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MIT Study Shows How Much 125 Different Cars Contribute to Climate Change Versus Cost to Own

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Mercedes-Benz Fleetwide Emissions

One of the common arguments against electric vehicles is that they, through use of energy from power plants, actually contribute quite a bit to pollution. In addition, it is often said that low-emission vehicle are more expensive to own due to their unique powertrains. However, the facts and figures on these arguments are difficult to find unless you are a serious researcher and factor in not only gas vehicle mileage and type of fuel, but also greenhouse gases while the cars are being made and the pollution from powerplants to fuel the electric vehicles.

Thank goodness, then, that we have the MIT Trancik Lab, who indeed just conducted a study on 125 vehicles currently for sale on today’s roads, factoring in mileage, fuel type, production gases, and power plant gases. Then, since that is a titanic amount of data, researchers put it into a handy, clickable visual aid called the Carbon Counter.

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Using the Carbon Counter app, you can adjust all sorts of parameters, but the results can be somewhat boiled down. First of all, the vast majority of electric vehicles and hybrids (minus the Lexus RX) produce much fewer greenhouse emissions over the life of the vehicle, and most cost less in fuel and maintenance (minus the RX and the Tesla Model S).

Put simply, the cars with the lowest emissions also tend to be the cheapest.

You can check out and click around the Carbon Counter here to see how your new car (or new car to be) measures up.

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News Sources: The New York TimesCarbon Counter

  • Daniel SuscoEditor

    Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.