BLOG: Tesla Owner's Smugness Fail?

BLOG: Tesla Owner's Smugness Fail?
A U.K. study finds fault with high-profile EV maker's emissions reporting.

About a year ago, I was driving behind a Tesla electric vehicle (EV) whose owner seemed quite proud of his or her choice in personal transport.

How could I have possibly made such a conclusion from my vantage point when I couldn’t even tell if a man or woman was driving the EV? The Tesla in question bore a personalized license plate that smugly stated “UHAVEGAS,” sticking it to those of us peons who still drive cars that run on petroleum-based fuels.

Based on the findings of a recent study of corporate greenhouse gas emissions reporting, perhaps the first letter in that license plate could validly be switched to another vowel: “I.”

“Tesla is what we call a Watermelon – green on the outside, but red in the middle,” according to Sam Gill, CEO of the firm Engaged Tracking, which ranks companies by carbon emissions for the investment community. “Our research suggests that Tesla’s best possible carbon performance contrasts markedly with its ‘zero emissions’ status.”

Engaged Tracking asserts that Tesla, Inc. – in contrast to “older, ‘dirtier’ counterparts in the automobile industry” – neither reports its greenhouse gas emissions nor cites climate change as a “current business issue” when reporting business information. Moreover, based on “emissions intensity” (how much carbon a company emits per dollar of revenue earned), Engaged Tracking contends:

  • Tesla’s emissions intensity is 13 times greater than that of BMW, its nearest “fuel-burning” rival, even though BMW in 2017 produced 20 times more vehicles than Tesla.
  • Compared to Mercedes, Tesla’s emissions intensity is 70 percent higher.

“Already a company beset by corporate governance doubts, Tesla trails behind the more traditional carmakers when it comes to monitoring and managing ESG (environmental, social and governance)-related risks,” states Engaged Tracking’s report. “Investors need robust, comparable data and Tesla remains opaque.”

Engaged Tracking is not alone in highlighting problems with Tesla, Inc. and its products. For instance, as this March 2016 report from Devonshire Research Group, LLC points out, producing Teslas – and other EVs – is not necessarily a net win from an environmental standpoint. Citing research from Morgan Stanley, this 2017 article on articulates a similar sentiment. Beyond questions about Tesla’s “green” credentials, factors such as vehicle production setbacks and battery safety have generated negative publicity in recent months.

“Tesla’s electric vehicles may seem environmentally benign,” noted Engaged Tracking’s Gill. “They’re lightweight, energy-efficient, and potentially greener than their conventional counterparts. But the reality is more complex. Tesla must begin to disclose its emissions properly – not just to maintain public trust but also to regain the confidence of investors.”


Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.

jaybjay  |  July 12, 2018
Engaged Tracking proves their ignorance by saying Tesla vehicles are 'lightweight'. They're actually very heavy. Anyway, Tesla's own website easily lets you see what fuel sources are used to generate electricity in your area, so they aren't hiding the fact that electricity usually comes from another fuel source. But, EVs are much more efficient with the energy they consume and can easily be 'fueled' by solar or other forms of renewables. As those systems continue to come online, the EVs will continue to outshine environmentally. In my experience, most Tesla owners drive the car for the pure enjoyment of the car rather than a radical urge to 'save the planet'. I read that license plate referenced in the article as just having a bit of fun rather than true 'snobiness'. Of course, EVs or any other form of transport aren't a magic bullet. But, current internal combustion engines are horrible for the planet, and the full lifecycle process of squeezing the hydrocarbons out of the ground and then burning them is truly terrible for the environment in many ways and wholly unsustainable for several reasons. EVs fueled by solar or other sustainable forms of energy is a good part of the total solution (and really fun to drive!).
cowboybob  |  July 08, 2018
Finally, someone gets to the salient points of the Great EV's all about the base source(s) of the energy...which is virtually unchanged for the most part. The ElonCon continues unabated as the world governments and their willing drones clammer on about green this and green that without understanding, or disclosing since many of them are really smart people, the total picture of where all this comes from. Whilst happily flushing our tax dollars down the green black hole.
Jaime Yovany Rodriguez  |  July 06, 2018
Decarbonizing transportation is the goal and electric vehicles is nice way but it's not perfect. There are issues with batteries carbon footprint and life cycle. I see better posibilities with hydrogen fuel cells appliances to electric vehicles.
Rudolf Huber  |  July 06, 2018
Tesla has borrowed some tactics from radical environmentalists. As soon as someone mentions something they don't like very much they either kill it with deafening silence or they start employing some tactics out of Goebbels handbook in order to silence the critics. Generally, the more aggressive the tactics become, the more solid the finding is. Teslas are not as clean as they claim to be. An ICV vehicle on bio-LNG is far cleaner than a Tesla. And much cheaper too. One tank full also gets you much farther and you fill up in 5 minutes. Greens should like LNG, not Teslas.
Clark Mills  |  July 06, 2018
Unsurprisingly while you are building out new gigafactories from scratch you will be using gobs of resources (concrete & steel). The old school already have their plant built and are in a steady state; built factories obviously don't use many resources. Tesla will be running their megafactory from pure solar as well so once commissioned they will run circles around the current car factories.