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Morgan Stanley is wrong about Tesla’s electric cars

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UCSUSA

Tesla

Last week, investment bank Morgan Stanley was quoted as claiming electric vehicles are responsible for more global warming emissions than gasoline cars.

The firm’s report says Tesla isn’t a ‘green’ company because of this (incorrect) conclusion. There are likely plenty of reasons to invest in the electric car and solar panel maker, and certainly many reasons not to bet on Tesla, but the false claim of dirty cars isn’t one of them.

Why did Morgan Stanley get the wrong answer?

It’s hard to say because no underlying data is shown to back up Morgan Stanley’s assertions, so I can’t check their calculations. However, you are welcome to inspect ours; we wrote a report in 2015 comparing the emissions of electric cars and gasoline vehicles, and recently updated it with new electricity generation data.

What are the global warming emissions from electric cars?

The emissions that result from using an electric vehicle (EV) depend on part on where the vehicle is recharged, as electricity generation varies significantly across the United States.

Based on where EVs have been sold so far, the average electric car generates global warming emissions equal to a 73 MPG gasoline car. Overall, over two-thirds (70 percent) of Americans live where driving an electric car would result in lower global warming emissions than even a 50 MPG gasoline car.

US EV scale graph

Manufacturing emissions are small compared to savings during use

life cycle global warming graph.

Even when considering the emissions from the manufacture of the EV’s battery, EVs over their lifespan result in significant global warming emissions savings. Over the lifetime of a car the size of the Tesla Model S, the emissions savings are about 53 percent, when compared to a similar gasoline car.

Electricity is getting cleaner, making EVs better over time

fossil fuel graph copy

Very few details are given in the article about Morgan Stanley’s analysis, however one of the few statistics given (regarding the fraction of electricity from fossil fuel in the U.S.) is wrong.

Nationally, we currently derive about 65 percent of electricity from fossil fuel and only about 31 percent from coal, down from 50 percent in 2006.

Both fossil-fueled electricity and coal generation have declined substantially over the last decade, making driving EVs cleaner. And as we increase the amount of renewable electricity in the U.S., driving on electricity can be even cleaner.
Source: UCSUSA. Reproduced with permission.  

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  • David,

    How many kg per kWh are you assuming for Battery manufacturing GHG Emissions?

    Finn

    • Chris Jones

      I read a fairly recent paper which suggested about 4 kWh of energy per kilogram of Li-ion anode active material. 1 kg of anode – mainly Li(NiMnCo)O2 and graphite would provide for about 1 kWh of battery. If 1 kWh of coal fired electricity releases about 1 kg of CO2 (approximately) then the anode alone would constitute about 400 kg of GHG emissions. This doesn’t seem too far off course, as the remaining 4.6 tons would be in the production of copper, aluminium, nickel, polymers and assembly.

      • jeffhre

        How much more is that than for a V-8 and a ten speed auto trans?

  • George Darroch

    This old furphy. I can’t believe it’s still being repeated, but once a false-fact is established it gets a life of its own.

  • realjjj

    Morgan Stanley states that Tesla vehicles, by using electricity, do generate CO2.
    You pretend that they say something else and then go on your rant to prove them wrong.
    The fact remains that, as long as any % of electricity if from fossil fuel, their claim stands.

    In reality, if you wanna talk in general, any 35k$ car is not green at all, simply because of how much waste 35k$ means.
    It’s for rich people that like to pretend to be green.Would be greener (not talking just CO2), to buy a used car, any used car. And ofc even that is less green than not using a car at all.

    Kinda funny when even activists are posers that got lost in marketing.

    • Carl Raymond S

      Everything has to go zero emission. Mining, generation, construction, transport. No way to reach that goal with ICEVs.

      • Miles Harding

        The (covert) tesla agenda is very interesting. My read, possibly the same story you saw, suggests that the Model 3 is going to be more disruptive for the competitors than the Model S was for Mercedes and BMW. That inward facing camera is useful for more than driver vigilance monitoring and looks to be part of a fully automated ride sharing capability that would allow every Tesla 3 to become a competitor to the existing traxi industry and UBER.
        From an owner’s perspective, the car may earn enough to offset its costs, delivering zero cost motoring to it’s owner.

        Unlike UBER (, Apple, Google,Amazon, Facebook etc), Tesla doesn’t seem have an agenda of world monopoly driven by greed, but someting entirely different and driven by a sincere desire to make a positive diference.

        • Carl Raymond S

          I see my Model 3 reservation as hedge against the possibility that TaaS becomes a reality. If it doesn’t my car depreciates normally. If it does, my car value goes up while the sudden glut of ICE cars surplus to requirement causes their value to drop to that of scrap metal. This is a risky time to buy an ICE (non TaaS ready) car.
          The speed of the TaaS disruption will be unprecedented in the physical products world, due to the pre-sale of the product and OTA update capability. Literally overnight.

          • Carl Raymond S

            A more fundamental way to think about it:
            Moving atoms is hard and slow. Moving data is easy and fast. So move the atoms ahead of time and despatch the data later. Kaboom, physical world disruption at internet speed.

    • Catprog

      And when the person who sold the used car replaces it with a new car what savings have been made?

    • Chris Jones

      The Morgan Stanley article states that Tesla Vehicles generate MORE CO2 than a gas powered equivalent car. This is flat out wrong. Yes, any electric car charged from the grid will contribute to some emissions, but even 100% black coal fired power will still emit less CO2 per km than gasoline. Simply because they are so much more efficient at using that energy than an ICE.

  • Andy Bowe

    The Morgan Stanley article is really aimed at Bang for Buck. Any manufacturing industry will never deliver max CO2 savings for each dollar invested compared to some generating companies which are all wind or solar.

  • Rojg

    I’ll tell you why they INTENTIONALLY got it wrong:
    Because in the 30’s those dirty MF’s, Morgan, Rockefeller, Edison, and Ford were on a mission to stop the great man, who gave us our modern World as we know it – Nikola Tesla, from mass producing his revolutionary ‘Electric Car’.
    (nothing to do with Elon Musk-he just stole his name for profit without publicly paying respect and recognition to the great man-mention TESLA and all you get is Elon’s car and battery comments)
    These greedy selfish PIGS pulled all their resources together after they lost the first court battle to stop Mr Tesla and won on ‘appeal’.
    These dirty dogs are WHOLLY and SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for the filthy air we breathe today in which their filthy predecessors are still continuing the LIE today.
    The biggest lie being this ridiculous term which they invented called “CLIMATE CHANGE”.
    Before the threat of renewable energy became a serious threat, we used to coin the word “POLLUTION”.
    These vested interests(pigs), ensured this word fell by the wayside, and infected the media, politics, the scientific community, and the World population into stating the term ‘Climate Change’ instead of ‘Pollution’.
    Why?
    Because the term ‘Climate Change’ is ARGUABLE!!! So they can buy more time to dig up and and sell their filth to you and me for more profits. As long as there is debate, they can keep peddling their greedy filth upon us and our children.
    ‘”Pollution” cannot be argued whatsoever!
    FACTS:
    HUMANS MAKE THE MAJORITY OF POLLUTION, NOT NATURE
    POLLUTION CREATES MICRO CLIMATES
    POLLUTION IS A CATALYST THAT CHANGES CLIMATES
    CLIMATE CHANGE IS ARGUABLY SPECULATED TO KILL THE MASSES
    POLLUTION IS KILLING MASSES OF PEOPLE NOW!

    You don’t need to study any data if you got half a brain! The evidence is clear cut and real, and we will forever pay the price as long as these controlling greedy filthy unconscionable selfish PIGS continue to brainwash the WHOLE of society by misleading, lying and clever diversion from the facts, such as this article where many innocent unknowing respondents contribute to Morgan/Rockefeller facade of “Climate Change”.
    They own the media and the media own us, like chickens in a ‘chicken coupe’.
    Keep feeding them shit to keep them happy and ignorant of the reality, until getting their heads chopped so they can keep enjoying their chicken casserole every day and night.
    (The real data is in the medical records of the dying and the dead)

  • Roger Brown

    Morgan Stanley probably lost $$ shorting Tesla ? I have shares in a company that dumped them , for another company to market their credit raising . M/S put the company on as a SELL .