Paying for Electric Cars… Twice

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Imagine that the government decided to tax you to finance a step ladder project to the Moon.EV charging station

In a very real way, that’s exactly what’s happening. In California right now – and probably soon, other states as well.

The “moon shot” in question is a $22 million project (just for openers) to build thousands of electric vehicle charging stations at $15,000 a piece  in the Los Angeles area to support electric cars … which can’t get very far without an electric umbilical cord.

Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and the electric version of the VW Golf have a full-charge range of about 80 miles under ideal conditions. Less, if it’s very cold – or very hot – outside. The efficiency of electric batteries decreases with temperature extremes as well as use of accessories such as headlights and air conditioning and heaters.Tesla charging

Leaving aside the luxury-car price tag of electric cars (the Leaf and electric Golf, which both list for about $30,000, are the “cheapies” of the bunch; a Tesla starts at about $70k), their limited radius of action makes them useless for other than short trips – under ideal conditions – and when there’s a place to plug in at each end.

And even when there is a place to plug in, the wait is Soviet.

It takes at least 30-45 minutes to recharge an electric car using a high-capacity “super” charging system like the ones being pushed (for you to pay for) by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and being implemented in California.Obama electric

Who is going to queue up to wait 30-45 minutes to recharge their $30,000 electric car so they can travel maybe another 80 miles before having to stop for another 30-45 minutes? Keep in mind, this assumes ideal conditions. Sunny and warm (but not too warm).  If you have to use the headlights or the air conditioning or the heater, your mileage will vary. It’s also necessary – if you want to get where you are going – to drive at a Prius-esque pace. Sustained speeds higher than about 50 MPH dramatically reduce the electric car’s range, as does anything more than the gentlest acceleration.

Meanwhile, the humblest new economy car that costs half as much – and which doesn’t require thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded bribes to induce people to buy one – can travel 300-400 miles at 75 MPH on a tank of gas. And when the tank runs dry, it can be refilled in five minutes … for about $20. 

You do the math.

Too bad the folks handling our money can’ summit

John Boesel of CALSTART, for example. CALSTART is a crony capitalist cartel (they style themselves an “alliance of companies and groups supporting renewable energy”) that uses government power to enrich itself at taxpayer expense. Boesel writes that the $22 million in extorted capital is “…a game changer in the economics of installing charging (stations).”


In the same way that it’s a “game changer” when a mugger helps himself  to your wallet. He’s richer. But you’re poorer. A zero sum transaction.

Boesel even admits this. He says: “…before, the economics were getting in the way. Now there’s a real solution being offered.”

Italics added.dweezil

Sure. Just seize people’s money and the “economics” become favorable. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders no doubt agrees.

But it begs the question: If electric cars – and electric charging stations – are so desirable (or even slightly desirable) why is it necessary to constantly prop them up with subsidies?

If the economics make sense, none of this would be necessary.

The fact that it is necessary is telling.

California – the government, not the people – is pushing electric cars like Stalin pushed pushed forced collectivization of farms. The state demands that 1.5 million “clean” (that is, electric) cars be in service by 2025, just nine years from now. A law (SB 350; see here) was passed last year mandating that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) “invest” in (that is, use other people’s money to fund) “… accelerate(d) widespread transportation electrification to reduce dependence on petroleum and met air quality standards.”subsidy pic

The $22 million “investment” (the cost will be folded into Californians’ utility bills) is just a down payment.

Southern California Edison is one of three state utilities that will be offloading the cost of “widespread electrification” onto the backs of California taxpayers. The other two – Sand Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) also have “proposals” pending. If each is worth – if each costs  – another $22 million then taxpayers are a looking at not-far-from $100 million in EV payola.

That’s just initially. Once the programs getup and running, the total cost could exceed $355 million according to CPUC’s own estimates – which are almost certainly lowball (as government estimates of the cost of everything government does invariably are).

All this as gas prices dip to historic lows – a function of increased supply. The decades-old mantra that “we’re running out oil!” is belied by the fact that new reserves (and new extraction methods) have pushed the cost of a barrel of crude to $30 a barrel as of mid-January. If we were “running out of oil” there would be less oil available – and the cost of oil would be going up rather than down.

And while the cost of gas goes down, the cost of electric cars continues to go up.crony pic

Electricity is neither free nor without “environmental impact.” The utilities that generate power do so for the most part by burning (wait for it) oil and coal. If the state of California – if other states – get their wish and millions of electric cars come online, it will mean more demand for electricity, which will mean… burning more oil and coal. (SB 350 also mandates that by 2030, utilities produce 50 percent of their electricity using “renewable” sources. Good luck with that, given that nuclear – the only other economically/functionall viable alternative – has been takeoff the table.)

So much for the “green” argument.

Both tailpipe-wise and pocketbook-wise.

The homely truth is that electric cars are pretty much the least efficient – and most expensive – way to get from A to B. The “economics” are impossible. Which is why they need not one but two crutches to prop up their existence.

How much more of this can California taxpayers afford? How much more of this can the country afford? depends on you to keep the wheels turning! The control freaks (Clovers) hate us. Goo-guhl blackballed us.

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  1. It is estimated that in the UK, if all vehicles become electric, we would have to double the capicity of the National Grid. That is a bit of a joke because, as a result of the planned closure of coal fired power stations and several nuclear power plants reaching the end of their life, and lack of government planning for new sources other than wind and solar, by 2025 we will only be generating half of the power needed to meet demand, and that’s without including electric cars in the equation. The other half will have to be purchased from France, the Netherlands, and Norway via undersea cable, electricity that comes at a very premium price.

  2. EVs for urban areas – no tailpipe emissions (very important in CARB states), no need to own a vehicle, GM’s Lyft service will ensure a Bolt is available for your suburban-urban trips.

    Eric inadvertently points out the parallels between buying vehicles and buying power plants – nearly everyone wants to pay the cheapest amount possible for their perceived needs, ignoring running costs.

    So your local utility will always authorize a natural-gas fired power plant (cheapest capital cost), never a coal-burner or nuclear power plant.

    • Pretty good theory Bill. So why did West Texas Utilities shut down all its gas fired power plants in Tx. before they were eventually bought by ATMOS and electricity immediately went up in price? It left most Texans at the mercy(ha ha) of Okla-Union, a huge coal fired plant. Now you can sling a dead cat without hitting a wind powered generator. I asked one of the higher up guys one day where the energy from them went what with huge transmission lines going up everywhere, seemingly leading everywhere. He said “It all goes into the grid”. Which grid? asks me. He replied “There’s only one”.

      • Sure, if your state is foolish enough to turn over their power plants to Enron, the latter then can manipulate markets at will, shutting down plants for “repair” or “maintenance” whenever they want to spike prices.

        Here electric utilities are regulated, so, again, no more coal-burning power plants, ever.

        Existing ones will all be replaced soon enough with natural gas-fired plants (cheapest to build).

        Also a pipeline (vs. a 100-car train of coal every few days) hides the truly enormous amounts of fuel being burned, whether coal or natural gas.

    • Ed, thanks. I needed something to read. Was about to go read a Robert Ludlum’s ode to great government book the wife bought. Yankee Genocide Still Here was much better. b

      • 8, a good way to go with that archive is to start at the bottom and work up. Alan was a true radical, as many older writers are. LRC once had radical writers, back in the early days, and it was a real pleasure to read the daily lineup of articles. Now half the articles are from asshat sources like the Brit newspapers and leftist blogs.

        I go through LRC in 20 minutes or so a day. Bullshit leftists and Brit mainstream news along with a few tired writers preaching to the choir makes for a boring site. Their “blog” doesn’t allow any posts from mere readers and the same few regular writers make the same observations they have always made…..boring.

        • Ed, recently LRC had a plethora of good articles. No Daily Mail or Taki mag or other bs. But that’s not the norm as you rightly point out. Surely a good expose from Mac Slavo is better than some Brit you wish you’d never heard of spouting some nonsense about that island along with thousands of pics of “celebrities” none of whom I know nor want to and certainly don’t want to wait for the half day it takes to load. Good thing I can simply take Who What Why and read Russ Baker with no frills.

          I’ll go to the bottom of the list and work my way up but the article about Yankee Genocide is one not to be missed.

          • Yeah, I’ve seen a day or two here and there where the lineup wasn’t heavily loaded with leftist crap. Still, the days of regularly being able to read for an hour on that site seem to be gone for good.

            Lew seems to love him some leftists for some reason.

        • Lew has always included some statist/ pro-constitution writers. Back in 1999, I was a pro-constitution statist researching on-line what the hell happened to our so-called constitutional government. I was also checking out militia groups and homesteading. Someone on a patriot website kept posting articles from Lew Rockwells site and I subscribed. I read a bunch of articles that were written by anarcho-capitalists and I had the usual statist questions about who would provide the services that governments did. Over time, I read articles that answered those questions.
          I also had discovered a company that sold books which the general book stores did not carry called Loompanics (now defunct due to Amazon beginning to include those same books). There, I bought and read a great many books from authors such as Claire Wolfe, who introduced me to Ayn Rand’s works. I also discovered Javelin Press and read the old version of the book called Hologram of Liberty (Amazon has the publication date down as 2014). That book caused me to discover that I had been lied to for my entire life, and I became furious for several days! These sources combined led to my becoming an anarchist. It wasn’t long afterward when an LRC writer made a comment in the writers section of the site about another site called Strike The Root. I still read articles that interest me from LRC and STR daily.

          • There are some who write on LRC frequently that I will always read. There are others that I will check out just to get a different point of view, and keep my ‘assumptions’ checked.
            Since no one is perfect (not even myself, LOL) Lew sometimes puts up a post from someone who may be ‘good’ in one area while being totally out in left field in the rest of his thinking.
            I enjoy reading Justin Raimundo, even though I disagree with his lifestyle, but don’t often go to unless Lew posts him, because I don’t get as much out of the other regular writers there.
            Then there is this yahoo named Eric Peters. I never read him on LRC, because I have already seen it here, 2-3 days before.

            • Years ago, browsing through my Loompanics catalog, I noticed a title called “How to Keep a Severed Head Alive”. I can’t believe I didn’t order it.


            • Definitely a name that brings back memories. If I were to scrounge around long enough I could probably come up with a Loompanics catalog or two.

    • Ed, about 6 weeks ago we had days of freezing rain, sleet and snow. So slick you couldn’t walk outside and we’ve had so much rain power lines were blown over just from heavily iced lines, soggy ground and 60 mph winds. Some were out of power for 3 weeks. Just most of 2 days for us. Dark as night, cold as the well diggers titties, kerosene lamps and the fish cooker to heat the house. It was a bitch norther yesterday and not much better today. Yep, I’m ready for it to be over and with an El Nino year again it will probably freeze till May. We worked on a job in Seagraves out on the desert plains in 2014 and nearly finished before Atmos Energy got a court order to stop us while they reburied a pipeline. We went back the 1st of June to finish and it froze our first morning there. I went to Seminole near there a couple weeks back and the snow was still piled up where it had been for a month. I hope you keep your lights on. I charged my phone in the truck to keep service and be able to read a book on Kindle.

      For those people who say I can put on enough clothes to keep warm, that’s a good deal and I can sweat enough to wait for a cool breeze. I hate winter.

  3. I’ve long set my terms to the EV industry before I am a customer:

    (1) Price $40k or less
    (2) over 300 miles before needing a charge
    (3) can average 70-90 mph on a typical run before needing that charge
    (4) no shortage of charging stations
    (5) 30 minutes or less charging time

    Because that’s what I’m doing with my Nissan 370Z right now, on extended road trips.

    • When I go see friends it’s often a 400 mile+ trip and the thought of having to spend half an hour 2 hrs from being there would chap me a bit. If the charging stations were nice bars then……

  4. Electric cars are not cleaner than any other fuel types and in fact right now they are actually worse.Just look at the cost and that alone says alot.Time,energy and resources used are far higher in electric cars,that’s why they cost more.
    And then on top of that most people are still charging them using coal fired power plant electricity.(49% of power plants are coal)
    Electric cars wouldn’t even be a thought in a truly free market.
    The only reason people think it’s a good idea is because the bureaucratic geniuses think they are green and are subsidizing alot of the cost and pushing us into electric cars.
    In reality they are causing even more environmental damage.

  5. I’m pro Electric. I’m not pro Guvmint “Electric”

    The solution to the EP (electric problem, not Eric Peters) is to solve the refuel issue.

    Too many look at the problem as making the recharge process faster. Can’t really hurry up physics without some major technology changes.

    In the meantime, the solution is removable charge packs. Standardize three or four different size/amp-hour capacities so that we have the convenience of a flashlight with the benefits of electric potential.

    You have to admit: electric motor versus IC motor wins in every category: acceleration, simplicity, sound.

    And all those reasons for not using electric are really valid: the battery and recharge problem, which brings us to autonomy and variable range.

    And you are absolutely right. Guvmint should not be involved.

    • “In the meantime, the solution is removable charge packs. ”

      I know it, rust. I’m gonna buy me a lectric car as soon as they make one that runs all day at 70mph on a little battery pack the size of a can of Red Bull that you can get for $10 at any gas’n’go.

      Maybe if we can keep government out of the mix, those will be available in a few years.

      • When I can plug in both my Makita battieries and go twice as fast I’ll be right there beside you….and a few 18650’s so baby doll can bring her vibrator and wine chiller.

  6. I frequently travel the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut and they have Tesla super chargers and other charging stations in the some of rest areas along with a balkanized parking lot with “special” parking spaces for high occupancy and low emission vehicles. Now, I’ve never seen a vehicle using any of these charging these stations, but apparently Saturday is the day for rich douche-bags to go and suck of the government teat and get some “free” electricity at the expense of whats left of the middle class, because there were three identical Telsas in a row charging up. And remember that black is beautiful when it comes to tax subsidized cars, slinky evening dresses, tuxedos and disenfranchised minorities, as long as they don’t live near me. So, as I sat there in my 9 year gas guzzling pick-up after working 78 days in a row without a day off, eating left over grocery store chicken that I bought to save a couple bucks and to not have to eat at some fast food joint, out of one of the Telsas steps a guy wearing a guy wearing a $1200 Ralph Lauren overcoat, $100 silk pajamas, and $80 LL Bean slippers who proceeds to go inside, grab a Wall Street Journal and then sit there and figure out how he will screw more people out of their meager retirement funds on Monday while he gets his “free” electricity. As a side note as to how the other half or should I say 5% lives, these rest stops on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut have gorgeous counter tops with stylish low basin sinks, automatic foaming soap dispensers, a hand dryer that blow dries your hands in seconds which probably cost 3 or 4 times what a normal hand dryer that the rest of us riffraff normally get to use and out front in the winter time, a guy who is constantly mopping the floor, because, God forbid I should get some salt on my Bruno Magli shoes!
    Out of another Tesla steps a superbly coiffed Connecticut women with her two blond haired, blue-eyed children, who is so intent on getting her free electricity that she’s willing to slum it at a rest stop and feed her future masters of the universe at a Subway. As this clueless and contemptible whore pulled away in her Telsa I noticed her vanity plate which read ZEERO obviously purchased to advertise her environmental correctness and her self-proclaimed better-than-youness when in reality it stood for her ZERO guilt, shame and moral compass!
    Having to witness this whorish tax slurping display was so disgusting it made me want to wretch. The truck I drive has a serious push bar on it and I swear, if I had the money that these Tesla thieves have, I would have backed up my truck and rammed all 3 Teslas into a hopefully burning pile of wreckage and then continued on my way home, but unfortunately that kind of satisfaction costs way more money than I have.

    P.S. Yes, oil is abiotic. It doesn’t come from dead dinosaurs and leaves. Impossible! We are never going to run out of oil. And the all the oil companies know this but will NEVER admit this or give up on the fossil fuel, non-renewable resource con, because doing so might lead to losing one of the biggest corporate welfare tax scams that exists, the oil depletion allowance tax credit.

    • What a shame I wasn’t there with my belly dump. It has mud flaps in front of the trailer axles because the trailer is narrow underneath. And since there is a big steel plate at an angle to send the axles over the load……or whatever might be in front of them and the tires, 24.5’s are much taller than a Tesla…..and ZERO would be the first number before the decimal point when measuring the resulting height of said Tesla in feet.

    • ” because doing so might lead to losing one of the biggest corporate welfare tax scams that exists, the oil depletion allowance tax credit.”

      In several books about the murder of JFK, his intention to end that allowance was mentioned as being the most visible motive for his murder.

      Anyway, don’t ram any Teslas. You might bend your pushbar on the day before you really need it. I used to hate the kind of rich assholes you described in the apartheid karel for their supercars on the CTP. Now that I’m old, I don’t even see them, really. FTAFTFH. They’re stuck being them while I get to be me.

  7. I’m a fan of electric cars because I like the instant torque at the stoplight. It does happen to cost less per mile but most of that savings is eaten up because the batteries are still too expensive.

    I purchased a used Volt to experiment with what is on most days an electric drivetrain. The Volt has a 16kWh battery that under ideal conditions (level ground and temperate climate) will carry the car 48 miles. I chose the Volt because even in the least favorable conditions (Sub Zero Temps and hilly terrain) the battery is still capable (24 miles) of managing my daily commute.

    When I drive long distances (over 600 miles per trip) I rely entirely on the gasoline generator because the vehicle will only take on a charge at the 3.3 kW level (most public stations can go at least to 6.6 kW). At 3.3 kW recharging on any highway trips only makes sense if the plug is at the location of your overnight stay because it will take 4-5 HOURS to recharge.

    More public charging adds convenience but really the focus should be on driving down the cost of home charging at 240 V. Charging stations should NEVER be built at public expense. They should be amentites provided by business owners who desire that demographic to spend LONG periods in their establishments.

    At my last residence I had a garage and could plug in every evening when I returned home. This was the equivalent of little elves adding a $.70 gallon of gas to your tank every time you slept.

    I only had to buy gas when I took an out of town trip.

    If I were tasked with encouraging electric driving my first step as the owner of a charging station business would have been to the owners of multi-family dwellings that rely on surface lots for parking of their residents. That’s where the real volume would be and that’s the place which provide the most value to the electic car business as a whole.

    • Hi Shock Me,

      The Volt’s price – even heavily subsidized – is in the same ballpark as entry luxury cars like the BMW 3 and Lexus ES350.

      This makes the car seem silly to me, since the main argument for the electric vs. the gas-powered car is economy – and the Volt makes no economic sense.

      If it’s not economy, then other considerations – such as power/performance come into play. And the EV is inferior on those counts. Including the Tesla. Which is very quick… very briefly.

      A V6 Accord is much quicker than your Volt – and costs less, too.

      But, bottom line, I don’t have a problem with EVs. Provided I’m not being forced to help people buy them.

      • I suppose that’s true if I were buying new. It simply isn’t worth the premium yet. But then I would never spend that much on any car.

        The only BMW of interest to me is the i8 and that is much more than the Volt.

        I think you would need to clarify your power/performance argument because in all the things that matter to me quick off the line, stable ride, smooth acceleration. I’d need to be shown how quick the Accord is off the line because I’m always blowing out everyone else even in ECO mode.

        I have much love for Honda. My first car was a 1979 Accord. Rock solid drivetrain but the body was prone to rust (something they’ve improved on greatly since then).

        All told though I’m a huge fan of recent Buicks (2005-Present).

      • I think that subsidy is evil. People that can afford a NEW Volt don’t need any help. It also slows the drop in prices if the car is ever to find it’s niche.

    • “no way to effectively mine it and make it useful.” You mean not yet, at current prices. That is why we need to get gunvermin out of the equation and have a truly free market.

    • “don’t forget methane hydrates.”

      The presence of methane hydrates is a good clue that petroleum is abiotic, rather than a product of biotic decay..

  8. Ya’ll are missing the point.We are in for a huge technology jump in transportation.
    Cars didnt get the efficiency we have today overnight,it took many decades.And battery roll-outs are coming on all the time now.10 minute recharges are coming,just a matter of when.
    But will it even be cars as we know them,or pods on electrified streets or or or or????
    Only thing you can bet on,transportation is changing,big time.And cars as we know them,museum pieces sooner than we might think.

    • Hi Fred,

      What’s coming is a dreary landscape of ride sharing and autonomous cars. More control (by government and corporations). Less individual discretion… less freedom to do what you want to do.

    • There are some things that are just dictated by the nature of this universe. Charge times for chemical batteries are one of those things. To have such fast charging if it happens at all will come out of radical new approaches to storing or extracting energy. Basically things are going to continue along the same asymptote until that happens and can be commercialized successfully. It could be five years or fifty years or five hundred years or even five thousand years. Right now almost all effort is going to work on the asymptote. Squeezing out more here and there. But there’s a wall there and it won’t be busted through. It’s like trying to go faster than the speed of light with a chemical rocket. It just isn’t going to work.

      The real answer for electric cars IMO is with a whole different way of exploiting energy in nature, not batteries.

      • A few years ago when buying new Optima batteries I picked up a booklet by Union Carbide. Charging batteries has changed so it said and it went into it in some detail. The result was that batteries now charge must faster due to what they’re made of and how they’re made. Trickle charging was a no no on new batteries and now fast charging is the ticket.

        My new chargers have temperature monitoring so they shut off if overheated. Seems like they only shut off when the ambient air temp is very hot and esp. when the sun is shining on them. I lower the hood to keep them shaded and arrange things so the wind direction is entering the charger via the inlet and the exhaust fan is blowing with the wind. They almost never shut off in that scenario.

        BTW, glass mat batteries, while more expensive, are the only way to go now from personal experience. My Optima’s on my diesel lasted 8 years and they got run flat many times from various circumstances, mostly from my cleaning the windshield in the day and getting against the headlight switch on the very edge of the dash while doing so. Get up in the morning and see the headlights “glowing”…..oh crap. They also don’t create any corrosion. Clean your battery cables and hook them up and years later if you need to disconnect the battery, the terminals look like they did the first day, clean. Never needing water is a plus too.

        • It depends on the cell chemistry what best charge curve is, but as a general rule slow charging is better for cell longevity than fast charging. There’s always a practical upper limit.

          Optima are sealed lead acid and lead acid is lead acid as far as the basic physics go. It’s advantages are in its mechanical construction.

          With Li-Ion after about 80-85% charge the current needs to taper off. This is why fast charging is often limited to that capacity and fast charging is still limited by how much current the cells can handle without damage. Which is another issue with large automotive battery packs. Charging voltages and/or currents high enough to charge them quickly are rather high and will get higher to go faster. Now this can be worked around to degree, but there’s practical limits there as well.

  9. Recently, I had reason to attend a town board meeting in Tonopah, NV, a 3000-person town on U.S. 95, halfway between Reno and Vegas. Well, it turns out that in addition to Nevada giving Tesla $1.25 Billion (yes, Billion) over 20 years to locate their new battery factory near Reno, the State also arranged for the electrification of 400 miles or so of highway 95, called the “Nevada Electric Highway”, between Reno and Vegas. Well, being typical statists, Tonopah is giving Tesla FREE, exclusive 15-year use of a prime parcel of vacant, town-owned land in the center of town, on the main drag (which is about all there is in Tonopah) where they will erect a “free” to the public charging station; Tonopah also somehow is giving Tesla $10,000 in the deal (like Tesla somehow cannot afford to pay for their own charging facility and land). I also note that the company providing the power has Warren Buffet as a majority owner; I’m sure he’s making bank somehow. All of this subsidy on the weak claim that people charging their cars may eat in one of the few restaurants, or go shopping in the essentially non-existent (really!) stores. Well, aside from the statist aspects of subsidy, one problem is that people *already* eat (and sometimes room) in Tonopah because there’s essentially nowhere else to eat until one gets to Vegas, over 200 miles away on a very lonely highway. What a total joke and taxpayer rip-off this electric car scam is. Myself, when I’m roaming around central Nevada, I typically fill my Toyota truck up in Tonopah and often return to town with only fumes left (actually, I carry a spare 5 or 10 gallons) because everything is so spread out and hyper-rural. A great place for limited-range electric cars… NOT!

    • When it comes right down to it, i think the green energy boondoggles are more about graft than saving the planet. Those are some big figures. Now what i want to know is how green is going into the pocket of people like Harry Reid from this green energy boondoggle?

    • Ed, that bastion of freedom and entrepreneurship you live in will surely allow you to drive a horse and buggy if you like…..or even if you don’t. Last year when we had a conversation about driving laws, I did some research and found Virginia was in a class by itself…..nearly, since they had it and Texas side by side. About the only thing Texas has over Virginia is radar detectors even though the great father in Washington declared them illegal in commercial vehicles. Both states were cited as being almost duplicates.

      But I don’t see any roadways for autonomous cars in my lifetime. Every road we have in the west and north part of the state is undergoing or about to undergo construction. They’ve worked on Ranch Road 33 for two years+ and it’s still a bitch in parts. It begins just south of Big Spring off 87 and runs to Big Lake. They finally got six miles from Garden City south finished and were working on the next six miles when they had to rip up the first six miles that was literally beaten through and move it into the barditch and rebuild it again. A great deal of that base and asphalt is still there. After what seemed like 20 years I-20 west of Ft. Worth finally had 50 miles of concrete interstate finished which they then turned into a revenue producer by speed limiting it to 60mph, insanity at it’s worst but they recently brought it up to speed. Now they’ve been working for years headed west. Countless parts of I-20, 84 and I-10 have been rebuilt, more than once for some areas. Just passable highways getting built again is a never ending chore here with no end in sight. The east part of the state never had decent roads except interstates. East Tx. waterheads were in no hurry anyway. It appeared a great many were driving slowly……looking for their teeth.

      I did my best to kill county roads Wed. hauling a D-6……and had other oilfield traffic backed up behind me.

      • Yeah, the state government here is dominated by the northern districts around DC as far as proposed law is concerned. The DC airheads try to push whatever current nonsense is being proposed in Congress regardless of how out of touch it may be with reality.

      • > Countless parts of I-20, 84 and I-10 have been rebuilt, more than once for some areas.

        Don’t get me started on IH-35. Hate that road. They will never be done with it.

        • I lived in Fort Worth in the late 80’s early 90’s. I used to travel to Austin on 35W to 35. The road conditions after the Hillsboro Split to Austin were horrible back then. Heavy traffic, bad road surface, horrible alignment and grade for an interstate. It’s like they just slapped a thin layer of asphalt on the top and told us it was a highway.

          The worst part is that 35 was a 2 lane interstate back in the day and it remains that way today. One time, on the way to Corpus with a girlfriend, it took me 6 hours to get to Austin. Back in those days you could drink a beer and drive. I drank 4 to get to Austin.

          It’s a nationwide disgrace.

          If I didn’t have to go to Austin in the early 1990’s to do speed limit lobbying, my last trip would have been 1988.

          I just can’t imagine what it looks like today with twice the number of cars on the road.

          The entire Texas DOT commission needs to be drowned in Lake Travis.

          • The early 90’s was my last trip to Austin for some upset tubing I couldn’t find anywhere else. I have/had friends there but couldn’t stand the horrible traffic and people alike. Once Stevie Ray died and Joe Ely and some of the Lubbock boys went to Nashville for reasons I could never fathom(they came back), I had no reason to go and hence, haven’t. We used to live just east of Cedar Park and lived in the Buckboard Tavern more than at home. Last time I was there it was about 40 miles into Austin since it starts before you get to Lampasas and ends right before you get to San Antonio.

            And leaving Houston for San Antonio can only be judged where you are by road signs. I think most Texans would be ok to draw a line from McKinney to Ft. Worth down to Junction to Del Rio or a bit N of DR and call that Texas. The Yankee Communist People of Austin has been proposed to be it’s own country and that’s fine with the rest of Texas. The entire US DOT and everyone it has power over including the Tx. DOT should be put on a barge and towed into the Arctic Circle. Commercial vehicles mostly have a Tx DOT number if they’re from Tx. but the only one that has to be displayed is the US DOT number and Tx. DOT enforces their and US rules both. How convoluted is that?

  10. The long tailpipe argument is indeed a compelling one.

    As an MPG equivalent, someone posted a map of the US showing how much equivalent gas MPG one gets relative to “pollution” for a specific electric car, I think a LEAF.

    Areas that get power from hydroelectric were showing north of 100MPG, while other areas, specifically California, were showing in the 30-40 MPG range.

    This is truly a matter of California selling their pollution (garbage) to other states.

    As a plus on EVs, they can eat by proxy any source of power. Gasoline motors can’t burn Diesel, EVs can “burn” NG, Diesel, coal, solar (not without its impacts, see the waste from silver mining) etc. We can be free of the Saudi/Russian axis if we were on all EV and NG vehicles.

  11. The problem with most electric car articles is they are making an apples to oranges comparison. Similar arguments of Diesel to gasoline cars can show Diesel as highly undesirable.

    1. The target audience is those who normally do not drive more than 60-80 miles in a day. Or twice that if chargers are available at work.

    2. Fiscal incentives should be provided by the Utilities for charging at night. They already provide these incentives to manufacturers… If the utility can use existing radio controls to charge blocks of cars at night as load allows. Suddenly the cost of charging electric cars at night approaches $.50 a charge…. no pollution controls, no oil changes, few repairs (brakes at 125k miles, tires at regular intervals, battery service at 200k miles)

    3. Enterprise Rental carhas a program where you can quickly and easily reserve and access a car when you need to drive more than the 100 miles…for $5 an hour, $20 overnight, $70 for 24 hours

    4. As electric cars expand use, more chargers will be available at stores, markets, and other destinations, allowing extended range. This can be driven by market forces people will shop where there are chargers, and chargers up front will encourage people to buy electric cars. Don’t need government incentives.

    I have owned an electric car for a year, it has its drawbacks, and its advantages..such as a full charge in the morning, no warmup period, no smog checks, few repairs

    • Hi Dan,

      The fundamental issue here is the gross subsidization of cars that are not economically viable because of their functional deficits.

      Your diesel comparison is not apt. Because the cost difference isn’t remotely close. For example, you can buy a TDI Jetta for about $2,500 more than the gas-engined equivalent. A Nissan Leaf costs easily twice the price of a gas-engined equivalent such as the Versa.

      Bottom line, if electric cars have so much going for them, why the need for the generous – and endless – subsidies?

  12. Points:

    1) Electric cars are feasible ONLY for a small portion of the driving public that never needs to exceed the practical range in a single day.
    2) I bitterly resent some of my taxes going to subsidize a type of expensive vehicle that would never suit my needs.
    3) Including infrastructure costs and problems, all electric cars are not advantageous either financially or environmentally compared with today’s fuel efficient gasoline vehicles.
    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

  13. Great article eric.

    Nothing I hate more that people who truly believe we’re only a few more tax dollars away from real life transporter rooms. After all – if Hollywood can imagine it, it must be possible.

    These same people give you blank stare if you ask for the first, second, or third law of thermodynamics or motion, but gosh darn it, they feeeeeeeeeel it would be really good, and after all, only a few people are ever killed by good intentions – and most of them are libertarians anyway.

    Almost on that subject, in a recent Minivan review, you were lamenting the gas guzzling tendencies of all the minivans and wondering why nobody offered a hybrid minivan.

    Now that the camo is off, I can officially announce the new Chrysler Minivan has it.

    I wanted to tell you earlier, but it was a secret.

    Check out

  14. Nuclear energy isn’t viable without subsidies. 🙁

    I like the idea of vehicles like the volt that can run on both gas and electric. That is how it should be done. The flexibility of using either.

    • “Nuclear energy isn’t viable without subsidies. :(”
      What say we edit that to: “Nuclear energy isn’t viable under the current gunvermin system without subsidies. :(”
      Who knows what it would be like in a free market? No one, it’s the thing not seen.

    • Hi C_lover,

      I’ve driven the Volt. I averaged mid-30s in real-world (mixed use) driving. Not bad, but not good enough. There are several gas-engined cars that do as well or better. A diesel-powered Jetta does much better. And costs about $10k less.

      • I was not referring to gas fuel efficiency, but the choice of “fuels”. 30s MPG is not bad carrying a battery and has tank. Can always use electric only for short trips.

        One other thing with electricity. This will increase the demand on power plants! But guess what? No new plants will be built. We will suffer brownouts unless we cut back or build renewable plants.

          • Quick off the line, highly stable on the road due to the low center of gravity, quiet and smooth acceleration.

            But yeah some folks like the roar and choppy gear changes.

            • The Volt takes about 7.2 seconds to reach 60, or about what a four cylinder Accord is capable of.

              A V6 Accord blows the Volt away.

              The Volt is heavy as hell – about 3,800 pounds empty. This is about the same as my ’76 Trans-Am, which has a bolt-on steel subframe and a huge (7.4 liter) cast iron V8 and leaf springs and solid rear axle.

              The Volt can’t sell on the merits. It’s (cue Donald Trump) a loser.

              • Ahh 0-60! Sounds like the 110kW version. Thanks. On mine you wouldn’t know it. I’m already at 40 mph by the time I’ve crossed a major intersection. It usually takes another 1/4 mile for them to work up a head of steam and pass me after they’ve floored it. By then I’m already slowing down for the next light having chosen the lane I need.

                I wonder what the comparative 0-40 times are? By the time they get to 60 mph they’ve either broken a law or made it to the next traffic light.

                It should be said though that the Volt’s computer acts as a Governor when it reaches 100 to 103 mph. (Oh well)

                I’d agree it is pretty quick for such a heavy car. But there is some benefit to that. It rides very stable like the much larger Lincoln town car.

        • I was driving between the Snyder field of wind powered generators and another close to it. N wind blowing hard and the Snyder field was stopped. Wish I could post some pics here of a new transformer station I took pics of today, the Wetsel, on FM 611 near Claytonville, Tx. And there are substations all over being built and a great many already in use.

          Regardless of how you feel about wind generation, it’s a big boon to the grid and saves lots of non-renewable energy. Govt. subsidy has dwindled to near nothing for this too although oil and gas and electrical producers of other sorts are big players in the field and they get subsidy but we don’t mention it since big oil has gotten subsidy from us since at least WWll when the change was made from coal to crude.

          And cheap fuel is only good when you’re broke but cheap fuel ensures the employment rate will be down and deflation will rule and then expensive oil looks great, esp for the 35,000 jobs lost in Tx alone.

          Everybody, get out and drive like crazy, put those people back to work. After all, it’s only money and govt. has plenty……. even if you’re panhandling.

      • The main problem with the volt is it’s like driving a gastric-bypass car.

        The gas tank is minuscule and it can’t be used for long trips very well.

        • The gas tank can be used very well for long trips I just finished a 2400 mile trip in one. Ideally the tank would be 14 gallons as opposed to 10 gallons but 350 miles is long enough that I’d want a meal or bathroom break anyway.

      • What do you mean by mixed use? My lifetime average is 85 mpg on my volt mostly because I just completed a 2400-mile all gasoline trip,

        • “mixed use” = low-speed/stop and go and high-speed driving.

          I averaged mid-30s when I test drove the Volt.

          Run an EV WOT a few times, then at 75-80 MPH… and see how far you get on the batteries!

          • I don’t know what EV WOT is but I do know I only reach the mid-30’s in MPG after driving more than 600 miles in CS (Gas-only) mode. You don’t get numbers that low unless you don’t plug in. And not plugging in defeats the purpose no?

            • EV = electric vehicle

              WOT = wide open throttle (floored).

              On plugging in: The problem is you’re stuck waiting. My test loop is down the mountain, run some errands, then back up. I suppose if you commute to a job, park for eight hours and work while the car is recharging it’s ok..

              • Yes that makes sense. My model is commute on weekdays, errands on weekends. My longest trip is less than 20 miles.

                It’s not a car that I’d use in rural areas or for frequent long-distance driving (gas tank is 10 gallons).

          • Looked up acronym and was curious what Wide Open Throttle has to do with mixed use?

            But it turns out I can answer your question. Assuming you are fully charged you’ll get about 32 miles/10 kWh before the vehicle switches from Battery to Charge Sustaining mode whether or not the car is set to Sport or Economy mode.

            If you try it at sub-zero temperatures, the gas generator will come on initially anyway to warm you and the battery and you will get approximate 20 miles/10 kWh before CS mode comes on.

    • The nuclear “subsidy” explained:

      All the regulatory costs of running nuclear power plants are passed on to the operators, not paid out of the general budget. This is one of the major reasons why fission reactor research is at a standstill, the design must be tested by the DOE labs, who are funded by the existing plant operators, who have no interest in developing new reactors that will take decades to be approved for production thanks to the overbearing regulatory system.

      People really aren’t able to grasp just how much energy is produced by a nuclear reactor:

      And the amount of “waste” that comes out of a nuclear plant (after 18 months of non-stop operation) is only about a few ounces per customer. A lifetime of electricity consumption would create about a 12 oz can sized amount of waste. Yes, you won’t want to put it in your car’s cup holder, but 12 oz cans are fairly easy to move, store and keep out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have it.

  15. But we can make all the clean electricity we want by running the generators with clean, quiet electric motors…

    I actually saw the above in an editorial in Chico California when I was there. Long time ago…

    There is so very much scientific illiteracy and innumeracy… I have a car with a 12 gallon tank. The diesel in it costs $2/gallon, and on that tank of potential energy (which weighs 6 lbs per gallon more or less for a whopping 72 lbs) I can travel 500 miles easily in comfort at freeway speeds. Each of those gallons contains about 42kW hrs.

    A good 12V lead acid battery will have 850 cold cranking amps for a few minutes- lets be generous and say 5 minutes, so around .85kW hrs. and it will weigh about 40 lbs. Doubtless NiMh or Li ion have much higher energy density. They also cost a lot more and have bad habits like exploding and burning up in clouds of really poisonous smoke.

    For practical transportation it just doesn’t work. The fuel in the tank and the storage battery and the fuel cell are all potential energy, and with the heavy metals and transmission and conversion losses, EV’s are like ethanol in gas- negative EROEI. (Energy Returned On Energy Invested). Hydrogen makes more sense but it has problems too.

    And I’m actually a fan of alternative energy. But the *&%$ government and the scientifically illiterate eco whackos are giving it a really bad name. And sucking the life out of legitimate research. And directing the research which will absolutely lead to suboptimum results.

    • They didn’t!

      You drove it a short distance, stopped and plugged in at your house or place of business.

      They had a range of about 70 miles on a charge. Under ideal conditions.

      They were toys. GM had to lease them (heavily subsidized, then as now). IIRC, the retail cost was about $35k… in circa 1996 dollars.

        • Morning, Chip!

          I’m one of the few who actually drove one. I remember being puzzled by the hubbub. Here’s a two-seater that goes about 70 miles before it conks out. Very expensive (cost of the car erasing any savings on fuel) and extremely limited in practicality. Not quick or fast.

          Unless one has a pathological aversion to internal combustion, there’s no sane reason for such a car.

          • eric, the cars were insanely popular though. Some owners feigned stolen cars in an attempt to keep them. Put them in northern Minnesota though and I’d bet those cars would have sat most of their non-working lives.

            Ca. is different though. You could put wrappers on cat turds and sell them every day to the same customers if they had Tootsie Roll Kush on them. The taste might put some off a bit but Oh, the high……and I can eat it right in front of my friends who can’t get one.

          • Those cars were for “greenie” CO2 haters who seem to ignore all other types of ecopoison at our peril. And, of course, they always try to discount the long tailpipe as any sort of issue.

  16. A number of years ago, our local electric utility installed quite a few charging stations over its service area. They were placed mostly in rented locations in shopping centers etc. Keep in mind this is northwest Indiana, a place that is cold half the year or more. There were almost no electric cars even registered in this part of the state at the time (there is probably still few here).

    So they were rarely used, even the ones with free electric. They weren’t maintained much (since they weren’t used much), so metal parts began to rust etc. So the majority of them were removed because they were becoming eyesores so the landlords wanted them gone. So most went away.

    Today, years later, they are trying, you guessed it, to roll them out again.

    They even offer “free” electric (at night) and low cost chargers (installed with a second meter) for owners of electric cars in their garages.

    I only know one person with an electric car, she has a Nissan leaf. She uses it to commute to her job (otherwise its never used). She has a charger at work too, since her job is at the very limits of the range of the leaf going ONE WAY. She often posts that she isn’t able to use the heat etc because she is rolling into her garage on the very last of the juice on cold days etc (since it doesn’t charge all the way at work).

    How many people are willing to forgo HEAT in their car? Not too many. I know I would not be willing. Not for how cold it gets around here, a good heater is a necessary item for commuting.

    The last week has been sub zero, so she has to leave the leaf at home and take her husband’s V8 powered full size pickup to work. Because there is no way to make it when its this cold (range and no heater). So that Leaf makes them a one car couple, since the leaf is basically a paper weight.

    So even a commuting trip, which is supposedly an electric car “strength” doesn’t really work out, because the commute is too long in a cold climate.

    • richb, I should have read your comment before I said anything. But I am very familiar with batteries and cold. Even in Tx. I take my costly batteries(drill, impact, etc.)and put them in the house. And the flashlight that stays in the truck tends to be sick more often. The truck itself sometimes won’t start without being plugged in. We’ve already found the weakest batteries in the fleet and all it took was just that one hard cold snap, one morning in the teens and it was click city.

  17. In order to make electric cars viable, don’t give them batteries, but – generators! And I’m not talking about hybrids, gasoline or diesel. I’m talking about the free energy devices that have been suppressed since the days of Nikolai Tesla. You can self-educate yourself on the possibilities on the Internet.

    But, if we stay in the petro-dollar paradigm box that’s been enforced since Rockefeller, it is just as ridiculous as the California emission standards. I’ll stay in my 2002 WV Jetta TDI and look for “drop-in” technology at the individual level, like the Mcgyan process of making biodiesel .

    • Hi JH,

      I’m intrigued (have been, for years) by the free energy devices you mention. But I’ve yet to come across schematics, designs, etc. that could be turned into an operable device to test these claims. I don’t dismiss the possibility of such things as “zero point” or “vortex”energy (and so on) but as the saying goes, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

      One thing I know for certain is that we could have 60-plus MPG gas cars and probably 100 MPG diesels using known technology, right now.

      Were it not for government.

      • If any of those free energy devices actually worked, someone somewhere would be using it to power a car, a house, a factory, etc.

        • I think so, too.

          There are too many savvy people out there capable of engineering such if it were feasible. The fact that they have not is telling.

      • eric, like pyramids and the like. I tested myself in a pyramid room, soon to be the electronics and projector room, and things really happened but I wasn’t sure just what. I felt like I could fly away and it seemed like there was energy everywhere, stuff getting all sparkly and noises in my ears. Then I heard a strange voice, musta been cause of the ringing in my ears. Somebody grabbed my arm and said “shit man, let’s get outta here, it’s gotta be 150 in here” since it was between 105-110 outside and they’d cut no windows and there was tar paper on the outside. I guess that was the reason nobody was working there. Into my diesel pickup I left running with the a/c on high, a couple blocks to the Alsup’s, a case of iced down beer and all was right with the world. Then my buddy said “hey” and I turned and looked and he said “I got this joint here”….. and sure enough he was right…….and it was righteous. So much for strangely shaped rooms.

      • Hmmm, I wonder if one could eventually buy a hybrid car with bad batteries cheap, and drive it batteryless to improve the mpg that the ICE would then get?

        • Hi Brian,

          A few problems come to mind: Most hybrids have smaller-than-usual IC engines because they rely on the electric side of the powertrain for acceleration assist. Take that away (battery assist) and you’d have one slow ride. Then consider the extra deadweight of the electric motor(s), which you’d still be carting around.

          I suspect there would also be issues with the ECU, which was programmed for the hybrid powertrain, including regenerative braking, the various electrical systems, etc.

  18. Also, we can only hope that for the time being this nonsense is restricted to places like the PSDRC, Washington, New York/Jersey, and other such Marxist cesspools that deserve it. I foresee serious civil disobedience in other parts of the Amerikan Soyuz if attempts are ever made to ram this down throats elsewhere.

  19. Once again, let us remember that this isn’t about ecology, technological efficiency, or creating a “better” car. It’s about restricting our mobility. There is nothing our overlords would love more than to herd us all into urban ghettoes where we become dependent on Big Brother and The Party to provide for our every need, provisions to be dispensed, of course, in accordance with “how well behaved” the inmates of said ghetto are.

    • This is an interesting premise. The limitations of EVs do make a drive from Boston to Houston much more time-consuming, for example.

      Don’t forget about RFIDs in tires. Do you ever wonder why you are asked for your name and address information WITHOUT FAIL when buying new tires? Ever tried to not give that information and complete the purchase? Ever wonder what those ground loops in the highways are for?

  20. There’s no question that electric cars are the future for city-dwellers (not so much for people wanting to drive across the country). However, I object to the government dipping into my pocket to pay for them.

    If they want to support the change, they should do something like ease the zoning laws, so that people can get chargers installed at home, and businesses aren’t prevented from installing them out front for their customers to use.

    • Hi Chip,

      The price (the real, not-subsidized price) has got to come down. A lot. The current $30k for the least expensive (Leaf, Golf) is economic madness. A $12k Nissan Versa costs less than half (not subsidized) as much. The price difference (about $18k) pays for about 9,000 gallons of gas at the current $2 per. You will never even reach break even – not unless you drive more than a quarter-million miles.

      If you compare them “apples to apples” – their not-subsidized cost – the disparity is even more absurd.

      And a car like the Versa does not have the functional impairments you get with the electric car. You can run the heat (or AC) all you like and still go 300 miles on a tank – and refuel in minutes rather than hours.

      • I look on the current situation as preparing for the inevitable. One day, the planet will run out of petroleum. It’s a finite resource, even if you count processing the shale oil fields and recycling the plastic island floating in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

        So while the current fleet of EV cars are certainly rich men’s playthings [1], they’re educating the auto engineers, the electric power network managers, the firmware developers, and so on as to what will be needed when the day comes that the pumps run dry.

        [1] If I had won the Powerball, I would have bought a Tesla. Because the $100k price would be about 10 day’s interest on my money. So… why not?

          • We’ve got coal for at least a century and a half. Not all of it is hard anthracite, but scrubbers and after-burn treatments can clean it up. It’d be way better than the million small coal fires that make living in Beijing so hazardous to your lungs.

            Solar still has a lot of possibilities, if the power companies (like in Nevada) can be prevented from getting protectionist legislation passed. Here in Texas, canopies over parking spots are common, very few of which have panels on them.

            • I’ve been at this a long time… and following it a lot longer. I’ve seen (and driven) every imaginable “alternative” fuel vehicle – and the only ones that cut the mustard were (and still are) CNG powered. The rest are curiosities, engineering exercises in what may be technically feasible – but which remain economically and practically unfeasible.

              • It may come down to a matter of priorities. Cars & trucks can run on batteries, airplanes can’t.

                So refinery output might be concentrated on producing jet fuel (as much as the chemistry allows, anyway) rather than gasoline because people won’t want to go back to the age of steamships to get to Europe.

                BTW, check your yahoo email. Just sent you something.

                • Oil refining is essentially a separation process. The part of the oil that becomes gasoline is not the part that becomes jet fuel.

                  Gasoline is essentially C5 to C10 while jet fuel is C10 to C16.

                  • It’s one of the many things that the “we’re running out of oil” types don’t realize. How many times have you heard one of these guys say “oil is too valuable to burn?” They simply don’t grok the fact that many different products come out of the same barrel of oil.

              • Eric, just wondering, but what companies are working on CNG powered vehicles. I remember reading that Ford had a model or 2, but haven’t heard anything recently.

                • Andy, GM has had them for years and I think Ford has them too. Everything that GM had a couple years ago were commercial vehicles, pickups, light trucks, vans, etc. I spoke to a guy driving a Chevy pickup one day and asked him what it was like. He said it was fine but you’d never mistake it for a diesel. Other than having less power it was fairly much the same according to him. There are more of these in the oil patch than any other business I’ve seen. I’m not sure I’ve seen one without a company sign on it.

            • Solar and all other ‘renewable’ technologies are incapable of providing uninterrupted power and will be supplemental sources of energy for the foreseeable future.

        • Hi Chip,

          Maybe, but maybe not.

          I suspect actual oil reserves are vastly under-rated. And that oil itself may be abiotic and so renewable. We know that other hydrocarbons are abiotic (oceans of liquid methane off-world, etc.)

          In any event, electric cars are no more economically (or functionally) viable today than they were circa 1995, when I was a young journalist just starting out. Yes, they’re quicker and sexier. But the important considerations – cost and range – have yet to be sorted out.

          A $30,000 electric car that can’t go more than 70 or so miles under ideal conditions before it conks out and leaves you waiting for at least 30-45 minutes to recharge is not acceptable.

          Minimally, EVs must be able to go at least 200 miles on a charge with the AC/headlights/heat on and be able to “refuel” in minutes and cost about the same as you’d pay to buy a hybrid or diesel-powered version of a given car.

          Otherwise, forget it.

          Take away the subsidies and they all go away.

          • There are vast amounts of oil very far down in at least some places on the planet. The idea that it’s all dino juices just cannot be true because of the depths involved. Not that this oil is reachable yet, but it has been detected.

        • Oil can be manufactured out of renewable feedstocks (things like agricultural waste) on an energy positive net basis if required. It’s already been done on a small scale (using primarily the parts of turkeys we don’t eat). The problem is building the capacity and the expense. At today’s oil prices it is no longer profitable. But the oil that’s made is very high quality and requires less or no post refinement depending on what it is to be used for from there.

        • One day the planet will also be engulfed by the sun as it runs out of hydrogen fuel and expands out to our orbit.

          Petroleum is a finite resource, but a vast one. There is no immediate danger of “running out.” (I’ve been reading tales of imminently running of oil for the last 60 years.) The pumps are not going to “run dry” anytime in the foreseeable future.

          By the time they actually do in a couple of hundred years or so, natural advances in technology will have provided alternatives. There is no need to artificially push battery-powered cars, certainly not by the criminal gang that refers to itself as “government.” Depending on future advances battery tech may well be obsolete by the time such an alternative is actually needed.

          • Hi Jason,

            “Artificially pushing battery-powered cars” (subsidies) is not only morally wrong, it almost certainly retards or eliminates better innovations. All planners suffer from what Hayek called the “fatal conceit”. Namely, that a small group of “experts” can know enough to “plan” for others. As you point out, nobody knows if EV’s will ever be truly viable. In addition, subsidies restrict other areas of research which may turn out to be much more promising.

            Even if I believed the warnings of the radical enviros, I would still promote an entirely decentralized, non-subsidized, free market approach. No government decreed targets, no “free-market” cap and trade nonsense, no mitigation schemes. Coercive, top down programs always cost orders of magnitude more than promised, but deliver far less than promised. In fact, the “benefits” are often directly opposed to the stated goal.

            Government subsidy/incentive/punishment plans are inherently political. They are designed to be, or quickly become, vehicles for rent-seeking and regulatory capture. No amount of “failure” can turn them off because they create a permanent “interested” class that will make sure the gravy train keeps rolling. Ethanol subsidies, anyone?


      • Something else I’ve been thinking about the future of cars (this should probably be a guest post) .. I see the convergence of a few trends that may result in the death of the personally-owned automobile.

        1. Millennials aren’t that interested in owning a car. Partly because their lifestyle has them tending to live in cities, close to work. Partly because they’re saddled with unforgivable student loan debt that prevents them from having a car loan. And partly because they’re more willing to share their possessions with friends and strangers than previous generations.

        2. Ride Sharing. These services (Lyft, Uber) enable people to get around without owning a car. Their customers get door-to-door service (unlike mass transit), and better service than with the cab companies. And no insurance payments, no stops at the gas station, and no expensive service visits.

        3. Self driving cars. You will be able to sit back and be productive on the way to your destination. Or just watch cat videos. Households won’t need a second car, since dad can send the family car back for mom to use after it drops him off at work. And have it meet him at the office for a pickup at the end of the day.

        4. The auto companies are investing in both self-driving cars and ride sharing (GM just put $500mm into Uber and bought the remains of Sidecar for chump change).

        Since people in the future will have no emotional attachment to a car (it’s a shareable resource), they’ll subscribe to an automobile service. For $400 a month they’ll be able to summon a car on demand via a smartphone app. If there’s a problem (the car isn’t clean, etc) they can report it and the previous occupants will be charged the cleaning fee. Since they can track it’s approach on the app, they can stay just inside their door waiting for it, rather than be out in the weather like at a bus stop.

        The car companies will optimize their model lineup — offering a four-door passenger only model (sedan or small van like the Transit Connect) and perhaps a model with light cargo carrying ability (taking the family to the beach with all their gear). This allows them to simplify & automate assembly lines to an even greater degree than they are today. Since there’s no year-to-year model churn for appearance sake, the vehicle designs become static. Like how the ex-police service Crown Vic became the iconic yellow cab, the new models will be easily identifiable as a shared ride because they’d stay in production essentially unchanged for decades.

        While this is disturbing to folks who love cars, the key thing is that the people living in the future will treat them as transportation appliances (even more so than Corolla owners). They’ll be there to be used and recycled when they’re worn out after 10 years, with no emotion about individual cars getting crushed. They’ll become a PRT (Personal Rapid Transport) system, but without dedicated tracks.

        • They can keep it. Keeping my car costs far less than $400/month with all expenses and I don’t have, or want, a smart phone. Older people are not going to be so quick to go along with it, and with increased life expectancy and better medical treatments we’ll be around for quite a while yet.

          • And here’s some confirmation. I’m sorry. 😉


            > GM executives unveiled their latest foray into the shared transportation economy Wednesday, announcing the creation of a new car-sharing service called Maven that will allow customers to use cars for as little as $6 per hour. Using an app on their smartphones, customers can search for and reserve vehicles by location or car type, then drive them away from designated locations.

          • It’s only a problem if the gunvermin order non-autonomous cars off the road. Let the masses have their transportation pods. There will be plenty of real cars around for anyone currently alive who wants one, they’re not going to all disappear.

            Also note that all these transportation pod schemes require the use of a smartphone. I for one will not carry a smartphone for any reason.

            • I think it would start out in larger cities as a “congestion-fighting” measure. Self-driving cars only on specific designated limited-access corridors, from that point on barred from general use.

              Wealthy commuters would love it immediately. The DOT planners who are control freaks without compare would love slapping their BRT and self-driving Uberslimes over it too.

        • Chip: What you say is scary but quite likely to happen. The younger generations (and many not so young people) are hooked on to their smart devices, and becoming dumb and passive content consumers as a result. Driving and owning a car takes some effort, so many of them are happy to have someone (or something else) else do the work.

    • You would think electric cars would make sense for the inner city but that isn’t reality. When Edmunds first tested electric cars that was their assumption. They quickly found they didn’t work.

      In the city you NEVER get a parking spot in front on YOUR house. No spot, no charge.
      Even when they did get a spot in front of the house there was always the problem of actually running the cord across the sidewalk. They had to cut the one week test off after just a couple of days.

      • They could work for some people in Chicago because Chicago has alleys and many residences have garages and parking spots accessed via those alleys.

        • That type of housing exists everywhere. So the garage is in back instead of the front. And you could install a recept on the outside of the house or down by the curb. Or you could pull a diesel tank trailer with a generator on top and the range would be phenomenal, something well less than a diesel car just pulling that tank…..but let’s never stop dreaming of a pie in the sky. If I’m gonna dream, I’m gonna have a good dream and cars will be perpetual motion and the size of trucks, big trucks, and self-driving and I’ll have scads of really hot young girls who will vie to be my fav. My favorite musicians will pay ME to furnish music just for my cast-offs and beer and booze and marijuana trucks will follow me everywhere I go just for an endorsement. I’ll be strong, and virile and a god to women everywhere……and just like Eddy Shaver wrote(right before he died) and Joe Ely sang to make you cry……I’m gonna live FOREVER. Hell man, don’t fantasize small, go for the whole enchilada.

          • I reject your reality and substitute my own! Don’t forget the roof mounted minigun or at least a quad mount .50 on the perpetual motion damnation alley crawler!


      • Hi Owen,

        True, that.

        The car companies send me a new car to drive every week… but they have yet to send me an electric car. Guess why?

        • Why is it so hard for them to put one on a flatbed tow truck and send it out to you? I imagine they have to send someone to deliver (and pick up) any vehicle out to you, so it not like they need more people to do that.

          Its not like they couldn’t unload it a mile or so down the road from you (so you don’t see the tow truck) and drive it up your driveway………….

          • Hi Rich,

            It’s embarrassing, I guess!

            Seriously, though: The way it works is a guy drives down in one car, picks up the one I have, heads back. Rinse, repeat.

            This isn’t doable with a flatbed…

            Besides which, a car with a 70 mile range is useless out here in the Woods. It’s 35 miles into town and 35 back and that’s too close (far?) for comfort.

            Mind, I like to use the heater. And, sometimes, I drive faster than 55…

            • Two people, two cars coming to you, two people one car(used car)going back, about a tenth the price of a flatbed truck. But the price would go up considerably if they had to spend the night somewhere near you to top off the car and creep it to you next day with just a small amount of energy missing. But 5 or 10 or 15 miles would certainly affect how you assessed the car and that’s another negative.

              If they bring you a VW diesel, there is little cost and no learning curve for you. Let’s see, diesel, green hose, $2/gallon…..sure looks like a bargain to me.

              You get in an electric car and in a few minutes of spirited driving(damn, you were just getting into it) with that full power from the get go acceleration, you look down and see you’re screwed to get home. Then all you can think is whose meter can I use to get back home and for most, who might have 220 V AC receptacle of the 4 wire grounded type with probably some weird arrangement. So you pull up to some lighted sign, take off the cover on the electrical conduit, pull out your full kit of electrical stuff including a good Fluke meter, some alligator clips with insulated wire on them, a roll of wire and assorted connectors and then the cops pull up……sounds like fun fun fun. The makers know this, you know this but they don’t want you to write about this. Can you imagine the look on clover’s face when she realizes she’s going to be hitching soon?……and she had her phone plugged into the car which ate her phone’s power too………and she doesn’t even realize just for the sake of a single diode……..she’d have her phone at least.

            • So all the auto makers run a press fleet pool then? Sort of figured you had to contact each for getting access to cars, and each had a system for setting it up.

              Yup, the range problem and being out in the woods. Here in the Chicago area, if you want to use that electric car for commuting, it really limits where you can live, and the heavy traffic delays reduces the range even more. Many people commute quite a bit further then the range of those electric cars. You can’t even CONSIDER a semi rural part of the area then.

              I think my friend is quite insane driving that Leaf that far everyday. She has little room for error even on a good day. Even with a regular car, her commute is a grueling affair.

    • Maybe not _city_ dwellers. Depends on the city. But around Boston too many people I know have to park on the street. Seems they usually manage to park within a block or three of their building. But then you have to go move it before such-and-such in the morning; or not park on this side of the street on that day … Whole huge neighbourhoods would have to have “free” chargers at every space, cleaning & plowing regimens would have to change “sorry, can’t move my car, it isn’t full yet”. Maybe blocks of housing will be torn down to put up garages…

      How about “the more distant future”.


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