The electric usage of ICE engines

  • Active since 1995, is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.


Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
Long Island NY
I just read this.

It applies the argument that EVs need fossil fuel too in reverse and looks at the electric cost of ICE vehicles.

I did not go to the German article with the calculation. I also find the electric "cost" of the beer and hotdog sales at gas stations as applied to electric usage of ICE vehicles a bit disingenuous, BUT a study of how much electricity ICE vehicles use in production, fuel production, and usage, is fair.

"the author of a recent article in the German magazine Edison has calculated that, for every mile traveled in a legacy vehicle, you’re using about half as much electricity as you would to travel a mile in a pure EV."

This is (see hotdogs) an upper limit, in my view, but it is significant nonetheless, as this electricity usage is ON TOP of the gasoline usage for the mile driven.

Interesting perspective.
Is the implication that only ICE drivers eat hot dogs and drink beer, or that serving them at home instead of a convenience store somehow eliminates all associated energy costs?

But the premise that ICE's consume electricity, through the processing and pumping of associated fuel, is an interesting point that likely few consider. We all learned in physics 101 that energy is lost with each conversion of form (mechanical to chemical to mechanical), here it is.
Yes, the beer and hot dog thing is going too far imo. Hence I see the "half as much electricity used per mile" as an upper limit.

Though the argument, if I understand correctly, is that gas stations won't exist without such sales, as that's where the margins are - but beer and hot dogs would likely be bought elsewhere if not at the gas station.

Or, we've just discovered another health benefit of EVs: less beer and hotdogs consumed :p
(Until charging stations get vending machines with similar items - though thinking of a hotdog from a vending machine makes me gag... Beer on the other hand - only if it's some microbrew rather than bud light or Heineken...)
  • Like
Reactions: DonTee
Yerp, this idea has been kicking around for a long time. In particular the electrical demand of oil refining, which is the largest single contribution. After all, after the US Govt and DOD, the next biggest consumers of electricity are Oil and Chemical companies.

Back in 2014 this was estimated in the UK to be closer to parity with the kWh/mile of a BEV. So the german figure of roughly half as much electricity in their market makes perfect sense. Ignoring the hot dogs.

I saw this 'debunked' partially when it was stated to be a EU/UK-specific issue. Much of the energy needed to refine oil is process heat (not pumps) and that can come from electricity OR burning something. Refiners in the US are generally located near ample supplies of natural gas which is very cheap, and so rely heavily on that for process heat. Germany and the UK have expensive nat gas markets, and so traditionally used cheaper energy (wholesale commercial pricing) from coal-fired electricity.

The current situation is quite murky, bc the oil refiners do not report what they use their electricity for in detail.

I've moved on. The bottom line is that extracting and refining oil contributes at least 25% extra global warming potential than the ample amount from mere combustion of the stuff. Their products are toxic and carcinogenic and scientifically accepted to be contributing to many current health problems in the west, from cardiovascular disease (from NOx) to all cancers (from Benzene in gasoline and PAHs in heavy stuff e.g. asphalt) to Alzheimers (from diesel-derived PM2.5). Notably, ALL of the above pollutants have been increasingly tightly regulated by the EPA for the last five decades, and the rapid surge in ALL these diseases that occurred decades ago have recently slowed or flattened out. Huh, weird!

So, add a few percent of global electricity demand (a huge amount)? OK, we can add that to the list, but its like the serial killer stopping in your kitchen to chug some of your milk straight out of the jug before he kills you. :mad:
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus and Ashful
Yes, I can see this being dependent on where the refinery is. For us it may be a drop in the bucket, but if it's near half (elsewhere), I think it's more than a drop in the bucket (elsewhere).

I hope you're not a teacher, given the choice of analogies you make ;)
  • Haha
Reactions: woodgeek