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Yesterday Polestar released an update on their calculations for the manufacturing CO2 foot-print of the Polestar 2, which came in at a pretty hefty 26 tonnes of CO2, compared to 14 tonnes for a Volvo XC40, so an extra 12 tonnes for their chosen example. They reckon that if powered by green electricity the EV breaks even with the new XC40 fossil fuel car after 31,000 miles of driving although clearly that calculation is sensitive to assumptions about MPG and electricity mix.

At those kind of CO2 volumes, if typical for EVs with some scaling for battery size, it does raise some questions about whether accelerated replacement of existing ICE vehicles with new EVs is always the lowest CO2 solution.

26 tonnes of CO2 is equivalent to burning around 10,000L of diesel which in a car delivering 50mpg would get around 110,000 miles of driving. For a petrol at 40mpg its around 100,000 miles of driving.

So if its a question of keeping an existing, reasonably efficient >50mpg diesel or >40mpg petrol car running then as long as you're doing around the average annual mileage of 8,000 miles per year or less, it's probably greener (in CO2 at least) to keep your existing ICE running and delay purchasing an EV until the existing ICE becomes unrepairable.

The CO2 seems to line up with the economics, keeping existing efficient vehicles running is better.


 

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Kia Soul EV 2020
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You should look into ID.3 production, according to VW it is expected to be carbon neutral.
 

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26 tonnes is pretty high, but some EVs are only half that or less.

According to the carbon counter thing I saw using the GREET model (see below), my Ioniq is around 8.3 tonnes of CO2e and some smaller EVs are similar. That, if true, is not too bad. You would have paid off that carbon vs an old petrol car in 2-4 years with normal mileage and after that big carbon savings accumulate.

If you go here http://carboncounter.com/ you can select customize and under "Y Axis" select "vehicle emissions" rather than the default to lifecycle emissions. You can also select EVs only and hover over the dots to see their estimates for each car which all range from 6 tonnes to 14 tonnes.

Cars with 100-150 mile range are better than 250-300 mile range though. When considering battery size it´s worth asking yourself whether you are willing to add several more tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, and other impacts, just to avoid the hassle and delay of maybe stopping at a charging station ten times a year or whatever.

The second hand ICE vs brand new EV is also a bit unfair since you could also buy a second hand EV.

And also how many people are there really driving around old petrol bangers worth under £1000 that are considering whether or not to buy a £30,000 EV? I´m not sure the comparison is that relevant to that many people.

Of course, second hand petrol cars are not really the issue here. We need to stop buying new ICEs.
 

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You could reframe this: Is it better to stop making new cars, or to make better new cars?
Rhetorical question, I suppose.

It is better for the environment to stop making everything. Good luck with that!

Realistically, VW are trying to make their assembly plant carbon neutral. More power to their elbow! I expect that the batteries are bought in so they won't count their carbon cost. It's still a push in the right direction.
 

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Realistically, VW are trying to make their assembly plant carbon neutral. More power to their elbow! I expect that the batteries are bought in so they won't count their carbon cost. It's still a push in the right direction.
Everything counts with the ID.3. The carbon neutral wasn't for the plant, it was the car production. At least that was their promise...we will see.
 

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Rhetorical question, I suppose.

It is better for the environment to stop making everything. Good luck with that!

Realistically, VW are trying to make their assembly plant carbon neutral. More power to their elbow! I expect that the batteries are bought in so they won't count their carbon cost. It's still a push in the right it's better to stop making cars if we also stop using the old ones, but when we use the old ones, then there's
Rhetorical question, I suppose.

It is better for the environment to stop making everything. Good luck with that!

Realistically, VW are trying to make their assembly plant carbon neutral. More power to their elbow! I expect that the batteries are bought in so they won't count their carbon cost. It's still a push in the right direction.
Well it's clearly better for the planet to stop making new cars if we also stop using the old ones.
If we continue to use the old polluting ones then there is maths to be done. You might also consider the cost of local pollution as well as the raw CO2e values.

And then it also matters which new car you consider. So if the ID3 is truely produced carbon neutral then the calculation gets quite different results to Polestar's 26 tons.
 

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Thanks for the info on the ID3. I found this link; there is a short video that explains the plans in more detail:

It´s good progress from VW. They say they are going to use renewable electricity at the car production plant and the battery cell production phase, and this will be substantially reduce the footprint.

However, a car has a complex supply chain and an OEM like VW has several tiers of suppliers. Tier 1 suppliers that supply direct to them and even tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers that supply to the tier 1s. A bit of the ID3 carbon´s footprint will be in the heating of factory at the company that produces the steering wheel. Another bit will be in the lighting for the office of the company that designs the air con unit. Another bit is in a business class flight taken by the executive who flies in to Germany to discuss how to improve the safety on the brakes she supplies to VW. Another bit is in the emissions of the ICE mining vehicle that is taking cobalt out of the ground. And then, when you really think about it, it´s easy to understand that there are thousands of things like this.

A significant chunk of the ID3´s carbon footprint will be in all these little bits, and there is no sign that VW is trying to address them all. And if you really think about all these thousands of little things that are done to produce a car, it´s virtually impossible to get the carbon footprint of a car close to zero until most countries fully decarbonize over decades and not correct to claim a car is carbon neutral just because the factory of the battery and car assembly plant uses renewable energy. That will probably cut the car´s carbon production footprint by 10% or 50%. Of course, you can try to offset the rest using some tree planting schemes or whatever, and VW does mention offsetting in its video.

Apple is trying it. They are basically going to their suppliers and saying "You must use renewable electricity at all your factories by such and such year and if you don´t, your component will no longer be used in the iphone". They claim that they have 70 such commitments. Even with this attitude, Apple is realistic that they can only cut emissions by 75% by 2030 (even that looks ambitious) and will have to offset the other 25%.
 

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When buying a new car, it´s not only a matter of offsetting the CO2 footprint of production against keeping the old one, it´s also to do with hastening a new transportation model. If everybody stayed on the fence and postponed the purchase of a new EV, we´d never kick start the transition. One of my considerations of going electric has been precisely that. I wish to reduce the number of litres of diesel that the FF companies can sell each year, to hasten their demise and at the same time I want car manufacturers to see that there is a market of EV buyers that want their products. We´re still early adopters and as such it´s all about establishing a critical mass that forces change.
 

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As Alex Steffen said..."There is a direct relationship between the kinds of places we live, the transportation choices we have, and how much we drive. The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go."

That said I live somewhere that makes driving a necessity, so I choose to drive on electricity.
 

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When buying a new car, it´s not only a matter of offsetting the CO2 footprint of production against keeping the old one, it´s also to do with hastening a new transportation model. If everybody stayed on the fence and postponed the purchase of a new EV, we´d never kick start the transition. One of my considerations of going electric has been precisely that. I wish to reduce the number of litres of diesel that the FF companies can sell each year, to hasten their demise and at the same time I want car manufacturers to see that there is a market of EV buyers that want their products. We´re still early adopters and as such it´s all about establishing a critical mass that forces change.
Which is why I still can't decide if it's better for the environment to buy a brand new EV or a second hand one. Once ICEs have been banned, it will certainly be better to buy a second hand one.

For now, it's not so clear. The person buying a new EV every 2 years has a colossal personal carbon footprint if we give 100% of the carbon footprint of the car to the first owner, but their actions may lead to others reducing their footprint more and if no-one bought brand new EVs obviously second hand purchases alone can't bring about a change.

It sounds a bit silly but I was just this morning looking at where I park the car and looking at the street and I was thinking of parking it in such a way that, when charging, the cable is stretched a longer distance to the car and is more visible from the street. Many people just won't even really seriously consider buying an EV until they see it as a normal thing that people are doing. It's not until they drive past the charging point in their local town, have a family member that has an EV, and see a neighbour charging one, that they really start to give it serious thought. Even if some of these people won't buy an EV this year it's all part of a thought process that brings that date forward a bit. At least that's my theory.
 

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Sounds like the polestar is approximately the least good EV then. Moral of this story? Don't buy a polestar.
 

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Maybe. Seems a fair conclusion at best guess. But seems a bit harsh to punish them for their transparency.

It could also be that their estimate is too high.

Or that the other estimates are too low.

Or that the Polestar currently has a high carbon footprint because it hasn´t yet achieved economies of scale.

I wouldn´t buy one though.
 

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The fact that the manufacturing CO2 bill is greater for a BEV than an ICE is down to the larger amounts of energy needed to produce battery cells. Bigger battery, more cells, more manufacturing CO2. We really should sort out public charging so that the trend of ever larger batteries is reversed and we avoid very heavy cars with a lot of unused spare capacity to cover occasional long trips. Expecting big batteries delays the day when a workable BEV costs no more than an ICE.
 
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