Do electric motors use more resources than internal combustion engines?



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    In 2008, 48.7% of the electricity in the US was generated using coal.  Since an electric car depends on how we produce electricity, the average CO2 emission of an electric vehicle was 115g per kilometer driven.  Compare that with the average of 250g per kilometer of the average internal combustion vehicle. 

    Electric vehicles have a 20% efficiency when recharged with electricity generated by fossil fuels.  With a variable load, internal combustion vehicles have a 16% efficiency for gasoline, and 20% efficiency for diesel engines.  At a constant speed and optimal load, the efficiency of an internal combustion engine rises to 30% (gas) and 45% (diesel).

    Using fossil fuels to generate electricity cancels out the efficiency benefits of using an electric car; however, assuming our electricity production continues to “clean up”, we will become less dependent on fossil fuels.  With diverse renewable energy sources, it will become much more efficient to use an electric motor than an internal combustion engine.


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