How Green Are Electric Cars? Depends on Where You Plug In
Originally Posted by Fedaykin
a.) Producing electricity, even in a coal plant, is far more efficient than producing energy in an internal combustion engine. This is pretty much entirely about gains from scale and using more efficient ways to capture thermal energy that results from burning fossil fuels
b.) Electric cars are more efficient per unit of energy than internal combustion cars, even after the energy is produced.
This is why electric cars have an "MPG equivalent" rating. Tesla is getting around ~100MPG equivalent ratings producing as much or more torque/horsepower as ICE's getting 15 MPG. Once they scale down out of the luxury market, they will likely be getting closer to 200MPG equivalents.
The U.C.S. report, which takes into account the full cycle of energy production, often called a well-to-wheels analysis, demonstrates that in areas where the electric utility relies on natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric or renewable sources to power its generators, the potential for electric cars and plug-in hybrids to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is great. But where generators are powered by burning a high percentage of coal, electric cars may not be even as good as the latest gasoline models — and far short of the thriftiest hybrids.