Saturday, November 12, 2016


                                               Comments due on or before Nov. 19, 2016

With the success of Tesla and the current trend to have every major car manufacturer offer an electric vehicle it is becoming more important than ever to explain in simple language the essentials of what is the major fuel consumption difference between an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electrically driven vehicle (EV). There is some truth in the popular belief that EV is overall more environmentally friendly than ICE but what is crucial is to understand clearly that there are some factors that can diminish and even eliminate the perceived advantage of an EV, namely how the electricity was generated and its retail cost. On the other hand the advantage of an EV can be enhanced through producing cleaner electricity ; from natural gas, solar, wind or even nuclear; and through higher prices for gasoline at the pump due to higher taxes.
The following are some facts that are not clearly understood by many consumers:
A zero emissions electric powered engine does not exist, yet. It is true that the driver of a Tesla (TSLA), Nissan Leaf (NSANY), Chevrolet Volt (GM) or any of the other EV vehicles does not emit directly any CO2 while operating the EV vehicle. But the electricity does not get generated from thin air. If the electricity is being produced by a coal fired power plant or any other fossil fuel then the electric power used to charge the batteries of EV vehicles would not result in any significant decrease of CO2 emissions. Many studies have actually shown that in many cases CO2 emissions would actually increase.
In the US the production of an average KWH of electricity generates about 1.2 pounds of CO2 (as per data from US Energy Information Administration). In some localities the emissions are greater and in others smaller than that since different regions produce electricity from different fuel sources.  Furthermore an average KWH stored in a battery drives an EV about 3 miles. EX.  VOLT has a battery whose capacity is 18.4 KWH and a range of 53 miles while the 85 KWH in a Tesla has a range of 265 miles. So how does this compare to an internal combustion engine ?  Every gallon of gasoline produces about 20 pounds of CO2 when fully combusted although the gallon weighs less than 7 pounds. That is explained by the weight of the oxygen that is needed for the combustion.(USEIA calculates that a gallon of gasoline free from ethanol produces 19.64 pounds of CO2)
Based on the above it is clear that an EV vehicle will travel 1 mile and emit 0.4 pounds of CO2 (1.2pounds/3 miles) while an ICE vehicle that averages 20 mpg  emits about 1 pound per mile (20 ponds/20 miles). If a typical vehicle is to be operated for 10,000 miles a year then an EV vehicle would produce 6000 less pounds pf CO2 compared to a 20mpg ICE car. The market value of this 2.7 metric tons of CO2 is under $100 per year. Note though, that as the mpg increases in an ICE vehicle then it approaches the emission cleanliness of an EV. Actually an ICE powered vehicle that has a fuel efficiency of 50 mpg will emit the same amount of CO2 per mile as the average EV vehicle using a typical US produced KWH of electricity.

Financial comparisons
Unfortunately some individuals are not that much interested in the environmental advantages of EV over Ice but are more financially pragmatic, they would be interested in an EV purchase provided that the initial price premium can be reasonably expected to result in sufficient  fuel saving. Again the facts show, unfortunately, that the EV premiums are not justified on a cash flow basis. Let us look at the scientific figures:                                    
Retail price of KWH differs substantially from one region of the country to another. In some cases a KWH retails for up to $0.26 cents (NYC and Westchester including taxes and surcharges) while in other regions it is under $0.1 (Oklahoma 0.0706; Texas 0.076; Virginia 0.081).Clearly, charging an EV in the state of NY is much more expensive than the state of Oklahoma.  This implies that EV’s will probably need a much longer period of time to recapture the initial premium charged by the manufacturers.  Based on the above, it is clear that fuel cost for an EV could be as high as 9 cents per mile and possibly as low as 3.5-4 cents a mile in some cases. How does this compare to an ICE powered automobile? Assume an average price of $2.4 for a gallon of unleaded regular and the CAFÉ standard of 35.5 mpg (Corporate Average Fuel Economy as set by the EPA) then the average cost of gasoline per mile would be under 7 cents which is less expensive than the cost of electricity to charge an EV in areas like NY. But since not many cars get the 35.5 mpg efficiency let us assume that the average automobile achieves an efficiency of 20 mpg. In this case the fuel cost per mile would be 12 cents. Such a cost will be only 3 cent per mile more expensive than the fuel cost for an EV in an area similar to that of NYC but it could be 8 cents more expensive than fueling an EV in such areas as Texas.  So are the potential fuel savings of an EV vehicle large enough to rationalize the initial $10,000 premium for an EV charged by the manufacturer? (General Motors’ MSRP for the Chevrolet Cruze is about $10,000 less than that for a  Chevrolet Volt). Unfortunately, the above simple calculations make it clear  that no rational person would be willing to pay a premium of about $10,000 in order to actualize savings of about  $300-800 per annum.

 The EV fad is not about to make major inroads into the car market. Its vehicles are not zero emissions and their advantages over ICE are limited by science as well as tax policy.The average consumer will not pay a premium for a vehicle whose fuel results in almost the same volume of CO2 emissions as an ICE powered vehicle and whose fuel cost savings cannot justify the high premium being charged by the manufacturers.
This does not mean that there will not be a market for EV vehicles. It only suggests that a mass market for EVs is highly unlikely under the current conditions. Luxury brands such as Tesla, Mercedes Benz and BMW would have no problem catering to a small niche of conspicuous consumers that are driven by high prices, scarcity and perceived quality.  A mass market of EV vehicles will not develop unless such automobiles consume fuel whose total direct and indirect emissions are less than ICE vehicles and whose projected annual savings in fuel cost justify the initial price premium. That can be accomplished either through higher gasoline prices or much lower initial price premium or a combination of both. This is why I do not think that the BOLT by the Chevrolet division of General Motors (GM) will be a big success in its current format.


  1. It is definitely interesting to read that EV vehicles are not the environment heroes that we are led to believe they are. The two main reasons to buy an EV are for the fuel savings and the positive externality of using less fuel. I think most EV owners, especially in New York, would be surprised to see that they are not sparing their wallet through their EV purchase. While there is no such thing as a 0 emissions vehicle, it is clear that an EV does emit less CO2 than an ICE the majority of the time. There is a long road ahead of us in terms of 0 or near 0 emissions vehicles and I am excited to see how and when such technologies are developed and implemented into the consumer market.

  2. In a heated debate in which EV owners attempt to justify the cost of their inherently expensive vehicles against non EV vehicles, there are many ideas from which valuable information is extracted. One topic, and the one I noticed missed in this article, is hybrid vehicles. For those unaware, a hybrid vehicle utilizes both a small to standard ICE and a electrical battery system in an attempt to close the range between an entirely EV vehicle and an entirely ICE vehicle. This is an important idea as it closes the gap more readily in the goal of every vehicle on the road running off as little fossil fuel and emitting as little CO2 emission as possible. As people become interested in the lesser cost of fuel for something such as a hybrid vehicle the concept of a vehicle without a combustion engine entirely becomes more likable. An interesting tidbit: hybrid vehicles sometimes advertise better mileage rates in the city than on the highway. This isn't a mistake. It has to do with the electricity generated in braking.
    Subsidies and taxes provide the greatest influence on a world without combustion engines. As mentioned in the article the cost of producing so many KWH requires a great deal of CO2 emissions. While this costs less in CO2 emissions the actual dollar cost is much more. If either the cost of fossil fuels went up with taxes, subsidies were provided for green initiatives such as EV production or any combination of the two a great deal more interest in EV would result. It is only a matter of time. As fossil fuels are limited EV will, without influence of taxes or subsidies, ultimately succeed.

  3. When I have gone to Europe, EV cars are all the rage. I would see them parked in a line and plugged in to charge when people left them to go run their errands. I think EV vehicles are one of those things that people tend to only focus on the positives. They are a very new thing, and something we have always talked about as a progressive element that would propel us into the future. We talk about how much money it could save, and how it would limit the fossil fuels we burn. But we never talk about how much of this is actually true and how much of it we just want to believe so that we can adapt to these EV cars.

    This article brings the more negative things into play, breaking the barrier of what we believe to be true and what actually is true. Yes, EV cars are much more environmentally friendly and release less CO2 than ICE's. The key word here is less, because some people believe they will rid us of CO2 emission all together, and that is not the case. Another thing that we do not accurately perceive is that EV's aren't simply going to spare us money because we don't have to pay to fill up a gas tank anymore. Rather, we most likely will end up paying more to recharge an EV than we would to fill up an ICE tank with gallons of gas.

  4. I always knew that EVs were somewhat of a ploy. The stipulation that they are more environmentally friendly and cheaper than ICE is false. But the fact that it really is more of a tie in regards to the numbers like mpg, cost of gas per gallon, and CO2 emissions, was all new information to me. And I had no idea that it also really boils down to location and circumstances. Some circumstances included the price of KWH and gas and taxes depending on location. I had no idea that it would be more expensive to drive an EV in the state of NY. I applied for a job at a Tesla location in Paramus NJ. I went through training and they taught me how to basically lie to customers and turn their arguments around, specifically the ones about how EVs are no more cleaners than ICEs. I can’t remember specifics and I regret not keeping the information they told me to preach to potential customers but I definitely remember it contradicting this exact article. I have to admit that the first thing I thought after reading this article was what a tesla employee’s reaction would be if presented this information. I fortunately did not get the job. Ev vs. ICE is a typical environmental issue. It parallels almost every other issue regarding environmental preservation vs. consumption. Humans will always make an impact, it’s just a matter of how. Although there are many situations where we can reduce our impact, getting consumer behavior to reflect that will take miles of obstacles to achieve. It is nice to see that the people who are fooled into believing electric cars are greener are attempting to do their part but there is a lot more to do like actually make them greener and switch a larger portion of our energy generation to renewables.

  5. For EV vehicles, I think that everyone is familiar with them. People always believe that EV is environmentally friendly, because people think that EV vehicles can have a zero emissions.Also, people think that EV has more advantages than ICE. However, this article shows us some new ideas for EV to illustrate that EV does not have any advantages. First, although EV doesn't directly generate CO2 by using clean electricity, the process of producing electricity will emit the CO2. This new idea breaks people's traditional thoughts. In addition, EV owners will need to spend more money on the expenses of electricity. Because the taxes are different in different states, so the price of electricity is different in different areas. In this way, the average cost of gasoline per mile is less expensive than the cost of electricity in some areas. It is obvious that these new ideas show the deficiency of EV and why the market of ICE is bigger than the market of EV.

  6. I used to always think that EV vehicles are more environmentally friendly and that by having such introduced to our market the world would become cleaner, and I saw it as a positive foot step towards a green economy. However I was surprised to learn in this article that that may not be the case and that owning or supporting an EV vehicle may not be better than the ICE vehicles. Although the EV vehicles do not directly affect our CO2 emission we have failed to see that how the EV vehicles are coming about is the reason we need to be concerned about. As stated in the article energy must come from somewhere, and how that energy is being generated is what we must worry about. I think that it definitely was a brilliant idea but an idea that needs tweaking to make it more efficient in the green economy sector.

  7. It is interesting to see all of those comparisons of ICE vehicles and EV vehicles. And it is true that even if people think that EV are completely clean, they still need to be charged with electricity that is produced. But I have to say to that, that for example Tesla, which is the leader company in EV, is starting to create new way to produce energy, like the new solar roof that can provide electricity for a whole house plus charge the full battery of an EV.
    What is also true is that all of those alternatives to regular gas cars, are more expensive and not everyone is willing to spend the amount of money needed for those EV. Therefore the market for EV is still pretty small and hopefully they will find the way to make EV more affordable so the market can grow.
    Basically, the EV market is still a very new thing, and not everyone would feel comfortable using them. Even that, I am pretty sure that there are going to be new ways to produce those EV so they can be sold for a cheaper price and people would be more willing to start using them, as well as using renewable energies to power them so we can start making a path on the right direction to fight the climate change.