Electric Cars

Tesla surpassed half a million cars built in 2020


Million Tons

of CO2 avoided by Tesla vehicles as of today


X Increase

5x growth in number of EVs sold annually between 2016 - 2020

The Path to Drawdown: Electric Vehicles

The first electric vehicle (EV) prototype was built in the 1820s, but its inability to surmount the challenge of building a lightweight, durable battery with adequate range allowed internal combustion engines to dominate the automotive and transport landscape since the 1920s. 

Today, that’s changing. Thanks to supportive policies and declining costs, there are millions of EVs on the road. The difference in their impact on the climate is remarkable. Compared to petroleum-based vehicles, CO2 emissions drop by 50% if an EV’s power comes from the conventional power grid. If powered by solar energy, emissions are cut by 95%. Once households purchase EVs, the operating costs for those cars are often cheaper than gas-based cars, too.

What used to be a roadbump for EVs - the question of how far the car can travel on a single charge - is now much less of a concern. The average range of a battery electric vehicle produced in 2020 is about 217.5 miles, up from 124 miles in 2015.

What’s making this increase in mileage possible is the development in battery capacity. Global EV battery capacity is expected to increase from around 170 GWh per year today to 1.5 TWh per year in 2030. At the same time, the cost of batteries is falling as their production reaches greater scale.

To be on track to remain under 1.5ºC of warming, 100% of passenger cars and vans (p. 138) need to be electric by 2050. This is a jump from 5% of cars and 0% of vans in 2020, respectively. Accomplishing this overhaul of the transportation landscape would require EV production and ownership to continue expanding over the next three decades:

  • 11 million EV cars and vans were on the road in 2020
  • 2 billion EV cars and vans (100% of total global sales) need to be on the road by 2050

This would require a CAGR of 18.94% from 2018-2050


Tesla Motors, Inc. (stock ticker: TSLA) is an American EV and clean energy company based in Palo Alto, California. Its current products include electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid-scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, as well as other related products and services. Outside of the US, it has factories in Shanghai and Berlin.

TSLA's Role in Drawdown

Tesla’s growth in the EV market has been meteoric. It has increased its EV sales by five-fold between 2016 and 2020, and in 2020 alone, it delivered close to 5 million vehicles. This accounted for 4.54% of the global EV industry. To maintain this market share in line with the IEA’s projection of a net-zero transportation sector, Tesla will need to keep scaling, reaching ~16 million vehicles sold in 2030 and 90.8 million sold in 2050.

This kind of growth would require a CAGR of 41.34% from 2020-2030, and 9.11% from 2030-2050. With Tesla’s EV delivery growing by 42.85% since 2016, we are confident that it will maintain its current market share, or even surpass it in the next few decades.

TSLA: What We Like

Tesla is proactively engaging in technological innovation that advance other Drawdown solutions, particularly lithium-ion battery cells for its EVs and energy storage systems:

  • Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries strike a balance between cycle life (the number of charge and discharge cycles that a battery can complete before losing performance) and energy density, giving drivers the best range and lifetime combination
  • These batteries are recyclable. Tesla works with third-party recyclers around the world to process all scrap and end-of-life batteries

Tesla’s energy storage products (p. 4) -- Powerwall, Powerpack and Megapack -- allow customers ranging from households, utilities to energy generation companies to store and deploy energy day or night or during outages

TSLA: What We Want to See Improve

Publish Exact Emissions Data

Tesla’s Impact Report shows lifecycle emissions for each of its EV models at both their manufacturing and use phases, but the company does not publish aggregate emissions figures in absolute terms. It’s therefore impossible to evaluate Tesla against other automakers at the company level. This is in stark contrast to its American competitors, Ford and General Motors, which do track and publish their emissions metrics. We urge Tesla to start publishing its scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions metrics.

Set Clear Emissions Targets

On top of not showing its company-level emissions metrics, Tesla also has not set any sustainability targets. While we applaud the sheer amount of CO2 that Tesla vehicles are helping to avoid, we still need to see a commitment to cutting absolute GHG emissions. This is especially urgent now, when Tesla is expanding its production capacity internationally.

Recover Solar Energy Business

We applaud Tesla for its success so far in the EV and energy storage industries. Its solar energy offerings sales, however, has been on a relative decline over the last few years, falling from 523 MW worth of delivery in 2017 to 205 MW in 2020. We would like to see Tesla regain this business segment, particularly as an integrated component with its energy storage systems.

Other Electric Cars (EV's) Stocks in the Climate Index

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