9 Ways that Tesla Helps the Environment


Nine Ways that Tesla Helps the Environment

In the past decade, Tesla has grown to become a leader in sustainability efforts. From producing completely electric cars to providing clean energy to various locations worldwide, the company continues to promote sustainable energy and devise new ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Tesla’s focus is on developing sustainable products and fossil-fuel alternatives, and not just through high-speed electric vehicles. With a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Source: Tesla), the company has various initiatives to help the environment. 

Elon Musk is a Climate Influencer 

For a company set on creating a more sustainable future, it definitely helps to have a climate influencer as a CEO. Elon Musk is arguably the company’s face. He has a remarkable ability to raise awareness of climate change and other environmental issues. He’s often in the news discussing some new sustainable innovations he is working on with engineers.

His attitude toward fossil fuels helps push his views forward. He has said many times he is against fossil fuels because of the harm they do to the environment. He often encourages everyone else to do the same, inspiring more people to reduce their carbon footprint.

Musk has given very passionate speeches about the subject, and his words alone inspire many to become more environmentally friendly. He has called the burning of fossil fuels an “insane experiment” (Source: Business Insider). He often gets very emotional when talking about it.

Tesla Envisions a 100% Sustainable Planet

If you want to see how Tesla helps the environment, you don’t need to look any further than its mission statement: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Source: Tesla). Not only is Tesla creating sustainable products, but the company is finding ways to manufacture them in a sustainable way, too. 

Tesla believes the world could one day be powered by solar energy, run on batteries, and transport using all-electric vehicles (Source: Tesla). They are doing their part to create the energy fo the future. These values are what help Tesla move forward and help the environment while developing long-lasting technology.

To work toward its mission, Tesla created a master plan. The first step in that plan was building the original Tesla Roadster, which proved you don’t need a gas-powered car to drive a high-performing, high-speed vehicle (Source: Tesla). And that was just the first – since then, Tesla’s vehicles have become more technologically and environmentally advanced.

They Produce Innovative Electric Vehicles

When you hear the name Tesla, you’re likely going to imagine the space-like cars the company is known for producing. Tesla’s high-tech electric vehicles have been making headlines for years about their modern, sporty look and environmental impact. Tesla vehicles’ manufacturing makes them one of the most innovative, exciting, and environmentally friendly cars on the market. 

The vehicles produce zero emissions, and the cars continue to become more sustainable with every new model. According to their 2019 impact report, Tesla has sold more than 550,000 Tesla vehicles, which have driven more than 10 billion miles. Those vehicles have resulted in a combined savings of more than 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. 

Tesla engineers eliminated the use of chrome in the Model Y, Tesla’s newest vehicle, which will likely be introduced in 2021. Chrome is not a sustainable product, and Tesla has slowly removed it from use in their cars. Also, the Model Y’s parts are easily recyclable, which is another big win for the environment.

A Comparison of Tesla’s Vehicles

As stated above, Tesla’s cars are becoming more and more sustainable. Each year, the company is launching a new vehicle or model, continuing its promise to provide the most innovative gas alternative. In addition to minimal environmental impact, each car offers its own unique characteristics. 

Here is a broken-down comparison of the company’s cars:

CarLaunch YearStarting PriceRange
Model S2012$74,990350-400 miles
Model 32016$37,990250-320 miles
Model X2015$79,990300-350 miles
Model Y2021$52,990315 miles
Cybertruck2021$39,900250-500 miles
Roadster2020 (original debuted in 2008 but was discontinued)$200,000620 miles

Tesla is appealing to major companies with its new semi-trucks. The alien-looking vehicles will have 300 or 500 miles of range with a quick acceleration – from 0 to 60 in 20 seconds (Source: Tesla). With the Tesla Semi, companies can save more than $200,000 in fuel costs. 

Tesla also ensures the Semi’s safety. Like most of its vehicles, Tesla’s Semi features an enhanced Autopilot that can help avoid collisions. These Semis have become highly anticipated for their production. According to Business Insider, Walmart Canada has reserved 130 Semi vehicles, and Tesla hopes more companies will do the same.

Tesla Vehicles Compared to Other Vehicles

Tesla has gone above and beyond what other vehicle companies are doing to create sustainable cars. Compared to traditional gas-powered cars, Tesla vehicles are by far more environmentally friendly. Tesla vehicles produce a lot less carbon dioxide than gas-powered cards. Solar-powered vehicles produce close to no carbon dioxide. 

According to Business Insider, there are a few significant differences that set Tesla apart from traditional vehicles.

Teslas Don’t Need Oil Changes

We’ve all been there. We’re driving along, enjoying our day when that dreaded oil change light comes on. Every couple thousand miles or every few months, vehicle owners head into the shop to get an oil change. Tesla owners don’t need to worry about this – their cars have no engine oil. Not only does it save you time, but it’s saving oil.

Teslas have a lot fewer fluids owners need to worry about in general. While the transmission needs a filter change now and then, and you may need to lubricate the door hinges, there is almost no fluid in the car you need to consider regularly. 

You Can Update a Tesla Engine Computer Online

If you want to update your traditional car’s engine computer, you need to take it to a dealer or technician. According to Business Insider, Tesla cars’ software updates are managed “over-the-air.” So, you don’t have to take your vehicle anywhere to update software and keep your vehicle running as best it can. Tesla’s autopilot system is upgraded over-the-air as well.

Tesla Battery vs. Gas Tank/Motor Replacement

One con to owning a Tesla is that if you ever need the battery changed, you’ll be running up a $5,000-$7,000 bill. A new gas tank is only around $1,000, while a new motor can cost more than $3,000. Fortunately, Tesla built its vehicles to be long-lasting, and battery replacements have – so far – been a rare occurrence with owners.

Brake Pads Last Much Longer

Gas-powered vehicles often put a lot of wear and tear on their brakes. Owners typically change brake pads every 50,000 miles. According to Business Insider, Tesla’s regenerative braking keeps them lasting longer, and owners don’t need to change them until after about 100,000 miles. 

Running Out of Gas vs. Depleting the Battery

One significant challenge for many electric vehicle owners is planning road trips with charging stops along the way. Tesla’s more than 1,400 supercharger stations are in place in 36 countries. With the adoption of electric vehicles, Tesla knew it was important to have convenient access to charging stations.

The company strategically placed them so that Tesla vehicle owners are always within 150 miles of a station in the United States. The stations are fast and efficient, and the typical charge takes about 30 minutes (Source: Tesla). In addition, Tesla has a global vehicle charging network so expansive that it has saved the equivalent of more than 75 million gallons of gas.

Unfortunately, if you deplete the battery with no proximity to a charging station, you’ll have to tow your car. If you’re far from a Supercharger, it may take hours to charge the vehicle. On the other hand, gas vehicle owners simply call roadside assistance or walk to the nearest gas station to get the fuel they need in a short amount of time.

Teslas Compared to Other Electric Vehicles

With new tech emerging and more companies jumping into the sustainability sphere, Tesla faces more competitors each year. According to the Washington Post, Tesla is leading in the electric vehicle market – it has unmatched battery technology. It builds aerodynamic, sustainable, and long-range cars, unlike many others.

This comparison from Business Insider outlines significant comparisons between Tesla and competing electric cars:  

CarRangeTop Speed (MPH)Cost
Tesla Model 3250-350 miles140$37,990
Tesla Model X300-350 miles140$79,990
Tesla Model S350-400 miles140$74,990
Ford Focus Electric76 miles84$29,170
BMW i381 miles93$42,400
Kia Soul EV93 miles90$31,950
Nissan Leaf SL107 miles100$36,790
Chevy Bolt200 miles91$37,500

While most of the cars on this list are cheaper than Tesla’s models, Tesla vehicles have a longer range, reach higher speeds, and last a long time. 

Tesla’s Superchargers Produce Minimal Emissions

Tesla’s Supercharger stations are a technological wonder. Acknowledging the need for quick and efficient charging stations for adopting electric vehicles, Tesla opened its first Supercharger station in 2012. Since then, they’ve deployed more than 12,000 across the world (Source: Tesla).

Tesla prides itself on its long-range vehicles. They strategically placed Supercharger stations near restaurants, markets, and other travel stops to minimize road trip stops. The impact report states that in the United States, 99% of the population is within 150 miles of a Supercharger (significantly less than the vehicles’ driving range).  

The Superchargers are fast and convenient. The average driver charges his or her car for about 30 minutes before moving on (Source: Tesla). They have become such an extensive and efficient use for electric vehicle owners that the Superchargers alone help improve the environment.

But where do the Superchargers get their energy? In some locations, charging stations do derive their electricity from fossil fuels, but the amount needed is still less harmful than driving a gas-powered car. The charging stations will only continue to become cleaner, too. In California, many of Tesla’s Superchargers are powered by solar energy.

Tesla is Working to Increase its Factories’ Sustainability

According to Tesla’s 2019 impact report, transportation and electricity production are the two largest GHG emissions sources. Tesla’s solar, battery, and vehicle products aim to decrease the impacts of transportation and electricity production.

Tesla has shaped its production and manufacturing to reduce its carbon footprint. According to its 2019 impact report, the company created a baseline carbon footprint in 2017 across its warehouses, plants, and facilities. Tesla tracked electricity and gas usage to set specific targets to decrease its environmental footprint. Tesla has also installed LED lighting in several factories.

Fremont Factory: Tesla’s “Zero Waste” Facility

Located in Fremont, California, the Tesla Fremont Facility is one of the most technologically and environmentally advanced automotive plants. Once home to General Motors, Tesla purchased the 5.3 million-square-foot facility in 2010 and remodeled it to be an ever-evolving center for innovation (Source: Tesla).

Today, the Fremont Factory employs more than 10,000 workers and produces most of its vehicle components. The company plans to double the size of the facility to create more employment opportunities. Because it’s such an essential asset to the company, it became the center for a sustainability case study.

The factory was certified as a “Zero Waste” facility in 2016. In 2017, it diverted more than 93% of waste from landfills to recycling or waste-to-energy (Source: Tesla). The Fremont Facility even has an on-site recycling center. According to their impact report, the facility recycled 2,900 tons of plastic in 2017. 

This building is already doing so much to fight climate change. By its expansion completion, it will be the largest building to run almost entirely off renewable energy – namely, solar panels.

Battery Recycling

Unlike fossil fuels, which are a one-time source of energy, lithium-ion batteries are recyclable. 

Tesla is only just now receiving old batteries from vehicle owners – this goes to show how long-lasting they are! Tesla works with several recyclers to process end-of-life batteries and recover valuable, recyclable metals (Source: Tesla). 

Gigafactory 1: The Sustainable Facility of the Future

In 2014, Tesla broke ground on its Gigafactory 1, an energy self-reliant and sustainable facility. When completed, it will be one of the largest buildings in the world. Located in Sparks, Nevada, Gigafactory 1 will feature solar panels across the top of the building and an elaborate water storage and re-use system (Source: Tesla).

There is no natural gas, no fossil fuel use on the site. As Gigafactory 1 continues to produce more batteries and implement waste reduction and optimize processes, the cost of manufacturing will decline (Source: Tesla). This will enable Tesla to make its electric, battery, and solar products available to more people. 

Tesla is Bringing Solar and Battery Power to Many Locations

Tesla has made it a mission to install solar power across the world. Its current installations have generated over 13 Terawatt-hours of emission-free power (that’s enough to supply electricity to the entire state of Connecticut!). Tesla predicts these solar installations will generate 86.5 Terawatt-hours of energy – enough to power Washington, D.C. for a decade (Source: Tesla).

In addition to selling Solar Roofs and battery systems, Tesla does its own work to bring clean energy to locations in need. 

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and left thousands without power, Tesla provided over a thousand battery storage systems and solar panels to more than 660 locations on the island. One of these locations was the Hospital del Nino Children’s Hospital in San Juan (Source: Tesla). These systems provided clean energy to Puerto Rico in many communities. 

That’s not the only location Tesla has helped out. In September 2016, a major storm damaged South Australia’s infrastructure and left nearly two million residents in the dark. Additional blackouts continued to occur due to Australia’s heat. The state needed a more sustainable energy solution.

Tesla partnered with developer Neoen in 2017 to help provide sustainable, clean energy to the people of South Australia. In less than 100 days, the two companies provided the state with a powerpack system paired with a wind farm. The system helped stabilize South Australia’s electric grid and has reduced power outages across the state. 

According to Tesla, the combination of battery systems and solar panels will help with electricity demand and offset the need to overbuild infrastructure. Installing these products in diverse locations helps optimize the power grid and keep the lights on in a clean and renewable fashion. 

Tesla Gave Away EV Patents to Increase Their Adoption

In 2014 Elon Musk announced that Tesla would not pursue patent lawsuits against anyone who wants to use their electric vehicle technology (Source: Wired). Doesn’t it sound a bit strange to a highly competitive, innovative company? 

Tesla isn’t in the sustainability game just to be the best at it; it’s in it to create a better future. Musk and his engineers know they can’t make a 100% sustainable world alone. The company wants everyone to have an electric car, and sharing its patents will allow that widespread adoption.

The company has also worked toward achieving this goal by producing more affordable models. Not everyone can afford a $70,000 high-end electric car, and the company knows that. Tesla introduced more affordable options to make electric vehicles accessible to as many people as possible in the hopes of normalizing electric cars on the road.  

Tesla Manufactures Three Renewable Energy Solutions 

Reducing our environmental impact and helping the planet doesn’t stop at buying an electric vehicle. Powering homes, businesses, and utilities with renewable energy is an essential step to becoming sustainable. To encourage households and businesses to adopt renewable, clean energy sources, Tesla has created three solutions: Powerpack, Solar Roof, and Powerwall.  

The Powerpack Battery System

Tesla created the Powerpack solution for businesses and utilities. This energy storage system provides an efficient and reliable electric grid (Source: Tesla). Powerpacks are a DC energy storage system that houses 16 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pods, a thermal control system, and monitoring sensors.

The Powerpack stores large amounts of energy for facilities and utilities on the electric grid. It works by storing energy for supplemental and off-grid power. The Powerpack’s central concept is to keep energy produced from solar and wind power, ultimately transitioning businesses away from using fossil fuels.

The Solar Roof

Solar panels and Tesla’s Solar Roof are available to homeowners to power their homes using renewable energy. The energy gathered from the panels can be stored in the Powerwall so that homeowners have access to power at all times. But what’s so different about Tesla’s Solar Roof compared to standard solar panels? 

To start, Tesla’s Solar Roof doesn’t compromise the aesthetic for sustainability. The Solar Roof covers an entire home’s roof. The panels are so inconspicuous and blend in with any exterior design. They provide a sleek, modern look in addition to providing clean and renewable energy.

Solar Roof owners will save a noticeable amount on their electricity bills. The Tesla app allows you to monitor your energy production and control the system from your fingertips (Source: Tesla). Paired with the Powerwall, you’ll have access to electricity no matter the time of day or during an outage. 

Not only does the Solar Roof stand out from panels, but it’s three times stronger than standard roof tiles and designed for all-weather protection (Source: Tesla). It can even withstand up to 1.75-inch hail! The company ensures it’s so long-lasting, each Solar Roof has a 25-year warranty. 

To make the innovative Solar Roof affordable to more people, Tesla reduces the price and offers better optimization and faster install times. Quotes for a new Solar Roof have dropped thousands of dollars, and hopefully, the price continues to fall in the coming years.

The Powerwall Battery Pack

The Powerwall stores energy gathered from solar panels for later use. According to Tesla, it makes power available during peak energy use and outages. Constant available clean energy doesn’t just help save money but can provide electricity during grid outages.

There aren’t many things more aggravating than losing power during a storm and having to fire up the loud, smelly generator. The Powerwall battery can act as a generator during outages and power your entire home with clean, quiet electricity: no more gas, no more noise.

The Powerwall is usable with other Tesla products (like the Solar Roof) or on its own. However homeowners decide to use it, the Powerwall has proved to be a great way Tesla encourages people to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Tesla Responsibly Sources Materials for Manufacturing

According to Tesla’s 2019 impact report, the company works with suppliers and partners that adhere to Tesla’s expectations outlined in their Supplier Code of Conduct and Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy. These policies help ensure suppliers and partners are treating their workers with respect and humanity. 

The company states in its impact report that it does not tolerate inhumane practices. Tesla also requires its suppliers to provide evidence of environmental and sustainability best practices in its management systems (Source: Tesla). Working with other sustainability-focused companies ensures Tesla is driving its mission forward. 

What About Tesla’s Use of Cobalt?

It’s no secret that cobalt is a controversial topic in the electric vehicle sphere. The mining practices have been proved unsafe and unethical, especially in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cobalt is an important material used in electric vehicles’ lithium-ion batteries. Does this mean Tesla is harming the environment – and humanity – by using cobalt?

According to their impact report, Tesla has visited the cobalt mines and plants that supply its cobalt. They work with companies to implement mitigation policies to reduce risks. They put safeguards in place to ensure best practices are being maintained at these mines and facilities. Tesla aims to ensure employees are being treated fairly and ethically.

In addition, Tesla’s batteries contain minimal cobalt, and the company is slowly transitioning away from using it entirely. Tesla currently uses a combined material that uses less cobalt than other electric vehicles. They also plan to recycle what little cobalt is in end-of-life batteries. 

The elimination of cobalt has already begun in Model 3 production. According to Business Insider, Tesla’s Model 3 sedans produced in China will be cobalt-free. The company will move away from its nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries and begin manufacturing vehicles with lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.

In Conclusion

It’s no secret that Tesla is a leading innovator in electric vehicles, battery and solar systems, and overall sustainability. The company is and continues to help the environment in many ways, from providing long-range electric cars to installing solar and battery power systems in locations across the world.

The company aims to be a sustainability leader in more than just vehicles. Tesla’s vision lies in its mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Source: Tesla) and CEO Elon Musk’s idea of a renewable future. Combining modern technology with the energy of the future, Tesla is on track to achieving its mission and helping others do the same.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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