One Kilowatt Of Solar Makes Electric Cars Greener Than Hybrids

Electric cars beat hybrids on emissions

Electric cars beat hybrids on emissions thanks to additional rooftop solar power

Pop Quiz:  Which results in greater CO2 per kilometre?  An all electric car (EV) or a fuel efficient hybrid?

Answer:  An electric car charged from the Australian grid will result in around twice the emissions per kilometre driven.

Some find this surprising, while others already know Australia’s coal-heavy grid results in grid-charged EVs charged cooking the planet more than hybrids.  Possibly because I briefly mentioned it in this article two years ago.  But we can’t automatically conclude hybrids are environmentally better than fully electric vehicles.  It depends on the situation and there are several factors to consider:

  • Most new car buyers base their purchase at least partially on performance and electric cars can have far better acceleration than the typical hybrid.
  • The Australian grid is getting greener and coal generation has dropped from a peak of around 86% of generation to around 66% today.
  • It requires less than one additional kilowatt of rooftop solar to offset an electric car’s emissions, so they’ll be less than those of a fuel efficient hybrid if they are driven the average distance for Australian passenger cars.

Because many people will buy electric vehicles for their performance, a fuel efficient hybrid often won’t be an appropriate comparison, as the majority of EVs can seriously out-accelerate them.  Also, because buying an electric car often prompts people to install rooftop solar power or increase their current solar panel capacity, this can result in lower overall emissions than purchasing a non-plug-in hybrid.

While I don’t have any statistics on how much extra rooftop solar people are likely to install as a result of getting an EV, I know my boss Finn is looking at installing another 12 kilowatts of solar panels now he has a Tesla S to hoon around in.

Petrol Passenger Car Emissions

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian petrol powered passenger vehicle only gets 9.4 kilometers to the litre.  This is awful, although a few places, such as Canada where people are in the habit of driving continental siege machines around, still have us beat.  It would be nice if we were improving in this area, but the nation’s vehicle fuel efficiency has been getting worse.

Only 9.4 kilometers to the litre comes to 106 ml of petrol per kilometre.  Burning this results in 244 grams of CO2 per farting out of the exhaust.  In addition to this there are emissions from extracting, refining, and transporting petroleum products.  One estimate is they equal 13% of the exhaust emissions, which makes the average emissions for Australian petrol passenger cars 275 grams per kilometer.

Hybrid Emissions

Finding out the tailpipe CO2 emissions of hybrid cars is easy enough thanks to the Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide site.1  I’ve put the information it gave me for the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of six hybrids below.  These are not plug-in hybrids so they are only fueled by petrol and never charged with electricity.  (Emissions for plug-in hybrids are higher.)  I’ve underlined the grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer for combined cycle — a mix of town and country driving — in red:

Hybrid vehicle emissions comparison

Of these 6 hybrid vehicles 5 are Toyotas.  This is not surprising as Toyota developed modern hybrid cars2 and any hybrid you see probably uses their technology to some extent.  They were expecting the 2020s to be the decade of the hybrid car and my understanding is they were royally pissed off that full electrics stole the crown for “potentially most environmentally friendly vehicle”.  But Toyota has come around and will be selling a full electric car in their test market of China this year.

The emission figures in the graph above only show what comes out of the exhaust.  After they’re Increased by 13% to allow for emissions that result from getting petrol to the vehicle, the lowest emission hybrid results in around 90 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

While it’s possible for non-plug-in hybrids to become more fuel efficient in the future, there’s not much scope for this3 without reducing their performance and most research and development is now going into electric vehicles.

EV Emissions

The exhaust emissions of full electric vehicles are easy to work out.  They don’t have exhausts, so it’s zero.  But EVs do cause CO2 emissions when charged from the grid, as most of that energy comes from fossil fuels.  The good news is grid emissions are falling as renewable generating capacity expands.  This includes rooftop solar, so thanks to everyone who has installed it.

This report says the average emissions per kilowatt-hour for grid supplied electricity in the National Electricity Market — which doesn’t include WA or NT — is 720 grams per kilowatt-hour.  But just like oil there are also emissions from extracting and transporting fossil fuels and this adds roughly 11% to the total, increasing it to 800 grams.

To get emissions per kilometer we’ll need to know how many kilometers an electric car gets per kilowatt-hour.  Here’s how far a selection of electric vehicles travel on one kilowatt-hour of electrical energy from their battery packs according to the Green Vehicle Guide site:

Kilometres of EV range per kilowatt hour of battery energy

km per kWh – according to the government’s Green Car Guide website

There is a fair bit of variation with the Hyundai Ioniq coming out on top.  These distances are only for energy already in the car’s batteries and losses that occur getting that energy in there need to be accounted for.  These can come to less than 10%, but it depends on the battery and how it’s charged and can be much worse.  To keep things simple, I’m just assuming an electric car will travel 5 kilometers per kilowatt-hour of grid electricity.  This makes average EV emissions 160 grams per kilometer or twice that of the lowest emission hybrid.

Sorry! Your State or Territory Is Not Greener Than Any Other

Most people expect charging an electric vehicle in Tasmania or South Australia will result in lower emissions per kilometer because those states generate large amounts of grid power from renewables, but it doesn’t actually work that way.  If a car is charged with mostly renewable grid energy in Adelaide, that means South Australia will either export less clean energy to Victoria or import more dirty energy from there. While there can be a small advantage from charging in a state with high renewable penetration, it doesn’t make much difference.

If you are in Western Australia, which is the only state where the grid keeps its hands to itself and doesn’t touch anyone else’s, emissions per kilowatt-hour of grid electricity are close to the national average, coming in at a few percent lower.

65% Renewable Generation Lets Grid Charged EVs Beat Hybrids On Emissions

Over the last six months of 2019, grid electricity in the National Electricity Market was 78.7% generated from fossil fuels according to the Australian Energy Regulator:

Grid electricity source in Australia's NEM

Looking at the low value for solar power I see it’s not taking into account rooftop solar energy exported to the grid, so the actual figure may be around 75%.

Politicians have told us they’ll do whatever it takes to protect us from the coronavirus and keep the economy ticking over, but the current mob in power have been dragging their heels over global warming, which has the capacity to kill more people and cause more economic damage.  Despite this, we are likely to reach at least 50% renewable generation by 2030 simply because our most crapped out coal power stations will no longer be economical to run by then, even if the government does nothing to prevent them destabilizing the climate or poisoning the air.

Making generation 50% renewable won’t cut grid emissions in half because around one quarter of grid electricity already comes from solar energy, wind, and hydropower.  But because fossil fuel reductions will be concentrated on coal, it should cause emissions to drop by around one-third.  So when we hit that target electric vehicles will still produce around one quarter more emission per kilometer than the most efficient hybrids, but will be about on par with the Toyota Prius V and the Lexus ES 300h.  We may have to wait until the grid is around 65% renewable for typical grid charged electric vehicles to beat the best hybrids on emissions per kilometre.

EVs Out-Perform Hybrids

While it may take a tragically long period for grid charged EVs to beat fuel efficient hybrids on emissions per kilometre, this isn’t a reasonable comparison for the average car buyer.  When most Australians shop for a new car, one of their most important considerations is performance.  If this wasn’t true, most of our passenger cars would have engine capacities of one litre or less4 and someone who bought a car with a big, 1.2 litre engine, like my Hyundai Getz, would be considered a revhead and their significant other would probably consider them irresponsible for having car that costs $40 to fill the tank.

The appropriate comparison for electric vehicles usually won’t be a fuel efficient hybrid because they don’t come close to the performance of most electric cars.  Here’s the 0-100 km/h times for several hybrid passenger cars:

  • Toyota Corolla 7.8 seconds
  • Toyota Prius 9.4 seconds
  • Toyota Camry Accent 8.3 seconds
  • Lexus ES 300h 8.1 seconds

If we compare that to the acceleration times of a selection of electric vehicles, they can do much better:

  • 2019 Hyundai Ioniq electric: 9.9 seconds
  • 2018 Nissan Leaf: 8 seconds
  • BMW i3 BEV:  7.3 seconds
  • Tesla Model 3: Standard Range 5.9 seconds
  • Tesla Model 3 Long Range: 4.6 seconds
  • Tesla S P100-D: 2.7 seconds

While the most energy efficient electric vehicle on the list has slower acceleration than all the hybrids, the rest of the EVs have superior acceleration, with the Tesla S being downright ludicrous.  So the appropriate car to compare to a BMW i3 or a Tesla Model 3 to is not going to be a fuel efficient hybrid vehicle most of the time.  It’s going to be an internal combustion engine car with comparable acceleration, which is likely to have total emissions of around 275 grams of CO2 per kilometer or more.

Under 1 Kilowatt Of Additional Rooftop Solar Makes EVs Greener Than Hybrids

One very simple way to make an EV’s emissions per kilometer lower than a hybrid’s from day one, without having to wait for the grid to get greener, is to install additional rooftop solar capacity.  Just one kilowatt of extra panel capacity will reduce grid emissions by enough to offset the average electric passenger car’s emissions so they’ll be less than a fuel efficient hybrid.  It’s not necessary to directly charge the EV from rooftop solar panels.  The extra solar capacity will still reduce grid emissions even if the car never receives any power directly from the panels.

While it varies according to location, a good rule of thumb is one kilowatt of solar panels will generate an average of around 4 kilowatt-hours a day.  Here are the daily kilowatt-hour averages the the PVWatts site gives for 1 kilowatt of north facing solar in Australian capitals:

  • Adelaide:  4.1
  • Brisbane:  4.2
  • Canberra:  4.3
  • Darwin:  4.4
  • Hobart:  3.4
  • Melbourne:  3.8
  • Perth:  4.5
  • Sydney:  3.8

If one kilowatt-hour of solar electricity is sent into the grid it will reduce emissions by more than the 800 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour that results on average from grid electricity use.  Solar energy sent into the grid will very rarely reduce renewable generation and instead reduces fossil fuel generation.  This is because the fuel for solar, wind, and hydroelectricity is basically free and so renewables can outbid coal and gas generation that have to pay for their fuel.5.

Until coal power is driven from the energy market, each additional kilowatt-hour of solar power will reduce emissions roughly equal to the total emissions from mining, transporting, and burning coal; which is around 1 kilogram.6  So, one kilowatt of solar panels will reduce emissions by around 4 kilograms of CO2 per day.

Australian passenger vehicles are driven an average of 12,600 km a year.  This is only 34.5 kilometers a day.  This means the average daily emissions for the following vehicles will be:

  • Typical petrol powered passenger car 9,490 grams
  • Lowest emission hybrid vehicle: 2,760 grams
  • Grid charged electric car that gets 5km per kilowatt-hour:  5,520 grams

So, for the average daily driving distance of 34.5 kilometres, an electric car plus 700 watts of north facing solar panels will result in lower overall emissions per kilometer than the lowest emission hybrid without offsetting solar.  To completely offset the EV’s emissions would take 1.4 kilowatts.  These days only 4 panels are required to provide that capacity.

It Has To Be Additional Solar Capacity

To honestly claim rooftop solar is offsetting emissions from an EV — or any kind of vehicle — it has to be capacity that was installed for that purpose.  Finn, my boss, has had 6 kilowatts of solar panels on his roof for years but doesn’t pretend that includes capacity to offset emissions from driving his new Tesla S, even though those 6 kilowatts produced more energy over the year than his energy efficient straw house consumed before he bought his electric speed machine.

Instead, now that he has an EV, he is planning to install around an 12 extra kilowatts of solar capacity.  That should be more than enough to completely offset the emissions from 6 electric cars charged from the grid.  A number that will increase as the grid gets greener.

I’m not suggesting that it makes sense to install just 1.4 kilowatts of solar panels when you get an electric car.  But I will suggest that when buying a solar system you get the largest one you reasonably can to allow for future electric vehicle purchases.  If you have an existing solar system and get an electric car, you can consider installing an additional system if there is space on your roof.  Alternatively, you can replace a small solar power system with a larger one.

What Does This Mean If I Want To Be Green?

If you really want to be environmentally friendly I suggest you forget about cars and buy a bicycle.  They are even less environmentally damaging than horses.  (Trust me, I know.)  You can use the money you save to install rooftop solar.7  It doesn’t matter if it’s on your roof or someone else’s.  The environment doesn’t care.

If you’re not quite ready to give up on wheeled mobiles and are looking to buy a new car, then given an electric car at the moment is likely to set you back at least $45,000, the greenest way to go about it is either buy a small and fuel efficient internal combustion engine vehicle or a hybrid and spend the difference between that and an EV on solar power.

But if you are a typical new car buyer then, while you don’t want to harm the environment — unless you’re some kind evil dickhead — it’s not going to be the main factor influencing your purchase.  Most new car buyers consider performance to be more important.  And electric cars can provide more of this than any internal combustion vehicle in their price range.  In this case you can buy an electric vehicle, have the high performance you desire, and spend a little extra on a larger solar system to offset its emissions.  The extra solar capacity makes financial sense because it will pay for itself, sometimes in just a few years.

Electric cars are becoming more affordable so there won’t always be a such a large price differential between a low cost hybrid or conventional car and a low cost electric vehicle.  Because electric cars are so simple to make and battery prices are continuing to fall, once mass production brings costs down it should be possible to buy an EV, including its battery pack, for less than a petrol or diesel car.  With luck this won’t take long to happen.  China and India are the most likely locations for it to happen first, but it could occur anywhere.

Footnotes

  1. Even though it’s too stupid to do something basic like just showing emission for all hybrids
  2. Nazi Germany developed a prototype hybrid tank but gave up on it as they were more focused on global storming than global warming.
  3. While there are many things that could be done to further improve fuel efficiency, not many are likely to be cost effective and improvements that are, such as lighter materials, can also be used in electric vehicles.
  4. If Australians didn’t care about performance or air conditioning then most car engines would be 800cc or less.
  5. The cost of brown coal is very low, but all coal power plants have to pay operations and maintenance costs and these are particularly high for Australia’s aging brown coal power stations.  I’m surprised they keep spending money fixing them.
  6. Once all fugitive emissions that result from mining, transport, and methane emitted by coal, this figure is likely to come to more than 1 kg, but I will use the round figure.
  7. You can also consider other environmentally helpful measures such as insulating your home or buying a heat pump hot water system.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. I see a slight flaw in calculations Ronald. You should have said 1kW of solar more than a hybrid car owner. Because they also are likely to have solar on their roof. (eg- me – 9.2 kW – and mine’s a PHEV so even better than the hybrids in the Govt’s table.)

    Just saying. And to be really pedantic you also should have said 1kW more than they currently own as the grid mix already takes the existing panels into account.

  2. RB: “When most Australians shop for a new car, one of their most important considerations is performance…”

    True, to some extent. Many of us are looking for _towing power_ rather than outright acceleration. As yet, very few EVs are set up for towing, despite the fact that a Model X we checked out in Portland Oregon over six years ago, had towed an immense Airstream caravan into the market area.

    The lack of a tow bar on the Model Y, released in the US late last week, means we will probably wait for the C-Truck… .

    • Ronald Brakels says

      But Tesla’s Window Smasher in Chief promised the Model Y would have towing capabilities…

      • From the Model Y’s Owners Manual (just released) it’s not possible (yet).

        However, it has been suggested that “…by not telling us the Model Y is incapable of towing a trailer, Tesla is somewhat suggesting that it might eventually be capable of towing a trailer.”

        Just one Model Y test vehicle _has_ been spotted with tow hitch fittings… .

  3. Hi Ronald

    I think the information in your article is accurate but not complete because you haven’t included the amount of embodied energy used to manufacture the electric vehicle, which is much much larger than for an equivalent Internal Combustion Engine.

    I recently purchased a Hyundai Kona and (being an engineer) did a lot of research beforehand to make sure that it really is greener than the alternative.

    The Kona is very efficient (13 kWh/100km = 7.7 km/kWh), has a middle-of-the-range battery size compared to many electric cars, I’m purchasing 100% accredited Greenpower to charge it, and yet it will still take around 4 years to break even on the CO2 emissions compared to an equivalent SUV, let alone a hybrid.

    If you are interested I can send you my lit review and calculations for comparison.

    Cheers
    Richard

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Richard

      I didn’t go into embodied energy because otherwise I still probably wouldn’t have been finished writing the article. It gets pretty complex.

      If you can provide any links to up to date studies on the embodied energy of batteries or vehicles I would appreciate it as the information I have is years out of date and doesn’t even consider aluminium recycling, which I assume will be the least that’s done.

      • Hi Ronald

        If you send me an email I’ll forward you my ever-so-nifty spreadsheet, or alternatively the relevant details:
        Our old car was a mazda CX5, real world consumption 8.0 L(diesel)/100km.
        New car is a Kona EV, real world consumption 12.3 kWh/100km and 75% charger efficiency (measured) -> 16.4 kWh/100km.

        Best estimate for embodied energy to manufacture;
        Mazda CX5 = 5800 kg CO2e
        Kona = 17000 kg CO2e
        Calculated as:
        Chassis 4219 kg.CO2
        Diesel Engine 1539 kg.CO2
        Electric Motor + Inverter 1710 kg.CO2
        Battery 11328 kg.CO2
        –>
        CX5 total 5758 kg.CO2
        Kona total 17257 kg.CO2
        Net increase: 11499 kg.CO2

        The battery in the Kona is 64 kWh with best guess of 177 kgCO2e / kWh embodied energy. This is based on a few literature sources (see below). The numbers vary very widely depending on the assumptions and especially the fuel mix used to generate power in the country where the batteries are manufactured, but most estimates come up with a figure around 170 kgCO2e/kWh. I attempted to find out from Hyundai what their estimate is, and/or back-calculate it from their annual report & other publicly available info, but (surprise surprise) they don’t release this information. Even Tesla who are making a point of reducing the embodied energy of their batteries (just as well since their cars have huge batteries and are relatively inefficient to boot) haven’t published their figures, probably because they know how bad it makes the case for grid-charged EVs look.

        Anyway that means with 100% accredited GreenPower, it will take about 4.6 years (12,000 km/yr) for the Kona to break even with the CX-5 on CO2 emissions. Compared against the Camry Hybrid it would take about twice as long. If I were charging the Kona from the grid it would result in much higher lifetime emissions than my old CX5.

        Of course, once the battery manufacturers use exclusively renewable energy sources for their battery manufacture then the embodied energy drops to 20 kgCO2/kWh or less. EV are definitely on the early phase of development curve and in 5 years I’m sure the balance will look very different.

        BTW you’re right about the performance of even “entry level” EVs. The Kona has 400 Nm of torque; 7 seconds for 0 – 100km/h and based on my experience the acceleration from 0 – 60 is limited by the traction of the tires, not the engine.

        Cheers
        Richard

        A https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/9/2690/htm
        B https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-help-to-tackle-climate-change
        C https://theicct.org/publications/EV-battery-manufacturing-emissions
        D https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316254101_GHG_Emissions_from_the_production_of_lithium-ion_batteries_for_electric_vehicles_in_China
        E https://www.ivl.se/download/18.5922281715bdaebede9559/1496046218976/C243+The+life+cycle+energy+consumption+and+CO2+emissions+from+lithium+ion+batteries+.pdf

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Hi Richard

          I see you have definitely done your research. As you mention, there is a lot of variation in the numbers and I’m not sure how to pin down a reasonable figure. But thanks for the links and if you like, you can send your spreadsheet to:

          [email protected]

          I won’t guarantee they will look at it though. Things are a combination of both rushed and very peaceful at the moment.

  4. Couple of thoughts. Firstly, the states do not automatically spill energy between each other. The transmission lines have limited capacity compared with local supply and demand. The majority of energy is consumed locally due to transmission losses and capacity constraints. That is plainly obvious due to the different regional pricing – otherwise the average Adelaidean would source retail electricity from a cheap Queensland retailer like a local Brisrangatang would. Secondly, if the argument that all of Australia’s electricity was equal and the concentrated RE in SA and Tas is averaged nationally then the impact of the extra 1 kW of solar needs to be divided over the same national base to develop comparable logic.

    • C’mon Ronald. On one hand you say
      “Most people expect charging an electric vehicle in Tasmania or South Australia will result in lower emissions per kilometer because those states generate large amounts of grid power from renewables, but it doesn’t actually work that way. If a car is charged with mostly renewable grid energy in Adelaide, that means South Australia will either export less clean energy to Victoria or import more dirty energy from there.”
      And then on the other hand you say
      ” Just one kilowatt of extra panel capacity will reduce grid emissions by enough to offset the average electric passenger car’s emissions so they’ll be less than a fuel efficient hybrid. It’s not necessary to directly charge the EV from rooftop solar panels. The extra solar capacity will still reduce grid emissions even if the car never receives any power directly from the panels.”
      I don’t see how you can have it both ways. I get the point of additionality, but in the end, adding 1kwh and going the hybrid will result in the least CO2 within the scenarios considered. Maths based reasoning only gets you so far! (in this case, as far as Toyota logic)

      • Ronald Brakels says

        I’m in South Australia. The state is currently producing more wind and large scale solar and exported small scale solar power than the state grid is consuming. SA is currently exporting about 400 megawatts. If I plug in a hair dryer that consumes 1 kilowatt of power for one hour (my beard needs a LOT of styling) then SA will export one kilowatt-hour less to Victoria which will increase Victorian electricity generation by 1 kilowatt-hour and most of Victoria’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels. If I plug in a small solar array that provides one kilowatt for one hour electricity generation will be reduced by one kilowatt-hour. But it won’t be wind or solar that gets cut back and if it’s hydro they’ll just save that water for later use. It will be fossil fuel generation that gets reduced, either now or possibly later if they cut back on hydro output.

        • Ronald, electricity produced from brown coal is much cheaper than that produced from gas in SA. However, brown coal does not completely displace SA gas generation – it’s not allowed to for grid security reasons. They are different markets linked by ‘thin extension cords’. On time average an extra unit of RE in SA is more like to displace a unit of local gas generation (and liberate fewer CO2 benefits due to the cleaner generation profile).

      • @Jaz I think you’re right. If you have the space on your roof and the spare cash, then you should add 1 kW of solar. Once you’ve done that, buying a fuel-efficient hybrid is still better than buying an EV, regardless of whether you grid-charge it or use your solar panels.

        Using Ronald’s best-case numbers & rationale plus my schwifty spreadsheet skills, over 1 year (12600 km):
        ——————-
        Scenario 1a:
        no extra solar
        Hybrid: 1100 kg of CO2 emissions/yr
        net balance = 1100 kg emitted/yr

        Scenario 1b:
        no extra solar
        EV car: Grid average 160 gCO2/km -> 2000 kgCO2 emissions/yr.
        net balance = 2000 kg emitted/yr
        ——————–
        Scenario 2a:
        1 kW extra solar: Generates 1500 kWh/yr. Displaces 1500 kg/yr of emissions from coal.
        Hybrid: 1100 kg of CO2 emissions/yr
        net balance = -400kg emitted/yr (i.e. 400 kg/yr saved)

        Scenario 2b:
        1 kW extra solar, send it to the grid: best case = displaces 1500 kg/yr of emissions from coal.
        EV car, charged from grid: best case = grid average -> 2000 kgCO2/yr
        net balance = 500 kg emitted/yr

        Scenario 2c:
        1 kW extra solar, use all of it to charge your car: 1500 kWh = 7500 km with no emissions
        EV car, top-up from grid: grid average for the remaining 5100km -> 800 kgCO2/yr
        net balance = 800 kg emitted/yr
        ———————
        In every case, the hybrid is much better than the EV regardless of whether you installed solar panels or not. The EV is only better than the hybrid if you assume that you can only buy the solar panels + EV car as a package deal, which looks to me like the dodgy “solar + battery payback” argument in different clothes.

        I do think there is a much better scenario:
        Scenario 3:
        1 kW extra solar: Generates 1500 kWh/yr. Displaces 1500 kg/yr of emissions from coal.
        EV car, purchase 100% accredited Greenpower (for a measley $0.05 extra per kWh = $80 per year): new renewable generation capacity is installed to meet your demand; emissions = 0
        net balance = -1500 kg emitted/yr (i.e. 1500 kg/yr saved). After eight years you will have broken even on the extra CO2 that was emitted to manufacture your EV car compared to the hybrid.

        At current EV prices and assuming a 12 year car lifetime you get a carbon abatement cost of between $1000-$4000 per tonne CO2, which is a very expensive way to do it. It only makes sense if you’re an early adopter hoping to push the technology along faster- like those pioneer folks paying $5k – $10k for a 1 kW solar system back in 2009.

        Distilling all that down, I think
        – don’t buy an EV to be green, you’ll get better bang for your buck elsewhere
        – if you’re going to buy a sporty car, consider an EV. But it’s probably not as green as you think. Charging it using 100% accredited GreenPower will make it a lot greener and you might eventually break even compared to a hybrid.
        – add more rooftop solar if you can, regardless of what car you buy. It’s a win all round.

  5. brent sword says

    I,m not sure we really need to suggest a tesla should be compared to a high performance vehicle or even just a hybrid. Surely if you are buying one of these a high proportion of people would be interested primarily in the “environmental” benefits. At the end of the day just because a car can go to 100 km/hr in 2.6 seconds does not mean it ever will. Every car does the same speed limit anyway.
    Just compare it to hybrids like you did and leave it at that. Although those hybrids don’t do much better than my Octavia. Some of them are smaller and some larger. I get between 4.5 to 5.5 l/100 km without being a hybrid. The 9.4 l figure quoted above is maybe not important because it includes lots of vehicles that should not be compared (4WD, utes etc). I,m not sure how big TESLA’s are but the one that parks around the corner from my house does not look bigger.

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