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Pondering the True Cost of Electric Vehicles

Pondering the True Cost of Electric Vehicles
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Monday, 25 September 2017 07:21 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There is something distinctly American about our relationship with our cars and the open road. The freedom to go where we want, when we want, on our own schedule.

Aside from the flag, there’s probably no greater symbol of freedom in America than the automobile.

The freedom and individuality expressed through America’s car culture has fascinated me all my life, and I’m fortunate that I have been able to turn that fascination into a career as an analyst of all things car related as “The Car Coach.”

What concerns me, though, is what activists and government regulators are doing to this symbol of freedom and what it is and will cost us.

Organizations like the Sierra Club and billionaire zealots like Elon Musk and Tom Steyer along with government regulators tells us that electric cars are the wave of the future. They want to force electric cars on us for our own good and for the good of the planet. Sure, that’s progress, if your definition of progress is taking several steps backward.

While some of the very first cars invented were battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs), they could only travel short distances. As times changed and infrastructure improved, however, the limited range electric cars lost out to the less expensive gasoline-powered vehicles that offered Americans the freedom to go further.

It’s no different today. EVs limit Americans’ freedom to travel with many averaging around 100 miles per charge. And it takes hours to recharge them. Just imagine taking a road trip or family driving vacation and having to stop every 100 miles to find a charging station.

EVs are also comparatively far more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, both when purchased, and over the lifetime of the vehicle. The total cost of ownership for a 2015 compact EV, for example, is 44% higher than a gas powered car and 60% higher in the case of a mid-size. These costs include vehicle costs, insurance, maintenance, fuel, fees, etc.

Other financial costs associated with EVs include the government subsidies that go into promoting their sales. The federal government offers a tax break of between $2500 and $7500 for the purchase of an EV. Given the cost of EVs, a lot of these tax breaks don’t go to average Americans, but rather wealthy Americans who don’t really need the tax break. In effect, Americans struggling just to get by are being forced tosupport the lifestyle of the wealthiest among us. California recently tried to pass legislation that would have created an additional $3 billion in EV subsidies.

These are not the only costs associated with EVs. While advocates for these vehicle tell us they are good for the environment because they’re “green” and “renewable,” the fact of the matter is there are environmental and human costs associated with the production and disposal of the batteries that power EVs. The minerals needed to produce them are most readily found in places with unstable governments or that aren’t friendly to the United States, like Congo and China. These nations also don’t have the environmental or labor protections we have here, which makes production less costly but also much more dangerous.

The Cobalt used in EV batteries is mined primarily in Congoand is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death. Simply eating vegetables grown in tainted local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area. Soil samples taken from the mining area by doctors show the region to be among the ten most polluted in the world.

In addition, children as young as four-years-old are put to work in these mines. The United Nations estimates that at least 80 children a year die in these mines, but many more deaths go unregistered. Often these young workers are buried and die in the rubble of collapsed mine tunnels.

A 2013 joint study by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy that batteries that use cobalt and other minerals have the highest potential for environmental impactssuch as resource depletion, global warming, ecological toxicity, and human health impacts.”

In China, the 2000 tons of toxic waste created to produce one ton of rare earth metals is contaminating wells and is endangering the Yellow River, a major source for drinking water in China. The situation near one of the mines has gotten so bad that the Chinese company responsible for the mining began relocating farmers away from waste ponds.

In the case of lithium, both environmental and government organizations have said that salar brines, the most cost-effective way to mine lithium, are harmful to the environment.

EVs are not nearly as “green” or “clean” as they are marketed to be. There are also numerous financial costs involved, even for the companies that make them. The CEO of Fiat Chrysler encouraged consumers to not buy Fiat Chrysler’s 500 electric vehicle because he lost $14,000 every time one was sold.

The cost of giving up the freedom of a car and the open road for the price of these so-called “green” vehicles just doesn’t make any sense, especially as automakers in Detroit and around the world continue to find new ways to make gas powered vehicles run cleaner and more efficiently, and we’re constantly finding cheaper, cleaner ways to produce oil and gas.

As Americans, we pride ourselves on our freedom and individuality. And, there’s still no greater expression of that than through our cars. We should be thinking twice before we give that up. It’s because of our cars that a lot of us discover America. We shouldn’t let activists and government bureaucratsplace limits on our freedom.

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach® is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. Post your comments on Twitter: @LaurenFix or on her Facebook Page.

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LaurenFix
The cost of giving up the freedom of a car and the open road for the price of these so-called “green” vehicles just doesn’t make any sense.
electric, vehicles, car, auto
1001
2017-21-25
Monday, 25 September 2017 07:21 AM
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