This app is a work in progress. Please report any issue on GitHub or by email.
With this interactive calculator, you can compare the ecological merit of an electric vehicle (EV) with a thermal vehicle motored by an internal combustion engine (ICE). Comparison is done on the lifecycle global warming potential considering equivalent CO2 emissions. Other interesting comparison criteria such as effects on human health (like particulate matter emissions) are not included here.
The general idea is that, for its manufacturing, an EV requires more energy than an ICE car because of its battery. The EV has thus a “CO2 debt” that can be repaid after traveling some distance if, as one may expect, the EV indeed emits less CO2 during its usage. The computation of this “distance to CO2 parity” is the objective of this calculator.
Distance to CO2 parity depends on several inputs which value is difficult to know precisely, so this calculator allows inputting an uncertainty interval (lower and upper bounds) around each nominal value. Then, it propagates these uncertainty intervals down to the final result. Playing a bit with the numbers, in particular using coal-based electricity for EV charging, the distance can get negative (EV loses to ICE)! Also, wide input uncertainty can lead to infinite uncertainty.
My conclusions on this are clear: all vehicles should be light and small. If electric, they should be recharged with low carbon electricity. Also, the lightest one I know is my e-bike (0.4 kWh battery, and about 7 Wh/km) ;-)