Nissan VP: It's Bullshit That Electric Vehicles Emit More than Gas Cars

By · December 09, 2011

Andy Palmer with Nissan LEAF

Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer said electric vehicles never emit as much as comparable gasoline-fueled automobiles.

At the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer presented his personal take on claims that electric automobiles simply transfer emissions from the vehicle's tailpipe to the countless electricity-generating smokestacks across the globe.

According to Palmer, electric vehicles never pollute as much as comparable gasoline-fueled automobiles. In fact, Palmer stated that "it's complete bullshit" to assume that electric vehicles emit more than gas-burning autos. “First of all, if you talk about tank-to-tank, the amount of CO2 consumed from creating the electricity to getting it to the car—is it zero emissions?" said Palmer. "The answer is no, you consume carbon energy in creating the energy, and that’s true.” But Palmer continued, “If you look across the world as a whole, electric cars are the lowest of the CO2 burners, when we talk about creation-to-use."

While Palmer admitted that an exclusively coal-powered Nissan LEAF would emit more CO2 than a hybrid vehicle such as the Toyota Prius, he states that there isn't a nation that relies solely on coal for 100 percent of its electricity.

Palmer admits that electric vehicles could pollute much less if the act of generating electricity was made greener across the globe. As Palmer stated, "Now, what we try to do is we try to talk to governments to say 'how about cleaning up the generation of electricity, how about using more clean, more sustainable energy rather than going with coal burning’. The more they clean up electricity, the more compelling the story."

"I think it's fair to say that in every case, an electric car emits less CO2 than an internal combustion engine," said Palmer.


· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Andy Palmer - my new favorite person.

· · 6 years ago

Tell 'em, Andy!

· · 6 years ago

"It's Bullshit That Electric Vehicles Emit More than Gas Cars" I'm confused. I wasn't aware that either electric cars or gas cars emitted any bullshit. Also it's not at all clear to me why electric cars specifically would emit more bullshit than a gas car for that matter. How much more bullshit are we talking here?

· · 6 years ago

I love it when you talk clean - dirty

· · 6 years ago

When someone buys an EV today it is not just about lowering pollution today. It is also about starting a trend towards having most, if not all cars be EVs. It is part of an overall effort towards making our whole society be sustainable. Part of this effort is to get rid of the coal power plants over time and replace them with renewable energy. Ignoring that fact is ignoring the whole point of EVs.

· · 6 years ago

Andy makes a great point, but under-emphasizes it. Electric CARS make NO emissions. The only emissions are those from the power generation (if any). Nissan can very rightly claim zero emissions on their Leaf - it's the electricity providers that are at fault. Don't fault the EVs - clean up the grid!

· iletric (not verified) · 6 years ago

It's 30 lb of Carbon for 100 miles for EVs and 90 lb for 100 miles for ICEs. So we clear net Carbon savings of 60 lb on avarage per 100 miles traveled. The big guy should know that instead of getting hot around the collar. It's on the Internet.

I've personally nixed about 3 tons of Carbon so far with my Leaf.

SAVING THE PLANET ONE CAR AT A TIME is my EV slogan. (I own the copyright, Nissan, so careful there.)

· · 6 years ago

The 2025 Wall Street estimates for electric cars sales have been cut inhalf...Exxon should have all of North America on Tar Sands Oil by then...

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'm probably going to catch a lot grief (and -1s) but I feel compelled to play Devil's advocate. I remember decades ago corn ethanol was believed to be a net-zero carbon dioxide fuel. The benefits of corn ethanol was oversold and it took decades to learn the truth. Look at the picture of the Leaf above. The decal on the side says "Zero Emission" instead of "Zero Tailpipe Emissions" I'm not one of those climate change deniers who believes that AGW is a communist conspiracy. In fact I'm what climate change deniers would call an alarmist. In my opinion, if you've done enough research into AGW the only proper response is to BE alarmed. Having said that, I believe we must be very careful about calculations involving greenhouse gas emissions. I'm skeptical about 6kW-hr being required to refine one gallon of gasoline. It reminds me of the claim that it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to transport one calorie of food over long distances. Someone forgot to tell the person doing the calculation that a food "calorie" is actually a kilocalorie so they were off by a factor of 1000. Oops! Some people say that the energy required to refine gasoline and diesel is rarely taken into account when doing greenhouse gas emission comparisons. Argonne National Laboratories DOES take all energy into account when doing their greenhouse gas emission calculations. Check out the following link and look at the bar graph on the right side of the page.

It appears that a hybrid will emit less CO2 than an EV based on the average CO2 emissions of power plants in the US. I agree that some parts of the country have a greener mix of energy than others. I agree that a large array of solar PV modules can make an EV very close to zero emissions. I agree that we should move aggressively toward low emission utility scale electrical power generation. But I live in an area where coal fired plants supply 85% of the electricity and I live in an apartment and can't install solar PV. I live in a "red state" where most people believe clean energy is a communist plot. I wish it were not so but I don't expect electrical energy to be 50% green in my area in my lifetime. An EV may be better for some but not for everyone.

Many people may not like hearing this but as an electrical engineer I need to correct a major misconception about power generation during off-peak hours. A coal plant can and will throttle down the output when peak power is not needed. The notion that power consumption at night is so low that coal plants burn coal and just dump the energy is a myth. I don't know where this idea came from but it's not true. The energy to charge an EV at night is not carbon free. Please don't interpret my comment as a criticism of EVs.

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

I anticipate of lot of people criticizing my comment above. For the record, I'm in favor of cap and trade, a carbon tax or both. I'm also a strong supporter of CARB because I'm a former resident of Los Angeles. I know how badly ZEVs are NEEDED to clear up that cloud of poisonous crap trapped by the inversion layer.

· Chris T. (not verified) · 6 years ago

@jim1961: even in Red States (like the one I live in), even if a hybrid emits less CO2 than a pure EV, there's still one good reason to drive a pure EV: the crap coming out of the tailpipe is literally killing us, where I live, whenever we get inversions (particularly common in the winter). Just moving the pollution away from the people is a net win, even before we put in more-efficient power plants (and the latter is happening now in spite of the redness of the state, because more-efficient natural-gas-fired plants are far cheaper to build, at 1/2 to 1/3 the price, and then cost about the same to run per kWh afterward).

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

@Chris T.

I agree with you and I'm looking forward to a future where EVs are ubiquitous. Let me explain my position further Several years ago many environmentally concerned people, and I include myself, believed that corn ethanol was carbon neutral. People who talked about the downside of bio fuels were treated with suspicion. Not all people talking about the downside of bio fuels are fossil fuel apologists. Last year a car powered by an ICE won the Automotive X Prize and many well-meaning EV enthusiasts had nothing but harsh criticism for Edison2 even though the Edison2 Very Light Car (VLC) had SIGNIFICANTLY lower CO2 emissions than EVERY electric car in the X Prize competition. Since winning the X Prize, Edison2 has developed a BEV version of their VLC which achieved 245 MPGe using the EPA-derived 5-cycle testing method. Not one word about the Edison2 eVLC has appeared on this website.

· · 6 years ago

He's trying to show up Reggie the Regginator at N.O.A. hehe

I have to agree though. Gas stations don't make their money marking up gas prices. The markup from wholesale is usually within ~ 10 cents or less. Therefore, if you're extending the tail pipe with an EV, then you should be paying the same or more for kW as you do for regular gasoline. Well, more if the extended pipeline decides to be a diesel pipeline. Even if 100% of the juice is somehow from coal, at least it's cheaper than gas.

· JJ - Can (not verified) · 6 years ago

Another consideration is that EV's have less parts.
There are more parts in an ICE that needed electricity to power the factories that made them and the warehouses to store them and fuel for the delivery trucks to deliver them.
More parts means more in energy costs.

· · 6 years ago

@jim1961 - "I live in a "red state" where most people believe clean energy is a communist plot."

Point out to your neighbors that EVs replace imported foreign oil with American-made electricity. Driving an EV can - and should - be considered patriotic as well!

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

@Brian Schwerdt,

"Point out to your neighbors that EVs replace imported foreign oil with American-made electricity. Driving an EV can - and should - be considered patriotic as well!"

In my opinion, replacing polluting foreign oil with polluting domestic coal and natural gas is not a good solution. I don't buy into the belief that all citizens of Arab countries are terrorist sympathizers. That's not patriotism, that's jingoism. If your idea of patriotism has nothing to do with Muslim stereotypes and you are merely advocating that people buy American products then I assume you will buy a Volt or Focus EV instead of a plug-in Prius, Leaf or Mitsubishi i.

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'll probably get a lot of criticism for this but I feel compelled to speak my mind. For those of you who advocate EVs because you think it's patriotic to reduce the importation of oil from "countries that hate us" please think about this. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Will the reduction of imported oil make him more dead? I've heard that Afghanistan has huge deposits of lithium-containing ore. If you're going to use the logic of "don't buy stuff from countries that hate us" then lithium-ion EVs don't sound very patriotic.

· · 6 years ago


You need to get more sophesticated about this than a jingoistic "don't buy from people who hate us". Essentially it is transfer of wealth (and power) from US to middle east. The sovereign funds of ME now have enough money to buy 25% stock (and thus a seat in the board) of every fortune 500 company.

More importantly, just to get the damn oil from ME - we need to get entagled in all kinds of conflicts "to secure oil". Afterall, this is precisely what makes people there hate us. Afghanistan is just a side story - a failed state that was used as a pawn during the cold war - and now in the "war on terrorism".

And, we are not even talking about peak oil & oil depeletion.

· Londo Bell (not verified) · 6 years ago

One big PROBLEM with the divide and conquer method that engineers love using - we often miss the other parts of the equations, when we've solved one and thought that we have taken care of the entire business.

Think of the ecological and environmental impacts on gasoline. Spill in the ocean from drilling. Spill in the ocean from tankers. Spill on land and run off into lake/ocean/river due to crash on roadways. Pollution of ground water from those gas station storage tanks. Construction of pipelines to deliver oil to different part of the countries - hence various form of pollutions and ecological disturbances. Pollution from the carriers themselves, who I'm 100% sure that they will keep their trucks, tankers, storage/drilling facilities and refineries in a 100% efficiencies and green fashions. What about energy loss due to the delivery of gasoline by using vehicles (tankers and trucks)? The list can go on and on and on.

Now take a look at coal, which a portion of our electricities are being generated. Dirty, yes. But pollution in the form of spillage? At least I haven't heard of any. How about storage? Oh, it's a solid, so there's no run offs. Does it need refining in order to harness energy? No. What about those stations that burn goal to generate electricity? Little secret - they are heavily scrutinized by EPA and US Gov't that all their exhaust pipes are being engineered to trap as much pollution gas as possible (contrast that with the drilling platforms). Most importantly, what about energy lost during transportation from the factory to the power plug? Very little, and everything has been set up, thus 1 time disturbance to both ecological and environmental factors, unlike gasoline. Best of all, there's no pollution at any form for its delivery pathway, except electromagnetic radiation which, rumor has it but still under study, can cause caner in human. Then again, so can gasoline (vapor), which has been confirmed and marked by IARC, ACGIH, OSHA, and NTP.

BTW, Zero Emission is correct on the LEAF; Zero Tailpipe Emission is INCORRECT. Does the spec or BOM say anything about a tailpipe on a LEAF? Nope. When you apply the term ZTE, you are implying that there is a tailpipe, but it is NOT emitting any for emission, such as vapor, gas, etc. It can be emitting water droplets, which is from Hydrogen Fuel Cells vehicles are about, but that is NOT emission. Because a tailpipe doesn't exist on a LEAF, then you can't label it with a tailpipe. Besides, why must you extend the emission all the way from the factory?

Do you extend the Volt's efficiency on its gasoline engine, or and ICE vehicle, to that from the drilling platform or refineries? If so, I'm 100% sure that a Volt's EPA # on its ICE is way less than 37 mpg. More today 8 mpg or something worse. That's why it's illogical to extend a ZEV's emission all the way to wherever just to disprove that it's a ZEV. Because, if you look DEEP DOWN, in order to eliminate pollution, you really have to wipe out every single human being on Earth, plus probably most of the animals, leaving only plants and animals that allow photosynthesis and chemosynthesis to survive. Is that what you want?

· · 6 years ago

@ Londo - Yes, gasoline results in many bad things happening other than just the tailpipe emissions. But coal is also bad. Its direct CO2 emissions are the worst of anything. And there are many indirect issues. Like the energy to move it around since it is so bulky. Like the distruction of the land where ever it is removed. Like the poisoning of groundwater and soil. The list goes on and on when it comes to coal.

So moving from coal to cleaner sources of energy is a worthwhile thing to do. Fortunately there are many sources of energy out there. It just takes a while to move from one to another.

And this is happening already. Old coal plants are being shut down all the time. New coal plants are hardly ever built. The overall percentage of the grid that is powered by coal is in decline. The price of solar cells has dropped like a rock the last couple years and is expected to continue to fall.

In California there is a law on the books saying that 20% of their grid power will come from renewables by 2020. Germany is the #2 installer of solar panels despite having limited sunshine there. How quickly we switch to renewable power for the grid really depends on our will to do so. We have the will to send troops to the Middle East to defend the oil and the oil routes. If we have the will to convert the grid to renewable faster then we will do so. Everyone needs to push.

EV's recharging from the powergrid will automaticly get cleaner as we make the grid cleaner.

· Londo Bell (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ alt-e,

You are right that there is no "clean" coal, As I've said, it's dirty. But if you compare coal to gasoline, as jim1961 had, then the difference is significance, and my point is to illustrate the downside of divide and conquer - and the reason why it is being used - because we want to cut out those parts that aren't "measurable." For example, how do we measure the damage done to the ocean on a drilling platform exploration, simply due to the drilling alone and not due to an accident, and incorporate that unit into the overall equation of energy calculation?

That's why I'm showing that, although jim1861 may have a point of validity when comparing coal vs gasoline CO2 emission, but it's really a fallacy because the assumption is that nothing else will be affected, when 1 unit of energy derived from coal is compared to same unit from gasoline. But when one look at the big picture, that "validity" suddenly falls apart.

· · 6 years ago

> Old coal plants are being shut down all the time. New coal plants are hardly ever built <

Here, true. In China... the opposite of true. Ug.

I've had this same coal vs gasoline discussion so many times, that I'll just stand on the sidelines for while to see if there's anything new to learn.

In the meantime - why does there seem to be so much confusion in the article above (mostly the quotes) about CO2 "consumption" vs "production?" What is a CO2 burner? Is that a good thing to have or a bad thing to have?

· · 6 years ago

OH... on the "zero emission" thing, I *will* comment.

For the past, what... 60+ years that we've cared about automobile pollution, we have traditionally ONLY looked at what comes out of the tailpipe of the car. It wasn't until we had zero tailpipe cars running around that everybody started looking upstream to find the pollution. I mean they had to right? Nothing at the car, we need to look where the pollution is. But when that happened, we *continued* to ignore the upstream crap from the ICE vehicles. So here we had a case of EVs being saddled with their upstream pollution, and having it compared to ONLY the tailpipe emissions of the gas cars.

We've become more sophisticated today about all these upstream issues - though still the majority of the people don't understand the fair comparison. Most of the new, relevant studies (like GREET) do try to include everything. But your person on the street? All we hear from them is that gas cars have much cleaner tailpipe emissions, but EVs still burn coal.

· jim1961 (climate change alarmist) (not verified) · 6 years ago

Don't get me wrong. I want EVs to be successful and I plan to own one in roughly two years. Oliver Kuttner of Edison2 has promised me I'd be the first person to own their first production model. It should be about four times more energy efficient than a Fisker Karma and about twice as efficient as the current crop of EVs like the Leaf. This level of efficiency is what is needed for me in my neck of the woods in order to have a lower carbon footprint than my Honda Insight because...

There is a new coal-fired plant being built in my state right now. I'm not too happy about it. The website of the power company has a FAQ about it and here's an excerpt:

Q: "What about "green" forms of energy like solar or wind power?
A: Reliability and affordability will be compromised. Green - or renewable - energy can play a role in our future power needs, but it is not reliable enough to generate the amount of economical electrical power customers need."

Just the fact that quotes are put around the word green pisses me off. Don't get me started about the rest of their explanation.

I envy people who live in progressive states where green energy production is being aggressively mandated. If you live in one of these states or a state that has a high percentage of hydro power I'm thrilled to death that you early adopters are buying EVs.

This may be off the subject but it's another example of green-washing that is, in part, being promoted by some well-meaning environmentalists. I'm talking about natural gas. I know natural gas is less carbon intensive than coal and that combined cycle natural gas plants can achieve thermal efficiency of about 60%. This all sounded great to me until I read this:

After I learned about methane leakage I was appalled that the Honda Civic CNG won some kind of top green car award.

· jim1961 (climate change alarmist) (not verified) · 6 years ago

Check out the following link for incontrovertible evidence that CO2 and methane are causing global warming.

· iletric (not verified) · 6 years ago

Very well put, darelldd.

Comparing upstream BEV pollution with downstream ICE tailpipe pollution makes no sense. This is why Leaf calculates at 30 lb CO2 per 100 miles and ICE at 90 lb (I presume some sort of median number). See the math? 60 pounds LESS. That's 600 lb for each 1000 miles traveled. I do about 1,200 pounds every month. That's what I call saving the planet one car at a time. You can forget the rest, folks!

And remember, dead green plankton floating in acidic brine generates no Oxygen.

· · 6 years ago

Natural gas used to be the cleanest of the mined hydrocarbons. It used to be a kind of a bridge from dirtier oil and coal to give us time to implement the renewables. Then they started fracking. Fracking is going to create such a mess that it may take generations for us to even understand the full extent of the mess.

· · 6 years ago

I hate to make depressing comments, but something that everyone should know is that even though the attention in the media on CO2 emissions is all on global warming, that is actually not the most distructive thing that CO2 emissions will do to our planet and ecosystem.

Where the CO2 eventually goes when it comes out of the air is into solution in the ocean. This creates carbonic acid which makes the oceans acidic. Which dissolves the calcium shells of plankton, the base of the food chain in the ocean and the biggest single source of oxygen production in the world.

This is why we can't solve the CO2 problem with putting up big mirrors everywhere to reduce the sun's heating effect, or some crazy scheme like that.

What we need to do is to correct our technology such that we have a balanced and healthy chemical composition in the atmosphere. We are more than capable of doing that if we have the will to do it.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

I think a lot of people seem to be forgetting the environmental impact the making of batteries has. It's just as bad as refining gas. Just sayin'

· · 6 years ago

@ Anonymous -

Only because I'm in a generous mood this evening, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you are more than just a troll. I'd sure like for you to quantify "just as bad."

Your logic is the same as somebody saying that we're forgetting the environmental impact of solar power. It isn't really green because you have to account for the dirty job of making the panels. So that's just as bad as burning coal for every kWh of energy made. Right?

Do you just have a feeling that making batteries is "just as bad" as refining gas? How much gas? How many batteries? What type of battery? How many miles will they propel the car for their one-time creation?

You may want to check out the hater's thread... but I'll warn you that you'll have to work harder.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Sorry I'm not a geewiz expert on the refining of materials for batteries or gas for that matter. But from what I have found, neither process is very clean. You can argue all you want that emissions for a EV is a xyz better than a gas powered car, and I don't doubt that the emissions are lower. But at the same time I'm not going to kid myself and say the manufacturing process is any better. It will win out on emissions because once it is made, it doesn't produce any more emissions (minus however much you use to recharge). But once it is time for a replacement you still have to figure out how to safely dispose of the parts of the battery that can't be reused. Again, I would love to see more EV's come out and as technology advances they will keep getting better, it's just that minus the actual useable life of the battery, I don't see the batteries being used as any greener than the gas it has replaced. You still have the dirty manufacturing process, and you still have to figure out a way to dispose of any hazardous materials from the batteries.

· · 6 years ago

Check out an ITUNES podcast at "climate one Commonwealth Club California"

The episode is called Charge IT aired 5/12/11

Jay Friedland of "plugin America" and others talk about many things but one comment by him struck me as very interesting. He has been driving EV Rav1 Toyota for almost 10 years and he says something very interesting which is the longer I drive my Rav1 the cleaner it gets. That is more wind solar are online more coal are being retired so grid is cleaner even in middle america. How many ICE or Hybrids get cleaner as they get older??

Other GREAT podcast is Robert F Kennedy Jr in the climate one
He talks about the myriad of problems in the mining transporting and burning of coal. Never mind global warming it is a disaster for our fish our health our rivers our mountains.

Jim 1961
First of all that was a GREAT year ;)
Second join the local chapter of your Sierra Club
They have a Beyond Coal Campaign that has shut down over 140 coal plants. They have batted 100% in their target plants, replacing with what works best for that region solar wind geothermal.

· Londo Bell (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ Anon

W.r.t to "dirty" process on clean energy (battery, EV, solar, etc.)

There's a quick, simple, and CHEAP solution to make sure that none of those things are dirty - wipe out the entire human race, and most animals for that matter, leaving only plants and animals that are capable of chemosynthesis. Now THAT'S the PERFECT solution.

You don't want that to happen, do you?

That's why it's important to select ways of livings that are less disturbing and polluting to the environment, and to the overall ecology of nature.

· Londo Bell (not verified) · 6 years ago

chemosynthesis and photosynthesis

· · 6 years ago

@ Anonymous (please register so we can call you something better!)

Thanks first for NOT being a troll! Second, I am thrilled to hear that you are actually thinking about this stuff. Being skeptical is not only healthy, it keeps us all on track. But also note that EVERY form of transportation comes with environmental damage if you count things like the manufacture of the sneakers you wear when walking. Of the processing and transportation of the food you eat to fuel your muscles. So if we stipulate that it is ALL going to do damage, our goal is to find the least damaging way to transport us in the fashion we think we need. If we need personal cars, then EVs are going to leave a lighter footprint than an equivalent gas car. Yes, the EV will do damage, but it will do LESS damage - and if that isn't our goal, then we sit back and scream "EVs are dirty!" And the status quo says, "obviously we just need to keep doing what we're doing until we discover the perfectly clean way to transport ourselves.

We don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. If we don't change, we just keep getting what we've got.

And this isn't ONLY about cleaner. It is about NOT shipping billions of US dollars out of our country every day for oil. You want trade deficit? Look at oil.

Also please realize that modern batteries do not have the hazardous chemicals in them the way they used to. No more NiCAD or NIMH with heavy metals. While battery recycling isn't all that pretty, it has proven to be efficient and successful. Beyond that, we are developing ways to *reuse* the batteries will before they are recycled. When they are no longer great to use in the car, they can find a second life in static installations to store renewable power, etc.

I beg of you to not make un-supported blanket statements about gasoline vs battery comparisons until you know a bit more than the typical soundbites we're all so tired of hearing from the uninformed.

· · 6 years ago

@jim1961 - "I don't buy into the belief that all citizens of Arab countries are terrorist sympathizers. That's not patriotism, that's jingoism. If your idea of patriotism has nothing to do with Muslim stereotypes and you are merely advocating that people buy American products then I assume you will buy a Volt or Focus EV instead of a plug-in Prius, Leaf or Mitsubishi i."

Just to clarify, you stepped very far outside of what I had said. There is a lot of assumption going on here. I never said anything about Arab countries, or Muslims or terrorism. I simply mentioned imported oil. If you look into it, you will see that our largest source of oil is Canada, and their percentage will grow even larger if/when the tar sands come online (another discussion entirely, and a whole new can of worms). Canada is rarely considered any of the above.

I was alluding to the fact that the US faces a growing trade deficit. In 2010, the deficit was $498 Billion, of which $252B was petroleum related. That's more than half! (numbers from By contrast, almost all electricity used in the US is generated in the US. That's what I was getting at. No more, no less. Don't put words of hate into my mouth.

As for the vehicle purchase, I agree. If one's motive is patriotic "buy American", the Volt and Focus EV are excellent options.

· · 6 years ago

@ Brian Schwerdt - True that buying from a domestic manufacturer would be best, but if they are unwillling to make EVs in the needed quantities, buying from Nissan and getting an EV that was made in Tennessee is not that bad of a deal.

· · 6 years ago

After my American-made EV1 was taken away from me and crushed for my own good, I took some heat for buying a *gasp* Toyota EV. And then a Toyota hybrid. I'm killing our economy by buying foreign. Yeah... except for the fact that 100% of my fuel money for the EV now stays in the US, and the fuel money for the hybrid is less than half of the car it replaced. At the time there was absolutely no way to buy an American-made EV, nor an American-made hybrid. And I was still vilified for the choice I made.

· Carlos (not verified) · 6 years ago

Where i live, 95% of the energy comes from renewable sources, and some countries, like Finland, get it depend where are you living, and driving.

· · 6 years ago

Quite true! If I were living in Saudi Arabia, I'd have quite different feelings about all this oil use. :)

· jim1861 (not verified) · 6 years ago

Brian Schwerdt,

I apologize for implying that your motives might be jingoistic.

· · 6 years ago

@jim1961 - apology accepted. I guess my op wasn't very clear. In general, I'm more of a big-picture guy too. I try not to focus on one benefit/drawback, especially because different people are motivated by different things. I just believe that EVs offer more benefits than drawbacks when compared to ICEs.

@darelldd - I'm sorry that anyone had this experience with the EV1. Unfortunately, I had just gotten my license when GM pulled the plug. It greatly saddened me to see. That, combined with the fact that the EV1 never made it to NY (that I know of), I never even got to see one. Buying a car is always a very personal decision, and people have all sorts of motives to buy one or the other. I just hope that you haven't been scarred for life against buying American-made cars.

· · 6 years ago

@darelldd · "Quite true! If I were living in Saudi Arabia, I'd have quite different feelings about all this oil use. :)"

Funny thing is - Saudis want to heavily invest in Solar ! They also want to get off oil (for electricity) and use NG. Afterall oil is what they live off - they'd rather sell it than burn it !

UAE is even builing an entire city that is eco based & will have no cars.

Not everyone is as short sighted as the US politicians of a certain ideology.

· · 6 years ago

@ Brian Schwerdt -
The EV1 actually DID make it to NY. What GM did was to pull our leases here in CA - for the reason that the program was too expensive, or that the rear brakes couldn't be serviced or some other BS depending on who you talk to. They then trucked about half the cars to NY to spread the love (only to GM employees so they wouldn't have the same difficulty in getting the cars back) and garnered the same clean air credits in NY as they got in CA. WITH THE SAME CARS. The rules were such that the cars only had to be on the road for two years to get max clean car credits. So my lease was two years here in CA, then - after taking my car and forcing me to replace it with the Rav4EV - they went ahead and used the same cars for an extra set of clean car credits in NY. THEN they crushed them for our own good. Neat, right?

I'm only mildly bitter about the whole thing. If an American car maker comes out with a superior product, I'll have no hesitation to purchase it. What I won't do, is buy an "American" car (in quotes because is there really such a thing today? Have companies like GM really NOT exported jobs overseas?) for the only reason that it is from an "American car company." I prefer to do what's best for our health, our national economy and security - not is what is best for one company.

· · 6 years ago

@darelldd - "The EV1 actually DID make it to NY."

You learn something new every day. I still never got the chance to see one, let alone get behind the wheel (as if anyone would let a teenager get into such a pricey car)

· · 6 years ago

I let my 16-year-old nephew and 17-year-old niece each drive my EV1. In fact I let everybody drive it who showed even the *slightest* interest.

· · 6 years ago

There is more electricity used to make gasoline to drive 100 miles (in an average American car), than is use to drive an EV 100 miles.

So, the "long tailpipe" argument goes away. And we can get electricity from renewable sources. So, EV's get cleaner and cleaner over time, as each generation of solar panels and wind turbines etc. get made using renewable energy.

A lot of natural gas is also used to make gasoline; for everything from heating water to loosen the thicker crudes just to get them out of the ground, to heating the oil for days in the refinery. A lot of water gets used in fracking, both for oil and gas; and electricity is used to pump that water, as well.

Let's not forget the oil changes every 3-5K on an ICE powered car, and the "disposables" that get made, used and then thrown away (where *is* away?) all through the life of an ICE powered car.

EV batteries get recycled, so overall, an EV consumes far less energy per mile traveled.

Oil (and coal and gas) are finite. Tar sands are proof we have passed peak oil.

Electricity is virtually infinite.


· · 6 years ago

@darelldd: I hope your neice/nephew know how lucky they were! I was referring more to complete strangers, but if you really let "everyone" drive it, than kudos to you!

@NeilBlanchard: "There is more electricity used to make gasoline to drive 100 miles (in an average American car), than is use to drive an EV 100 miles."
There seems to be a lot of debate over the actual numbers here. The most common number I have seen is 6kWh/gallon, and there is by no means a consensus. If an EV goes 3mi/kWh (I believe the EPA puts the Leaf at 2.9), that's 18 miles. 18mi/gal is lower than an average American car. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty close, but since you are claiming that the EV uses "less", not that the ICE uses "almost as much", please provide some references!

· · 6 years ago

Here's what I wrote re this subject in another EV forum:
I think that hyperbole on both sides of the "tailpipe or smokestacks" issue clouds the issues and erodes confidence in the EV promotion arguments. Terms like "bullshit" regarding a complicated issue don't help, either. Palmer fails to define exactly what is bullshit. He also erodes his own argument by appearing completely clueless. He says "But if all of your electricity is created by coal, it's a fact that the CO2 consumed at the level of the electric vehicle is lower than the level of the CO2 emitted by the equivalent gasoline car." Electric cars are not plants. They do not consume CO2.

He also says "First of all, if you talk about tank-to-tank, the amount of CO2 consumed from creating the electricity to getting it to the car..." Who knows what he meant by tank-to-tank? Perhaps he was thinking "well-to-tank" or "wheel-to-wheels" but tank-to-tank makes little sense in this context, and CO2 consumed makes no sense at all. If only we could consume CO2 by producing electricity.

Was Palmer hired by the oil lobby? Nissan could use a better spokesperson.

North Dakota is a "dirty" state, creating 2.4 lb CO2 per kWh. NH is a clean state, generating .008 lb per kWh. You can do the math yourself: if your EV goes 3 miles per kWh from the wall, then in 30 miles it generates 24 lb of CO2. A car that gets 30 mpg generates 19 lb from the tailpipe and an additional 18% during refining and transport (per the ANL GREET tables), for a total of 23 lbs. So in ND, a car like a Nissan Cube and the Leaf are on par. However, in ND, a Prius generates substantially less CO2 than either the Cube or the typical 3-mile-per-kWh electric car.

The nationwide CO2 emissions average from power generation is 1.3 lb/kWh, meaning that in an average state, a typical EV gets 30 miles on just 13 lb of CO2. An ICE car would need to get 30 x 23/13 or 53 mpg to be equivalent. So only one ICE car (the Prius) can come close to a typical EV. A more efficent EV, like the old EV1, is better yet.

We should be making the grid cleaner, and are making slow progress to that end. We should drive smaller more efficient cars, no matter how they are fueled. (We are not making a lot of progress on that front.) Driving electric cars can help clean up urban air polution. Driving electric cars helps reduce US dependence on foreign oil. We should install solar cells on our rooftops so that our increase in electric usage is clean: many EVers already have done this.

· · 6 years ago

"Palmer fails to define exactly what is bullshit."

Bullshit is an alternative fuel :)

It is rarely used in cars.

There are some California ranches and dairy farms, however, which use it for heat and to make electricity for the grid. Perhaps powering the LEAF in this manner is what Palmer had in mind.

I think the cow form is more available than the bull form.

· · 6 years ago

@alt-e - well done! This movement is also gaining momentum in Vermont (in which, until fairly recently I hear, cows have outnumbered people)

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

Argonne National Laboratories has something called the GREET model. (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation) I downloaded the so-called GREET model but it turned out to be quite complicated. Then I found what they call their "mini-tool" which gives a summary of various vehicle/fuel technologies. You can find it here:

These greenhouse gas calculations are well-to-wheels. In other words, all energy expenditures are included, drilling, transporting of crude, refining, and transportation to the pump etc, etc. The units are grams of CO2 equivalent per mile. I picked out some of the most common vehicles and fuels.

Conventional ICE gasoline......451
HEV gasoline........................323
FFV corn ethanol E85............371
FFV switchgrass E85............119
CNG ICE..............................391
Diesel ICE............................386
Renewable diesel-soybean......92
Electricity EV U.S. Mix..........333
Electricity EV CA Mix............172
Electricity EV Coal................579

I'm not gloating but this seems to confirm my previous SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess). If you live in California, EVs have significantly lower GHG emissions. However, an EV is the highest GHG emitting technology of all when charged from the grid in an area where coal is the main fuel source.

The GHG emissions of fuel cell vehicles depended on the source of the hydrogen. I don't know enough about this subject to know which is the most common source of hydrogen so I did not list FCV emissions.

· · 6 years ago

Hi Jim.

>> The GHG emissions of fuel cell vehicles depended on the source of the hydrogen. I don't know enough about this subject to know which is the most common source of hydrogen so I did not list FCV emissions. <<

Virtually all hydrogen sold in the US is produced by reforming natural gas. This makes it stunningly poor as an energy carrier. (You are further ahead to just burn the natural gas to drive a turbine to make electricity.) When methane (CH4) is reformed you can guess that the carbon must go somewhere: CO2 into the atmosphere, of course. It also takes energy to do the reforming, the process being about 70% efficient.

Hydrogen does not occur naturally in its free state, so it is always made from something else. Although electrolysis of water by solar voltaics is pretty clean, simply charging batteries is more efficient: you avoid the electrolysis losses and the fuel cell losses. 50% efficiency for each process is not uncommon, so you end up with 25% of the energy that came out of the solar cells. Going direct to batteries, you end up with 80% instead of 25%.

Cars that burn hydrogen combine the worst of all possible worlds: You start with a fuel that works pretty well as a car fuel, methane. But instead of burning it directly, you incur losses and liberate CO2 to make hydrogen. Next, you incur further losses to compress and refrigerate the H2 to make a liquid. Then, to prevent your house from exploding, you burn off the H2 as it is released from your car, as it boils off. In the BMW hydro hybrid, you loose about half a tank in 9 days. To seal the deal, the car produces substantially less power on H2.

· jim1961 (not verified) · 6 years ago

Ken Fry,

This thread is probably dead but I wanted to add to what you said. The points you make are good ones but I always want to know the GHG numbers. The well-to-wheels grams of CO2 equivalent per mile numbers are as follows.

FCV Distributed NG SMR...............253
FCV Central NG SMR.....................238
Electric EV NGCC..........................243
NG ICE..........................................391

FCV = fuel cell vehicle
NG = natural gas
SMR = steam methane reforming
NGCC = natural gas combined cycle

GHG emissions from FCVs and EVs are roughly the same when natural gas is the source of hydrogen or the source of electricity. EVs obviously have an advantage when all the costs that come with establishing hydrogen infrastructure and solving all the storage issues are considered and fuel cell cost and reliability etc. etc. Obviously, EVs, combined cycle natural gas power plants and the electrical grid are already established technology. The most surprising thing I learned from this data is that a natural gas ICE vehicle has 60% higher GHG emissions than an EV if the electrical energy source is combined cycle natural gas plant. I don't understand why some people are calling the Honda Civic NG the greenest car on Earth. Even gasoline/electric hybrids beat NG ICE emissions.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Not my cup of tea. I am a true motors enthusiast and EV's or any hybrid will have a place in my heart. These cars are only for people that think of cars as another daily appliance.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

I'm in disagreement with almost everyone here, but the ONLY form of electric generation I have a STRONG opinion against is Nuclear. Although a reliable base-load power source, it is incredibly expensive when everything works perfectly, which is not likely in the future when we have so many overstressed hulks running in this county, and young teenage girls in japan are having their hair and teeth fall out.
You hear nothing about that in the USA. GE has too much of a vested interest in Nuclear, and has too much media leverage. Besides Jeffrey Immult being the country's "economic advisor".

As retired vice-president and nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has stated many times, "Nuclear is the only power source that can destroy a country". 'Nuff said.

Its true that the GENERATION 3+ or 4 plants should be intrisically safe, but we've all heard that before, and besides, they are still so much more pricey than reasonable alternative baseload power.

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