Are we honestly helping the environment by purchasing Tesla vehicles?

The Tesla charging station in the parking lot of Carl's Jr. on the corner of Beale Street and Metcalfe Road.

Photo by Butch Meriwether.

The Tesla charging station in the parking lot of Carl's Jr. on the corner of Beale Street and Metcalfe Road.

I am all for programs or inventions that help the environment. We need to do whatever possible to help save and protect our precious environment.

We all know that Earth’s ozone in the stratosphere, commonly called the Ozone Layer, has taken a major hit and continual depletion for decades because of the use of fossil fuels to power vehicles and cow burping and fluctuation.

Cows? Yep, that’s correct. It isn’t just vehicles that contribute to the reduction of Earth’s ozone that keeps the deadly sun’s rays and more exposure to UVB radiation at the Earth’s surface.

It is speculated that cows cause a large amount of methane being introduced into the atmosphere. Some scientists claim that dairy cows in California were producing just over 19 pounds in weight, that's about 10 kilograms of methane gas every year by each cow.

If true, it could mean that cow farts and belching were causing more global warming than pollution from fossil fueled cars in that state.

No, I’m not advocating doing away with cows. I love to munch down on a big, thick, juicy medium-cooked steak.

However, with vehicles and cows, problems begin when the layer of greenhouse gases gets too thick and traps too much heat. This is called global warming.

One automotive company has allegedly invented a vehicle that helps with not depleting the Ozone Layer, but allows drivers to skirt the issue of paying fuel taxes for the most part. Only time will tell if Tesla vehicles actually help the environment as advertised.

What this means is drivers of diesel and gasoline vehicles operated in Arizona pay 18-cents tax per gallon of fuel when purchasing it in Arizona. Tesla electric car drivers receive a “free ride” and are exempt from fuel taxes.

Since Tesla began production and rolled its first car off the assembly line in 2008, it has produced more than 186,000 vehicles worldwide. The owners of these vehicles have not been charged in any way for using Arizona’s roadways (except for vehicle license fees for those registered in Arizona).

But like most anything, things change. Tesla will begin charging new car buyers a small fee to use its Supercharger Network. Anyone who already owns a Tesla or purchased one by Jan. 1 and takes delivery by April 1, 2017, is grandfathered into the free model.

According to a press release, owners who buy a new Tesla since the beginning of 2017, will only get free charging for the first 1,000 miles, but will then be charged a small fee to utilize its Supercharge Network.

The automaker did not reveal pricing, but called it "a small fee" that will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.

Tesla corporate headquarters has stated they will release details of the program later this year and haven’t said one way or another if they will turn over a portion of the revenue generated by their Supercharger Network to the various states to help maintain and repair their roadways.

Every Tesla comes standard with adapters to plug into common household outlets. Owners can charge up to 52 miles of range per hour right from home. Just plug Tesla vehicles like a mobile phone and it will be fully charged by morning.

The problem is if someone resides in the eastern portion of Golden Valley and owns a Tesla, they would not be able to drive their vehicle to Laughlin, Nevada for a fun-filled “night on the town” because they would not have enough electricity in the car’s battery to make the round trip. That is all drivers of Tesla vehicles need to do – run out of electricity on a cold and windy night at Union Pass in the Black Mountains.

However, if Tesla drivers take a trip, the Supercharger Network stations are conveniently located along most well-traveled routes. Drivers can also find Tesla charging stations at hotels and restaurants nationwide as part of the company’s expanding destination charging program. A “fill up” at a Supercharger Network location allegedly provides up to 170 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes.

There are more than 4,000 Supercharger stations locations worldwide. The closest Tesla Superchargers are located in Kingman and Flagstaff, Needles, California, and in Las Vegas and Primm, Nevada.

I applaud those who chose to purchase a vehicle they feel helps the environment. However, they are quick to forget that many of the power generating plants are powered by fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas and add to the greenhouse effect.

That defeats the purpose of purchasing an all electric vehicle.

Stop and think before plopping down a wad of cash to purchase a Tesla. You might not be saving as much money as you think and also may not be helping the environment.