A note on the downside of electric vehicles

A draft of 21.11 to add to the series.

Purpose. To signal the downside of electric vehicles before governments waste taxpayers money to promote them.

Governments around the western world are competing to adopt the most EV-friendly policies and the most aggressive legislation to drive conventional cars off the road.

There is a long list of problems with the rapid introduction of electric vehicles, especially if governments provide subsidies and other incentives, and these issues should be investigated and fully discussed in public to inform policy decisions.

Safety

Spare a thought for the road safety aspect of soundless cars that can accelerate like rockets. Consider the situation of pedestrians who are elderly or hard of hearing, and young children who may be careless crossing the street.

People who have experienced collisions and close calls with cyclists will appreciate the danger of missiles that do not make any noise to warn of their approach. This will be aggravated when the ownership of evs extends from the elite who drive them at present to the whole population including “hoons” and people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Fires in EVs are notoriously difficult to control.

In the event of natural disasters in the country, the power supply is likely to be one of the first casualties, and soon there will be the nightmarish prospect of emergency vehicles disabled by flat batteries, alongside civilian traffic in the same plight.

Social justice

Like the subsidies and the feedback tariff for rooftop solar, public funding of subsidies for the purchase of evs and providing charging infrastructure is a form of redistribution from people  who are often less well off than the beneficiaries who can afford to buy evs.

Human rights 

Major issues including child labour and toxic working conditions have emerged in connection with the mining and processing of minerals in Third World countries.

The additional electricity required

A study of the likely cost of supporting 100% EVs turned up astronomical numbers for the increased demand for electricity and the amount of additional installed capacity of wind and solar power required to provide it.  For some ballpark figures.

For example, in Germany, replacing 44 million cars would call for 30% more electric power and 40% more installed capacity  at a cost of  $US 230 Billion. Replacing 60GW of coal and nuclear power would call for some 140GW  of additional wind and solar power at a cost of 650 billion.

In the Netherlands replacing 8 million cars would require 21% more electricity and 24% more installed capacity at a cost of 27 billion.

In the UK, with 26 million cars the numbers are 36%, 50% and 140 billion.

For the US, 260 million cars, 30%, 44% and $1.4 trillion.

China, 154 million cars, $750 billion.

One of the aspirations is to use the cars as mass storage facilities in addition to their transport function. Some arithmetic suggests that all the cars in the UK could store almost 100 x power as the Dinorwig pumped hydro plant but to keep that figure in perspective it is only enough to power the UK for about a day. So after a couple of windless and sunless days the whole fleet would have dead batteries in the absence of conventional power.

Infrastructure

In addition to the cost of power, who would dare to estimate the cost of replacing or renovating the current system of service stations to provide charging stations. That would have to include the extra wiring and underground cabling.

Grid issues

There will be major problems of grid disruption in suburban streets when numbers of Teslas start to drain the grid in suburban streets,  on top of the increasing problem of grid stability caused by the loss of inertia and the fluctuations of wind and solar input.

Environmental impact

Upstream, the impact of mining, process, transport and construction, then downstream the disposal of millions of batteries in addition to the load of waste from windills.

The volume of minerals required

The numbers are staggering. For instance to meet some ambitious targets the Netherlands alone would need to use all the current world supply of rare earths and related minerals.

Check out this 5 minute video for a reminder of the amount of earthmoving (and energy) required, and other insoluble problems.

Geopolitical implications

Dependence on supply chains dominated by a potentially hostile dictatorship.

AND SO ON AND SO FORTH

This entry was posted in Electric Power and Energy, Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to A note on the downside of electric vehicles

  1. Snotball says:

    None of the dickheads proposing this or the politicians patronising it give a rats arse about any of the problems involved. All the former group see is endless profits and all the latter group see is political opportunity.

  2. Stu says:

    Most of the issues you address are solved by PHEV’s such as the RAV4 Prime. The cost of such a car is only marginally higher than a regular ICE so there’s no need for a subsidy (total cost of ownership is far lower). And I would love it if they solved the incremental generation problem by building nuclear reactors but I’m afraid such a rational policy will never happen in Australia unfortunately.

  3. Simple Simon says:

    You assume that the goal is to maintain the current convenience of private automobile transportation.

    More likely, it is to restrict ownership or access or both to the elite and leave the mass of the population without private automobiles and reliant on public transport, if permitted.

    That will solve your problem of

    the ownership of evs extend[ing] from the elite who drive them at present to the whole population

    Unless the people fight back we will be in a North Korean type of situation where the top of the elite only get t0 move around in dedicated vehicles.

  4. stevem says:

    Some idiot in the US recently left his Tesla in “autopilot” and wrapped it around a tree. The battery pack was damaged and caught fire. Each time it was extinguished it reignited. Eventually the fire was extinguished, but not before the exasperated fire brigade had dumped over 120,000l of water on it.

  5. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV) says:

    In the event of natural disasters in the country, the power supply is likely to be one of the first casualties, and soon there will be the nightmarish prospect of emergency vehicles disabled by flat batteries, alongside civilian traffic in the same plight.

    In the event of war the entire country can be brought to a stand still just by knocking out a few power stations.

  6. Primer says:

    If you don’t own a 4wd that does 900km on a tank of diesel on the road and takes 10 minutes to fill, can carry 40′ ladder, has space for 2 wheelie bins, can tow an 18′ tinny with, can pull 2 ton logs to the splitter…. then you don’t own a vehicle, just an inner city toy.
    I do want to see the electrics crossing with water over the grill.
    If you can’t afford $140 to fill her up, that’s the cross you have to bear. I’m ecstatic to pay what I have to for the amenity

  7. Entropy says:

    You assume that the goal is to maintain the current convenience of private automobile transportation.

    Quite so

  8. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Another article today on life cycle assessment of electric cars, which finds pretty much the same as previous LCAs: electric cars save no CO2 emissions at all, and may even be higher emitters than comparable ICE cars.

    An Inconvenient Truth: EVs May Offer A “Negligible” CO2 Difference From ICE Vehicles (5 Jun)

    Their analysis “details the tremendous amount of energy (and by extension CO2) needed to manufacture a lithium-ion battery.” Because a typical EV is on average 50% heavier than a similar internal combustion engine, the analysis notes that the “embedded carbon” in an EV (i.e., when it rolls off the lot) is therefore 20–50% more than an internal combustion engine.

    “Incidentally, Tesla’s Model 3 warranty covers the battery for the lesser of eight years or 120,000 miles and does not apply until the battery has degraded by at least 30%. If the Jefferies analysis is correct (and we believe it is), then an EV will reach carbon-emission parity with an internal-combustion vehicle just as its battery requires replacement. This will come as a huge disappointment for those believing that EV adoption will have significant impacts on CO2 reduction.”

    And if you have to replace the battery after 200,000 km then you are up for a very substantial cost which petrol cars do not require.

  9. PB says:

    People living in cooler climes (Canadians, Scots…well anywhere that has substantial snow) have been known to become stranded during blizzards and such, sometimes with quite long waits while help gets through. The car heater is a life saver when this happens, and the fossil fuel power station under the bonnet can run it for quite a long time if the car is standing still. A battery running an element in severe cold? Not so much.

  10. mem says:

    A Note on the Downside of EVs

    Are there any up sides? A genuine question.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Are there any up sides? A genuine question.

    They’re quiet, and have enormous acceleration. Not to be sniffed at.

    I’ve said often that Telsa makes sense as a prestige marque. The big boys like Lotus et al are now bringing out high end sports EVs, and they’d be a lot of fun.

  12. Bad Samaritan says:

    stu (3.28pm). As I don’t know much about PHEVs, I googled them, and found the following info…..

    “Mass-produced PHEVs were available to the public in China and the United States since 2010.[3][4][5] By the end of 2017, there were over 40 models of highway-legal series-production PHEVs for retail sales, and are available mainly in China, Japan, the United States, Canada and Western Europe. The top-selling models are the Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV, the Chevrolet Volt family and the Toyota Prius PHV.[6]……..As of December 2019, China had the world’s largest stock of PHEVs with 767,900 units, followed by the United States with 567,740, and the United Kingdom with 159,910″

    The US has over 260 million passenger vehicles registered. About 0.4% are PHEVs. After ten years of activists etc pushing them.

    This looks good (or promising) in what way?

  13. Entropy says:

    Agree Bruce. Lovely second car/ hobby.
    As long as everyone else isn’t required to pay for them, or worse, make everyone else’s car choices more expensive, why not?

  14. Baa Humbug says:

    None of this shit will happen. Reality will hit the road and EV’s will be inner city toys for progressive city leaders.
    The most they will come up with will be like those bike renting scams in inner cities where by local law, only EV’s will be allowed in the city limits. You’ll park nearby then hail a self driving EV to get around the city.

  15. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    Are there any up sides?

    None that I’m aware of, although as noted above, the goal is clearly to abolish “the current convenience of private automobile transportation”. Mandating EVs is the perfect way to do this, mainly because the electrickery grid will have collapsed by the time the former are compulsory. In the interim, ICE vehicles will simply be taxed and legislated out of existence, aided by deliberately engineered fuel shortages.

    If your a self declared member of the nomenklatura (or a greenfilth imbecile), these are worthy public policy goals. For everyone else, not so much.

  16. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    They’re quiet

    Too quiet, to use a cliché. There’s a push on to make sure that they generate some form of additional noise so that idiots walking around looking at their mobile phones (and not paying attention to their surroundings) won’t be run down en masse.

  17. Lee says:

    I am surprised M0nty hasn’t already turned up to tell us we’re all wrong about EV.

  18. Roger W says:

    You don’t really think that this has anything at all to do with logic, rational thought or good outcomes, do you?
    Follow the money and follow the power…

  19. Mark M says:

    If you just bought an electric car to save the planet, or virtue signal by saying you will … and are eating insects or fake meat to save the planet … or planning to have Friday off school to attend a doomsday global warming protest, you’ve just been offset …

    World’s coal producers now planning more than 400 new mines – research
    https://www.reuters.com/world/china/worlds-coal-producers-now-planning-more-than-400-new-mines-research-2021-06-03/

  20. wal1957 says:

    Great summation Rafe.
    I have a query regarding some of your data eg Germany…”Replacing 60GW of coal and nuclear power would call for some 140GW of additional wind and solar power”

    I know in OZ that wind/solar regularly drops to 5% of rated capacity- (sometimes lower). I would have thought that other countries are much the same? If that’s the case then wouldn’t you need roughly 20 times the capacity of wind/solar to make up for the loss of nuclear and coal? Otherwise there would be times when the grid cannot supply demand.
    So in the case of Germany you would need 20x60GW=1200GW for some form of reliabilty. Even then there would still be the odd occasion when demand would outstrip supply – yes/no?

  21. Bill says:

    Some commentators here have hit the nail on the head. The entire point of this ev thing and ruinable power along with the plandemic is to depopulate, get rid of the middle class, impoverish the rest, and only the elites and their hangers on will have the usual communist/fascist privileges. Control and power is everything, and the useful idiots assisting in the promotion and promulgation of all of this will be the first to be lined up and shot if they protest too much.

    High density high rise cities are also very useful in population control.

  22. mundi says:

    If you look at world lithium reserves, there is barely enough lithium for all cars to go EV, let alone all vehicles, let alone cobalt.

    My own analysis suggests that EV cars cannot reach past 25% of world production in any year. The simple fact is there are only a few hundred years of lithium to mine, and its mining is still in infancy, compare that to coal which still has millenia to mine – and its mined rate is higher than ever and dwarfs lithium by many orders of magnitude.

    Every other resource that is constrained in that way simply skyrockets in price until its usage declines. No one is going to be selling lithium cheap when we are down to less than 50% of conventional reserves – which will be in just a few years based on the ramp ups we are seeing.

  23. Stu says:

    If you compare the RAV4 Prime to a comparable ICE RAV4 or Tesla Model Y then the RAV4 Prime is superior in almost every way; except for towing capacity. Slightly more expensive to buy than the ICE but far cheaper in running costs over the lifetime of the vehicle and you only ever have to fill up when you take long trips. They produce roughly the same CO2 emissions over their lifetime compared to the Tesla but don’t need to be pushed with subsidies.

    I want to say this again because I think it’s the best feature: you only every use petrol when you go on a long trip. For most city people, that means you’re using the electric engine 95% of the time and you’d never have to go to the petrol station during that time. This is another way of saying that three quarters of a Tesla’s battery capacity is there only to be used on long trips. For the rest of the time, it’s a very expensive and heavy brick.

  24. Stu says:

    My last comment was for Bad Samaritan.

  25. Boambee John says:

    the load of waste from windills

    Interesting neologism. Freudian?

  26. Boambee John says:

    Stu

    For most city people, that means you’re using the electric engine 95% of the time and you’d never have to go to the petrol station during that time.

    Make sure you do not use petrol containing ethanol, then. The ethanol absorbs water, and eventually your engine will die at an important time from too much water. This happens a lot with outboard motors at the end of winter, first use in the new season, stuck waiting for a tow.

  27. Entropy says:

    That is right Stu.
    However, you are not taking into account the desire of policy makers to reach their EV utopia as soon as they can legislate, no matter how many people get screwed over on the way. They regard hybrids as a temporary, interim measure that maybe even conflicts with their perfect vision. They will end up on the stake with the rest of us.

  28. Rafe Champion says:

    wal1957, quite correct, to keep it simple I took the numbers out of the link that I provided. In view of the wind droughts that descend on W Europe for many days on end they can never build enough installed capacity. This might become inescapable when they close some more coal or nuclear stations, unless they make good the shortfall with Russian gas. It is the old story, RE can displace coal but can’t replace it!

  29. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Stu – Electricity for EVs is already more expensive than petrol in most places. The closure of refineries seems to’ve caused the death of the petrol price cycle lately though, which has given electricity a recent edge. Not if you need to use a fast charger though.

    And it is certain that increased electricity prices are coming, the empirical relationship is clear in the data.

    Road pricing for EVs is also on the way, ie the equivalent of petrol excise. If you deducted excise off the petrol price EV’s would be awesomely uncompetitive.

  30. Stu says:

    Entropy I think what you say is absolutely right. Although we seem to have resisted the worst of it so far in Australia.

  31. Stu says:

    Bruce I’ve been talking about PHEV’s – not straight EV’s. PHEV’s have no need for fast charging. And if you’re only charging overnight then that should be far easier for most grids to handle. Also, when calculating costs you need to add servicing costs so don’t forget that. I question your assertion about electricity prices vs petrol prices per kilometre.

  32. Squirrel says:

    Leccy flivvers seem to be ever so popular with early middle and middle age blokes with a bad case of middle class gilt (and too much money burning a hole in their pocket).

    They’re agog at every grossly over-hyped technological breakthrough, and will earnestly explain how any problems/drawbacks – of the sort outlined above – are imaginary or propaganda from the evil Murdoch empire. It’s like a cult, with Elon as the leader.

  33. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    I question your assertion about electricity prices vs petrol prices per kilometre.

    I’ve done that calc many times, usually on the open thread on the basis of my humble Mazda 3 (which gets about 7 L/100 km vs a Tesla 3 about 20 kWh/100 km.

    The retail electricity price listed on my bill is 34.859 c/kWh including GST. So 20 kWh is $7. Therefore at $1/L there’s parity EXCEPT the Tesla currently pays no excise. If you prorate the excise of 43.2 c/L to the electricity cost you now cross at about $1.40/L petrol price.

    The fast charger cost I linked that Tesla presently is charging is 52 c/kWh. That also doesn’t include excise. Excise is of course intended for road maintenance.

    By comparison Germany with about 35% renewables has an electricity price of 48c/kWh (Oz dollars).

    It’s a no brainer. EVs are or very soon will be more expensive to run than petrol vehicles.

    As for PHEVs, I don’t have any beef with them, there’s much good in having a battery to allow regenerative braking. But they still are going to make most sense as a petrol-electric not as a plug-in because of the electricity price issue. Which is going to get a lot worse if there’s substantial EV load appearing on the grid even as renewable targets are being chased.

    Then there’s battery replacement, as I mentioned upthread. That’s painful. My Mazda is 14 years old and is doing fine. That’s a battery lifetime and a half for a EV.

  34. Seco says:

    So a person/family who can’t afford a new EV or a first time car buyer? What do they do?

    As mentioned above there is no intention of a 1-1 conversion of EV to ICE. It’s vehicles for the wealthy and the rest ride share or catch a bus or train.

    It’s so damned obvious.

  35. Nob says:

    EVs will fill some useful niches, as they are already doing with indoor forklifts, mobility scooters and the like.

    Even some small excavators, especially when working near to a power source .

  36. Gerry says:

    Apparently, the amount of raw materials and the geopolitical strains attached will be the problem …I agree with Mundi

  37. Forester says:

    Simple Simon says at 3:34 pm

    Unless the people fight back we will be in a North Korean type of situation where the top of the elite only get t0 move around in dedicated vehicles.

    The UK zero 2050 plan bans international airline flights.

    Likely to except public servants travelling to climate change conferences.

  38. Tel says:

    As for PHEVs, I don’t have any beef with them, there’s much good in having a battery to allow regenerative braking. But they still are going to make most sense as a petrol-electric not as a plug-in because of the electricity price issue. Which is going to get a lot worse if there’s substantial EV load appearing on the grid even as renewable targets are being chased.

    You can get substantially cheaper electricity overnight, although that might change … as they shut down they coal plants that excess overnight power will be removed from the grid. One way or another electricity prices will go up, but the on-peak / off-peak ratio is difficult to guess.

  39. Rockdoctor says:

    Infrastructure
    In addition to the cost of power, who would dare to estimate the cost of replacing or renovating the current system of service stations to provide charging stations. That would have to include the extra wiring and underground cabling.

    What is their plan for remote aeas, like the whole northern, central & NW parts of Australia?

    No way wind mills & solar panels will a viable alternative yet.

    In North Queensland draw a line from Cairns to Charters Towersthen straight to Glenden, from there through Clermont & Emerald. Anywhere west or north of that and the infrastructure is rare and only on main supply routes. Everywhere else diesel gensets.

    EV’s are a half baked idea. IMO we are putting the cart before the horse and a few generations off mastering the technology…

  40. Boxcar says:

    An email from Vicroads yesterday.
    Boundless hyprocrisy.
    What are they up to??

    I am writing to you as a current registered owner of a conventional hybrid to let you know the Government will conclude the $100 annual registration discount for conventional hybrid vehicles from 1 July 2021.

    You do not need to do anything as a result of this change. It just means that at your next registration renewal for vehicle 1DAN666, your registration charge will revert to the standard light vehicle registration charge. This will also be detailed on your next registration renewal notice. Because your vehicle is a conventional hybrid vehicle, a new road user charge applying to electric and hydrogen vehicles and to plug-in hybrid vehicles from 1 July will not apply to your vehicle.

    This change has occurred as part of the Victorian Governments path to net zero emissions by 2050. With the increased availability of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the Government is realigning financial incentives to ensure they support the uptake of vehicles powered predominantly by environmentally friendly alternatives to fuel.

  41. Andre Lewis says:

    Hybrids might make sense. My GLC 300e can be charged on an ordinary powerpoint overnight and gives about 48km range – enough for local commuting. For trips to the coast or longer the 2 litre engine does the job and the battery charges when braking. It does make sense running coast wise and only $4000 more than the non hybrid model. A dedicated EV is not practical in Australia except for the wealthier green/left city dwellers.

  42. Kneel says:

    “It does make sense running coast wise and only $4000 more than the non hybrid model.”

    You could get a pure petrol one converted to LPG for the same money. The liquid port injected systems available now suffer NO loss of performance when running on LPG.
    LPG is anywhere from half to two thirds the price of petrol, depending on where the discount cycle is and you will use just a little bit more LPG than petrol to cover the same distance. Auto LPG pumps are available in lots of places, and providing you get an adapter hose, you can also dump a BBQ bottle of LPG into it to get you where you need to go, or keep the petrol as well (dual fuel) if you can afford the loss of boot space, which also not quite doubles the range.
    LPG is safe, clean, environmentally friendlier than diesel or petrol, widely available and cheap – the biggest cost is the up-front conversion, which I estimate I would get back in under two years based on the km I do and my car, but your pay back time would obviously vary. If your vehicle is turbo-charged or high compression, then LPG is equivalent to at least 104 RON fuel, so fully compatible and potentially allows for increased performance with additional modifications – and the above pricing is based on E-10 petrol, not 95 or 98, so if you need to run one of those, the savings will be even more and the pay-back time less.
    Plus you are burning what would otherwise be flared off at the refinery – LPG is (maximum) 40% butane, of which refineries produce way too much to ever get sold, so even ignoring the reduced CO2 output on LPG (relatively less C and more H than petrol), you are still doing the environment a favour using it.

  43. Fair Shake says:

    Addressing the EV sound-less safety issue. OEMs are aware of this and taking steps to address. Some are Including a chip to make whatever noise the manufacturer feels best fits. I expect initially the sound produced will be similar to ICE vehicles 🚗 so as pedestrians automatically know it’s a vehicle approaching. This sound over time is expected to change dramatically to potentially symphonic sounds, greensleeves Anyone? Engineers and music / sound specialists are working with a blank canvas on what noise could be used. This will be an interesting area to watch/hear over the coming decade. Stay tuned folks.

  44. Bad Samaritan says:

    stu (many posts on this thread) I googled again, for the RAV4 Prime…

    From May 2021: “Toyota Australia has no fixed plan to launch plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) such as the popular-overseas RAV4 Prime, citing the technology’s high cost and the added complexity of charging as deterrents.

    But it also says it doesn’t oppose PHEVs and will “inevitably” offer them down the line as part of a broader hybrid, battery electric, and hydrogen fuel-cell mix ”

    So why are you so keen on them for Oz, stu?

    Then I read the following; “The 2021 Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has failed an emergency swerve-and-avoid “moose test” by Swedish motoring magazine Teknikens Värld.

    The experiment – which tests a vehicle’s ability to safely avoid a hazard, such as a moose – has been standardised since the late 1990s, and requires a car to swerve between cones at incrementally higher speeds without skidding out of control.

    Becoming visibly unstable at 63km/h, the Toyota RAV4 mid-size SUV was unable to negotiate the course when travelling above 68km/h.….

    The media outlet described the results as “dangerous” and “significantly worse than the regular RAV4 hybrid.”

    Recall, I asked why PHEVs were so unpopular? Maybe the average driver doesn’t want to die at 68kph, eh stu?

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