No, charging an EV from a generator does not use less than a gas-powered car

I recently came across this on Facebook:

So is this true? Not even close.

Lets plug some numbers into this. Someone feel free to double-check my numbers here if you wish. The actual amount of kWh used to charge the battery will overall actually be LESS compared to what the generator can produce due to inefficiencies in the charging, so this is basically being generous to the claim. But as you’ll see, that doesn’t help it all that much.

The generator I’m eying can run at about 2 gal/hour at full load to produce around 10kW. This means about 5kWh per gallon of gasoline from that generator. To get the miles per kWh for an EV, take the estimated range and divide by the battery capacity. Then multiply that by 5 to get an approximate equivalent mile per gallon.

The lowest-end Tesla Model 3 has a 50kWh battery and a range of about 280 miles, so about 5.6 miles per kWh. (I imagine that this will be the new metric for comparing vehicles in 10 years.) Or about 28 miles per gallon of gasoline from the generator.

My 2007 Kia Spectra (loved that car, hate that it got totaled) could beat that without issue. And my 2019 CR-V, which is a full-size SUV, can also beat that without issue.

What if you have the Tesla Model 3 with the 82kWh battery and about 350 miles of range? That’s about 4.2 miles per kWh, or a little over 21 miles per gallon. That’s horrible fuel economy from a sedan.

The F-150 Lightning fares much worse at about 10 to 12 mpg equivalent (100 kWh battery, 200 to 240 mile range). The current model F-150 gets about 25 mpg city/highway.

Now this isn’t to say we should not move toward EVs, as we definitely should. Along with building and commissioning new nuclear power plants so they can be charged cheaply without contributing to CO2 production. We can’t get completely away from fossil-fueled vehicles, but we absolutely should to the furthest extent possible.

And everyone who owns an EV definitely should have a generator. At least 10kW and dual-fuel preferably so you can use propane or gasoline to power it, such as the one I linked above. Propane keeps for a LOT longer than gasoline and burns cleaner, meaning your generator will run better in the long run – provided you keep up with oil maintenance.

But don’t delude yourself into thinking that a generator charging an EV is more efficient than a fossil-fuel powered vehicle, since it absolutely is NOT. If you rely on a generator to charge an EV, you’re massively increasing your carbon footprint instead of decreasing it.