No, Making a Tesla Battery Does Not Equal 8 Years of Driving an Internal Combustion Car.

“The innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.” – Niccolò Machiavelli 

 

If you have an irrational resistance to change, particularly technological advancements that can in anyway be portrayed as being good for the environment, then right now there is a terrific propaganda piece being spread around that will reinforce your worldview.  Based on a Swedish study, this story claims that the production of a Tesla 100 kWh battery, Tesla’s biggest, produces 17.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions which they allege is equivalent to driving an internal-combustion vehicle for 8.2 years. There is just one problem: it is utter nonsense.

In taking on this claim, we will take their numbers and assumptions at face value and address the first question: How far do you have to drive an internal combustion engine powered vehicle to reach their 17.5 tons of carbon dioxide? To figure this out we will use the Audi A8 4.0 since it is a comparable vehicle in terms of size, performance, and price range to the Tesla Model S equipped with the 100 kWH battery. According to it’s official EPA ratings, the Audi achieves 19 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 22 mph in combined use. Taking those numbers, we can calculate that you would have to drive the Audi just a tad over 31,500 miles to reach our 17.5 tons of carbon emissions. In the interests of transparency, feel free to verify the match here.

teslaaudi

The next question is how many miles does the average American drive in a year? According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average across all age groups in 13,476 miles per year. So now we can divide 31,500 miles by the annual average of 13,476 miles driven and we arrive at an apples to apples number of 2.34 years – not 8.2 years.

Now that we have demonstrated this to be blatant propaganda, allow me to point out a couple of the other logical fallacies involved:

  1. They completely ignore that these numbers will soon shift even further in favor of Tesla once their first Gigafactory, powered by renewable energy, comes online.
  2. While this study focuses solely on battery production, it looks only at internal combustion engine miles driven and completely ignores the carbon emissions produced in the production of the 93 octane gasoline used by the Audi. The EPA calculates an additional 1.1 tons of upstream carbon which would further reduce our number.

As a car guy, I understand there are plenty of reasons to like the internal combustion engine: quick refueling, established infrastructure, the sound of a high performance engine. But no matter how you look at it, environmental superiority isn’t one of them.

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EViation Alice Makes Electric Flight A Reality

“Aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.”  – Eddie Rickenbacker

EViation Aircraft made a splash this week at the 52nd Paris Airshow where they unveiled the Alice, an all-electric plane that can carry 9 passengers and 2 crew up to 800 miles. With a stated goal to “pioneer accessible, sustainable air travel that can power the future of regional transit”, EViation is poised to stage a major market disruption.

At just over 39 feet in length with a 44 foot wing span, the Alice is 300 times more efficient than comparable conventional aircraft thanks in part to it’s ultra light weight fully composite construction and optimally efficient aerodynamic design. A Li-lon 980 kWh power pack provides juice for the main pusher prop at the tail and a pusher prop at each of the wingtips that propel the plane along at a 240 knot cruising speed. This translates to a 33 minute flight from Martha’s Vineyard to Boston, a 2 hour flight time from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and a 2.5 hour flight from Nashville to Orlando.

Not only do these stats mean good things for passengers and the environment, the operators will benefit from the lower energy and reduced maintenance costs, while low noise and zero emissions enable such electrically powered planes to operate from landing strips close to urban areas. “With this aircraft, air taxi operators will be able to serve customers on-demand travel [to] the nearest landing strip for the price of a train ticket,” said CEO Bar-Yohai.