The Irony of the Electric Car

So called “clean air vehicles” are actually worse for the environment than regular cars

Trevor Klein

Everyday when I walk to my car in the parking lot, I am irritated at the site of a string of “clean air vehicle” spaces taking up the prime parking spots.

Most people think it is fair that people who are “nobly” helping the environment by driving a hybrid or an electric car are rewarded with a parking space and access to the carpool lane.

In reality, driving an electric vehicle actually causes more pollution than a modern car with an internal combustion engine (ICE).

Elon Musk claims that electric cars produce “zero emissions.” Musk and other electric car manufacturers, who claim their cars are better for the environment than ICE powered cars, are not giving consumers the full picture.

While on the road, it is true that nearly “zero emissions” come out of the exhaust pipe of an electric car. But, the electricity powering the car comes from fossil fuels processed at a power plant.

“Electric cars are coal-powered cars,” Vinod Khosla, a leading supporter of the clean technology sector, said.

According to an August 2017 Morgan Stanley report, in Tesla’s market which mostly consists of the United States and Europe, fossil fuels are accountable for the overwhelming majority of the electricity.

According to the same report, the average Tesla is responsible for more pollution every year than the average ICE powered car, when accounting for processing the fossil fuels that electric cars rely on to create electricity. A Tesla emits 1.15 metric tons of carbon dioxide while the average ICE car only emits 0.940 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Don’t get me wrong, the Tesla is a beautiful car, and Musk is an incredible engineer and visionary. But, don’t expect to save the planet by driving a Tesla or any other electric vehicle.

In addition, Bjørn Lomborg, the President of the Consensus Center reported that a 10 percent increase in gasoline cars in the United States by 2020 would cause 870 more pollution related deaths a year than the current total. In contrast, 10 percent increase in electric cars, fueled by the typical U.S. electricity mix, by 2020 would cause a whopping 1,617 more pollution related deaths a year.

After looking at all the facts, electric vehicles are clearly no better and often worse for the environment than ICE powered cars, but that begs the question, do electric cars have the potential to be better for the environment than ICE cars in the near future?

Probably not. According to PBS, the first practical electric vehicle was invented in 1835. ICE powered cars were invented 50 years later in 1885. Thus, people have been working on the electric car for longer than the ICE car and the ICE car is still better for the environment.

Additionally, electric car companies are propped up today by government created incentives for buyers. The two best-known examples are access to the carpool lanes and prime “clean air vehicle” parking spaces in most parking lots.

In California, the government subsidizes electric cars with a rebate of up to $15,000 according to Business Insider. In the rest of the United States, up to $7,500 in rebates is very common.

Even with the government’s help, the electric car is still behind the ICE in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and efficiency.

The ICE is already proven to be the superior technology, and auto manufacturers continue to improve upon it. Mazda recently announced that a recent breakthrough in ICE efficiency will make future cars require 25 percent less fuel than current cars.

Even with the United States government and the environmentalist movement against it, the ICE continues to be the best technology on the market.

It is irresponsible and wrong for the government to promote electric cars because it is the market’s job to choose which products succeed and fail. A group of bureaucrats should not have any control over what car is in my garage.

The government should definitely set pollution laws as an inherent part of property rights, but they should not be wasting government funding to support an inefficient technology.

If the government let the market pick the superior technology, ICE-powered vehicles would prevail and continue to develop as the more viable and environmentally friendly vehicle. But, the government chooses to pick the less efficient and more environmentally hazardous electric vehicle as superior. They are clinging on to the false notion that electric cars are “saving the world.”

Unfortunately, the environmentalist’s and the government’s misconceptions caused a public hysteria leading most people to revere the electric car.

The unfair promotion of electric cars hurts our environment and our industrial progress.

In the end, we must question the judgment of our government and leaders, such as Elon Musk, who promote the electric car craze. Musk continues to market the Tesla as an “emissions free” car when the evidence clearly shows that is not true.

When it comes to the electric car and many other crazes, one must carefully dig through the hysteria and find the truth.


Write to Trevor Klein at [email protected]