Tesla Cars Aren’t Really as Green as You Thought

New study says Tesla cars' impact on the environment is as significant as with gasoline and diesel cars 14 photos
Photo: Tesla
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Tesla markets its electrical vehicles as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to gasoline and diesel cars, which should compensate for the higher price tag. In reality, they’re just as bad for the environment as these, a new study reveals.
London-based energy analysts Engaged Tracking, which perform this kind of studies for potential investors, revealed their findings at the weekend, prompting an immediate response from Tesla.

Apparently, Tesla cars are just as bad for the environment, at least in the UK. It’s not that they contribute to pollution directly (because they don’t) that makes them bad, but rather the fact that the same amount of greenhouse gas is eliminated in the manufacturing process.

To put it differently, making and them powering a Tesla releases the same amount of CO2 as making and putting a gasoline or diesel car on the road. A Tesla car is bigger than the average vehicle, and it has to be powered by electricity – in the UK, power stations still run on coal and gas.

“Teslas are not cleaner to run than the average car in the UK,” Jonathan Harris of Engaged Tracking says, as cited by The Times. “The annual emissions of a UK car is 1.5 tons of CO2, based on an average of 7,800 miles a year. Both the Tesla Model S vehicles we analyzed have the same emissions [as an ordinary gasoline car] of 1.5 tons of CO2 per year.”

In all fairness, the same issue applies to all electrical vehicles, Harris concedes. The only difference appears between Tesla and smaller cars, such as the BMW i3 electric vehicle. The latter is 15% more efficient than a Tesla car because it’s smaller, so its impact on the environment is directly proportional.

Because such a study is bad for business and is bound to generate even more negative attention, Tesla was quick to respond: yes, making electric cars still takes a toll on the environment, but saying that they’re just as bad as gasoline / diesel cars is a stretch because it implies taking things out of context.

“When a UK grid-powered Model S is compared to the large sedans [saloons] it competes with, [the saloon] produces 300% more emissions,” Tesla says in a statement. “Emissions from oil extraction, refining and distribution add another 25% to the CO2 emissions of a [gasoline] car. Any fair analysis shows that vehicles like Teslas generate less CO2 than any comparable [gasoline] car.”
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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