Calculate Your Tesla’s Carbon Emissions (Find Your Tesla’s Carbon Footprint)
By Georgette Kilgore | Updated on August 18, 2021
By Georgette Kilgore | Updated on August 18, 2021
Tesla has made a name for itself supporting sustainability in the automotive industry… but can this company handle scrutiny? Is a Tesla carbon footprint really less than other electric and gas powered model vehicles?
Many people recognize that less gasoline use means less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, aka cleaner air. But is that really true? Doesn’t production, materials, and other factors play a role in the overall ecological footprint of a vehicle?
Understanding how to calculate your Tesla’s carbon footprint with an ecological footprint calculator can shed light on the emissions created during manufacturing, and the potential environmental benefits eco-friendly vehicles generate during their entire life-span.
Even cars that are designed for sustainable lifestyles generate environmental costs. This includes Tesla. Fortunately, the company shares data about its carbon footprint, publishing an extensive report detailing Tesla cars’ use and production each year.
Unfortunately, the 2019 report did not offer any exact numbers on their vehicle’s lifecycle emissions nationwide.
In lieu of hard numbers on their vehicles’ lifecycle emissions, Tesla reported statistics about internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to help paint a clear picture of how you might be impacting the environment with every mile:
Tesla officials also reported that it was vital to note that ICE vehicles can only maintain this level of efficiency with regular maintenance. A car’s performance can quickly deteriorate without periodic oil changes, hardware repairs, and the fulfillment of other critical care tasks throughout the year, which contribute to how much fuel the vehicle uses.
At their current performance levels, Teslas reportedly only emit the equivalent of a vehicle with a fuel economy of 144 mpg. To ensure you get the most out of your Tesla vehicle, though, you’ll want to charge it using solar power. When powered by grid-sourced energy (the electric company), Tesla vehicles tend to produce more emissions during the use phase of their life cycles.
Ridesharing a solar-charged car is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint while driving any electric vehicles (EVs). In general, apart from charging practices, here are the efficiency levels you can expect from various Tesla cars:
*EPA miles refer to fuel economy standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2016, Consumer Reports revealed that several of their analytical studies showed that EPA fuel economy labels are typically 3.3-10.3 percent off the mark.2 Many cars performed below the fuel economy that was advertised.
Despite these apparently positive stats about the emissions over time, some drivers still question if Tesla is a viable solution to the vehicle manufacturing industry’s CO2 output, based on years of ownership.
Teslas are one of the best possible options for an eco-friendly vehicle, but even they can’t be perfectly healthy for the environment.
According to industry experts, a vehicle’s actual electricity consumption is 35 percent higher than laboratory data typically reflects. Additionally, these vehicles lose about 12 percent of energy during the charging process.
This study by GAC Motor Co., Ltd.4 presented exact numbers on the vehicles’ carbon dioxide emissions based on data from disassembly and the China Automotive Life Cycle Assessment (CALCM) and Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET) Model:3
In total, a Tesla Model 3 vehicle was discovered to emit about 376 g CO2e/km, which is roughly 233 g CO2e/mi.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Tesla’s usage stage still accounted for 81 percent of the car’s CO2 emissions. This is the stage in which the car has the longest life, and therefore the most potential for CO2 output. On the other hand, material acquisitions were only responsible for 16 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and production was a mere 3 percent.
So, while Teslas may not be the perfect solution to climate change because they still have a carbon footprint, they are a much better option than a gas or diesel vehicle, which have much higher levels of carbon dioxide emissions throughout their life.
Electric vehicles like the Tesla models are excellent alternatives for commuting while living a sustainable lifestyle. However, since you may not be able to find different data sources that fully agree on whether they’re the greener driving alternative or not, it’s best to calculate the answer yourself.
With this personalized data, you’ll be able to mitigate your Tesla’s CO2 emissions as effectively as possible, and you won’t need to lean on Tesla Impact Reports or research teams to provide the numbers for you.
With new technology and advancements in the transportation industry, a healthy planet seems more feasible than ever. Although even the world’s leading electric vehicles may not save the world all by themselves, they are still a much better alternative for the atmosphere than gas or diesel engines. When leading a green lifestyle, every choice counts.
While the world waits for even more advanced technology to provide a long-term sustainable solution that all commuters and automotive professionals can appreciate, you can still stay fully green with additional eco-smart choices.
There are more climate-conscious options regarding the vehicle itself, such as choosing a solar-powered model, or using a home power bank. But for the electricity that is consumed, there are other options. Some vehicle owners purchase a tree planting carbon offset, which provides a method to remove CO2 from the atmosphere when purchased through one of the best carbon offset providers. These offsets can then — if the same amount of CO2 is offset as the CO2 produced by the vehicle — make any car, especially Tesla Model 3 carbon footprints neutral, eliminating its impact on the planet.
1Tesla. (2019). Impact Report 2019. https://www.tesla.com/ns_videos/2019-tesla-impact-report.pdf
2Consumer Reports. (2016, November 14). How accurate are EPA’s fuel economy labels? https://advocacy.consumerreports.org/research/epa-mpg-label-analysis-2016/
3Argonne National Laboratory. (2020, October 9). GREET Model. Energy Systems | Argonne National Laboratory. https://greet.es.anl.gov/
4Gui, G. (2019). Carbon footprint study of Tesla model 3 [Paper presentation]. E3S Web of Conferences, Anui Jianzhu University.