Electric vehicles are twice as green as in 2012 (at least in the UK)

  • Published on September 1st, 2017

Remember that BS news story from around 2005 about a Hummer being greener to own than a Toyota Prius over the life of the car? That story got debunked less than a year later, as- even by 2006 standards- the Prius is a pretty clean car. As we head into the 2018 model year, however, have things gotten any better for electric cars? According to a new study in the UK, things have gotten twice as good!

By Jo Borrás BMW holiday car electric vehicle

Thanks to the increase in solar energy and wind farm use, electric vehicles are putting out about half the carbon emissions that they put out just five years ago. The study revealed that charging a Tesla Model S created 124g of carbon dioxide per km driven in 2012- but that that is down to just 74g per km in winter and just 41g per km in summer in 2017, according to research by Imperial College London.

Interestingly, that same study found that a Toyota Prius hybrid was actually cleaner than Tesla’s Model S in the winter, producing just 70g of carbon dioxide per km compared to the Tesla’s 74, with the Tesla coming out ahead in the summer months.

That seasonal differences found in the study were apparently caused by solar farms making up a higher proportion of UK electricity generation in the summer months, with the winter shortfall made up by gas power stations. Meanwhile, the same UK study found that the Nissan LeafBMW i3, and the highly anticipated Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVmodels are all cleaner than a Prius, regardless of the season.

Dr. Ian Stafell, lecturer in sustainable energy at Imperial College and author of the report, said that, “It is widely accepted that electric cars dramatically reduce air pollution in cities, but there is still some debate about how clean they actually are. It varies depending on where the electricity to charge them with comes from … now, thanks to the rapid decarbonisation of electricity generation in the UK, they are much better. Smaller electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 can be charged for less than half the CO2 of the cleanest non-electric car on the market.”

(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Gas2.  Images: Drax, Imperial College London, via AutoExpress UK)

About the Author