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Tags: electric vehicles | economical | ecological

Nothing Economical or Ecological About Electric Cars

charging area for electric cars on street
(Andrey Popov/Dreamstime.com

Larry Bell By Wednesday, 02 February 2022 08:46 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

If you like the idea of owning an electric vehicle (EV) and can afford one, then go for it!

And if luxuriating on virtue signaling or shaming points with neighbors and friends brightens your day — well, that's okay too, even though they're helping you pay for it.

But forgo any illusions that in doing so you will achieve any real net mileage efficiency advantages; confidently plan to take any long trips without long interim recharging delays; think of it as any sort of trade-in investment; or benefit either the climate or environment in any conceivable way.

Electricity Doesn't Come Free

Agencies of the Biden administration are pushing for a mythical transformation from hydrocarbon fueled vehicles and power sources to so-called "green" and "clean" all-electric alternatives in the interest of achieving "net zero" vegetation-nourishing carbon emissions.

This global climate salvation is somehow to be accomplished by switching over from the 85% of reliable world energy that comes from fossil sources by increasing from the 3% of seasonal and weather dependent wind and solar systems.

On top of that, the idea is to replace the current 98% of petroleum fueled cars and trucks incentivized by government subsidies and mandates that grow the current 2% of electric vehicles (EVs), add them to already overloaded power grids, and depend on China which controls 85% of the world supply of rare earth minerals required for all those intermittent solar, wind and EV batteries.

EPA's latest de facto EV mandate proposes to require the current 2% of those magical "free energy" plug-ins to make up 17% of the market by 2026.

Keep in mind that most of the energy needed to recharge those EVs at night and when the wind isn't blowing will come from already skyrocketing global coal and natural gas power plant sources with no thanks to the Biden administration's war on abundant fossil fuels.

Starting in June 2022, following power shortages caused by adding thousands of plug-ins to their grid, the U.K. will employ smart meters that are programmed to automatically switch off EV charging in peak times to avoid potential blackouts. In addition to determining when and if an EV can be charged, the technology can even allow EV batteries to be nonvoluntarily drained to help make it through periods of power shortfall.

Individually metered EV chargers will also enable them to be charged and taxed at a higher rate than domestic electricity to discourage excess driving.

Plan for Long Trip Timeouts

There's little wonder why most EV owners purchase them as a second car. They are wealthy enough to afford two vehicles and retain a petroleum fueled model for long single-day highway trips.

Imagine, for example, the time required to drive farther than 270 miles — the range of a Tesla on a single charge — necessitating at least one stopover at an assumed available interim recharging location. In this case, estimate that while it will take only 4.5 hours to travel that first 270-mile link, plan for up to an additional hour for a battery recharge ... assuming an available supercharge station will be open where and when needed.

That average EV recharging time and range will depend upon seasonal locale temperatures.

Batteries yield about 20% less energy in cold conditions, explaining why most EV owners live in temperate and semi-tropical climates ... half in California alone.

According to AAA, cold weather can cut EV range by 12%, a loss that leaps to 41% with the heater on full blast. Running the air conditioner in hot weather takes a similar toll on trip efficiency.

No Cost or Trade-in Bargains

Any claims of environmental or economic benefits, much less practical consumer EV advantages, are electrifyingly unplugged from practical realities.

The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that EV drivers not only pay more, but also put about half as many miles on their cars as the average driver.

The research suggests EV's limited range along with prolonged and limited recharging options have resulted in their use as secondary — not primary — household vehicles.

According to the Kelley Blue Book, the present average EV cost of $51,532 is more than $11,000 higher than a full-sized gas-powered car, and nearly $30,000 more than the average compact car.

EVs are no bargain for carmakers either. Most auto manufacturers are losing about $10,000 to $12,000 more on average for EVs over gas-powered cars, which they compensate for by charging more for the internal combustion trucks and SUVs that the vast majority of Americans still prefer.

On the resale end, an average on-the-road 12-year-old used EV will be on its second or third new battery before an owner can sell it. With a Tesla battery typically costing about $10,000, the resale price will likely have to be significantly higher than that of a comparably aged and sized internal combustion model in similar condition.

Global demand for essential rare earth battery minerals is also driving up EV production costs, with nickel — which is a primary component of lithium-ion cathodes — having nearly doubled over the past five years from $10,336 per metric ton in August 2016 to $19,141 in Aug. 2021.

Although most of those rare earths are imported from China, it's not as if America doesn't have rare earths of our own ... we have plenty.

The problem is that environmental activists don't want us to mine them, and the Biden administration is considering a 20-year delay of new rare earth mining operations in northern Minnesota.

And Forget About Any Environmental EV Benefits

All those rare earth materials must be mined and processed somewhere. Much of that somewhere is China ... which now also has access to enormous Afghanistan reserves following the Biden administration's helter-skelter withdrawal and abandonment of our vital strategic Bagram Air Field.

Consider that each Tesla-class EV battery requires mining, moving, and processing more than 500,000 pounds of materials: 20 times the amount a typical petroleum engine uses over the life of a car.

Put another way, averaged over a 1,000-pound battery's life, each mile of driving an EV ''consumes'' about five pounds of earth moved by hydrocarbons.

Also keep in mind that meeting those green new delusions will add enormously to the tonnage of U.S. and global waste ... countless millions of tons of batteries, including toxic rare earth elements — such as dysprosium they contain — will become landfill garbage.

So, in summary, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with EV plug-ins if you can afford them, if they fit your relatively limited range driving needs, and if you either don't rely on them as your only vehicle or imagine you can count on reliable, weather independent, recharging sources.

But as for the rest of us, forcing taxpayers to subsidize such purchases with federal and state tax credits as auto companies pass along losses for EVs we don't want in higher prices for the petroleum-fueled version we may logically prefer is merely a costly shell game that we can't afford to tolerate.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 11 books, "Beyond Flagpoles and Footprints: Pioneering the Space Frontier" co-authored with Buzz Aldrin (2021), is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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Any claims of environmental or economic benefits, much less practical consumer EV advantages, are electrifyingly unplugged from practical realities.
electric vehicles, economical, ecological
Wednesday, 02 February 2022 08:46 AM
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