Electric Vehicle Carbon Emissions

If you care about how much carbon emissions your actions put into the atmosphere, an electric vehicle is a step in the right direction. However, you may have questions about how much of a reduction switching from a gas-powered internal combustion vehicle to an electric vehicle has in terms of carbon emissions.

How Much Carbon Emissions Does a Gas-Powered Vehicle Emit?

How much carbon emissions a gas-powered vehicle emits depends on the vehicle model, how many miles per gallon your vehicle can travel, and how many a vehicle travels. We use an average representation of a gas-powered sedan that can drive 24.2 miles per gallon. Our estimate we use is a driver that travels 13,476 miles per year. With an MPG of 24.2 driving 13,476 miles, the average gas-powered vehicle generates around five tons of carbon emissions annually. Your emissions may vary depending on how many miles you drive, what vehicle model you own, and your average miles per gallon.

How Much Carbon Emissions Does an Electric Vehicle Emit?

An electric vehicle is a wise choice for those looking to reduce their carbon emissions footprint. Electric vehicles do not emit carbon emissions, but the electricity they consume can emit emissions depending on how they are generated. The cleanest way to generate your power is using solar power you generate off your rooftop. Outside of generating solar power, each state creates electricity through natural gas, renewables, hydroelectric, nuclear, petroleum, and coal.

Understanding your state’s energy mix will help you know how much your electric vehicle generates emissions. For example, if you buy electricity from your local, your emissions depend on where and how many miles you drive. In addition, each electric vehicle model can travel a certain number of miles per kilowatt (Think of it as a similar metric to a gas-powered vehicle’s miles per gallon) of power.

We use the average miles driven of 13,476 miles annually, and using Electric Driver, we provide you with the average miles per kilowatt for whatever model you are interested in. Electric vehicle displays the specific carbon emissions generated on our vehicle pages based on your location and specific electric vehicle vehicles. For example, I live in California, and Tesla Model Y would generate .6 tons of emissions per year compared to a gas vehicle that produces 5 tons of emissions. The carbon emission savings is like planting 73 trees each year.

Understand Where Your Electricity in Your State Comes From

Each state has generated electricity from a combination of sources. For example, the electric mix in California is 55% natural gas, 32% renewables, 7% hydroelectric, and 6% nuclear. Missouri, in contrast, 81% of its electricity from coal and the remaining 19% from natural gas, renewables, and hydroelectric. Next, we will cover the six sources used to create electricity.


Coal is one of the more carbon-emitting ways to generate electricity. Generating one kilowatt of electricity using coal creates 2.21 pounds of carbon emissions (The highest carbon emitter). For this reason, the more your state uses coal to generate electricity, the higher your carbon emissions will be.


The electricity generated through petroleum plants is the second-highest carbon emission polluter. To create one kilowatt of electricity, petroleum generated 2.13 pounds of carbon emissions. So, like coal, the more your electricity is generated through petroleum, the higher your carbon emissions will be.

Natural Gas

Compared to coal and petroleum, electricity generated through a natural gas electric plant is a cleaner option. While natural gas-generated electricity creates .91 pounds of carbon emissions per kilowatt, it is a cleaner option than coal and petroleum.


Nuclear power is a cleaner source from a carbon emissions standpoint it has other drawbacks to consider. Generating electricity through nuclear plants consumes water and creates nuclear waste with a long half-life, making it difficult to dispose of safely.


Hydroelectric power generates electricity by using water, making it a clean energy source that does not rely on fossil fuels. However, the supply of water is finite.While hydroelectric electricity has no direct carbon emission, there is an environmental downside. Building a damn disrupts the waterways and impacts surrounding wildlife and animals. A recent study found that damning rivers significantly contribute to atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Reservoirs can trap organic materials like dead plants and release carbon dioxide and methane, impacting the environment. Depending on where you live, your state may use one or more renewable sources of electricity.


Renewable electricity is generated from that are not exhaustive and natural. Examples of renewable-derived electricity include wind, solar, biomass, and Geothermal.

Solar Energy

Solar is a clean method of generating electricity from sunlight through specialized panels.

Wind Power

Like solar, the wind is an infinite source of power. Typically captured from wind turbines and converted to electricity. As long as there is wind blowing electricity, you can generate electricity. The wind is a clean source of power.


Geothermal converts heat from within the earth to electricity, making it a clean power source.


Biomass takes recently living organic matter, like plants and animals, and burns them to create power. Methane is taken from the biomass and burned to create Carbon dioxide. While Carbon Dioxide is created, methane is removed, which is more harmful, creating a net reduction in greenhouse gases.

Based on location, Electric Driver helps you determine how much carbon emissions switching from a gas to a specific electric vehicle will save you and understand where your electricity comes from. If you want to reduce your carbon emissions, consider buying solar power.


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