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Are Electric Vehicles Really Green?

The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which industrials editors/analysts Isaac Pino and Brendan Byrnes discuss topics around the investing world.

In today's edition, Isaac and Brendan discuss a recent electric-vehicle revelation. A study from the University of Tennessee, which focused on China, found that these automobiles were more harmful to the environment than gas-powered locomotives. Whereas companies such as Tesla are touting the car of the future, we have to keep in mind all of the environmental effects of this new energy source. One interesting aspect of the study was the focus on particulate matter that was dispersed from the burning of coal in China, and the fact that large populations of people live close to these plants. Whether this study can be universally applied to all countries is up for debate, but you can learn more by watching Isaac and Brendan break down the most interesting aspects.

Electric vehicles still represent an opportunity for the United States to wean itself off foreign oil. This move is critical, as oil continues to climb well over $100 a barrel. For investors, rising prices could also mean opportunities to ride the wave of surging profits for energy companies. Take a look at the top oil stocks recommended by Motley Fool analysts in a recent special free report: "3 Stocks for $100 Oil." The report won't be available forever, so we invite you to enjoy a free copy today. You can access it by clicking here. Fool on!

Brendan Byrnes has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Isaac Pino owns shares of General Electric. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Tesla Motors and Westport Innovations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2012, at 9:07 PM, steamoil wrote:

    There is nothing green about an electric car.Just because you're not putting gasoline , or some other type of liquid fuel in the tank doesn't mean that a hell of alot of those same fuels weren't used to produce that vehicle. The minerals that make up the batteries had to be mined, more electronics had to be used for its operation, and the inconvenience to recharge the batteries, using expensive electricity either at home or on the road .,all add up to nothing more than a novelty for the hipocrates.The carbon footprint made by cars and trucks can be made smaller by using natural gas, and more efficient mechanicals which are all doable .

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 12:26 AM, TheDetails wrote:

    @steamoil... You sound like a strong proponent of leaving things the way they are... As if music should have always remained in a vinyl state, but progressed to reel-to-reel then cassettes. The compact disc received just as much criticism by music "purists"... Only to see it drench into our way of listening to music... It's on it's way out as the iPod has paved a new path.

    So, if there are other methods of a cleaner carbon footprint like you've mentioned (as I'm sure it is possible), why do you think existing car companies have not pushed for it? If the push for electric cars didn't happen now, when do you think alternative fuels/energy would have surfaced? If it weren't for Tesla making an effort, we wouldn't see the Nissan Leaf/GM Volt even make an appearance, let alone in their plans to produce.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 9:15 AM, devoish wrote:

    The video saved the article, but really did not do the subject matter justice. Based on what the video says a better title might be;

    "Coal Power is a Health Problem in China".

    because the problem in the article is that burning coal is causing health problems. Where in the USA is that news? The Massey public relations department?

    or maybe

    "Stop Burning Coal. Enviros have Been Right for Decades".


    "Come to Your Senses and Thank the EPA".

    This recent Motley Fool re-infatuation with videos does not serve the mission of 'educate amuse and enrich'.

    You put questions in the text and answers in the video. As you should know, because many of us have told you, is that we can read as much in 30 seconds than you can speak about in four minutes of video.

    We read more efficiently than we listen.

    If I want to comment on something said in the video I have to scroll back and find it, rather than glance up through text.

    Please remind yourselves to focus on quality over quantity.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 11:43 AM, pirotta wrote:

    I can't agree more with Steven: please dump those annoying videos and get back to written articles.


  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 6:05 PM, neamakri wrote:

    less video, more article.

    Anyway, I see electric vehicles as definitely in our future. They are clean, almost maintenance-free, and cost way less to operate than an internal combustion engine (ICE) car.

    Why even mention Chinese power plants in the same breath as US electric cars? I seriously doubt if a single Chinese power plant could pass an EPA inspection.

    Yes there is a carbon footprint for an electric vehicle but it is a tiny fraction of an ICE vehicle. Please do a little research before throwing out knee-jerk statements.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2012, at 7:15 PM, jeffhre wrote:

    @ steamoil, NG would make cars engines burn cleaner, but ICE engines and drivetrains are only about 20% efficient vs over 90% efficiency for EV's. Making EV's especially cleaner as the S gridgets cleaner. China not so much...

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