diesel vs electric

Differences Between Diesel Vs Electric Vehicles

Jane Marsh - July 18, 2022

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Tesla began producing its first fully electric vehicle (EV) in 2009. Over the years, EVs gained popularity and now show promising potential for a sustainable transportation sector. President Biden’s green infrastructure plan focuses on minimizing emissions, especially those produced by vehicles. However, the debate of diesel vs electric is still continuing on today.

EV technology remains in its early stages, creating some efficiency limitations. Before purchasing an EV to shrink your carbon footprint, you must explore its differences from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, like diesel trucks. While automobiles producing zero tailpipe emissions seem more eco-friendly, they often contribute to secondary pollution, adversely impacting their sustainability levels.

What is the Demand for EVs?

Before we evaluate the differences between diesel vs electric vehicles, we must assess the demand for change in the transportation industry. Nearly 29% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions derive from the transportation sector. Most vehicles run on gasoline or diesel, producing air pollution during the combustion process.

When greenhouse gases invade the environment, they alter its temperature regulation abilities. Earth relies on a specific atmospheric composition, creating life-sufficient surface temperatures. Emissions minimize the atmosphere’s ability to produce adequate environmental conditions, degrading the global ecosystem.

Naturally, Earth absorbs infrared radiation, producing heat to warm its surface. The atmosphere collects excess energy and emits it to space, reducing the risk of overheating. Greenhouse gases interfere with the process by raising the atmospheric light-to-heat conversion rate.

They also contain extra energy in the environment, filtering it back through the heat production process. As the number of emissions increases, the global temperatures continue to rise. When the Earth becomes warmer, it becomes less compatible with life, creating biodiversity challenges.

EVs release zero tailpipe emissions during transportation, decreasing direct vehicle pollution. Manufacturers like Tesla designed their cars to increase climate change prevention efforts. They effectively minimize firsthand emissions, meeting the demand for sustainability enhancements.

President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is working towards carbon-neutrality in America. Limiting transportation pollution can significantly improve the nation’s ecological conditions. EVs also meet eco-consumer demands.


Generation Z and Millennial individuals make up a large portion of the consumer market. Recently, researchers noticed a 71% increase in sustainable product searches from the generations’ customers. Car manufacturers can meet consumer demands, remaining competitive in their industry by developing EVs.

The Case for Diesel

While the media and government paint EVs as a cure-all to the global climate crisis, they also have efficiency limitations making diesel a more valuable power source. In Europe, EVs release about three times less greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel vehicles. Though the statistics are persuasive, they differ in each country depending on its electricity sources.

In China, the largest power source is coal, creating a significant carbon footprint. The energy source produces nearly 46% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. When individuals in China charge their EVs, they contribute to the growing number of coal-derived emissions degrading the atmosphere.

Diesel vehicles also minimize society’s reliance on EV batteries. The car part uses lithium-ion, which requires a degrading mining process. In 2016, researchers evaluated the ecological impact of the Ganzizhou Rongda mine.

They noticed a significant number of dead fish floating in the Liqi River by the lithium extraction site. Additionally, they found dead cattle and yaks in the water source, signifying a chemical leak. During the mining process, workers released toxins into the environment, creating adverse ecological impacts.

Outside of biodiversity loss, lithium mining practices also use large quantities of freshwater, exploiting natural resources. After professionals pump water into the well, they let a mineral-rich salt brine reach the surface. The brine contains lithium, as well as borax, manganese and potassium.

Many miners inefficiently dispose of the excess elements, letting them pollute local ecosystems. The process also increases water displacement, leaving surrounding agricultural regions dry. As the soil loses its moisture content, farmers struggle to attain sufficient crop yields.

When individuals drive diesel vehicles, they reduce the surface-level pollution deriving from unsustainable mining practices. They also reduce the quantity of coal-derived emissions polluting the atmosphere.

The Case for EVs

While EVs can have a large carbon footprint, they also allow drivers to determine the power source. Individuals can charge their electric cars with renewable energy like solar power to decrease secondary emissions. Environmental engineers and government officials recognized the importance of emission-free charging stations and developed new technologies.

Solar charging stations offer the most affordable energy source to EV owners. They also significantly shrink a driver’s footprint. Cars powered by sunlight are the most sustainable transportation option on the market.

EVs are also quieter compared to diesel vehicles, creating less disruption for the local ecosystem. After evaluating the differences between diesel and EVs, you may feel compelled to purchase a new car.

Purchasing Power: Diesel vs Electric ?

When assessing which vehicle to purchase, individuals should consider their access to compatible technologies. If drivers already have solar systems installed on their properties, an EV can benefit their sustainable lifestyles. On the other hand, if individuals lack access to renewable power sources and live in a region with a coal-dominant energy grid, diesel vehicles may be more efficient.


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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.