For a while, drivers of electric cars such as Tesla in particular were told that their supposedly climate-friendly vehicle ultimately caused more CO2 emissions than a normal combustion car due to the production of its large battery. But studies with more recent data have now largely overtaken this view, and now Tesla is also providing concrete information on the CO2 balance of at least its Model 3 for the first time: It should be far better than the average combustion engine over its life cycle, even under relatively unfavorable assumptions.
Tesla CO2 far below combustion engine
When considering the life cycle, emissions are taken into account both in the manufacture of a product and in its use. As long as the production of batteries is not CO2-free, electric cars tend to carry a thicker climate backpack with them when leaving the factory than others. According to Tesla, studies on this often work with outdated or otherwise misleading data, which should be corrected with its own report.
For the comparison with combustion engines, Tesla uses the usual car life in the USA of 12,000 miles per year over 17 years in its report. Calculated with data on real consumption of cars from the Model 3 dominated class of medium-sized premium sedans, Tesla calculates CO2 emissions of around 480 grams per mile for US combustion engines; This includes both the manufacture of the car and its fuel, including emissions from the extraction, refining and transportation of oil. For a Model 3, on the other hand, Tesla specifies a CO2 value of around 190 grams per mile, including battery production and real electricity consumption based on the US mix.
Solar roofs for Tesla factories
That means: Even at the current status, a Tesla Model 3 in the USA produces around 60 percent less CO2 emissions than a combustion engine based on real data (and based on the assumptions mentioned). Tesla also points out that many owners charge their electric cars with electricity from their own photovoltaic systems, as is also available from Tesla. In this case, the pre-emissions increase (because solar modules also carry a CO2 backpack), but there is hardly any CO2 left for driving. Overall, according to Tesla, this leads to less than 100 grams per mile, which is about a fifth of the combustion value.
That alone is a step forward, as is the 60 percent reduction in net-store charging, but Tesla has even more plans for the future. A further improvement is likely to result solely from the fact that the electricity in the grid in the USA and elsewhere increasingly comes from renewable sources; in this way, electric car driving can almost automatically become cleaner year after year.
In addition, according to Tesla, as many superchargers as possible should be equipped with solar roofs and storage batteries. In addition, efforts are being made to install photovoltaics on as many roofs of factories worldwide as is feasible in practice. This has also been announced for the Gigafactory near Berlin, but is not yet part of the concrete plans for it that are known to date.