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Craig Kelly, a Government backbencher who sits on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, has challenged the notion that electric cars should attract a taxpayer-funded subsidy to encourage their proliferation. He argues that a Toyota Corolla emits less carbon dioxide emissions than a Tesla. 

The data on the Green Vehicle Guide website shows that of the 27 different models of Tesla models listed, most emitted less than 200 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled. At the time Mr Kelly made his claim (the website has since been updated), emissions for the Tesla models ranged from 174 to 212 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. For petrol Corolla models, emissions ranged from 171 to 191 grams. Eleven models of Tesla had higher emissions than the most polluting Corolla (191 grams of CO2 per kilometre). 

However, according to experts, the data for the emissions intensity of the energy grid was out of date at the time the claim was made. The website has been updated since Mr Kelly made his claim with data reflecting the 2015-16 electricity mix between coal, gas and renewables. This resulted in a significant improvement in the reported environmental performance of the Tesla compared with petrol Corollas, such that five models of Tesla had higher emissions than the most polluting Corolla (191 grams of CO2 per kilometre), compared with 22 that were less polluting. 

Mr Kelly does have a point 'not all Tesla models are cleaner than Corollas’. However, it is a stretch to suggest, even using out-of-date 2013-14 data for the emissions intensity of the electricity grid, that Corollas have "significantly" lower emissions than Teslas.

Verdict: Mr Kelly is cherrypicking his data.

 

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