Electric cars among the dirtiest modes of transportation study says

Oops, don’t tell multi-hundred-millionaire Al Gore, but the supposed savior of the environment, electric cars, are one of the most dirty forms of transportation when you consider the entire scope of the vehicle.

(UPI.com) — Electric cars, despite their supposed green credentials, are among the environmentally dirtiest transportation options, a U.S. researcher suggests.

Writing in the journal IEEE Spectrum, researcher Ozzie Zehner says electric cars lead to hidden environmental and health damages and are likely more harmful than gasoline cars and other transportation options.

Electric cars merely shift negative impacts from one place to another, he wrote, and “most electric-car assessments analyze only the charging of the car. This is an important factor indeed. But a more rigorous analysis would consider the environmental impacts over the vehicle’s entire life cycle, from its construction through its operation and on to its eventual retirement at the junkyard.”

Political priorities and corporate influence have created a flawed impression that electric cars significantly reduce transportation impacts, he said.

“Upon closer consideration, moving from petroleum-fueled vehicles to electric cars starts to appear tantamount to shifting from one brand of cigarettes to another,” Zehner, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, said.

This isn’t the first report contradicting the questionable claims made by warmists about the benefits of electric vehicles over gas either:

(The Australian, via The Week) – ELECTRIC cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than petrol equivalents because of the energy consumed in making their batteries, a study has found.

An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.

The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.

“But they save so much money you oil worshiping fool!”  Ha! Not so fast.  Turns out, you aren’t likely to save any money buying one of these contraptions either.

(NYTimes) — Except for two hybrids, the Prius and Lincoln MKZ, and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the added cost of the fuel-efficient technologies is so high that it would take the average driver many years — in some cases more than a decade — to save money over comparable new models with conventional internal-combustion engines.

That is true at today’s pump prices, around $4, and also if gas were to climb to $5 a gallon, the data shows.

Gas would have to approach $8 a gallon before many of the cars could be expected to pay off in the six years an average person owns a car.


The Prius and Lincoln MKZ are likely to produce overall savings within two years versus similar-size gas-powered cars from the same brand, but other hybrids, despite ratings 8 to 12 miles per gallon better than conventional models, will cost more to buy and drive for at least five years.

The data assumes an average of 15,000 miles driven a year and a gas price of just under $4 a gallon.

If gas cost $5 a gallon, the TrueCar data estimates that the payback period for a hybrid Ford Fusion over the conventional Fusion would be six and a half years, compared with eight and a half years at $4. At $6 a gallon, the hybrid Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are likely to generate savings within four years.

So why do some buyers pay more for advanced technology that might not save them money? Many never do the math, analysts say, or they tend to overestimate how much the added miles per gallon translate into actual monetary savings.


“Fuel economy has become a social attribute,” said Tom Turrentine, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, who has studied car buying habits and is the director of the university’s Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center. “People want to have good fuel economy because if they have poor fuel economy they might look stupid.”


According to TrueCar, a buyer who chose the Leaf instead of a Nissan Versa would need to drive it for almost nine years at today’s gas prices or six years at $5 a gallon before the fuel savings outweighed the nearly $10,000 difference in price.

The Volt, which cost nearly $40,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, could take up to 27 years to pay off versus a Chevrolet Cruze, assuming it was regularly driven farther than its battery-only range allows. The payback time could drop to about eight years if gas cost $5 a gallon and the driver remained exclusively on battery power.

The Lundberg Survey, which tracks fuel prices, said in March that gas prices would need to reach $12.50 a gallon for the Volt to make sense purely on financial terms. It said the Leaf would be competitive with gas at $8.53 a gallon.

I can’t say I am surprised by any of these studies.  After all, the entire ”Green” movement is alarmist in nature; act first, question later.  Not only alarmist, but forcibly so.  Advocates of global warming seem to be very defensive of their movement.  Anyone who dare question the legitimacy of the claim that man is responsible for any aberration in climate is considered a “denier” and a “conspiracy theorist”.

What shall we call those advocates for electric vehicles in the name of saving “Mother Earth”, now that they are presented with information that their ideology is somewhat misguided?  No need to worry, it’s probably just a conspiracy against science settled by consensus.


  1. John – You seem to have a real chubby for Al Gore.

    That aside, the whole effort by those who promote alternative energies doesn’t take away from the fact that we are dependent on a finite resource that will only get more costly in the future, especially with new global markets in the picture.

    Even if you discredit every attempt to bring anything new to the table, do you think that oil will always be available for you? Your sarcasm aside, do you think we’ll have nothing to worry about in 10, 20 or 50 years?

    • Z

      I hate how openly hypocritical he is, thats all.

      I’m not opposed to viable options. I oppose forcing on a populace while its not on equal footing as far as quality and cost. There is enough oil in the world to fuel it for another 200 years at the current rates of use. Why then must we put ourselves in massive debt when we have time to perfect alt fuel technology?

  2. Do you understand that the petroleum industry has no desire to see any promotion of products that might eat into their market and profits? There’s a lot of misinformation out there and the footing for alternatives is certainly not equal, so it’s understandable to use incentives for start-ups in the field.

    I understand your reluctance to use the government to force these new ideas, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think that oil companies are looking out for our best interests.

    Never mind the debt you think we’re putting ourselves in to find alternatives, at the current worldwide growth rate and projected worldwide consumption of oil , we’ll be in no position to be able to afford our current lifestyle.

    But, if you seem to think that we’ve got enough to last another 200 years, then let’s party like its 1999. It’s not like I’ll be around in 200 years.

    • But thats not it Z, im not saying we should party up. Im saying we have time to research and develop and perfect before its foisted on us, especially when its all so espensive and saves little.

      Whether the oil companies are looking out for our best interest doesnt bother me, its not their job to and neither do most other major commodity corporations.

  3. But just like any new technology, the first attempts are always a bit pricy. Look at computers and flat screen televisions. Improvements are made and costs come down.

    The fact that large companies don’t look out for your best interests should concern you, John, whether it’s oil, pharma, food, banking or any other industry. The only thing business care about is the all mighty dollar, which is kind of ironic because I get the feeling that’s what you think everyone else is all about.

    • Sure all new tech is expensive. But thats because the market warranted it. This green angle is being forced. Light bulb bans, cafe standards, electric cars being pushed even though they are money losers subsidized etc.

  4. It’s amazing the contagion the alarmists are able to maintain. Those still claiming that man is causing global warming are looking more like Baghdad Bob everyday.

    The article also discusses something that has worried me about electric cars and that is the environmentally unfriendly nature of its batteries. It did mention the impact of their manufacturing process, but there is also the impact of their disposal, which to me is a greater concern. If everyone is driving these cars, that could be a lot of damage.

    IMO, if someone loves something, as I do the environment, once the left takes up your cause, it will probably be a lost one. The left wants cash and power, (algore) any cause they adopt is to that end, to hell with your cause.

  5. You may unaware of this, John, but fossil fuel subsidies were 6 times higher than renewable energy subsidies globally in 2011 ($523 billion vs. $88billion).

    But you guys are right – who cares? I won’t be around when the party is over and those alternative energy freaks are only in it for cash and power…

    • Subsidies are different than grants and loans. Ill still grant that oil gets to keep more of its own money than perhaps the average green corp. But what good is having the technology now and being forced to use it if you as a family cant afford it without also going on programs?
      How much energy is saved by switching to the new toxic light bulbs? Is it worth the 500% increase in cost, for example?

      If so called green cars are as bad or in some cases worse for the environment and they cost thousands more up front and take a decade or more to actually break even or save, whats the point if you sell it before that point?

      Like I said, I am all for new tech, but dont force it on us and wait til its efficient.

    • And if you think oil corps wont invest in green energy if there was money to be made, youre nuts. Green energy at this point in time its a big money and energy loser. Just give it its real time thats all.

  6. Subsidies can be direct – cash grants, interest-free loans – or indirect – tax breaks, insurance, low-interest loans, depreciation write-offs, rent rebates. Your argument from a monetary standpoint fails to hold water. Oil companies will always make an effort to crush anything they see as a threat to their profits. Don’t get me wrong – I agree that oil companies will invest in green energy when the time comes, but right now their gravy train is too rich to ignore.

  7. paynehollow says:

    The first article rightly claims…

    researcher Ozzie Zehner says electric cars lead to hidden environmental and health damages and are likely more harmful than gasoline cars and other transportation options.

    That’s my understanding from the research as it stands now. That the process for creating electric batteries is likely so damaging that the benefits of the existing electric cars are possibly wiped out. It is, at least, questionable, from what I’ve read thus far.

    That’s why we need to encourage living in smaller circles, walking, biking, mass transit, rather than relying upon the personal auto as a solution. The personal auto as a solution is not one that can work much longer.

    I hate the Toyota hybrid ads that call their electric hybrids “green” cars. They are, at best, less polluting, but that does not make them “green.”

    ~Dan Trabue

  8. “That’s why we need to encourage living in smaller circles,”

    This is idiocy of the highest order. Are we supposed to have more factories so that we don’t have to transport goods as far to each of these “smaller circles”? YOU go live in a field and leave rational people to live as they choose.

  9. Currently the federal government essentially mandates that the auto companies sell these cars. Is it rational then that the government would mandate where people live? I was under the impression that as free people living in a free country that we were allowed to make decisions about things like where we live and what kind of car we drive.

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