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Tesla Begins Shipping Thousands of Model 3 Cars To Europe Via Massively Polluting Fossil Fuel-Powered Ships

Tesla has shifted Model 3 production allocation to Europe. The zero-emissions Teslas will be transported using the world's largest and dirtiest fossil fuel engines.

Tesla is now well underway in its plan to send tens of thousands of its electric vehicles to Europe. In an ironic twist, the zero-emissions Teslas will be transported via ships that burn the world's dirtiest fossil fuels, bunker oil.

elon musk model 3

The shift to sending production to Europe is not a surprise, but was revealed to investors and fans ahead of time. It is why Tesla's sales in the U.S. dropped by about 70% in January by comparison to previous months in late 2018. We won't try to follow the fuzzy math, but Tesla's U.S. sales will be all over the map (pardon the pun) at least through the first quarter of 2019.

model 3 shipments

Tweets from Elon Musk and Tesla fans are showing the vehicles being loaded onto Hyundai Glovis vehicle transport ships. Glovis is a shipping brand, not a type of ship. Ships of this type generally burn the world's dirties liquid fossil fuel, bunker oil. There has been some talk of shipping moving to cleaner fuels, diesel if you call that clean, but finding the emissions per mile traveled from individual ships is tricky. It is not information that is required to be released, so it rarely is. Although transport only represents a small portion of the overall carbon footprint of passenger vehicles as a whole, it is not insignificant. And this trip from the West Coast of the U.S. to Europe is nowhere near average for a car to travel. Sources that track the pollution and CO2 from shipping estimate that the largest ships have equivalent emissions to 50 million cars. Others say that the emissions from the largest 15 ships alone equal all of the world's cars combined.

Other Tesla News
In other recent Tesla news, both AAA and Consumer Reports have conducted studies that show that EVs, including Tesla's luxury models, have a range reduction of 40% or more in cold weather. Also, the Tesla Model 3 has been removed from Consumer Reports' list of recommended vehicles due to poor reliability reported by private owners.


DeanMcManis (not verified)    February 24, 2019 - 11:50AM

As usual, it's a negative spin on all Tesla news. I could understand complaining about Tesla's shipping choice if there was a fleet of non-polluting solar/electric transport ships out there and Tesla chose the bunker oil burning ships to transport their cars. But even though the shipping industry is planning to convert to diesel or natural gas over the next few years, the transition has not happened yet. Without cleaner shipping opportunities available, I am not sure what you expect Tesla to do. Design and build their own electric fleet of transport ships? Or simply hold off on shipping any vehicles to Europe until cleaner fueled ships become available?

John Goreham    February 28, 2019 - 6:23PM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

I'd expect Tesla to continue to satisfy the demand for the Model 3 until that reaches a tipping point. I'm an optimist and think we are not even close to that yet. Tesla is planning more factories in other markets. Once they are ready, it seems logical they will serve those markets and do so without shipping cars across two continents. I'm a realist, and I report the side of Tesla that most ignore, that is true. But I can't let a tweet from Elon Musk showing thousands of cars queuing up to be loaded on the largest pollution device known to man go unmentioned. Shouldn't we expect Tesla to be different?

DeanMcManis (not verified)    March 3, 2019 - 3:02AM

I do not expect that Tesla will give up important European sales by waiting until the shipping industry cleans up their act. Are there any other automakers that have made that choice to wait for cleaner shipping? A realist sees and states both sides. These Tesla stories consistently tell only the negative side.