AukeHoekstra Profile picture
Nov 27, 2020 29 tweets 18 min read Read on X
New 'study' claims it takes 48k miles for electric vehicles to emit less CO2 than gasoline cars.

But it's just a misleading brochure.
Reality is closer 16k miles.

UK media including @thetimes where mislead by this carmaker-paid attack on @BorisJohnson's green plans. (thread) Image
About me:

I research electric vehicles at @TUeindhoven and direct

Comparing CO2 emissions of electric vehicles and combustion cars is my specialty.

My paper describing common errors:…

A recent report:… Image
Here is @thetimes @GraemePaton reporting on 'a study commissioned by vehicle and technology companies' where 'researchers recorded results'.…

And there's literally dozens of others who fell for this. ImageImageImage
There were no 'researchers' involved in this 'study' as far as I can see and there are no original 'recorded results'.…

It looks like some lobbyists and a PR firm produced a brochure for their list of sponsors: a who's who of anti-EV organisations. Image
The brochure goes all out to bamboozle with marketing speak but there's roughly three types of numerical misdirection:

1) Combustion engine emissions
2) Electric vehicle emissions
3) Biofuel emissions
The report underestimates combustion engine emissions ~50% by substituting reality with laboratory tests and forgetting fuel production.

First the laboratory tests. The table from the brochure looks fine but the graph over time from the source is going up. What's happening? ImageImage
Well, the tests are going up because from 2017 on the laboratory test became more realistic.

Why? Because after #dieselgate the EU finally could not conceal anymore that the brochure that car buyers and politicians use is around 40% rosier than reality.… Image
But even the new (WLTP) test is still ~20% lower than reality.

And then you have to account for fuel production which adds ~25-30% to combustion engine emissions.

So it's not 137.7 g/km but ~138*1.2*1.25=~207 g/km.
Now we can compare with electric vehicles.
The 'study' copies a study of ONE car and generalizes this to ALL electric vehicles by boldly claiming it takes 78k km (48k miles) before an electric vehicle emits less CO2.
A claim e.g @thetimes repeated.… ImageImage
This ONE study compares a Polestar electric vehicle with a combustion car from parent company Volvo.

But the WLTP emissions from the Volvo XC40 are estimated at 195 g/km when reality is 295 km: 45% more!

I established this using the EPA rating for the Volvo XC40. Image
Producing the battery of the electric vehicle emits 7 tonnes of CO2 (95 kg CO2/kWh battery) which is normal for a battery currently manufactured in China.

But that building the rest of the electric car emits 3 tonnes more is not normal because it's drivetrain is much lighter.
Some sleuthing by a tweep gave us the best possible explanation: although the Polestar and the XC40 use the same chassis they used the emissions of the factory in Belgium for the XC40 and China for the Polestar.

To compare like with like I take an XC40 also build in China.
Finally: this is an LCA so you must calculate all emissions OVER THE LIFETIME of the vehicle. That also means taking the electricity mix over the lifetime.
(The brochure uses the same approach for biofuels.)

Average UK mix over the lifetime is ~100 g/kWh.… ImageImage
The result is this corrected graph:

1) Both cars produced in same Chinese factory: line Volvo start bit higher.

2) Realistic fuel use: line Volvo steeper.

3) UK electricity mix (cleaner than EU!) over lifetime: pretty flat line Polestar.

=> Break even from 78k km to 25k km. Image
Finally some words on biofuels. The report touts them as almost emission free but their source (…) warns it omits land use change.

What does that mean?

It means we are again ignoring reality to protect business interests. ImageImage
Land use change is basically simple: if I use land to produce biofuel instead of food, someone else on this world will convert a patch of nature into land for food. That negates most of my imagined reduction in carbon emissions and threatens biodiversity.…
Bottom line: biofuels from waste are great but limited and should be reserved for e.g. long distance flying and sailing. Biofuels that compete with food or nature often emit more CO2 and are driving deforestation worldwide.…
Oh and then there's the new eFuels that are now touted as a way to keep the combustion engine alive. Sorry.

eFuels require 5-6x more windmills or solar panels to produce than electric vehicles. It's a dead end for road transport. Sorry lobbyists.… Image
So if you think selling combustion engines is more important than finding a job that helps us to combat climate change, that's your choice. But please stop spreading FUD.

And dear journalists: please be less gullible.

For starters I fixed the front page of the brochure. Image
Heads up @StevePeers and @MLiebreich.
And now I'm off to bed. Maybe my wife is still awake.
Brilliant article in @Forbes
by @JamesMorris who reaches a larger and often anti-EV crowd than yours truly. Missing some details (e.g. energy use Volvo and Polestar uses EU mix 2019, not UK mix and not over lifetime) but hats off James!…
And this is a brilliant write-up of @MLiebreich on LinkedIn, detailing how his sleuthing turned boring bad numbers in a brochure disguised as a study into #AstonGate.…
High quality trolling by @PolestarCars 🤣

They are just as pissed at the abuse of their life cycle analysis as I was!

Also got a lovely email (not PR BS) exchanging details so we can learn from each other. They are not the bad guys here!
Seems there is some serious blow-back. Good. Why else would @ClarendonComms remove @astonmartin and @BoschGlobal as their (only) clients from their website?

Btw: this shouldn't get pinned on a few scapegoats. Esp. the newspapers should do better.
Disagree with @theLowCVP on the emissions of biofuels (that they severely underestimate imo) but glad that they distance themselves from the @astonmartin brochure regarding it's negative depiction of EVs.

Who's next?
This @businessinsider report gives an update of #AstonGate with reactions of the main players.

@PolestarCars rightly implies that the carbon footprint of @astonmartin and @McLarenAuto is truly abysmal when compared to an electric equivalent.…
Here's an interview by @InnoOrigins with me about it.
I hope it's a wake-up call to UK journalists: they should not only reprint information but also check it. That's what gives them added value over social media.

.@etoc_sirch cleaned up my visualisation of why the Polestar 2 electric vehicle doesn't become cleaner after 78000 km but more like 25000 km.

Biggest change is using EPA emissions (closer to real world) instead of WLTP. Image
Youtube video reviewing the report I debunked and doing a very thorough (15 minute) job of pointing out everything that's going on. If only mainstream media outlets had the same level of expertise and accuracy...

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More from @AukeHoekstra

May 11
Well meaning but misguided EV activists like this make me very tired sometimes:

The German Tesla factory is attacked because it's not perfect.

No, nothing is!

But you should make a COMPARISON with combustion cars or other EV factories.
Very quickly:

1) "It makes no sense to charge EVs in coal heavy Germany".

This is nonsense: 4x less emissions over lifetime. See my pinned thread. And many cars of a factory are for export.

2) "They kill the forest!" It's low quality production forest compensated elsewhere.
The only things this accomplishes as far as I can see:

More emissions because less EVs.

Less jobs in Germany and more in China.

I also feel it's entitled ("not in my backyard") and childish (acting out against Musk?).

This is not how we save the planet.
Read 6 tweets
May 6
Someone just alerted me to this @guardian article from January about a *big 5 yearly UN report!* on material extraction.

The @guardian singles out cobalt and electric vehicles.
But look at this graph from the report!
WTF is going on here?

I must do a 🧵…
I have a love-hate relationship with the @guardian.
I recently contributed to an impeccably researched series.
Last year they did a hit piece on EVs, again using the material use angle, that cited figures a 1000x too large!
As usual the @guardian refuses to link to the original report, but it can be found here:

The article uses the attached pick of a cobalt mine in Congo to set the scene🤔

And it complains EVs use 10x more critical raw materials than ICE cars 🤬…
Read 8 tweets
Apr 30
Solar PV is growing exponentially at the fastest rate of any energy source in history.

BUT we should stop comparing it to other energy technologies using WATT. (So the picture below from @renew_economy is doing it wrong!)

We should compare in WATT-HOUR!…
Put differently: we should take the CAPACITY FACTOR into account.

For example: imagine we install 1 kilowatt-peak of solar (that's 2 or 3 solar panels).

How much kWh per hour will that produce on average?

If 1 kW produces 0.25 kWh/h on average,
the capacity factor is 25%.
And that means, we have to install 2 kW of solar to achieve the same as 1 kW of coal and up to 4 kW to achieve the same as nuclear.

In Europe, offshore wind can have a capacity factor of up to 50% and PV can be as low as 10%.…
Read 4 tweets
Apr 14
Five of the Fossil Fuel Industry's Biggest Disinformation Tactics

@guardian article by @WesterveltAmy and @kylepope

Very recognizable for me too, so allow me to summarize the five points and add some observations/examples.…
1 "FF provides Energy Security"

In reality FF cause(d)(s) many INsecurities.

From the climate crisis, to "Dutch disease", to the end of democracy in Iran, to the war in Ukraine. [My examples]

Renewables are not scarce and last forever.
That sounds more secure to me. Image
2 "You must choose the economy or the environment"

The article gives great examples of this claim.
I hear it daily.

But the reality is that speeding up the transition to renewable SAVES money. Yes, really.

Don't be fooled by their delaying tactics!…
Read 6 tweets
Apr 13
The European Union just came out with an official report:
REAL-WORLD emissions versus the new WLTP cycle.

The results are

PHEVs emit on average
than the official test claims!…
Remember my complaints about @Toyota's misinformation claiming PHEV's are better than full EV's because they need smaller batteries?

Well, @Toyota actually scores WORSE than average with a gap of OVER FOUR TIMES the official value.

(Although their cars are more frugal.) Image
Researchers know since 2012 or so that EU tests are bollox and only useful as an illustration of "regulatory capture".

In my texts explaining how to calculate CO2 emissions I refer to it as "Error 4" (of 6).……
Read 10 tweets
Apr 12
Just saw a fascinating webinar and you should too if geothermal interests you.

It explains how techniques from fracking are creating a game-changer in the last few years that can reduce the cost of energy systems without fossil fuels.

The webinar by prof. Roland Horne from @Stanford is about Enhanced Geothermal Systems or EGS that he defines as using fracking to make the area between the infusion and extraction well permeable for water. Image
He focuses on @fervoenergy, a company founded by two @Stanford alumni (one from his program) that has for the first time in history used the horizontal boring technique from fracking in geothermal.
Read 12 tweets

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