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Carbon footprints of the best-selling EVs in France and Germany in 2022

    Feb 8, 2023

    By Frank Bunte, CEO of A2MAC1, and Christophe de Charentenay, CEO of M@Air


    Deciding to switch to an electric vehicle to reduce your carbon footprint is one thing; navigating the EV market is quite another. Debate abounds over CO2 emissions produced from manufacturing batteries or transporting vehicles from the production line to the point of sale, and the fact that carbon figures fluctuate depending on the country a car is driven in.

    In a quest for clarity, we evaluated the carbon footprint of the 10 best-selling electric cars in France and Germany. From 1 January 2024, manufacturers will be required to provide the carbon footprint declaration of the batteries used in cars; yet there has thus far been no independent comparison available that applies the same calculation method to all models.

    Using data provided by A2MAC1 – benchmarking specialists with 25 years’ experience performing technology and cost analysis for global OEMs – and by identifying the place where vehicles and battery cells are manufactured, we estimated [1] the carbon footprint of the top 10 EV models sold in France and Germany in 2022.

    What are the results?

    Unsurprisingly, our estimate ranked the smaller models at the top of the carbon footprint tables for lowest emissions: the Twingo Electric and the Dacia Spring. When driven for 125,000 km in France, they emit less than 9 tons of CO2 equivalent over their life cycle. When it comes to carbon, small is beautiful.

    At the other end of the spectrum of the same index, the figures for the VW ID4, Tesla Model Y and Audi Q8 demonstrate a twofold increase, with a CO2eq in excess of 18 tons.

    The vehicles rank in virtually the same order when driven in Germany, but with a significantly higher carbon impact: 15 tons for the Twingo Electric and Dacia Spring, and twice that for the big US and German models which have a CO2eq of 30 tonnes.

    Example: the Peugeot e208 emits between 12 and 13 tons of CO2eq when driven 125,000 km (including manufacture and end of life) and its CO2eq emissions are reduced by 15% per year over 10 years compared to a conventional Peugeot 208. Detailed results and calculation method at and

    How much will I reduce my CO2 emissions if I replace my end-of-life petrol car with an EV equivalent?


    To answer this, we estimated the carbon impact of an EV’s conventional counterpart using the same calculation method. For example, we compared a conventional Peugeot 208 with its electric equivalent, the Peugeot e208.

    Good news for users in France: for a motorist who drives in France [2] and continues to use the same category of vehicle, all data for switching from fuel to electric not only shows a drop in carbon emissions, but even better: the drop occurs more quickly and far exceeds the IPCC’s recommendations of cutting emissions by 5% per year for the next 10 years to keep global temperature increases below 2°C.

    In the race against the clock of climate change, electric vehicles prove to be a good move for consumers, provided their annual mileage and category of vehicle remain constant.

    Motorists in Germany have a more limited choice if they are to tick the -5% per year box and hit their climate targets in the mobility sector. Drivers who want to achieve a 5% reduction without altering the annual distance travelled would have to downsize. A motorist who drives a diesel BMW 3 Series will not reduce emissions by 5% by switching to a Tesla Model 3; they would need to opt for an electric Opel Corsa or a Renault Zoe. The only way to cut emissions and switch to an electric same-range equivalent – in this example, the Model 3 – would be to drive further. A driver who clocks up 17,500 km per year rather than 12,500 km will cut their carbon impact by over 5%.

    These calculations confirm what appears to be common sense: heavy, high-speed vehicles emit a lot of carbon, even with the most powerful electric propulsion system which uses a battery that can weigh over 700 kg.

    While consumers have a role to play in low carbon transition through their choice of vehicle, carmakers also have opportunities to chalk up points in the climate competition through design and manufacturing. For example, by focusing on fast charging rather than increasing battery capacity. There’s a sweet spot to be found between comfortable motorway journeys and reasonably sized batteries. Charging losses can be addressed too: figures vary between models, but up to 10% of electricity vanishes between the charging point and the battery. And there’s potential to get clever with electrics by installing intelligent recharging systems that turn the battery into a sort of mini dam that kicks in during consumption peaks. And last but most certainly not least, reducing the weight of the car is a sure-fire way to reduce its carbon footprint.

    What’s needed for these innovative approaches to take off is environmental labelling for vehicles with low CO2 emissions, and for consumers to really get onboard with the climate race: a race that can only be won by travelling lighter and travelling slower.


    Appendix: Data Calcutation method


    [1] The manufacturers are not accountable for the data used nor implicated in the resulting estimate.
    [2] Based on the hypothesis of driving 12,500 kms per year over 10 years. The higher the annual mileage, the higher the carbon benefit of swapping a conventional vehicle for an electric model.