Today's WSJ: EVs Have Larger Carbon Footprint Than ICE, $7,500 Credit is Wasted

Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret:

Pretty interesting set of facts and analysis. It will be interesting to see the responses from "scientists" here. Might be worth Elon Musk chiming in. This could do significant damage to EV case if not shot down.

It reminds me of that Frontline that shed some light on how global warming was dismantled.

Anyone familiar with Lomborg should know that his writings are to be taken with a lot of salt.

Full life cycle assessments of EV's have been done by far better informed people and universities. The usual outcome is that EV's are overall a little better wrt CO2 emissions than ICE's. Say in the order of 10-30%. Google for "electric vehicles life cycle assessment" and you will see that various independent reports come up with similar results.

But that is now. We also have to look at the future. Things can only tilt in favor of the EV. The electricity supply is being cleaned up at a rapid pace. Large scale manufacturing of batteries has only just started. It will not only only lower costs, but also increase the energy efficiency of the production processes. Otoh, the decline in conventional oil means more oil from tar sands and shale deposits. The EROI is getting lower and lower. Gasoline is getting dirtier by the day. The lithium and other materials in batteries and motors can be recycled over and over again. Oil can not be recycled, you can burn it only once.

Also this, just to fit his agenda:

"In addition, more than $5.5 billion in federal grants and loans go directly to battery and electric-car manufacturers like California-based Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors."

Completely inaccurate, says "grants and loans", while Tesla (and Fisker) received loans, relatively small. Then Ford only took $5.9 billion in loans from the same program, but why mention that...

Most of the article focused on lack of charging stations nationwide.

Tiebreaker - completely inaccurate? Tesla receives significant direct government credits in cash for EV battery production in addition to the discounted loan. TM also benefits directly from a government subsidy in the form of a $7,500 payment to discount the purchase price of each car sold.

We can debate the merits of these programs, but TM could not exist without actual and real government OPERATING subsidies, plus the loan.

The program that Ford used was a completely different program (a bridge loan during the crisis) AND they have fully repaid it. Just to get the facts straight.

To those who say that WSJ has a bias and "newspapers should be banned" from stating an opinion - did I really read that here from an otherwise seemingly sentient person? - now we are going to repeal the first ammendment? Wow.

To be clear, the piece appeared on the op-ed page. It could just as well have been in the NYT. It wasn't written or edited by the newspaper or a journalist of any kind. It was written by a scientist - one who believes in manmade global warming, but who has some different views on priorities and solutions than the orthodox warming science community typically accepts/demands of its accolytes. He is still welcome at global warming conferences and is respected by those who differ with him, except non-scientific reactionaries, and a FEW of his colleagues who refuse to acknowlege any views that vary from thiers.

So please stop with this media consipracy nonsense. I believe the NYT Broder article was a hit piece. But it wasn't funded or incented by big oil as some here have alleged. To say otherwise is uninformed speculation at best and conspiracy theorism at worst. Either is unbecoming. Today's piece probably does reflect the general conservative and skeptical view in the WSJ editorial room, but it is based on a real study, prepared independently, by academics in the field, and written outside of the WSJ. It wasn;t just bad journalism by a foolish reporter, as was the Broder piece. Recent articles on the same WSJ page were authored specifically for the WSJ by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and numerous other Democrats. Obama has written oped artciles for the WSJ several times, so apparently HE doesn't see it as an illegitmate outlet, albeit one with a different world view, but one that is respected enough to participate in the exchange of ideas.

Facts and opinion can often be confused. Opinions drove the following headlines, both of which are factual, but misleading. On the very same day in the recent campaign:

Declared the New York Times across the top of Page One:

“Top Corporations Aid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign”

Declared the Wall Street Journal across the top of Page One:

“Campaign’s Big Spender. Public-Employees’ Union Now Leads in Independent Election Outlays”

P_D - are you sure ? Ford received the 5.9B from the same DOE program Nissan got a 1.4B , Tesla 465M and Fisker 525M. Bridge loans were given to the other 2 but not Ford.

This was discussed briefly at the top of the following thread:

Where I posted a link to some articles including:

To make a fare comparison, you need to consider the CO2 produced in transport and refinery of the fuel.

I have seen it said that battery operated cars using coal power produce less CO2 then petrol, if you consider the entire process.

Not because there is anything good about manufacturing batteries or burning coal, but because mining, shipping, refining, and burning petrol is a very inefficient process.

His logic is missing two major points.
Point One
How much fossil fuel does our military have to use protecting us from the oil money profits we send to the middle east.

Point Two

The majority of charging is done at night. The power plants can not turn off at night so if the power is not used it is wasted. In fact many times in the middle of the night power companies have to pay to get rid of their extra power!

iholtzman, Point one may have been valid in past decades when wars were in the middle east were fought over oil control. However, within a few years, North America will be a net energy exporter due to huge reserves that keep growing as new discoveries and extraction techniques emerge. The U.S. alone will surpass Saudi Arabian and Russian oil production by the end of this decade. We will still have to worry about world access to oil and the related security issues, but the OPEC states have waning power already, and it will soon be much less.

From the NYT: "The International Energy Agency reported this week that the United States was poised to become the world’s biggest oil producer thanks to new drilling technologies in shale fields across the country. With oil production going up each month, not only are imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries going to drop, the energy agency predicted, but the United States will also become a net oil exporter by 2030. " The known but untapped oil reserves are bigger today than at any time in history - and the new sources are not in the middle east.

First of all, Tesla's scientific analysis shows that the manufacturing of the Model S is 50% less CO2 output than the standard ICE vehicle.

Second, since a BEV changes the source of the CO2 emisssions to a single point source, instead of millions of vehicles (hopefully, Tesla's manufacturing can ramp up to these kinds of numbers down the road) the emissions control is easier to clean up there than for every ICE vehicle, adding thousands of daollars to the cost of each vehicle. Right there, this means its more cost effective to produce a BEV than ICE.

Third, add a PV system to you household and you further help in the overall reduction of the CO2 emissions to charge the BEV for the life of the vehicle.

This affords the people the best of all worlds when choosing to buy a Model S and my $$ will be on Tesla to come through. Both in stock and the Model S!!


Could you provide a link to the Tesla statement about the Model S taking 50% less CO2 output than the standard ICE vehicle to build? I'm sure a number of us would love to be able to show how clean our Model S is, as we do our mandantory show-n-tell...

P-Dave - Did you mean to say "Mr. Lomborg is a "political" scientist", as he has no degrees in the true science field. His opinions are just that - his opinions.

There are two major areas why EV's are better.
1.An EV is the ultimate flex fuel vehicle. It does not matter where we get the energy from, it can be easily converted to electricty. This frees us to use more enviorenment / political / economic friendly energy sources as an when they become available.
2. It is the most efficient means of converting stored energy to motion that we have.

To me these amount to the best insurance for the future. It will allow us to keep the oil for more important things like plastics and other chemicals that are difficult to make any other way.
Fracking for oil is just another way of using up limited resources. It is better not to use it all up by burning it. Think about our great grand children...

Forget the great grand-children. When, in all history, could a generation have "preserved" resources for progeny that they actually cared about? It is arrogant madness to imagine such a resource could even be identified. Could someone in 1900 have known what we use and need now? Could they have "saved" some for us?

@Pungoteague_Dave - hats off to your professorship and most of your opinions, but here I don't see the facts. The quote deals with "grants and loans", while Tesla only got a loan, and repaying it early. Ford got a $5.9 billion loan from the same DOE program, but nobody seems to care.

The $7,500 tax credit (not payment) was discussed elsewhere in the article, not subject of the quote.

Aside from whales, of course, because we now like whales, not because they're "useful", much less vital resources.

When are we going to hear a response from Elon on this?

In BC where I'm based, we have 90% of our power from hydro projects... and I'm involved in a company that's building wind farms to contribute to that mix. The energy mix certainly plays into the Model S greeness and I'd hope that with recycling of these cars, now that their components are in the system, will make future EVs even greener.

At some point in the future I look forward to a Model S stripping/recycling process as well.


What a pathetic attempt at journalism. I did not see any data in it that included the other things, besides the fuel, that go into operating an ICE. How about the oil, transmission fluid, coolant and oil, air, fuel filters etc. that has to be refined/manufactured and transported to service the ICE and then hauled away to be disposed of or recycled. What about all the trucks that deliver the fuel to the gas stations and all the associated energy etc. to manufacture operate and maintain them. And on and on.

In fairness you would need to do the same for BEV's.

My reasons for geeting a Model S (got my delivery button 3/8) was for fun, to awake each morning to a full charge, never needing to stop at a gas station, and to stop being ripped off by big oil.

If being geen was my priority I would have purchased running shoes.

And for the ICE try a search on refinery fires, pipeline fires, tanker truck fires, etc...

Just ordered my Nikes, delivery by carbon free stork.

Another point to make about the benefits of an EV car over an ICE once they are one the road -- the ICE spews carbon monoxide. Millions of cars spew night and day around the world. We don't hear any mention about what that is doing to oxygen levels (there has to be some long-term effect). Shale oil is supposed to be dirtier than "regular" oil, so shale oil drilling is not exactly a positive.


Even without granting any notice about over 80% battery recycling:
EV: 30,000 * 2 = 60,000
ICE: 14,000 / 17 *100 = 82,353

So the main statement is: EV is better, BUT it's NOT good enough!!! Especially if you don't use it!!!?

I don't get it. Smells like another red herring with a green coating. :)

We use Constellation Energy and I selected Wind Energy as my source of electricity; Constellation uses a small amount of wind for its electricity production.

In Illinois we have more and more wind energy available, and many other states are rapidly changing to Nat Gas and multiple renewables to produce their electrons. My personal carbon release is now technically negligible. As more of us who can opt for renewables from our electricity providers do so, the notion that EVs cause any sustained and substantial impact on the environment will become less relevant. ICE's, on the other hand, will never be able to make that claim.

since when did the WSJ care about carbon footprint anyway; I thought they were with @Brian H, any warming not caused by human/carbon output- if that's true, why do they even care; should be proud EV produces more than their fair share (I think I know the answer to that oil money question)

National average CO2 emissions = 1.3 lbs C02/kWh
Gasoline = 19.8 lbs C02/gal (not including refining emissions)
Run your own numbers and see how long it takes to close the gap.
Also, batteries are improving at a rate of around 7% per year.
In 10 years, they will be 1/2 the size. If Envia's technology is working, we are already there.

Rooftop PV panels now cost less than $1/watt. That' a steal compared to gas. 2500 watt system will fuel your car for 25 years.
Install most of it yourself (not hard). Inverter and racking costs would be around $2500 also... then take your 30% tax credit.

Fueling your car from rooftop PV like many of us are doing makes this article moot.

Change is hard(er for some people to accept).

Don't be discouraged by these articles. EVs win and continue to improve each year.

There is a gentleman in Canada named Dr. David Suzuki. He says we are running out of fresh air and fresh water.


The 50% less CO2 to manufacture statement comes from Elon himself in the youtube video of the History channel's show "Mega Factories".

I'd take his word over a reporter's any day.

Dr. Suzuki hasn't done any science since the last day he defended his fruit fly PhD many decades ago; he's been in TV and advocacy ever since. He had to bail on his eponymous Foundation because of strong evidence of illegal political activities. He can be quite a loon; in full flight he emulates Paul Ehrlich.


The reporter wasn't saying it -- he was quoting it. It would still be nice if there was an academic paper backing Elon's statement. I will have to check the video out, thanks for pointing it out.

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