The Pros and Cons of Driving Electric – Missing The CO2 Factor

electric mercedesA recent AAA member survey identified the leading pros and cons of driving electric. Concern for the environment topped the chart as the number one pro buying reason, but as consumers, this is a nebulous term and rests on trust that we’re thinking it through entirely.

Instead of some vague feel-good concern for the environment, consumers should develop an appreciation for the vehicle’s CO2 factor. The engines CO2 factor should be as top of mind to the owner as miles per gallon now enjoys.


In this same survey, the two leading, (and influential) con factors that typically fully offset any heartfelt concern the environment were practicality and price. Key to the practicality factor, if there any smidge of concern about the ease of using it (in this case a robust charging network) that could knock electric out of contention. In terms of the price/value component, if it pales in comparison (which it does now) to the combustion engine, then as is now the case, purchasers are favoring the traditional, time-tested option of the combustion engine.

Solving For X – The CO2 Component

The missing CO2 component would definitely improve the perceived price/value of driving electric relative to a combustion engine option. Buyers are not factoring in the engine’s CO2 output, its long-term environmental impact. If this environmental price or value, depending on the case, were regularly factored into the pros and cons, the price/value of driving electric versus combustion, would probably always favor driving electric. Why? Because combustion engines are incredibly inefficient at using fuel energy.



Combustion Engines Are Surprisingly Inefficiency

Even after 100 years of fine tuning, combustion engines are incredibly inefficient at converting fuel to usable energy. Green Car reports that combustion engines are only about 20% efficient at converting the fuel energy into propulsion, whereas electric engines are 90% efficient. Diesel engines, those particulate-spewing engines are slightly better, at around 40% – but have their own emission downsides.

Consumer Appetite For Electric Cars In Healthy

Manufacturing.net reports that “Despite lower gas prices, a new study conducted by the American Automobile Association reveals a healthy interest in electric vehicles among U.S. consumers. According to the AAA’s survey, 15 percent of U.S. adults are likely to buy an electric vehicle with another 32 percent considering a hybrid for their next car.”

With close to 50% of the buying public now being open-minded about purchasing an electric, that’s encouraging news for limiting the projected amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Whether these consumers actually do make the leap is yet to be seen – talk has been cheap. On the discouraging front, just about as many are considering purchasing a pickup truck with its pathetic fuel mileage and disproportionate CO2 emissions. Overall just an outdated, environmentally harmful option. Ironically many pickup truck buyers reside in far-urban and rural areas and neither farm nor work in construction but value clean air and Mother Nature in its pre-industrial natural state.

Combustion Engines Are Surprizingly Inefficiency

Even after 100 years of fine tuning, combustion engines are incredibly inefficient at converting fuel to usable energy. Green Car reports that combustion engines are only about 20% efficient at converting the fuel energy into propulsion, whereas electric engines are 90% efficient. Diesel engines, those particulate-spewing engines are slightly better, at around 40% – but have their own emission downsides.

The chart highlights traditional, top-of-mind, buying factors, but it is missing the critical long-term environmental factor – the CO2 factor.

Infographic: The Pros and Cons of Driving Electric  | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista




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About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.