In some cases, a Tesla can pollute more than a regular car even without a tailpipe.
No Dodge Challenger Hellcat owners, the fact that electric cars aren’t as good for the environment as we all think they are doesn’t mean that your car earns you as many eco kudos as a Tesla Model S. However, the fact that EVs still add to an individual’s carbon footprint should make potential buyers stop and think before plunking down a juicy $1,000 on a Tesla Model 3 preorder. Thanks to YouTube mini series Adam Ruins Everything, we now know why.
The reason that electric cars aren’t as efficient as we think they are lies in two main factors. The first is the fact that our EVs derive their energy from the electric grid which, at least in many cases, works by burning coal to produce electricity. The resulting carbon is then spewed into the environment where it adds to the pollution problem.
An electric car's carbon footprint varies by location given the disparity in energy production methods, but it's why at one point, Singaporean officials tried to fine a Model S owner $10,000 for polluting too much. It is also why a Bloomberg report once found that a Tesla pollutes more than a BMW 3 Series in Hong Kong thanks to the city’s energy production methods. Of course, this is averted by those who buy solar panels, a Tesla Power Wall, and use the two to charge their cars. But even in this case, one has to factor in the second reason EVs aren't as eco friendly as we think: the fact that the process of manufacturing a car is very carbon intensive, which means that the carbon footprint of buying an EV can outweigh that of keeping an old car.