Questioning electric vehicles’ green cred

Electric-car drivers are saving the planet, right? Their vehicles produce none of the pollutants that dinosaur-burning, fossil-fuel-powered machines do. That is the standard view, and governments around the world provide incentives to encourage the uptake of this new technology.

That is why a Tesla owner got a rude shock when he went to import his vehicle into Singapore — the first person to do so. Instead of an expected rebate of around S$15,000 (US$10,800) he received a fine of the same amount for being a gross polluter. The Tesla Model S is a 100% electric vehicle. It does not have an exhaust to emit from. So what happened?

Instead of an expected rebate of around S$15,000 (US$10,800) he received a fine of the same amount for being a gross polluter.

The Singapore authorities calculated the ‘carbon cost’ of generating the electricity that will be used to charge the car. This is the elephant in the trunk of electric vehicles. Where and how the power is produced is not often considered, but perhaps it should be. Let’s move the elephant up to the passenger seat and address it directly.

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