ZEVs don’t have Zero Emissions: letter

February 19, 2017 |

In an unpublished letter to the Wall Street Journal, Don Siefkes, Executive Director of the E100 Ethanol Group writes:

Regarding Mike Spector’s Feb. 13 article, “Biggest Driver of Cleaner-Car Rules …,” Ms. Mary Nichols, Chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is making a huge mistake when she says the future is electric cars. Maybe, but  only if someone comes up with a dramatic increase in energy density over lithium ion batteries. No one’s done it in over a hundred years of trying.

The CARB needs to focus on the end result, not the technology. That is, they should specify low CO2 emissions per mile (we would suggest <0.1 lbs/mile) and let the companies settle on the technology.  

When the CARB refers to Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), they are talking only at the tailpipe and every time they or the Wall Street  Journal uses the ZEV designation, it should be followed by the phrase “at the tailpipe only.”  You have to make the electricity to run electric vehicles and that process emits CO2.

Using the latest data from Argonne National Laboratory (the accepted world authority on life cycle CO2 emissions) the Tesla Model S P100D emits 0.4 lbs of CO2 per mile. (35 KwHr to go 100 miles at 1.21 lbs CO2 to make 1 KwHr using the standard US mix for producing electricity).

In contrast, a gasoline engine getting 26 mpg emits 1.0 lbs of CO2 per mile. An ethanol engine getting 26 mpg emits 0.02 lbs of CO2 per mile and the engine costs less than $100 more than a gasoline engine.

The bottom line is that electric vehicles do reduce total CO2 emissions somewhat at very high cost (the Tesla Model S P100D costs $160,000), but they are certainly not zero emission. It is misleading to the American public to suggest that tailpipe ZEV’s are going to be the solution to our CO2 emissions crisis.

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