Thursday, 25 March 2021 10:39

EV outputs much less greenhouse gases than petrol car: study

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The Tesla Model 3. The Tesla Model 3. Courtesy: Tesla

A comparison of the output of greenhouse gases by two vehicles — a Tesla Model 3 (electric) and a Toyota RAV4 (petrol) — by a team of academics at the University of Toronto has shown that the EV will generate 36 tons (32.6 tonnes) of such gases over the lifespan of a typical car — 200,000 miles (321,868 km) — while the RAV4 would output more than double that amount – 78 tons (70.8 tonnes).

The comparison, published in The Wall Street Journal, also said the Tesla Model 3 came out ahead in the total cost of ownership at between US$49,800 (A$65,644) and US$51,000 (A$67,226). No TCO was given for the RAV4.

The study looked at greenhouse gas generation right from the time the two vehicles were made.

The vehicles were chosen as they were "two popular cars that are best-sellers in their categories: a mid-size sedan that runs on electricity and a more lightweight compact SUV that uses gasoline", the WSJ's Russell Gold, Jessica Kuronen and Elbert Wang wrote.

The study found that before the Tesla rolled off the assembly line, it had generated 65% more emissions than the RAV4 – 12.2 tons as compared to 7.4 tons.

The study said the RAV4 not only used petrol to run, but also needed an oil change after 5000 miles; though the Tesla ran on electricity, it did generate some emissions as creating the electricity resulted in emissions.

This depended on the type of electricity coming into the grid "...but the US grid is getting cleaner each year, burning less coal and using more renewables and natural gas," the authors noted.

After running 20,600 miles, the Tesla was found to have emitted 34% of the emissions that came from manufacturing and burning the petrol consumed by the RAV4.

"At 20,600 miles, the greenhouse gas emissions from building and driving the two cars are roughly the same, according to the University of Toronto analysis. Then the Tesla pulls ahead," the report said.

The authors noted that the emissions would be influenced by the place where the Tesla was charged. "The abundance of hydropower in the Pacific Northwest makes the electricity there cleaner. We used a national average for our calculations," they said.

The study also looked at the environmental impact of the entire US fleet of light-duty vehicles, roughly more than 280 million, and about 17% of the total American vehicles, depending on the mix of electric and petrol vehicles.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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