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UMTRI study shows wide global variability in GHG emissions from operating an EV

A team at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study has assessed the relative amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions from driving a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) compared with greenhouse-gas emissions from driving a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle in different countries of the world.

Indirect emissions from BEVs depend on the mix of fuel sources used to generate electricity; countries differ widely in their fuel-source mix. For example, Albania (which generates 100% of its electricity from hydroelectric power) would have an average 5,100.0 MPGghg (0.05 L/100 km) for a BEV; on the other extreme are Botswana and Gibraltar (which generate 100% of their electricity from coal and oil), each with 29.0 MPGghg (8.1 L/100 km). The corresponding value for the US is 55.4 MPGghg (4.2 L/100 km)—interestingly, close to the 54.5 mpge target for the US EPA’s current GHG regulations for 2025. The average for the world is 51.5 MPGghg (4.6 L/100 km).

China currently comes in at 40.0 MPGghg (5.9 L/100 km).

University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)
Color-coded world map of MPG-equivalent values (MPGghg) for BEVs. Source: Sivak and Schoettle. Click to enlarge.

The team—Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle—did not consider the emissions associated with manufacturing each vehicle type in their analysis.

The analysis used two key sets of data:

  1. BEV miles-per-gallon-equivalent values based on well-to-wheels emissions of various electricity fuel sources calculated by the Union of Concerned Scientists; and

  2. country-specific electricity production by fuel source compiled by the International Energy Agency.

For each individual country, the calculations derived an equivalent fuel-economy value at which both BEVs and gasoline-powered vehicles produce the same amount of greenhouse-gas emissions. In other words, the calculations derived, for each country, a fuel-economy value that a gasoline-powered vehicle would have to exceed to produce lower emissions than a typical BEV, and vice versa.




Good work. People tend to assume EVs have 0 greenhouse emissions, but they don't - as this makes clear.
(They are still way better for "local" pollution, such as NOx and HC - no question).

I would like to see the raw data, or at least a list containing the mpg(ghg) for all countries studied.

Vanessa Smith

Excellent informative article. The carbon track of an electric vehicle during its full life cycle is less than that of a gasoline. The real problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is in particular in developing China, which is likely to dominate the global automotive market in the coming decades. The most promising ways to improve electric vehicles have little to do with the vehicles themselves: the energy infrastructure is crucial. On this website, students can get online help and advice in their studies.
Sincerely, Vanessa Smith, The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


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