Plugless: Tesla Drivers Have Curtailed 340,000,000 Lbs Of Greenhouse Gases Emissions

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To date, Tesla Model S and Model X vehicle owners have curtailed at least 340,000,000 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new analysis from Plugless.


The assumption is that since the launch of the Tesla Model S in 2012, the decision by relevant buyers to go with a Tesla rather than one of its gasmobile competitors has resulted in average annual greenhouse gas emission “savings” of around 650 lbs per owner. (“Greenhouse gas emissions” in this article refers to carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e.)

The average annual greenhouse gas emissions curtailment per owner rises as high as 3,400 lbs per year in California, though, where the electricity grid generally relies more on renewables than in most other regions. So, the nationwide and worldwide averages certainly don’t tell the whole story.


The use of Tesla vehicles seems to nearly always result in emissions per mile considerably lower than those of gasmobiles, as noted in the article from Plugless. This is the case even when grid electricity isn’t as “clean” as it is in most of California or in markets that rely heavily on hydroelectricity (the Pacific Northwest, Brazil, Norway, etc.).

To get a better idea of what 340,000,000 lbs of curtailed emissions relates to, these examples provided in the Plugless article help a bit:

  • Burning 7,507 tanker trucks full of gasoline, or
  • Burning enough gasoline to fill 60 miles of gas trucks lined up, which would stretch in a straight line from Tesla’s Fremont factory roughly to Monterey Bay.
  • The emissions that would be produced from driving the average US gas car far enough to get to the moon and back — 775 times.
  • It’s the CO2e from burning 605,111,415 pounds of coal — enough to fill a 34-mile-long coal train.


This isn’t a one-time proposition of course — these savings will continue for as long as the vehicles in question remain in use. “Even if nary another Tesla were ever sold after today, the existing fleet will save over 350,000,000 pounds of CO2e every year into the future. That’s hundreds of millions of climate disrupting gasses that would have been emitted by the alternative: new gas cars getting an average of 36 mpg.”

Of course, the greenhouse gas emissions curtailment in question can be notably increased by relying on your own home renewable energy system (possibly one made by Tesla now that the company has begun merging with SolarCity).

On that subject, going by scenarios from UC Berkeley’s Carbon Calculator, home solar PV systems are up to 6 times “cleaner” per kilowatt-hour (kWh) than average grid electricity.

A final note: “If Tesla reaches its target volumes of 500,000 cars per year, emissions savings of the US Tesla fleet will be over 1.3 billion pounds annually.”

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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