• Thomas

    So, the University assumed, that the average car produces 275 g CO2/km… just to let you know, that by changing to a conventional small diesel engine such as my Peugeot’s 206 sw 1,4 HDI you only produce 140 g CO2/km.
    Take home message: maybe it is time to rethink those gas guzzlers and start switching on the brain when it comes to engine and car size…

  • http://phil-m94.stumbleupon.com/ Phil-m94

    I don’t actually think this website understands the topic they are discussing. Their conclusion is right, yet based on dross. These vehicles are more CO2 friendly and one major reason is that not all electric on ‘the grid’ is produced by fossil fuels. Take Finland for example, where virtually ALL their electric comes from renewable sources. If this car was only as efficient as a regular “gas” car, then that would still be an enormous saving. This blog (and many like it) draw their conclusions based on an American way of seeing things, that most energy comes from burning fossil fuels. Don’t make assumptions based on the current system, that’s simplistic and borders on moronic. Instead, try to realise a system where it *can* work, and strive for that change. The kind of change needed is *not* the feel-good ‘hey look our car doesn’t make fumes’ – but is rather “Our vehicle is powered by electric sourced from clean, renewable energy sources.”

  • http://www.greenupgrader.com Admin (Matt)

    Hello Phil, I understand the topic just fine and wonder whether you read the whole article. I agree with you, we need to be striving for cleaner technologies across all sectors, however, the point of the article is that regardless of whether or not they are perfect, at current greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels in the US, plug-in cars produce MUCH LESS GHG than “regluar gas” cars, and less than HEVs. I agree that we would be better off with cleaner energy sources like wind, and should strive for that, but this is an analysis of the current state of things in the US so that means looking at these technologies within the context of a system that is currently dominated by fossil fuels. BTW, I did not get into other countries because the data from study from the Carnegie Mellon University is based on US GHG levels. I fundamentally disagree with your assertion that “The kind of change needed is *not* the feel-good ‘hey look our car doesn’t make fumes’ – but is rather “Our vehicle is powered by electric sourced from clean, renewable energy sources.” So your saying until we have renewable electricity we should not be utilizing plug in electric hybrids? Even though they still represent a huge reduction of carbon emissions over conventional cars, we should wait until our whole power grid is renewable? I don’t think so. We need both kinds of changes. The point of all this is that we need to make long term goals and strive for them, but we still need to be making positive steps everyday even though the circumstance may not be perfect.

  • Jason


    I agree, Bio-diesel all the way! That is the best choice on the table right now, but I think gas/electric hybrids are still much better than regular gas burners.

    • J. Turner

      Biodiesel’s benefits depends on how its made and how its burned. When made from palm oil grown at the expense of cutting down rainforest, it’s no better than petroleum. And, depending on how clean the engine is, the vehicle might still be spewing particulates that cause asthma.

  • http://phil-m94.stumbleupon.com/ Phil-m94

    Firstly, I am not here to bash your reviews; like I said I believe the message was good.

    However, my point, is that *THE* defining argument about electric cars is not about arguing over percentages that they save – but that they are *in theory* completely clean, emissions wise.

    Sure, some carbon is made now to charge them, but that shouldn’t in any way reflect the CAR, but the SYSTEM. When someone points out that a green car doesn’t work for those reasons, so why bother, the counter argument should not be that it produces X% less that a regular car, because that is just arguing within in their hackneyed system.

    Finally, there *are* vehicles produced that are more emissions friendly than an electric, because those CV figures are a LOT lower than the ‘best of the best’ in terms of gas car economy.

    Finally, finally .. the article you cite actually concludes that it is energy generation that is pivotal:

    “technology decisions within the next decade about electricity supplies in the power sector will affect the potential for large GHG emissions reductions with PHEVs for several decades.”

    The point is, we need to look past the tiny bumps, people who argue this line, and see the bigger picture, or we’d all give up before we got anywhere.

  • Admin (Matt)

    Thanks for the response. You said “When someone points out that a green car doesn’t work for those reasons, so why bother, the counter argument should not be that it produces X% less that a regular car.” What should the argument be? I don’t believe using the numbers diminishes the effectiveness of the argument or in anyway promotes the status quo. The numbers are numbers and in this case they illustrate the benefit of hybrids over CVs especially in contrast to someone trying to imply that are no better.

    I agree with you that the emissions created when a car is plugged into the grid reflect poorly on the power system, and show us that we need to change the grid, not scrap the car. As you know, the point of the Carnegie Mellon University study is to illustrate that. Where I disagree with you is in “THE defining argument about electric cars” . As of right now they are not completely clean, so I think their value lies in the fact the they are much cleaner than what we have.

    There are many broader implications to their findings than I touched on in the article. I left them out because I was trying to advance one point… While we must not loose sight of the big picture, we need to be thinking in terms of today and coming up with practical solutions to get where we want to be tomorrow. There are so many people who are over critical of PRACTICAL solutions simply because they are not the BEST solution. I was using the researcher’s data to remind people that while they are not perfect they still offer a Greener alternative to CVs.

    I consider myself practical idealist. I don’t believe gas/electric hybrids are the answer to global warming and I am not suggesting that we hang up a “Mission Accomplished” banner, but I think they are a step in the right direction, not the best step, but a step forward none the less.

  • http://phil-m94.stumbleupon.com/ Phil-m94

    My point is, that if you (or anyone) argue over the statistics on the existing system, it goes no way to show their true potential. Your recognition of this fact, in saying you do not want to declare ‘mission accomplished’ is kinda what I was getting at.

    Your blog post, in my mind at least, seems to make no mention of the bigger picture, and paints the existing picture rosy because they cut emissions by 32% – when in actuality the technology is 100% greener (emissions only). It is simply *HOW* we are using it that remains the problem – which I think should be the message. Too many people IMO are sitting on their hands waiting for ‘technology’ to swoop in and save the day. Well, it is here (in a way), and no-one seems to actually want to embrace it.

    It’s that hypocritical (not from your side) opinion that unless there is a dead easy 100% solution, that no-one should bother. Well, I think arguing like you do on the blog is playing into that problem, because it keeps the debate at that low meaningless level (their level) and so can’t reach the actual scope of the issue.

    I guess, all said, I can be too much of an idealist (at times) and so this kind of article always tastes a little of despair – though it might well prove to be all we have.

  • Admin (Matt)

    Well put. It was not my intent to paint a rosy picture. I guess I can take the scope of the problem for granted and assume everyone realizes how much work we all have to do. Clearly we both see the problem with the “opinion that unless there is a dead easy 100% solution, that no-one should bother”. We (greenUPGRADER) are trying to combat that by making “Being Green” accessible to the masses.

    The ugly truth is there are a lot of reasons that people resist Green technology… some are lazy, some don’t understand it, some resit any kind of change, some just feel overwhelmed by the whole situation they just turn off… Rather than banging our head against the wall trying to get these people to realize the error of their ways we try to get them involved by showing them ways being Green can fit into their lifestyle. So we try to be careful not to alienate people with Green guilt trips but rather peak an interest that may turn into something big. That being said, sometimes you need to speak their language and discuss things on their level to get through to them. In this case I was simply using numbers and facts that are tangible to refute the over generalizations that electric cars aren’t Green.

    A purist may think that approach is watering down the issue, and maybe it is, but I’d rather get dirty and get people involved than keep things pure. I believe that many people doing a little bit will make a bigger impact than a few doing a lot. Environmental issues have come to the mainstream in the last year, and we have an opportunity to make sustainable living a way of life instead of just the latest craze, but that is going to take the involvement of more than just the hardcore environmentalist.

  • J. Turner

    Since I have my own solar PV system, my converted PHEV Prius is cleaner than average, but as the grid gets cleaner, all EVs and PHEVs get cleaner. Vehicles with electric motors provide a revolutionary opportunity: we can separate the energy generation from the energy use. Batteries can be charged from the grid or from any type of generator a car company can package to put in a car–whether it’s a tiny gasoline generator, diesel, ethanol, fuel cell, solar, natural gas or anything else. We don’t need to be limited to vehicles that use internal combustion engines, and as car companies get better at making EVs, the life-cycle impact will get smaller.

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