What are the greenest cars if you take into account the environmental costs for building the vehicles and for distributing the fuel?
Lindsay Wilson on Renew Economy has analysed the top 8 technologies, using the Nissan Leaf as the EV for comparison. As you might expect, the Leaf charged from solar electricity is a clear winner (and you could substitute wind, hydro or other low carbon source), at 79 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilometre (79 g CO2e/km). However the ranking from then on is not what you might expect.
The next best is an EV charged from gas fired electricity at 160 g/km but followed closely by a petrol vehicle achieving 4.7 L/100 km fuel consumption for overall emissions of 170 g/km. There are several small petrol or diesel cars available, and hybrids, that achieve this figure or better.
After that we find a petrol vehicle at 5.9 L/100 km and 203 g/km, then an EV charged by oil-fired electricity at 217 g/km, followed by petrol car achieving 7.8 L/100 km and 257 g/km, an EV charged from coal-fired electricity at 259 g/km and finally a petrol vehicle doing 11.8 L/100 km and 366 g/km.
So the “order of merit” is:
|Vehicle/fuel||Fuel consumption L/100 km||Emissions grams CO2 equivalent|
|EV charged by renewable electricity||N/A||79|
|EV charged by gas fired electricity||N/A||160|
|Petrol car (eg Fiat Panda)||4.7||170|
|Petrol car (eg Peugeot 2008)||5.9||203|
|EV charged by oil fired electricity||N/A||217|
|Petrol car (eg Honda Odyssey)||7.8||257|
|EV charged by coal fired electricity||N/A||259|
|Petrol car (eg Jeep Wrangler)||11.8||366|
What do you think? Do you think electric cars are going to be the low carbon vehicles of the future? How about next-gen biofuels or hydrogen fuel cells?