This isn’t the normal Voltaic coverage area, but a graphic by Bill Marsh in the New York Times comparing the LEAF to the Altima caught our attention as we are eyeing low-carbon alternatives to the current company car.
To us, what was surprising about the analysis was not only how much cheaper it was to run the electric car basis, but how little we might save on carbon on a per-mile basis. Here’s the original analysis.
Using the data from this analysis, we ran a few quick numbers and figured out that if we were pulling electricity from the “average” grid, we could get the same per-mile carbon footprint from a car that got 38 miles to the gallon as we could from the LEAF. That definitely seems doable.
However, averages don’t really make sense when you pull from the grid. We live in New York and drive 95% of our miles within a 50 mile basis. So again, we adjusted the numbers, this time based on the EPA’s eGRID emissions factor – and adjusted for the actual emissions in each region in the United States relative to the average used in the New York Times analysis.
It turns out that the emissions per mile vary wildly depending on the source of electric power in your region.
1. In certain areas of the country (like Denver), you could emit less carbon per-mile than a the LEAF simply by buying a car that gets better than 26 MPG. If you’re worried about carbon, don’t get an electric car, get a Prius or one of lots of other cars that get pretty respectable gas mileage.
2. For Voltaic, assuming we filled up in New York City, we would need a gas car to get better than 70MPG to better the LEAF in terms of carbon-per-mile. For us, something like the LEAF makes sense. If we can figure a way to power it 100% from solar or wind, then we could get that carbon per mile down even further.
If you want to see extrapolate “break-even” point between a typical gas powered car and the LEAF in your region, simply figure out which eGRID region you’d be drawing power from by looking at this map.
Then lookup in this table below. The Breakeven column gives you the mileage your car would need to get to match the LEAF’s carbon output per mile.
|Acronym||Region||CO2 per MWh||CO2 per Mile for Leaf||Breakeven MPG for Car|
|AKGD||ASCC Alaska Grid||1,285||63||39|
|NEWE||NPCC New England||828||41||60|
|NYLI||NPCC Long Island||1,419||70||35|
|NYUP||NPCC Upstate NY||683||34||73|
|SRMV||SERC Mississippi Valley||1,004||49||49|
|SRTV||SERC Tennessee Valley||1,541||76||32|