According to Shrink That Footprint, the carbon emissions of grid-powered electric vehicles are strongly influenced by the energy mix prevalent in the country where the vehicles are operated. In countries where coal is the predominant form of energy generation, carbon emissions are four times higher than in countries with low-carbon electricity.
Follow up:The findings are based on a standard fully electric vehicle, equivalent to the Nissan Leaf, using the 2009 average fuel mix for each country listed. Vehicle manufacturing emissions are assumed to be 70g CO2e/km based on a number of third-party studies. In terms of reference, the average gasoline powered vehicle in the United States has emissions of about 300g CO2e/km. In comparison, a hybrid would emit around 180g CO2e/km when you factor in manufacturing, fuel production and fuel combustion.
In India, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and China where power generation is heavily coal based, electric car emissions can actually end up being similar to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. In fact, an electric car in India generates as much carbon as a 20 miles per gallon petrol vehicle in the United States.
At the opposite end of the scale, Iceland and Paraguay are the greenest countries to drive an electric car. Both countries have driving emissions of just 70 g CO2e/km. The electricity per kilometre in Paraguay will generate less than one sixth of a gram of carbon emissions.
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