The truth about electric cars

Earlier this week we had a the head of a car manufacturer visit us and give us a couple of talks. The first thing I noticed was that he didn’t immediately start apologising for what his company does or grovel at the feet of our moral guardians and beg for forgiveness. Instead, he unashamedly said his company made cars of which they’re proud, and said the automobile represented an enormous leap in personal liberty. The fact that this was refreshing says a lot about modern corporations, whose CEOs are often found wringing  their hands while preaching moralistic piffle to placate a noisy minority who think any economic activity which makes people happy is evil. This chap was doing none of that, which made me like him right away.

Rather than speak about his company’s products, he instead spoke about the two major challenges the automobile industry is facing: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. On electric vehicles, he said pretty much the same as I have (1, 2) in that the battery technology is nowhere near mature enough to make the switch now, and probably won’t be for at least 20 years. He compared the power to weight ratio of Tesla’s batteries with the internal combustion engine in his company’s vehicles, as well as their respective useful lives. He thought there will be some improvements with a move to solid-state batteries, but without some sort of hydrogen cell electric cars aren’t going to replace petrol and diesel. He also spoke about the environmental effects of making, recycling, and disposing of batteries for the 100 million cars which are produced every year, including the mining of lithium. None of this will be new to readers of my blog. He didn’t go into the amount of copper that would be required to provide charging points in domestic streets on a national scale, but he did ask where the electricity was going to come from and whether it’s not a case of just shifting pollution from cities to somewhere else. I found all this interesting because it is so out of whack with current policy, which seems to be based on the notion that electric cars are just around the corner. This is from the BBC today:

A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars should be brought forward by eight years to 2032, MPs have said.

The government’s current plans to ensure all new cars are “effectively zero emission” by 2040 were “vague and unambitious”, a report by Parliament’s business select committee said.

It also criticised cuts to subsidies and the lack of charging points.

The government said it aimed to make the UK “the best place in the world” to own an electric vehicle.

Politicians seem to think technological barriers to electric cars can be overcome by sheer force of will, as if car manufacturers are sitting on the solutions but are reluctant to apply them. I don’t know who is advising them, but given how the hard sciences have been corrupted by environmentalists and every institution in the land captured by lefties, it’s not too hard to imagine what form government consultations on electric cars takes. Even if they roped in a few representatives of car manufacturers, they’d probably just cave in under NGO and government bullying and tell them what they want to hear (with one eye on their pension and retirement date). My guess is these efforts will run into a brick wall, government-backed schemes will be scrapped having wasted millions in taxpayer cash, and the public will be left high and dry with the cars they’ve bought as official policy collapses into a confusing mess.

What our guest said about autonomous cars I shall write in another post.

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70 thoughts on “The truth about electric cars

  1. ’The fact that this was refreshing says a lot about modern corporations, whose CEOs are often found wringing their hands while preaching moralistic piffle to placate a noisy minority who think any economic activity which makes people happy is evil.’

    In the wake of Waitrose and Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s grovelling to the offended and renaming/deep sixing advertising the snowflakes whines about, this is indeed good news.

  2. “having wasted millions in taxpayer cash”

    Someone’s wasted cash is someone else’s government or government-mandated contracts, political financing and “speaking fees”. Surely nobody is naive enough to think any of it is about EV as such?

  3. They don’t care. Announcing things 14 or 22 years away is meaningless. Any politician who does it, without a plan is just virtue signalling. They won’t be around to explain the failure.

    It’s like Obama announcing that Americans will go to Mars by the 2030s but there’s no real funding for it. NASA just keep spending money on funky animations

  4. I read somewhere it takes 5kw of electricity to make a gallon of petrol,Well 5kw of electricity would power my electric bicycle for about 450 miles, I know its not a car. But i think cars need redesigning along the lines of say a Messerschmitt tiger , Suvs weighing 3 tonnes are a ridiculous waste of energy,I have a velomobile and i,m 68 and can pedal at 20 mph , anyway i,ll stop my geriatric rant, i dont recommend threewheelers , you cant avoid potholes

  5. “Wasted millions”
    More like wasted hundreds of millions. The fact it takes productive economic activity to generate that is neither here nor there to those people.

    In my MBA we had the head of TimeWarnerAOL, newly merged, come to tell us how great a merger it was. And we know how that turned out. The thing is…. the internet has increased well being many fold. Environmentalism did so when it was about pollution. Now it’s about co2 it’s like the TWAOL merger, pointless but gets lots of people rich on other peoples money.

  6. the public will be left high and dry with the cars they’ve bought

    You mean like the British Government urging people to buy diesel cars because they were so environmentally friendly and then punishing them via taxation a few years later?

    The trouble is that ALL Governments are so wedded to easy money/taxation – look at the cost of petrol in the UK and the proportion of that cost that is tax – that as soon as they see a drop in revenue from tax free electric cars, they will be brought into the tax regime to make up the difference.

    Robbo (above) points out the weight of modern vehicles but much of the weight is because of government mandated safety features and environmental regulations. They also decrease the reliability and increase the complexity of the item. A lot of the clever electronics and reduction in wiring is driven by the need to reduce the weight of the car to deliver the mandated fuel consumption figures. The mulitplexing and computer control of everything from electric windows to running lights contributes to the weight reduction but decreases the reliability. You will pay a LOT of money to have an electrical problem sorted on a new car.

    And that is before we get onto the problem of generating and distributing the electricity to recharge the things.

  7. “…in that the battery technology is nowhere near mature enough to make the switch now, and probably won’t be for at least 20 years”

    This is missing the point. Battery technology is about as good as it can get, and all that remains is tinkering with production optimsation, e.g. use less blood-cobalt, try to stop them exploding so often, etc.

    Batteries will NEVER be much better than the ones we now have, regardless of time. You canna break the laws of Physics Cap’n.

    What is needed is an entirely new set of Physics to find a new energy store mechanism. Good luck with that.

    Hydrogen fuel cells are just drivel. Hydrogen is insanely inefficient to store and leaks are explosive at pretty much any concentration. You can formulate the hydrogen from a hydrocarbon base, but then you have a machine turning petrol into work, just like and ICE, only not so good.

    Electric cars remain a niche for shopping trolleys. Can you imagine road transport: 38 ton HGV using batteries!

    And as the car man said, it just moves the power station from under the bonent to where you cannot see it.

    There isnt a problem to solve anyway, since catalytic convertors were mandated, petrol car exhaust is cleaner than the city air going in. The only remaining problem is particulates, from diesels, and ther governements chose that!

  8. I live in a windy part of the uk and i like cycling,So what did i do i built a recumbent …… 50% less frontal area enabling me to cycle in head winds,What is needed with cars is a radical design change , aerodynamics and rolling resistance are the most important aspects…. have you ever tried too push a modern car with its wide low profile tyres, if you ask someone with little resources to make something they will innovate!

  9. Both electric and self driving cars are shite.

    The bloke wasted your time Tim. I hope your school –or whatever–charged him for the time he wasted flapping his gums.

  10. What our guest said about autonomous cars I shall write in another post

    Human-controlled slave vehicle convoys possibly in the next ten years, actual general-purpose go-anywhere ‘get in drunk and have it take you home’ / ‘put the kids in it and have it drive them to grandma’s’ robo-taxis at least 60-100 years away, possibly never.

  11. robbo,

    “But i think cars need redesigning along the lines of say a Messerschmitt tiger”

    I reckon this is what Dyson is doing with cars. He’s got it under wraps but he’s very much saying this it doesn’t look like a car.

  12. “this is what Dyson is doing with cars. He’s got it under wraps but he’s very much saying this it doesn’t look like a car.”

    Has James Dyson been seen talking to Clive Sinclair?

  13. I read somewhere it takes 5kw of electricity to make a gallon of petrol,Well 5kw of electricity would power my electric bicycle for about 450 miles,

    err, 5kW is a unit of power, not energy 😉

  14. “Can you imagine road transport: 38 ton HGV using batteries!”
    Easily. It’s a sector of road transport could relatively easily migrate to electric. It’s not hard to imagine backing the tractor unit onto a swappable battery module as a substitute for a fuel stop. Or even incorporating the battery pack in the trailer unit – recharged during the loading/unloading cycle – with the tractor unit having a separate battery to provide limited independent motility. The freight transport industry’d be much better placed to cope with electric because use profiles are planned & much more predictable.
    @Robbo
    “What is needed with cars is a radical design change , aerodynamics and rolling resistance are the most important aspects”
    You’re about 20-30 years late. Automotive designers are pretty well on the edge of what’s possible with aerodynamics. Drag coefficients are approaching zero. That’s why all cars started to look the same shape. If you’re going to put an enclosure around 4 or 5 people sitting upright the solution’s the same, whatever the badge on the front says. Yes, you can reduce drag further by putting the occupants in semi recumbant. It’s called a sports-car. Been building those for a century or more.
    Likewise, the rolling resitance is as minimal as possible. Sure. You could go back to Morris thousand rims & tyres. And do all your cornering at 10mph or go straight on. Replacing the window glass with cellophane might help reduce mass as well.

  15. “That’s why all cars started to look the same shape. If you’re going to put an enclosure around 4 or 5 people sitting upright” When was the last time you saw 4 people in a car… check out velomobiles on you tube … i have one there not for the shy attract mor attention than a ferrari!

  16. The Sinclair C5 probably had better fuel efficiency than current cars, and were soon recycled by a cornering HGV.
    This is Ostrich politics of the worst sort. Move the fossil fuel consumption into power stations where you cannot see them, hey presto, green power!
    Anyone thinking windmills can supply had better learn some arithmetic. Ignoring road transport and just counting grid, 80% of UK power is gas, not electric, and of the 20% electric, only a fraction of that comes from wind, except when we get a polar high and it gets very cold and calm. For a week or two.
    I am reminded of the US law that made ‘compact’ cars highly unpopular, so everyone bought what were classed as trucks, and so the SUV was born.

    NB Ever seen someone try and put out a lithium fire? Coming to a family near you!

  17. NB Ever seen someone try and put out a lithium fire? Coming to a family near you!….God help anybody with a lithium powered vibrator!!!!!!

  18. Nice one robbo, you owe me a new keyboard! 🙂

    Seriously though, a few ounces of Li in a handheld tool is nasty enough but half a ton of it is ‘run away!’ Met Police well trained in that of course 🙂

    Richard Hammond was almost killed when he crashed a sports car and he only narrowly escaped the inferno. All electric, no fuel.
    Given the time it takes F1 drivers to get out, I fear a battery fire. Too dangerous to carry as cargo on passenger aircraft now. Banned after the Malaysian thing.

  19. While I like the un-apologetic CEO, I can’t help thinking he works for a car mfg who doesn’t yet make electric cars (can you tell us which it was?)

    I doubt totally banning non-electric cars too soon is a useful or viable strategy, but I think you’re wrong that they’re going to fail in general or that widespread use is a long way off.

    EVs will be cheaper to make and maintain, nicer to drive, and perfectly suitable for a vast number of the journeys people make. The air pollution stuff is going to mandate them in cities anyway.

    Battery prices have plummeted, the electrical system has bags of spare capacity overnight, and I don’t buy the the idea that needing a few kg of one of the most abundant elements on earth over the lifetime of a car is a bigger deal than needing 10s of kg of oil every time you fill-up.

    It’s not even like the lithium is lost out of the battery anyway – if you can afford to process it out of Peruvian brine, then you can definitely afford to reprocess it out of old batteries.

    When you wrote your 2014 article roughly half a million electric passenger vehicles had been built, ever. Now there’s a million sold every 6 months.

    I’m sure there’ll be a long period where families have EVs as second cars and retain an IC car for where it’s more suitable, and I’m sure uptake is going to be different both by county and by region within countries, but I reckon EVs are going to be very common very soon.

  20. “The only remaining problem is particulates, from diesels, and ther governements chose that!”

    That and the CO2, which most rational people seem to agree is undesirable even if they differ about exactly how undesirable.

  21. The plant food will emerge from the power station chimney instead of the car exhaust pipe, but you cannot see it so it won’t exist!

    And the efficiency of generation doesn’t make up for the transmission and battery cycle loss, so there will be more CO2 per useful power than modern ICE.
    Though the wheels seem to be coming off the whole “the sky is falling, you have 10 years to save the world Flash!” But whatever your view on that, it doesnt change the physics.

  22. I’m sure there’ll be a long period where families have EVs as second cars and retain an IC car for where it’s more suitable, and I’m sure uptake is going to be different both by county and by region within countries, but I reckon EVs are going to be very common very soon.

    See this is the thing: electric cars a great second car. I know several families who have them as second cars.

    But they simply aren’t practical, and aren’t likely to be practical for a long time if ever, as an only car.

    Even if 90% of the journeys you make are the kind electric vehicles are ideal for — round-trip commuting basically, where you go to work or the shops or something during the day, plug the car in in your driveway overnight, and repeat…

    …even if only just once or twice a year you need to drive to the other end of the country to visit friends or family, or go on holiday, or something, and you only have one car, then that car needs to be a petrol car.

    And lots and lots of people only have one car. Either because they are a one-person household, or they are a family who can’t afford two cars, or whatever.

    That’s the issue. Electric cars make a great second vehicle. I can foresee a time where 95% of all second cars are electric.

    But they simply are not practical as an only vehicle.

  23. Electric cars are Ok for commuting in cities, but it’s street parking, without driveways: so how to charge overnight?
    In suburbia, people have driveways, though maybe not for both cars. So charging from the domestic supply is possible, just that the cars aren’t so good for long commutes. My 80 miles in summer OK perhaps. Not so much with full demist and heater.
    So we need charging points at every city parking space in the street, a few million of them, and all the cables to supply the megawatts per street.
    Well I’m not paying for your car. I pay for my own.
    Charge the city dweller £50k for the benefit of all these charge points (mandatory, in the Council Tax, or £25 per use fee) and see how popular they remain.

  24. “technological barriers to electric cars can be overcome by sheer force of will”

    Reminds of the one of the key themes running through “The War in the West” – that superb, actually beyond superb, history of the second world war by James Holland, which is that Hitler was convinced that obstacles (and especially logistical ones such as being hopelessly outnumbered, and lacking fuel and ammunition at the front, or bread and coal at home) could be overcome by his supreme will power and as a result persisted with operations which were inevitably destined to fail, often with appalling casualties on both sides.

    Hopefully that won’t be the case here, but the message is clear; Beware politicians who believe their own willpower

  25. A few sums, feel free to correct any errors I’ve made.

    To recharge a 60kWh battery (Tesla) will cost circa £6 at domestic tariffs.
    If taxed the same as petrol (and the Gov well need to replace that funding somehow) this electricity for cars will cost £30, total tax on petrol being some 400%.

    A street-side charge point, new street distribution network, plus heavy duty substations, perjaps £50k each amortised over say 3 years. So that’s £50 per night.

    Someone will have to pay it.

  26. Another Dorset–Tripe.

    EV’s are piddle-powered by crap batteries and that isn’t going to change by any sort of progression. Without petrol equivalent energy density they are fucked.

    We need a war against the eco-freaks.

    See this blokes website–https://www.ericpetersautos.com/

    Tho American it calls out the Eco-scum at the EPA very nicely.

  27. Tim,

    Any chance you can drop a hint as to which company it is? I worked in the industry and while everyone seems to be scrambling to work on electric or autonomous cars, the cynicism in private is rampant. I don’t think we will see either of these technologies for many, many years.

  28. I’ve had 10 passengers in my Yank people carrier, on occasion. And, the Chrysler’s only about 50% higher fuel consumption than the puddle jumper I keep for shopping trips. Both diesils.
    Road vehicles don’t scale as you think they do. A two seater car – side by side seat layout – is going to be about as energy efficients as a 4/5 seater. About all that’s being saved is the weight of the seats. The wheelbase is dependent on having something that’s stable to drive. A two seater tandem arrangement would reduce frontal area by 50% but only cut drag by maybe 25%. At the cost of a very unstable vehicle in crosswinds & lousy cornering.
    There’s a bloke runs around here in some sort of single seater thing’s got 4 wheels. Both looks & is a complete cvunt.
    And human powered machines are very energy inefficient. Power to weight ratio’s lousy. 1.7kW out 75 kilos? Steam engine can do better than that.

  29. Any chance you can drop a hint as to which company it is?

    No, but they are working on electric cars, or at least hybrids. I think all the major manufacturers are. What these new models won’t do is replace the 100 million new cars which are being bought every year.

  30. “…even if only just once or twice a year you need to drive to the other end of the country to visit friends or family, or go on holiday, or something, and you only have one car, then that car needs to be a petrol car.”

    Well, that’s true, but it’s also true that if only once or twice a year you need a large bit of furniture or a bit of patio paving then you need a van. But almost nobody bothers to own a van because they need it occasionally, and if electric cars are so much better in every way than other than going-on-holiday then many people may not bother to own them. Perhaps leasing agreements for short-range everyday EVs would include a certain amount of credit for a long-range (hybrid, perhaps) vehicle?

    My feeling is I doubt IC cars will need to be banned by 2040 – they’ll be like steam traction engines now – a sufficiently minority interest that their pollution, etc, is irrelevant.

  31. Has anyone tried buying a battery lately. I can assure you that they are anything but “cheap”.

  32. “The plant food will emerge from the power station chimney instead of the car exhaust pipe, but you cannot see it so it won’t exist!”

    I think most people thinking seriously about EVs are probably taking into account where the electricity they use comes from, and not just pretending it’s made by magic.

    There’s not going to be any significant further improvement in the ability of IC cars to convert oil into motion, but the carbon intensity of electricity in the UK has halved in just the last five years.

    It’s quite possible for pretty much everything anyone could sensibly have concluded about EVs ten years ago to be turning out wrong now.

    30% UK electricity from renewables, 100GW/year new PV worldwide and $200/kWh LI battery prices were all pie-in-the-sky just a few years ago and they’re reality now, appeals to physics notwithstanding.

  33. Diog–I just love expensive left-sucking electric ecofreak shit-wagons that the scum of the state want to be the harbingers of the end of private freedom to travel.

    Advertised at motorshows they should be with Treason May doing the bikini pose on the bonnet. Hopefully she’ll need a new job soon.

  34. Ivan @ 2nd comment,

    I’d understand if we were spending the money on British companies, but not even. The wind turbines are Danish, the nuclear plants are French, the solar panels are Chinese, the electronics are German, and so on. The only British operation which gets a look in is the Nissan Leaf factory in Sunderland.

    @ Another Guy in Dorset,

    You can’t compare a car to a van. You use a van for a couple of hours at most, and demand is flat throughout the year. These days you can get most stuff delivered too. By contrast your long-distance car is needed for two weeks at a time, and demand peaks in July/August when the kids are off school.

  35. Well, that’s true, but it’s also true that if only once or twice a year you need a large bit of furniture or a bit of patio paving then you need a van. But almost nobody bothers to own a van because they need it occasionally,

    That’s because most people need a van much less than once or twice a year. Like, try every two or three years.

    People I know who need to move large things once or twice a year, do own vans.

    and if electric cars are so much better in every way than other than going-on-holiday then many people may not bother to own them.

    But they aren’t ‘better in every way’ than petrol cars, they are ‘just as good as’ petrol cars.

    There’s pretty much no way in which an electric car is much better than a petrol car. They’re slightly cheaper in fuel costs, but probably over their lifetime more expensive in maintainence costs.

    Perhaps leasing agreements for short-range everyday EVs would include a certain amount of credit for a long-range (hybrid, perhaps) vehicle?

    Who has a lease agreement for their car?!? Practically nobody. They only work for new cars, and the vast majority of cars on the road are, and will continue to be, second-hand.

  36. Who has a lease agreement for their car?!? Practically nobody.

    Oof no, almost every new car globally is bought on a lease agreement. India and China are outliers in this regard.

  37. There was a Professor of Materials Science on the World Service last night talking about a breakthrough in battery technology. (I can’t quote chapter and verse, I was half asleep). It was not about efficiency, but about the materials used in construction of cells. This new material was dry, malleable and could be formed and stressed. He envisaged that in 5 years time you could see small applications like hard hats, where the hat itself was the battery for the attached head torch. He further raised the possibility that in 20 years you could see a car where the monocoque and panels were the battery. Almost certainly not the answer, but it changes the calculus when the battery is the “thing” rather than just unavoidable extra payload.

    (Of course it was about 4 o’clock in the morning, I may have dreamt it all)

  38. I was using lithium batteries over 30 years ago. They had similar energy density to now, funny that, the physics hasn’t changed!
    What also hasn’t changed is their pyrotechnic properties. At least you can extinguish a petrol/diesel fire.
    Don’t even try with a Li battery fire, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t use Halon!
    The only thing that has changed is the manufacturing ability and price, but you still end up with a very expensive energy store that takes forever to recharge.
    I recharge my car at around 3MW. Takes about 2 minutes.
    The only advantage of EV is that they dodge various fuel taxes, so they are very popular with the “Amazon don’t pay enough tax” lobby 🙂
    That will cease if they ever become widespread enough to impact Gov revenue. Just as with CNG, or ‘red’ diesel, the electricity-for-carsTM will be different and much more expensive!

  39. Oof no, almost every new car globally is bought on a lease agreement. India and China are outliers in this regard.

    I mean in the UK.

    In the UK, only 24% of cars on the road are on their first owner. That’s at least 76% of cars on the road that are second-hand and therefore not leased, even if 100% of new cars are bought on a lease agreement.

  40. “…There was a Professor of Materials Science on the World Service last night talking about a breakthrough in battery technology”

    And all he needs is £50 million in seed-corn funding and not too much oversight.
    I’m changing profession!

  41. “But they aren’t ‘better in every way’ than petrol cars, they are ‘just as good as’ petrol cars.”

    Well, they’re more efficient, quieter, accelerate better, and are mechanically much simpler. Once they’re cheaper than petrol cars (they’re bound to be, eventually, because they’re much simpler), other than for range, people won’t choose IC over EV.

    “Who has a lease agreement for their car?!? Practically nobody. ”

    About 80% of private new car sales are some flavour of lease/finance, and I’d have thought it’s even higher for company cars which are basically all leased.

    Given that the average age of cars in the UK is somewhere around 7 years, it’s reasonable to guess that of the order of half of all cars on the road are owned by banks.

  42. other than for range, people won’t choose IC over EV.

    Other than the whole point of having a car, you mean…

    Given that the average age of cars in the UK is somewhere around 7 years, it’s reasonable to guess that of the order of half of all cars on the road are owned by banks.

    To be in a lease agreement a car has to be (a) under 5 years old and (b) on its first owner, right?

    According to figures from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/veh02-licensed-cars#licensed-vehicles that puts the upper bound at 18.9% of vehicles on the road.

    (Which I’ll admit is higher than I was expecting)

  43. I propose we put suitcase sized deuterium fusion reactors under the bonnet and generate as we go!

  44. I think the law may have changed recently on this….for reasons of bad timing, I had to change both of the household cars within a few weeks of each other.
    I was expecting a hard sell from the garage on lease/finance etc, because the financial product margin is greater than they make on the car sale (though not on servicing it…)

    But nary a word. I paid on the nail without a quibble from them. I don’t go to the bank to service my car, so why go to the garage for finance.
    They even asked me to fill in some Financial services audit on the topic, so great the fear of mis-selling.

    So the proportion of cars sold by lease may be dropping recently, if my experience is a guide.

    NB Both new cars are very quiet, very roomy, go for 400-500 miles or so before a 2 minute ‘recharge’. Agreed neither has the acceleration of my previous turbo-charged rocket ship, but then that was always excessive over any realistic road need. Cannot see how an EV could better them.

  45. “Other than the whole point of having a car, you mean…”

    90-something percent of UK car journeys are under 25 miles, and 50-something percent of UK car journeys are under 5 miles.

    So it would seem for a lot of journeys (even more so of the ‘second car’ kind, I suspect), EV range isn’t actually a real problem, and most of the ‘whole point of having a car’ is just to do local trips.

    I’m not clear why people appear to *want* EVs to be a bad thing. As long as they’re not subsidised (I hate ‘green’ subsidy), and the economics and engineering stands on their own feet, who wouldn’t choose electric traction over an internal combustion engine?

  46. “..I’m not clear why people appear to *want* EVs to be a bad thing”

    I don’t think they do. Let the manufacturers make and sell them, if they think people will buy them. Let people buy EV if they meet their needs (and meet the same minimum safety and road legal requirements of any car).

    What people take exception to is:
    A) Stupid politicians and bansturbators virtue signalling with proposed restrictions that will outlaw private transport for the ordinary bod (but not the elite of course, though they may need to thicken the armour)
    b) Hypocrits who expect everyone else to subsidise their cars by free refuelling, massive subsidies and tax dodging

    So long as the cars are safe and sold in a neutral market, without subsidies or compulsion, great. No problem at all.

    But IMHO, we will still be running road (and air) transport on hydrocarbon fuel in 100 years, even if by then the energy source is fusion (or fission, or windmills, or coal, whatever) and the fuel synthetic. Crude oil is just the cheapest currently, easy enough to make the fuel using other energy sources if needed. Been done a lot 70 years ago, and again in the 60s/70s, anywhere where crude oil became hard to get.

  47. 90-something percent of UK car journeys are under 25 miles, and 50-something percent of UK car journeys are under 5 miles.

    So it would seem for a lot of journeys (even more so of the ‘second car’ kind, I suspect), EV range isn’t actually a real problem, and most of the ‘whole point of having a car’ is just to do local trips.

    But if you’re spending the large amount of money that a car costs, you want one that’s going to enable you to do all your jorneys, or at least 99% of them.

    I’m not clear why people appear to *want* EVs to be a bad thing.

    At least for me, it’s not that I want them to be a bad thing pre se, it’s more that optimistic credulity of the ‘this new technology will be great!’ kind always rubs me up the wrong way and brings out my cynical desire to crush the naïve joy-mongers beneath the cold harshness of reality.

    I’d be the same if you were touting cold fusion or self-driving vehicles.

  48. There’s a question the electric car enthusiasts never answer. How do you shift the energy consumption requirement of the ICE fleet over the electrical supply grid? The grid – and that means every piece of cable from the generating stations to the consumer units (those things with the CB’s in them in your house, for the uninformed) – hasn’t anywhere near the capacity to take it. Providng the capacity would require upgrading every high-voltage distribution route & digging up nearly every street in the country to lay new cable.

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