern internal combustion engine is a miracle of engineering and is pretty much at the limit of what can be achieved without adding an extra layer of complexity and expense to what is already an extremely sophisticated machine.  While there are always reports of new improvements that can be made to boost efficiency, not a lot is likely to come from them because the resulting price increase means it will probably make more sense to get a hybrid or go electric4.

Because of this, the main way to reduce the fuel consumption of petrol powered cars is to buy a small one with low performance.  While having a car with poor performance has little effect on our lives and is more likely to keep you out of trouble than put you in a situation where low acceleration stops you getting out of trouble, a lot of people want good performance and all electric cars capable of highway speeds (which is all of them in Australia) offer this.

So if you get a little petrol powered car like a Fiat Cabrino it will burn less than half the petrol per kilometer of the average passenger car and only result in around 155 grams of emissions per kilometer, but regrettably it doesn’t have the size or performance most people are looking for.  The proper comparison would be a small, poor performance hybrid or electric car, but they don’t really exist in this country.  (The smaller and cheaper Prius C has worse fuel efficiency than the larger one.)  But if it’s all you need, a small, low performance, petrol powered car can result in less emissions than an electric car such as the Nissan Leaf charged with today’s grid power.

How Much CO2 Does A Fuel Efficient Hybrid Emit?

According to the Australian Government’s GreenVehicleGuide site the most fuel-efficient model of Toyota Prius hybrid gets 29.4 kilometers per litre.

This results in only 31% as much CO25 emissions as the average passenger car, which comes to around 107 grams per kilometer driven.  Using the 14,000 kilometer a year average, that comes to 1.5 tonnes a year or 3.3 tonnes less than the average conventional petrol powered passenger car.

There are a number of hybrid cars in Australia but this is the most efficient one.  Note that while the Prius does have a battery onboard, it is only charged by the petrol motor or by braking and this model is never plugged in to charge.

2018 Toyota Prius

A 2018 Toyota Prius. Image: Toyota

How Much CO2 Does An Electric Car Emit?

The 2018 Nissan Leaf has a 40 kilowatt-hour battery pack.  But not all of it is usable.  The car will always keep some charge in the battery because being completely drained is bad for its health.  The original Leaf battery would allow a depth of discharge of 89%.

The Tesla S 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack is actually only an 81 kilowatt-hour battery back6 and would only let you use around 77 of them for a depth of discharge of 95%.  But the newer Tesla 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack is actually 102.4 kilowatt-hours7 and allows you to use 98.4 of them for a depth of discharge of 96%.  I don’t know what depth of discharge the 2018 Nissan Leaf will allow but I will go with 95%.  If you feel this is too high please feel free to fill in your own figures with a permanent marker on your screen.

According to the US EPA8 the 2018 Leaf has a range of 243 kilometers on a single charge.  So with 38 usable kilowatt-hours this means each kilometer driven would consume 0.16 kilowatt-hours.

2018 Nissan Leaf

A 2018 Nissan Leaf. Image: Nissan

Battery Charging Losses

But that’s for energy already in the battery and shoving it in there can can involve considerable losses.  People charging an electric vehicle from a normal power point can have charging losses of 30% or more.  When using a dedicated home charger9 losses can be only 12%, although they are often worse.  For now I will use a figure of 12% for charging losses and hope things improve in the future.  (Which they should.)

This means the 2018 Nissan Leaf will need to be charged with 0.18 kilowatt-hours of electricity to drive 1 kilometer.  On average 910 grams of CO2 are emitted for each kilowatt-hour of grid electricity consumed in Australia, according to page 74 of this report, so each kilometer driven in the Leaf will result in approximately 164 grams of CO2 emissions when it is charged with grid electricity.  This comes to around 2.5 tonnes less CO2 per year than the average petrol burning passenger vehicle.

Tesla S Emissions

If you want to look at an electric sports car, while there is some variation between battery sizes, the Tesla S will result in around 182 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer driven when charged from the grid.  So an electric sports car only uses around 11% more energy per kilometer than the Leaf while a conventional sports car like the Ferrari 430 results in about 75% more CO2 emissions per kilometer than the average petrol powered passenger car.

Tesla Model S

My Tesla Model S (I got a good trade in on my Ferrari 430). Image: Tesla

Hybrids Are Clear Winners On Emissions Per Kilometer

When the information is put in a graph it is very easy to see that an electric car like the Leaf results in less than half the emissions of an average petrol powered car per kilometer driven when charged from the grid, while a fuel efficient hybrid results in less than one-third.

Comparing CO2 Emissions - Petrol, Hybrid and Electric Car

Craig Kelly Clearly Either Didn’t Read Or Didn’t Understand The Study He Uses To Support His Position

So if a Leaf only emits 47% as much CO2 per kilometer as the average passenger car when charged from the grid and a Tesla S about 53%, how did Member for Parliament Craig Kelly conclude that electric cars emit more than conventional passenger vehicles?  He did it by including emissions that result from their manufacture.  But he didn’t do it correctly.

On his facebook page he wrote:

“Study after study clearly demonstrates that buying & driving an electric car in Australia actually INCREASES carbon dioxide emissions.”

And then he mentions this study:

Emissions study

Kelly says the study concludes:

“Greenhouse gas emissions of battery electric vehicles are 50% higher than internal combustion engine vehicles”

But it doesn’t conclude this at all, so Kelly either didn’t read it or he read it and didn’t understand it.  Those are the only two options I can see unless you want to get all Machiavellian and think he read it, understood it, and then for secret reasons of his own devising he decided to lie in order to give the impression he is either incompetent or uncomprehending.

What the study does conclude is that manufacturing an electric vehicle in China emits 50% more greenhouse gases than manufacturing an internal combustion engine vehicle.  It’s about cradle-to-gate emissions, which means from the start of manufacture to out the factory gate.  I can only guess that Kelly misunderstood and thought it was cradle-to-grave, which is until the vehicle gets scrapped.

The study found manufacturing an electric car resulted in around 5.1 tonnes more CO2 emissions10 than a conventional one in China.  Assuming the same figure applies for the Nissan Leaf manufactured in Japan, if it is charged from the grid and driven the average number of kilometers per year it will result in around 2.5 tonnes less CO2 per year than a conventional car.  This means it will only take two years to make up for the additional emissions from its manufacture.

The average car age in Australia is 10.1 years, but if a Leaf lasts for 12 years11, which I don’t think is unreasonable as electric motors are far more durable than internal combustion ones, then its total cradle-to-grave emissions would be 63% that of the average petrol passenger car with the same lifespan.  That’s more than one-third less.

I hope Kelly realizes that after a mistake of this magnitude he has to admit he was wrong, otherwise people will start to assume he doesn’t care about the truth and begin to suspect everything that comes out of his mouth.12

A Cradle-To-Grave Comparison

Unfortunately, I don’t have good figures for the additional emissions that result from producing a Prius hybrid compared to a conventional car.  It appears Toyota hasn’t released them.  While there will be additional emissions they should be much less than those that result from an electric car, so I’m just going to say one tonne more.  Graphing the estimated lifetime emissions of the three vehicles gives:

Car CO2 emissions including manufacturing

The Grid Is Getting Cleaner

In the example above I assumed the grid will remain as dirty as it is now for 12 years but, fortunately, that is not going to be the case.  Over the past 10 years the amount of CO2 emitted per kilowatt-hour of grid electricity consumed has fallen by around 11% and this will accelerate as Australia’s aging coal power plants are shut down and replaced with renewable energy13.  The next big planned closure is Liddell Power Station in 2022 and AGL is planning to mostly replace its capacity with renewables and demand management.

Batteries Will Become Cleaner

Battery technology has come a long way over the last 10 years and while the rate of improvement may slow, it’s not about to stop.  Battery manufacture will become more efficient over time and the energy requirements less.  In addition, the energy used will become cleaner as more renewable capacity is added to the world’s electricity grids.  Hybrid cars may become more efficient in the future, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for further improvements.  At least not when it comes to burning petrol.

Electric Cars Will Eventually Beat Hybrids

For a grid charged electric car to beat a current fuel-efficient hybrid on total emissions including manufacture, the amount of CO2 emitted by grid generation would have to fall by almost half.  If the manufacture of an electric car results in 4 tonnes more emissions than manufacturing a hybrid, then over a 12 year lifespan grid electricity emissions would have to average 54% of what they are now for a electric cars to be cleaner than hybrids.  While I hope emissions from Australia’s electricity sector will fall by almost half within 6 years, this is not what is generally predicted.  So it looks like a fuel efficient hybrid will beat a grid charged electric car on total emissions for years to come.

What If I Live In A State With Lots Of Renewables?

So far I’ve assumed electric cars will be charged with grid electricity with average CO2 emissions for Australia.  But South Australia and Tasmania both generate huge amounts of electricity from renewables.  In Tasmania emissions from grid electricity are less than 19% of the nation’s average.  This makes it appear an electric car would already result in less emissions than a hybrid there, but in practice this isn’t the case.

This is because Tasmania’s grid is connected to Victoria and any clean electricity that isn’t used in state is exported to the mainland where it reduces emissions there.  So charging your electric car in Hobart will result in greater emissions across Bass Strait.  Because of transmission losses it will be slightly greener than charging it in Victoria, but it’s not a large difference and using a grid powered electric car in Tasmania will result in greater emissions than charging one in mostly fossil fuel powered Western Australia, which is not connected to Victoria’s extremely dirty grid.

What If I Charge My Car With Rooftop Solar?

If you have rooftop solar at the moment then the solar electricity you export to the grid is reducing emissions from fossil fuel generation.  If you buy an electric car and start charging it with your surplus solar electricity then it will no longer be reducing emissions and so the net effect will be no better than charging it with grid electricity.  Technically, you will only be reducing emissions if you installed extra solar capacity that you wouldn’t have got if you hadn’t bought an electric car.

A 2018 Nissan Leaf will require around 2,500 or more kilowatt-hours to drive the annual average of 14,000 kilometers.  For a typical Australian household this will only require around 2 kilowatts or less of north facing solar panels or less, so if you are getting solar I suggest going big and telling yourself those extra kilowatts are in case you get an electric car in the future.

Expanding Renewables Could Change Things Quickly

At the moment clean renewable energy almost never goes to waste14.  But this could potentially change in just a few years.  If the new SA government doesn’t start blocking renewables it may not be that long before before periods when there is more than enough renewable electricity generated to meet demand start to become frequent.  If and when this starts to occur electric cars can be charged with clean power that would otherwise go to waste, lowering their average emissions per kilometer and allowing them to beat fuel-efficient hybrids on emissions sooner than in other states.

Other Environmental Considerations Besides CO2

In addition to greenhouse gases, petrol and diesel powered cars also spew a wide range of toxins into the air which people then suck into their lungs.  It is estimate that vehicle pollution kills over 1,000 Australians per year.  Last year there were under 1,300 road accident fatalities so air pollution from cars could be killing more people than car crashes and could be costing Australia over $10 billion a year.

If we assume the amount is $10 billion, then with around 1.2 million cars sold in the country each year we could spend $8,000 ensuring each new car sold is electric and the country could still come out ahead overall on cost.15  Toxic vehicle pollution would be greatly reduced if fuel-efficient hybrids were used, but would not be eliminated.

Should I Buy A Hybrid Or An Electric Car?

If you buy a fuel-efficient hybrid you will be reducing your greenhouse gas emissions and exhaust toxins by far more than the average car buyer, so good on you.

If you buy an electric car and a couple of kilowatts of rooftop solar capacity to power it, then you can drive with no emissions per kilometer and, when driven the average amount for an Australian car, you are likely to pay off the extra emissions that result from its manufacture in a little over a year.  Also, when you drive, your car will emit zero toxins into the air we breath and you will be saving lives, provided you run over fewer people than average.

Personally I hope you’ll take the electric car plus solar route, but either choice is better than the traditional approach.


  1. See page 64 of this PDF.
  2. These figures are for Europe, but there would be little difference for Australian petrol.
  3. In the comments Athomas has made the very good point that I should be looking at the average fuel consumption for new passenger cars and not the average for the fleet.  Looking at information for 2016 which appears to be the latest available I see the average fuel efficiency for conventional passenger vehicles is 9.4 kilometers per liter and not the 9.1 I used.  This is a 3.5% improvement.  If this improvement has continued then conventional passenger cars bought this year might use 4-5% less fuel than the figure I used.  Unfortunately, it appears that over the same time fuel efficiency has actually been getting worse as car manufacturers get better at gaming the system and doing well on fuel efficiency tests and not fuel efficiency in real life.  The largest cheats apparently include hybrid vehicles.  Due to the nature of electric motors I would expect electric cars to cheat less, but I would want to see the results of real world testing.
  4. Using natural gas instead of petrol or diesel is one way to reduce emissions — provided leaks are controlled it can result in a greater reduction than using LPG — but without a carbon price there is little incentive to use it.
  5. CO2 equivalent , actually.  Just add in the word “equivalent” yourself from now on.  I couldn’t be bothered typing it.
  6. A clear breach of Australian Consumer Law.
  7. A clear non-breach of Australian Consumer Law — but this doesn’t make up for all the breaches they’ve busted through it in the past.
  8. Fuel economy figures from the US EPA are reasonable but figures from Europe are way too optimistic and they really need to take a Bex and lie down.
  9. An electric car home charger will probably set you back a couple of grand and electric car warranties can require you have one installed.  This is an often overlooked cost of electric vehicles.
  10. Again, this is CO2 equivalent including any greenhouse gases other than CO2 that may have been emitted.
  11. Sports cars, which the Nissan Leaf isn’t, bring down the average age of cars because people like to drive them fast.
  12. I know I assumed he was completely reliable up until now.
  13. The generation mix will include dispatchable sources of power to ensure electricity demand is met.
  14. Export limited solar systems are the exception to this and if you can charge your electric car with solar electricity that otherwise be wasted it is very effective at reducing emissions.
  15. It would be more economically efficient to put a price on pollution than to subsidize electric cars, but I’m not going to go into that at the moment.
About Ronald Brakels

Joining SolarQuotes in 2015, Ronald has a knack for reading those tediously long documents put out by solar manufacturers and translating their contents into something consumers might find interesting. Master of heavily researched deep-dive blog posts, his relentless consumer advocacy has ruffled more than a few manufacturer's feathers over the years. Read Ronald's full bio.


  1. joe lihou says

    Kelly is just another fossil still attached to the fossil brigade called the coalition of the “A”‘s Abbott Andrews and Abetz all “Arseholes”

  2. Richard Maddever says

    Spot on except for disappointing lack of acknowledgement of harm done to humans from other noxious particles and gases, eg diesel exhaust (also hydrocarbon?) and NO2, for example.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I did mention that including how pollution from cars could be costing Australia more than road accidents. I threw in a back of the envelope calculation showing we could come out ahead by paying $8,000 a car to go electric just on health benefits alone. There are of course a wide range of ways to reduce toxic pollution from cars, so that’s not the only option.

  3. Howard Patrick says

    “Craig Kelly, “who is an extremely honorable Member of Parliament””.

    Next thing you will suggesting the rest of Kelly’s RWRNJ group are also honorable people.

    To a person ignorant when it comes to the science behind explaining anthropogenic climate change but as honorable as the person he said, in 2009, he would not lead a party as committed to climate change as him.

  4. Won’t surplus renewable power in SA be transferred to Victoria via the interconnector because the SA renewable power will be cheaper (very low marginal cost of production) than Victorian coal fired power.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      This already happens. When renewable production in SA is higher than state demand the excess gets exported to Victoria. As a result charging an electric car here in South Australia means less clean or cleaner (the state always has some gas generators operating) energy is exported to Victoira. There are times when renewable output is very higher than demand and the ability of interconnectors to export it, but these events are rare.

      • Graham Revill says

        Would the demand peak in SA occur later than in Victoria so the flo might be to Victoria until the peak occurs in SA
        I have read that western China is planning (they have probably finished by now) a 5000 km DC link to europe so they can sell PV from the deserts in the east to the european consumption peak.
        Does this mean that we could put PV farms in WA and sell the power to the eastern states? If we fiddled with daylight saving a bit this might put the afternoon peaks right out of synch and be very productive. (I believe this would cause all the cows to fade and give strawberry milk)

        Cradle to GRAVE
        I think there might be more value in a scrapped electric car because the electric motor might only need new bearings to be almost new again and the battery can probably be used in a stationary domestic supply.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Peak grid demand does tend to occur later in SA than Victoria. While it would be possible to link WA to eastern Australia it would be expensive. A two gigawatt line from perth to Melbourne or Sydney would probably cost a couple of billion. Maybe more. So it might be cheaper to invest in pumped hydro, CSP with thermal storage, batteries, etc. instead.

  5. Bret Busby says

    Ther article includes

    “On average 910 grams of CO2 are emitted for each kilowatt-hour of grid electricity consumed in Australia, according to page 74 of this report,”

    Givern that the report is produced in the name of the same government that tells us that coal is clean, and that burning coal is clean and non-polluting, and is healthy, do you really believe any of the content of such a document?

    Especially when the feral government reconstructed the CSIRO to eliminate scientists and replaced them with witchdoctors who predict based on the way the entrails are hanging?

    Also, whilst the article refers to gaseous emissions, in the comparison of coal fired electricity to cars burning petrol, would you rather sit beind a petrol-powered car, or, sit behind the exhaust stack of a coal-fired steam locomotive?

    The article appears to omit reference to the particulate emissions of the coal and diesel burning components of the electricity grids, and, now that lead has been removd from petrol that is burnt in cars, cars, as far as I am aware, do not produce particulate emissions (well, sometimes, they may emit sparks, that start grass fires and bush fires, but, that is another story).

    And, the wilful damage to humans, through burning coal (here, have another choking cough, and, see whether we can succeed in killing you, this time) is quite apart from the harm to the environment, that is the recursive effect of burning coal to generate electricity..

    Burning coal to generate electricity. produces soot, that goes into the atmosphere. The soot in the atmosphere, inhibits the solar radiant energy, that makes its way to the photovoltaic panels. So, the photovolataic panels produce less electricity, than if the soot, blocking the view of the sun, was not there. So, coal has to be buurnt, to generate the electricity to make up the shortfall, due to the soot in the air, from burning coal to generate electricity. And, burning coal to generate electricity. produces soot, that goes into the atmosphere. The soot in the atmosphere, inhibits the solar radiant energy, that makes its way to the photovoltaic panels. So, the photovolataic panels produce less electricity, than if the soot, blocking the view of the sun, was not there.. So, coal has to be buurnt, to generate the electricity to make up the shortfall, due to the soot in the air, from buring coal to generate electricity. And, …


    That is what you get when you drive a ar that is powered by burning coal. You get a disruption to the time/space/air continuum, driving the country and the world, back in time, through the disruption to the continuum, from the disturbance due to driving an electric car.

    Of course, if all grid electricity was generated from clean energy sources, such as photovoltaic power and wind energy, it would be completely different.

    But, while grid electricity is generated by the burning of diesel and coal, leading to the particulate emissions, and lots of Sooty Bears flying around and exponentially breeding, and disrupting human health, the environment, and, the ability to more efficiently generate electricity using photovoltaic generation, we will have the recursively increasing (have you ever seen the effect of recursively calling a binary process fork?) soot production and harm thereby caused to the environment, by the use of electric cars that are not always recharged from clean energy sources.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Craig Kelly can go on national TV and say electric cars result in more emissions than petrol ones and tell people to go to the GreenVehiceGuide and look it up when the GreenVehicleGuide doesn’t say that. At best it says some small fuel efficient petrol cars have lower lifetime emissions when charged from the current grid. He can do that. There’s nothing stopping him, except concern about his own reputation.

      But he can’t change what is written in the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors report. It is written by people who actually understand these things and they would refuse or quit if politicians attempted to make them lie. It is very easy to double check the figures and they do not appear off to me.

  6. Bret Busby says

    “Craig Kelly, “who is an extremely honorable Member of Parliament””

    “honorable Member of Parliament” ?

    That is, to quote the wise man Danny De Vito, “an oxymoron”, like “military intelligence”.

  7. David Knox says

    Many people confuse CO2 (dioxide) with CO (monoxide) and Ronald you are one of them.
    The exhaust of an internal combustion engine produces carbon monoxide which is a deadly poisonous gas.
    Air breathing animals, which include us humans, breath in air but breath out CO2 along with nitrogen and other gases.
    Plants do us a big favour, they take in CO2 during daytime and at night, expel oxygen.
    Greenhouse gas fiasco is thus nothing to do with CO2 … it is a natural gas and life on earth would not exist without it.

    So please all you scaremongers on the CO2 bandwagon … get your facts right … be informed.

  8. Ronald,
    The average emission figure of 155h/km includes all cars currently on the road.
    Contemporary petrol cars have lower figures.

    Mitsibushi MY17 Mirage ES/EL = 109gm/km
    Your calculation for the Tesla Model S 85kWh = 182g/km
    Call that a 50% reduction for the petrol car.

    Generally, the manufacturing emissions of similar sized ICEV and BEV are within a few tons of each other, where the difference is relatively small compared to the total tailpipe.

    Over 100,000km, the Mirage tailpipe would be 10.9 tons, and the Tesla, 18.2 tons, with the difference increasing with increasing distance. For shorter distances, the large manufacturing ghg of the battery increases the effective
    g/km figure. (The large battery is necessary for the BEV to compete on range.)

    Significantly reduced global grid ghg is an assumption, though could be said to lower the manufacturing ghg of the petrol car, and not just the BEV.

    Petrol cars and hybrids can better the BEV here and now, while leaving promised renewable generation to offset coal generation. Like home storage, BEVs are just another promise.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      That is a very good point, Athomas, I should be using the economy figures for the average new conventional petrol powered car rather than the average for the fleet. Looking here:

      I see the average for 2016 for passenger cars was 9.4 kilometers per liter 3.5% less. So perhaps 4% or 5% less if the improvement has continued.

      Unfortunately, looking further, I see it appears that over this time fuel efficiency has actually gotten worse as car manufacturers have gotten better at gaming the system and are getting better at cheating on the fuel efficiency tests:

      With apparently hybrids being the worst cheats. I assume electric cars cheat less due to the nature of electric motors, but I’d definitely like to see the results of testing done under real life conditions.

      • Ronald,
        Either you stand by the figures you offered, or you don’t.
        The first reference is for national fleet averages, and not for the cars produced in the given MY year. The AAA’s reference doesn’t name the models of the cars.
        “Real-world fuel consumption of popular European passenger car models”

        ICCT fleet figure is12.5km/litre for the higher ‘speedy’ use case.

        Gasoline engines can definitely be improved, whereas BEVs are close to their efficiency limit, and dependent upon grid for further reduction.

        As it stands, annual global generation is 24,000TWh, and expanding to
        35,0000 TWh by 2040 – orders of magnitude faster than renewables are replacing the fossil generation being constructed to meet the increasing demand. China and India are parts of the world, too.

        Numerically, each kWh spent on the BEV, could replace fossil generation
        ( ~900kg/kWh) rather than adding to the electrical load.

        BEV batteries represent a concentrated accumulation of CO2, CO, NOx, SOx (to name a few) ) that somehow, is ‘redeemed’ by driving the car. Expansion of the BEV would dump large amounts in a short time.

        For current vehicles, the margin is already in favour of the hybrid/gasoline vehicle. The larger opportunity for ghg reduction lies in replacing coal generation, rather than expend the same energy upon BEVs.

        It may be popular to label politicians as idiots supporting coal, but what
        do you say when those same idiots also offer BEV and home battery incentives?

        • Should read 34,000TWh by 2040, which is an increase of 11,000TWh over the next 22 years. (Australian generation is currently around 250TWh).

          Coal is still the largest source of electrical generation, followed by natural gas. If any data can be taken as factual, and renewable growth continues as predicted, there will be no significant reduction from the current overall global ghg/kWh average.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          If you are asking if I am certain the average fuel consumption for Australian passenger cars is 9.1 kilometers per liter or that the average for passenger cars in 2016 was 9.4 kilometers per liter then, no, I am definitely not certain. If you are asking if I am certain they are the most up to date figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics I could find, then yes I am certain of that.

          I agree with you that it would have been better to compare the average for cars now, or at least 2016 which is the most recent year I have figures for and I have added a note stating that to the article. But nothing in the article is wrong, as far as I am aware, and no conclusions change. If there are any figures in the article that are not correct, point them out and I will update the article.

    • I was in the market for a new car in the price range of $10,000-300,000. I had narrowed it down to a choice between the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Tesla Model S P100D. Thank you for this info, now I know to buy the Mirage.

  9. Bret Busby says

    Ronald – I like that the link that you provided for the exhaust gases for internal combustion engines, shows that diesel fuelled vehicles produce, as a proportion of their emissions, 10% oxygen.


    Also, of note, that a web page linked from that web page;
    , shows that of the flue emissions of coal fired power plants, 12% is ash. (“have another choking cough, on the government, and, we’ll see whether we have succeeded in killing you, yet”).

    Regarding the

    “But he can’t change what is written in the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors report. It is written by people who actually understand these things and they would refuse or quit if politicians attempted to make them lie.”

    I understood that the feral government had got rid of all of the credible scientists from the CSIRO and the EPA, and replaced them with witchdoctors, like Joyce got rid of the credible people at the APVMA, with his taxpayer-funded pork barrel he supplied to his hillbilly electorate (Well, they did vote for Joyce, didn’t they?).

  10. Ian Hawkins says

    Sorry but you are wrong about Craig Kelly, who is unfortunately my local MP.
    I seriously doubt there is a more stupid man on the planet.
    And from today, founder member of and shouty-person for the Monash Group, the creme de la creme of the batshit mental faction of the LNP that eats, sleeps with and orgasms over coal

    • Wayne Robinson says

      Ian, no you’re wrong. My MP Ian Goodenough is the most stupid man on the planet. He signed the Monash Forum letter not knowing what it was. Or so he says.

      • ahem!…… did anyone check the IQ of the people who voted for these two (or ANY) politician for that matter)??
        Maths proposition:…….. If 1,000,000 people with an average IQ of 100 (stats) vote for a particular politician, does that mean each of those voters had an IQ 0.00001?
        (and yes, I know this is one for Finn the engineer.)

  11. This site should actively make it known it does not support the LNP COALition party as far as Energy is concerned. Put it on this site’s front page Finn. Now I’m in trouble for saying too much!

    • I think that’s abundantly clear from dozens of articles in the blog. It doesn’t need to be on the front page (and any wise businessperson would surely agree).

    • Hey! Don’t knock ‘The Site’, which thus proves it DOES have half-a-brain!

  12. I’d also like to let some MP’s in on a secret… Petrol (Gasoline) doesn’t “really” come from a petrol station. It’s that elephant in the room that conveniently is over looked time and time again.

    • Again:- Stupid though politicians are (and remember their ‘profession requires NO brains or other qualifications), they’re cunning enough to know that restricting ~ or banning ~ the unfettered use of gasoline would see them out looking for an actual job in about 32 seconds.

  13. Thankfully, our grid in Portugal is already quite green. Check it out:

    But even if you have the worst meanest grid in the world, it’s always a good idea to go EV. EVs and renewables are perfect for each other. It’s basically a giant battery that stands still and may be plugged in 90% of the time. Also, something that wasn’t quite clear to me, when you say “litre of petrol … create 2.3 kilograms of CO2” do you mean extraction, refining and burning? Or just the car will produce that amount driving around on one litre of fuel? Anyway you look at it, EVs are a part of the future, no doubt

  14. Ron, I think you need to change the bulb in your Sarcasm Alert ™ warning light. Looks like several readers took your use of the word “honorable” literally.

    For those still in doubt I suggest reading the big orange words at the top of the article. The clue is in the first four words.

  15. Peter Seligman says

    Ricardo I suggest you read the article, which says: “According to the Department of Environment and Energy a litre of petrol contains 629 grams of carbon1. When burned this will combine with 1.68 kilograms of oxygen to create 2.3 kilograms of CO2. While this is bad enough, it’s actually much worse because:

    Small amounts of other gases that are very strong greenhouse gases are also released, such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) which has 300 times the warming potential of CO2.
    Large amounts of greenhouse gases are released extracting, transporting, and refining oil.
    This study gives a total CO2 equivalent of 3.15 kilograms of CO2 emitted per litre of petrol burned with around 81% of the emissions directly from burning the petrol, 13% from extraction and transportation, and around 6% from refining

    • From the cited paper:
      “Standard midsize passenger ICEV and BEV with NMC/LFP batteries are chosen as the reference vehicles. The total energy consumption and GHG emissions are 63,515 MJ, 9985 kg CO2eq for an ICEV, 92,392 MJ,
      15,005 kg CO2eq for a BEV with an NMC battery and 94,341 MJ, 15,174 kg CO2eq for an EV with an LFP battery. Comparatively speaking, the values for an EV are about 50% higher than those for an ICEV.”

      The study is cradle to grave. Over the life of the vehicle, the BEV produces 5,020kg CO2eq more than the ICEV, and consumes 8,877MJ more energy.

      Expresses as g/km or not, the BEV leaves behind far more CO2eq, and uses more energy.

      BEV’s have been promoted upon the tailpipe emissions, where the manufacturing costs of the vehicle and battery were ignored. The total
      exceeds the ICEV and its tailpipe.

      The paper refers to the US case:
      “Several former research studies have provided benchmarks for the energy consumption or GHG emissions of ICEVs or BEVs. Argonne National Laboratory estimated the level in the U.S. and revealed that the GHG
      emissions of an ICEV are 7052 kg CO2eq,and the number for an equivalent BEV with NMC/LFP battery was 9,450/9222 kg CO2eq [18], ICEV 7,052kg CO2eq”

      In the US, the BEV produces 2,398kg more CO2e. BEVs are a “not in my back yard” solution, where the costs of material production are ignored, or sent offshore.

      Facile solutions are convenient for politicians, who can wave their green credentials, and offer incentives. This blog notes that home storage batteries add ghg from use and manufacture. The BEV is the same.

  16. Bret Busby in Western Australia says

    athomas – the acronyms are obscurantist.

    • Well, Bret Busby, that was a profound and valuable contribution. Let me help you:

      BEV = battery powered vehicle
      ICEV = internal combustion powered vehicle
      GHG = greenhouse gas
      NMC = Ni-Cad chemistry battery
      LFP = Lithium – iron – phosphate chemistry battery
      EV = electric powered vehicle
      CO2eq = carbon dioxide or equivalent (as Ronald himself said he got bored writing)
      MJ = Megajoules
      and, since I don’t know just how ignorant you are) kg = kilograms, g/km = grams per kilometre.

      There! Now you can go back and read and understand a really good posting which might challenge your ingrained prejudices. Enjoy!

  17. One thing that wasn’t considered in the article: the government is addicted to fuel tax. It makes 40c a litre. Last year Australian vehicles used 32,730 megalitres of fuel. That’s roughly $AUD 8 billion. Its probably a bit less as I think some industries get fuel excise rebates but its a lot.
    IMO Australia is actually missing out on an enormous opportunity here to change our economy to a hi tech one that doesn’t rely on pulling minerals out of the ground. We are ideally situated with an excellent climate and coastline for solar, wind and hydro power plus we have plenty of the natural resources needed.
    While others argue about whether Ronald is right or wrong about carbon costs per kilometre, EVs win hands down if both our grid and the world’s grid transform to more renewables. And who’s holding that back in Aust – might be people like Craig Kelly?
    A 70 megawatt solar farm is planned for the “gigafactory” (I think its a long way from being giga yet) and they’re claiming it will be a zero emission facility which will reduce the carbon footprint of Tesla’s batteries. Provided Elon can find the money to finish it!
    All the roadblocks (excuse the pun) will be brushed aside eventually by economics as renewables get cheaper and fossil fuels more expensive. Even if Australia has to be dragged kicking and screaming all the way.

  18. Does anyone have any figures on comparison of CO2 emissions from grid charged electric cars to cars run on 100% ethanol, as it would have to be close to a carbon neutral fuel, not to mention not having to dump and rebuild a vehicle

  19. Ian. Wilkins says

    I wonder which oil company or coal company will Craig Kelly work for when he is booted out of parliament

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