While the Tesla Gigafactory is still in its planning stages, it makes us wonder, how much goes into making a world-class electric vehicle that’s also green?
On the surface of things, bringing the Tesla Gigafactory into being will enable mass-production of an affordable electric vehicle for the masses. Electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Tesla Model E, of course, generate no emissions in themselves. Still, recharging electric vehicles, depending on what kind of power grid you have, could be a significant source of emissions. Finally, we can’t forget the emissions generated by the manufacture of electric vehicles.
In truth, the only mode of transportation that is truly green is feet, or perhaps horse. There are methods, however, to reduce emissions during the manufacture of any vehicle, including those electric vehicles that the Tesla Gigafactory will produce battery packs for. Automakers employ efficiency programs, recycling schemes, and renewable energy to reduce their emissions. Toyota Motor Corporation has even discovered that going back to human master craftsmen in their factories has reduced waste.
Currently, Tesla Motors sources its cells from Panasonic, which are shipped in from overseas. In an effort to reduce the emissions footprint associated with the Tesla Gigafactory, Tesla Motors has announced that it is planning to source its raw materials from North American sources, at least as much as physically possible. Tesla may be able to source cobalt from Idaho, and lithium from Nevada, North Carolina, or Quebec. Graphite, a major component in lithium-ion batteries, might require new mines, but if they are sourced in the United States or Canada, we can be sure they’d be a lot cleaner than those currently operating in China.
Locally sourcing raw materials for the Tesla Gigafactory could mean the difference between future Tesla Motors electric vehicles actually making an impact or just being another straw on the camel’s back. Locally-sourced raw materials will likely be cleaner than their foreign counterparts, and generate a smaller emissions footprint, considering they won’t need to be transported nearly as far.
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