By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, Jun 29 (Reuters) – You quietly leave the Tesla showroom in your sleek new electric Model 3, content to be looking good and doing your bit for the planet.
However, you’ll have to drive another 13,500 miles (21,725 kilometers) before doing less damage to the environment than a gasoline-powered sedan.
This is the result of a Reuters analysis of data from a model that calculates the emissions of vehicles during their useful life, a hotly debated issue that is gaining prominence as governments around the world push for greener transport and climate targets are met.
The model was developed by the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and includes thousands of parameters, from the type of metals in an electric vehicle battery to the amount of aluminum or plastic in a car.
Argonne’s GREET model (an acronym for Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies) is now used in conjunction with other tools to help shape Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy. ) and the California Air Resources Board, the top two regulators of vehicle emissions in the United States.
Jarod Cory Kelly, Principal Energy Systems Analyst at Argonne, says that electric vehicle manufacturing generates more carbon than combustion engine cars, primarily due to the extraction and processing of minerals from vehicle batteries and the production of electric cells.
But estimates of the magnitude of that carbon difference when a car is sold for the first time and of the break-even point of electric vehicles during their lifetime can vary greatly, depending on the assumptions.
Kelly says that the payback period depends on factors such as the size of the EV battery, the fuel economy of a gasoline car, and how the energy used to charge an electric vehicle is generated.