Do electric cars really reduce carbon emissions?

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Yawn11
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And if so, by how much?

It's a question I've always wondered, but never really got clarity on. And it has resurfaced once again with the spike in popularity of Tesla cars, particularly the new and 'affordable' Model 3 car which already has 276 000 orders before it was even formally revealed.

I don't doubt that electric cars are probably good for the (living/working) environment, particular large inner cities like London that are congested with petrol vehicles. The air would be a lot fresher undoubtedly.

However considering the fact that an increase electric car usage could potentially raise the demand for electricity, which still produced on large scale by burning of fossil fuels, does it really reduce carbon emissions substantially? If so, by how much? My question isn't to deny that electric cars reduce emissions, and ultimately affect climate, just to clarify if and how.
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Tanqueray91
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(Original post by Yawn11)
And if so, by how much?

It's a question I've always wondered, but never really got clarity on. And it has resurfaced once again with the spike in popularity of Tesla cars, particularly the new and 'affordable' Model 3 car which already has 276 000 orders before it was even formally revealed.

I don't doubt that electric cars are probably good for the (living/working) environment, particular large inner cities like London that are congested with petrol vehicles. The air would be a lot fresher undoubtedly.

However considering the fact that an increase electric car usage could potentially raise the demand for electricity, which still produced on large scale by burning of fossil fuels, does it really reduce carbon emissions substantially? If so, by how much? My question isn't to deny that electric cars reduce emissions, and ultimately affect climate, just to clarify if and how.
It's interesting that you bring this up, I did actually read an article about the actual overall effects of emissions, because of the electricity you use - I can't find the exact article, but if I recall correctly, actually the net effect wasn't very big... When we can come to a point where the electricity we use for the cars isn't coming from un-renewable sources, then I think they'll have a much bigger benefit.
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Drewski
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Nope. Emissions are high, but what's also high is the impact from mining all those elements that make up the batteries.
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Dez
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#4
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#4
There's a lot of factors to take into account here. There's a huge carbon footprint in petrol before it even makes it to your car's tank, including:

- Oil harvesting
- Barges transporting oil to refineries
- The refineries themselves, manufacturing petrol
- More barges, trucks and other forms of transport to get the petrol to your local pump
- Electricity produced to cover the needs of all of the above

With electric car batteries you have a similar footprint for the whole manufacturing process, but unlike with fuel this only needs to be done once (then maybe again in a decade or so).

As for generating the electricity to charge up those batteries, you can probably expect that to be more efficient than the huge overhead you get with petrol, power stations will get far better economies of scale from the same amount of raw fuel, and the national grid is a far better transportation system than loading flammable goods onto a lorry.

And that's not even taking into account renewable power sources on the grid. A reasonable percentage of your battery charge already comes from renewables, and that will hopefully grow in the future. Meanwhile, petrol will remain 100% fossil fuel sourced for the rest of eternity, there's no way to make it greener than it already is.
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