Comparison of Petrol/Diesel Cars to Electric Cars

May 20, 2020 in Comparative Essays

Car Comparative Essay Sample

Comparison of CO2 Emissions from Petrol/Diesel-Fueled Vehicles and Electric Cars

The biggest advantage of electric cars, such as Tesla, compared to petrol/diesel cars is a low level of emissions. Traditional cars use petrol and diesel as the only source of energy, which makes an engine run. Tesla uses an electric battery, which performs the same function, but does not produce so much CO2 as other cars do. Today, researchers indicate a reduction of general emissions produced by cars. For instance, in 2000, an average CO2 emission rate was 170.2 g CO2/km (Negoiţescu and Tokar 84). In order to reduce CO2 emissions, the EU took policies, which predetermined benefits for those people who used eco-friendly cars, such as hybrids or electric vehicles like Tesla. As a result, by 2010, the general emission rate in the EU countries was 140.2g CO2/km (Negoiţescu and Tokar 84). The researchers predict that this figure will continue to decrease in the future due to preferences of electric vehicles instead of petrol and gas cars. 

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In order to estimate the difference between CO2 emissions produced by petrol and diesel cars and the ones produced by electric vehicles, the researchers provided a study on a level of emissions in Romania. This country is considered to be the one with the lowest indicator of cars per 1,000 inhabitants. However, despite the low number of cars, the level of CO2 emissions is higher there; the main reason is roads and traffic jams. The long stationing of cars in a traffic jam makes them produce more CO2 than they could. 

In 2010, the Romanian Department for Driving Licenses and Vehicle Registration informed about 5.42 million legally registered vehicles in the country. Among them, 3.7 million cars were equipped with a petrol engine; 1.3 million vehicles were equipped with a diesel engine, and the rest 0.4 million cars were powered with other energy sources (Negoiţescu and Tokar 84). 

The calculation of CO2 emissions produced by petrol cars was provided according to such criteria as an average mileage and medium consumption of 7l/100km (see table 1). 

Table 1

Calculations of CO2 emissions by petrol cars



Cars number

Specific CO2 [g/km]

Total CO2 [Mt]

















Source: Negoiţescu, Arina, and Adriana Tokar; The Estimation of Electric Vehicle Impact on Co2 Emissions Reduction; Annals of the Faculty of Engineering Hunedoara: International Journal of Engineering, 11.3 (2013), 85. Print.

a. Note: According to the calculation, diesel cars produced about 185.5 g CO2/km, which resulted in the total of 96,686.81 tons of CO2 emissions.

The same principle of CO2 emissions calculation was applied to measure electric cars emissions. However, the researchers tried to calculate an average rate of CO2 emissions in case if all petrol and diesel cars would be replaced by electric vehicles (see table 3).

Table 2

Calculations of CO2 emissions by electric cars


Cars number

Electricity consumed by electric cars [MWh]

Total CO2 [Mt]

















Source: Negoiţescu, Arina, and Adriana Tokar; The Estimation of Electric Vehicle Impact on Co2 Emissions Reduction; Annals of the Faculty of Engineering Hunedoara: International Journal of Engineering, 11.3 (2013), 85. Print.

a. Note: According to this table, the general number of CO2 emissions by electric cars is 263.76 MtCO2, which is 500 times lower as compared to petrol and diesel cars. As one can see, 500 electric vehicles like Tesla produce CO2 as one petrol/diesel car. 

Read more about how to write a compare and contrast essay.

Environmental Impact of Using Electrical Cars

Today electric cars become more and more popular among people who are against the pollution of the environment. However, some are still not aware of all the pros and cons of this type of cars and still doubt whether electric cars really pollute the environment or not. Therefore, it is reasonable to examine the issue mentioned above using Tesla cars as an example.

According to Tesla Motors’ calculations, Tesla cars emit about 176 g of carbon per mile driven. Indeed, this number is much less than the amount of carbon emissions produced by average cars. However, it may seem that 300 miles per 85 kWh used is a bit not realistic (Gertner 53). Besides, in contrast to vehicles based on the gasoline power, electric cars utilize lithium-based batteries. As a result, electric cars, such as Tesla models, allege wastefulness of approximately ten percent to twenty percent. Consequently, they often use a significant amount of energy being inactive, particularly in cold weather. Considering idle losses and charging, one can calculate that efficient carbon emissions of an average Tesla car are about 394 g per mile (Gertner 54). Moreover, some researches show that a considerable amount of energy that are needed in order to create a lithium-ion battery of 85 kWh lead to such carbon emissions that comprise 153g per mile throughout the life of a Tesla battery. After the integration of a battery pack, the total efficient carbon discharges of an 85 kWh Tesla car compose 547 g per mile (Gertner 54). Importantly, this sum is more significant than the one that can be produced by a large sport vehicle, namely, 443 g per mile on average.

In addition, one should remember about battery toxicity. If Tesla cars were based on nickel metal hydride batteries, they would be not so dangerous for the environment. The reason is that this type of batteries can be completely recycled. However, it is well known that Tesla Motors uses lithium batteries that represent a particular danger to the environment. 

As one can see, Tesla Motors calculations are quite optimistic as they show too little amount of CO2 emissions. Taking into consideration the information and calculations mentioned above, one can see that, in fact, so called eco-friendly cars, such as Tesla, also pollute the environment. In comparison to many other average cars and even sport vehicles, in some cases, Tesla models are even more dangerous for the environment. Indeed, it is a great surprise to realize that an electric car may cause more harm to the environment than a sport one, especially if the first one is positioned as an eco-friendly vehicle.

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