Every party has a pooper, and in this case it appears to be Forbes columnist Alex Epstein. Amid near-universal praise for the Tesla Model S electric vehicle, Epstein attempts to pop that balloon by calling the Model S a "great coal car," pointing out that about two-thirds of the world's electricity production comes from coal, natural gas and oil – and only a miniscule percentage is from renewable resources like solar and wind.

Epstein makes two attacks on the Model S. First, the low chances of renewable energy supplying a substantial percentage of the electricity going into the car – he calls it "unlikely" and never mentions Tesla's Supercharger network, which uses solar power. Second, Epstein criticizes the amount of natural resources committed to producing the Model S's lithium-ion battery, and argues that the environmental benefits from the car's gas-free life may be completely offset by the battery production and coal sourcing for electricity. Yes, the line arguing the opposite side of that theory is a long one.

That said, Epstein goes on espouse the virtues of coal, applying some sort of idea about people living longer with coal-powered electricity at their disposal than those without that luxury (the cause and effect is a little murky, here, and if you're going to criticize using natural resources, then Epstein's overall logic in this argument is hard to follow). He also takes the opposite side of the global warming argument by saying that coal reduces climate related deaths by supplying the power needed to make things like sturdier homes and weather satellites. You can read the whole thing here.

Of course, Forbes is no stranger to publishing work that attempts to take the wind out of the plug-in vehicle movement. Forbes contributor Patrick Michaels wrote last September that General Motors was inflating Volt sales via discounted lease rates but the publication did give a frustrated Bob Lutz room to refute longstanding EV attacks.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 124 Comments
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is this someone who works for Forbes or just some douche writing an opinion piece on Forbes. If he wanted to criticize Model S he should mention the 2.1ton weight which makes it energy hungry and it's eco merits questionable. Similar to the late Fisker Karma. Also the ridiculous vampire loads are bad. That power sometimes comes from coal is not the fault of the car however. Big part of Canada and USA gets its power from waterfalls, nuclear power is also CO2 free and you can always have a few solar panels on your house roof and that kills the coal argument real quick.
        noevfud
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        Sort of Dan but not really. Just build your solution and stop talking about it.
      TMoody
      • 1 Year Ago
      Haters gonna hate. What else is new? Ignorance is bliss, but also sad when foisted on those less inclined to dig deeper and actually understand pesky things like facts and logic.
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TMoody
        More likely not ignorance. Better to look at who owns Forbes, and what they stand to lose by the success of EVs. Never attribute to incompetence or malevolence that which you can attribute to greed.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TMoody
        Ignorance is not bliss, its dangerous
      purrpullberra
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, these foul 'conservatives' just keep going further down the septic spiral they've become famous for. Hypocrisy and lies, pure lies, are all the anti-science side has to fall back on. These idiots can't decide if they care about polluting or not. Their 'arguments' are all over the place such that they are simply proving what atrocious humans they are. Justifying the rape of the planet in such a shoddy way makes these 'criticisms' and the people who agree with them the main reason the country is a mess of greed and stupidity. I can't believe some people willingly act this stupid just to try to gain a political edge through misinformation and fear-mongering. 'Conservatives' should be appalled and discouraged that this is the best you guys can do. How pathetic!!
        Rick
        • 1 Year Ago
        @purrpullberra
        Wow. Don't you see that you just did exactly what you so self-righteously objected to when the other guy did it?
          purrpullberra
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Rick
          WTF are you talking about? My criticisms are valid; this guy perpetrates fraud with almost every sentence. I think that is despicable. I am not writing an article about fossil fuel, I am writing in response to this report to others on ABG. WTF else do you expect? Defensive much? Let me guess, you're a 'conservative' huh? Get a clue and an argument and then come back to the grown-up discussion, okay?
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yawn.......
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just another Old Man Yells at Cloud story from Forbes. http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/old-man-yells-at-cloud Meanwhile Forbes is "Selling its Editorial Soul" to advertisers: Forbes' own Chief Revenue Officer Kevin Gentzel said "The voices of advertisers "can commingle under the Forbes brand umbrella to provide a rich experience for our users" In other words, Forbes stories are for sale to the highest bidder. http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2010-09-28/is-forbes-selling-its-editorial-soul-businessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        More about the author: "Alex Epstein Contributor An energy philosopher, debater, and communications consultant, I am the Founder and President of the Center for Industrial Progress and head of the I Love Fossil Fuels Campaign. Author of Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet, I have defended fossil fuel energy in debates against Greenpeace, 350.org, and the Sierra Club. The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. " He has written (bought) 1 story on Forbes.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          So basically, he is a professional troll. It is sad that such things exist.
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Days Ago
      @ Rick & Joeviocoe, For once I agree with Rick ! Joe, there's nothing 'stupid' about Rick's statement. In many parts of the world, coal is the only economic power source for the creation of an industrial civilization, especially in a resource poor, developing nation with a burgeoning population. All forms of energy must compete on a rational economic basis. It's very selfish for an affluent middle-class American suburbanite to demand that everyone should copy his example and install solar panels on their roof. For much of the world's population, the can't afford a roof , let alone solar panels ! It's also pretty arrogant to limit (and a dis-service to Tesla) Tesla's sales to the "Bay area" of San Fransisco. Whether you like it or not, it's a fact that the overwhelming amount of global electricity production, comes from coal, natural gas and oil. Just because this is an unpleasant reality, doesn't make it less real ! Trying to pretend that alternatives are easily available, on a large scale, is just a fantasy ! It's a dishonest fantasy that Joe Public's growing sick of hearing, and over the next 5 years, 'green' politics is in danger of becoming toxic at the ballot box. In order to regain the trust of the general public, it's going to be necessary for environmental advocates to put their own house in order, reassess priorities, abandon theories and technologies which haven't worked and stop the endless hype and combative diatribe. (without losing positive enthusiasm).
      • 1 Year Ago
      Solar City is TESLA's offset !!
      wric01
      • 1 Year Ago
      electricity was 50% produced by natural gas, since most metropolitan city utilities use natural gas burning generators not coal generators.
        johnrysf
        • 2 Days Ago
        @wric01
        Maybe, maybe not. Where's your data? A suggestion, IMHO: Please see "Emissions from Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles", by the US Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php. The website allows one to enter a ZIP Code to see a breakdown of the electricity sources used, and compare the “well-to-wheels” annual emissions generated from vehicles using electricity from the grid – BEV's; gasoline – ICEV's and Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV's); or a combination of the two – plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV's). The US as a whole is also shown. Well-to-wheel emissions include all emissions related to fuel production, processing, distribution, and use. In the case of gasoline, emissions are produced while extracting petroleum from the earth, refining it, distributing the fuel to stations, and burning it in vehicles. In the case of electricity, most electric power plants produce emissions, and there are additional emissions associated with the extraction, processing, and distribution of the primary energy sources they use for electricity production. Overall US power production has, for several years, been getting cleaner as coal-fired power plants get cleaner, and more natural gas-fired power plants and renewable energy sources come on-line. Right now, a little less than 50% of US power comes from coal. Using the current values for the entire US, I calculated that BEV's give an ~(13-8)/13 = ~38.5% overall average reduction in CO2 over ICEV's. In my ZIP Code, 98104, the reduction in CO2 is ~(13-4.9)/13 = ~62.3%. Following this, it is noted that, on average in the US, BEV's incur 1/4 the cost to run ICEV's. Recap: US average, r/e ICEV's: -- BEV's PRODUCE~40% LESS CO2! -- COST ~1/4 AS MUCH TO RUN!!
      aaab.baaa
      • 1 Year Ago
      "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" Mahatma Gandhi
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Electric car owners are more likely to be generating their own power, Tesla Motors is not responsible for global power generation (if they were, they would likely go with: solar / steam turbines in the unoccupied desert areas.), obvious trolls are obvious and no amount of information will change their lobbyist bias ( so don't reply and don't enrich those they endorse, just down-vote and go on with your life.) and finally: lies of omission are standard operating procedure in the govermedia journalist vacuum. * end rant * :-P
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Days Ago
      --"Ask yourself, would you use electricity if it were 100% generated by coal?" http://www.pge.com/mybusiness/environment/pge/cleanenergy/ I don't have to answer your Sophie's Choice. 0% Coal The home of Tesla is the bay area. A large number of Tesla are sold in places like the bay area. It is ridiculous to defend a comment like Tesla being a, "Coal Car".
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Days Ago
      --"Whether you like it or not, it's a fact that the overwhelming amount of global electricity production, comes from coal, natural gas and oil. " Nobody is disputing that.... in fact, you've proven a liar out of Epstein with that true statement. He called it a "Coal Car" ... not a "Coal, Natural Gas, Oil car"... which would be more accurate (but still misleading). The grid is getting cleaner... and the states that support EVs best, are the states that sell the most EVs... which also tend to be the states with less than average (37%) coal. Defend him all you want... he was intentional misleading people with his hyperbole. And you, just to be on the minority side of a debate... are too.
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