The Electric Car Upside . . .

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Is there any upside to electric cars?

In the interest of fairness, this question should be fairly answered. As is true of almost anything – Hitler did build the Autobahn, after all – you can find a few good things to say about electric cars . . . if you look long and hard enough – and don’t ask too many pesky follow-up questions.

The heat works immediately –

An electric car is like a mobile space heater, one of those little boxes you plug in at home or work to take the chill off the room you’re in. They make heat as soon as you turn them on – assuming there is current flowing. In a non-electric car, you have to wait for the engine to warm up first. This usually takes several minutes, at least, on a very cold day and in the meanwhile you stay cold.

On the other hand . . .

The electric car’s electrically powered heater uses power directly to make heat – just as a home/office space heater does – while heat in a non-electric car is a free perk of internal combustion, produced by the engine as a waste product. It does not cost you energy to  turn the heat on in an IC-engined car; you won’t use more gas to keep the heat on – even at full blast – and your range won’t be reduced an iota.

Use of the heat in an electric car, on the other hand, consumes energy and by dint of that, reduces range.

Electric motors produce immense toque, immediately –

Torque is a measure of twisting energy and electric motors produce that in abundance relative to a combustion engine. Also, their massive torque output is available sooner and more directly because most electric cars are direct drive – meaning the electric motor directly turns the wheels, without the power having to be transmuted from up and down energy to rotational energy (at the crankshaft) and then transmitted via a transmission to the drive wheels.

Right-now power may be the electric car’s strongest card. The electric motor in the Tesla Model S makes in excess of 900 ft.-lbs. of torque and the car is capable of a ballistic 2.4 second run to 60 MPH. For reference, an internal combustion-powered supercar such as the 2018 Mercedes AMG S 63 sedan maxes out at 664 ft.-lbs. of torque and can’t keep up with the Tesla in a straight-up drag race.

On the other hand . . .

Energy – whether in the from of electricity or gasoline – which is transmuted into power – is limited by the amount you have available. The more power you use, the less energy you have left – whether in the gas tank or the battery pack. But the energy in a non-electric car’s gas tank can replenished in minutes while putting energy back into an electric car’s battery pack takes the better part of an hour, at the least  . . . if one can find a high-voltage “fast” charger. And using the “fast” charger, the battery pack can only be partially recharged – to about 80 percent of capacity –  in order to avoid damaging it. To recover a full charge – the equivalent of a full tank – takes hours of slow charging.

A gas-engined supercar might not be fuel-efficient, but it isn’t wasteful  . . . of time. And what good is an electric supercar that’s very quick, but which makes you wait for hours?

Simplicity –

An electric car is fundamentally simple vs. an IC-engined car – in the same way that a jet airplane is simpler, in terms of its mechanicals, than a piston-engined airplane. The electric car’s drivetrain – like the jet engine vs. a reciprocating piston engine – has fewer moving parts than a car with an internal combustion engine. For example, there is usually no transmission as an intermediary between the electric motor and the wheels, which are turned directly by the electric motor. And of course the electric motor doesn’t have pistons or valves or fuel injectors or a radiator that clogs up and never requires oil and filter changes – so you will spend less on routine maintenance.

On the other hand . . .

To make electric cars appealing as well as plausibly practical, it has been necessary to sex them up with powerful motors and battery packs as well as lots of peripheral gadgets. This has made them expensive to buy. Which means that what you didn’t spend on maintaining the car you spent on the car itself.

Electricity is cheaper than gas –

EVs got a big boost when the cost of gasoline almost doubled a few years ago; plugging in was seen – and was – cheaper than filling up. This is probably still true today. Especially since one can still take advantage of free electricity at public charge stations that do not charge you anything to plug in (this is subsidized by the government in order to increase the appeal of electric cars and so get more people driving them – which is what the government wants).

There is also the convenience factor. It’s handy to be able to “gas up” at home.

On the other hand . . .

If electric cars become mainstream cars – as the government is hoping they do – it will mean much greater demand for electricity, which will inevitably mean higher prices. And not only because supply and demand but also because it will be necessary to add to the grid infrastructure – build new utility plants – in order to meet the increased demand. This will have to be paid for – and will be paid for in the form of higher utility bills.

Also, there are certain to be new taxes on electricity – to replace the revenue lost on motor fuels taxes, which are used to pay for the roads. Which electric cars will use – and wear out – just the same as cars powered by internal combustion engines.

Electricity only seems like a good deal vs. gasoline at the moment – because there is no electric analog to the roughly 50 cents per gallon folded into the cost of every gallon of gasoline. Fold an equivalent tax into the kilowatt-hour price of electricity and the math changes pretty abruptly – and that’s without taking into account the infrastructure cost of building all those new utility plants to meet the upticked demand of millions of electric cars hooked to the grid.

. . .

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  1. Range vs. time is still a dealbreaker; an EV is fine for just piddling around your local area as long as you can plug it in at home overnight, not so much for a long trip. The past two winters we drove to Florida (and back, obviously) to get away from the cold for a couple months (great being retired ?). It’s about 1500 miles each way and takes two loooooong 12 – 14 hour days to complete, stopping every 4 hours or so to refill the gas tank and our bellies. Can’t begin to imagine how long that trip would take having to wait for a battery to charge.
    Even moderately long trips would be ridiculously difficult; my family has a cabin in the boonies of the Adirondacks we visit in the summer about a six hour drive from here and up a lot of hills. There is electricity there but where the hell would I be able to get a charge along the way? Hybrids would be capable but why give up cargo space when an IC engine is all you need? The answer has been recognized by many on this forum, our lords and masters want to keep us mundanes corralled the better to be controlled. Include me out.

  2. Great discussion here. I’d like to throw out an idea on the big limiter of EVs- the charging station. Instead of having the EV battery cell each time when low, why not develop removable, swappable battery packs? Each unit designed to be removed and replaced at a charging station? These portable cells would be installed in series in the EV vehicle’s battery bay. There would be an industry standard size…when your EV is low on juice, just pull into the Cell service station. The Cell technician at the station would swap your cells out- let’s say 10 cells weighing @ 30 lbs each. Your cells would be swapped for fully charged ones in less than 10 minutes. Your depleted cells would be charging in the service stations charging bay, ready in a few hours for another customer…just a thought on a energy storage paradigm shift.

    • That’s been proposed as a possible solution. The problem is that the batteries aren’t in a “pack” in one location, they usually are crammed in all through the vehicles. In this example, the Chevy Volt you can clearly see 3 different batteries, for example. In the Tesla the batteries are located under the passenger area, inside the chassis strength members (which they need to be in case of a crash). And having a removable pack means more weight. And manufacturers can’t even universally agree on something as simple as the charging plug -Tesla’s fast charger plug isn’t compatible with the rest of the industry. Imagine if you could only fuel up at the Shell station, meanwhile next door the Kum-N-Go is 10¢ cheaper to charge but you can’t use it because your car will only accept Shell’s plug. Or worse, there is no Shell station.

      Not a bad idea though, but probably not practical until the manufacturers ramp up their “rental” idea. And at first you’ll need to pick the right horse in the race (see above), or you’ll just be charging the same one anyway. That is, until all cars are identical and a standards body or Uncle will define a standard battery pack. After contrived outrage about the non-interchangeable battery packs of course.

      • Adapters on used by many who live in RVs to make their electrical plugs compatible with whatever the park installed. There is no reason why the same thing can’t be done in EV charging stations.

    • I’m not about to “swap out” my 6 month old battery for someone elses 3 year old battery, especially when they so degrade over time.

      • Depending on the chemistry and the architecture, the degradation of a cell is more commonly tied to mistreatment in cycling and charging than in age.

    • The problem with swappable battery packs is that you could end up with a very expensive and heavy paperweight and be on the hook for it while your good one goes off to a new home. It’s a lottery no thinking person wants to play because everyone with a dying or hacked up battery pack will.

        • I have one. It’s for AA and AAA cells. Large battery packs with BMSes are entirely different animals from the accessible terminals. Sure, if we rip them open and break the welds that hold the cells in place and make the connections those handy battery analyzers will work just fine provided they are set up for the chemistry of the cell in question. Then there’s just the thousands of cells to measure.

          • Obviously you’d need the appropriate analyzer for each cell or battery in the same way as you would need the appropriate charger, likewise.

            • Packs only provide very limited data to the outside world. The exception would be where the BMS is located in the device. Then maybe there would be more to read off the data line. But generally not enough to tell you the pack is going to die since it’s all geared around safety not analyzing in such detail.

              • Cells and packs can tell a lot about their condition by their reaction to various charging and loading conditions. They don’t need any data elements to do so, but the person doing the analysis has to understand the reactions to gain useful information about the conditions of the cells or packs under analysis.

                • And thus it is not a simple cheap analyzer but either a machine or a person loaded with proprietary information of the pack’s specifications.

                  • Everything is based on chemistry or architecture, and the best way to insure no sales of any such product is to keep it proprietary.
                    The majority of any electronic analysis has always been done better in the head of a knowledgeable technician than in the fixed software of an “expert” system.

  3. “They make heat as soon as you turn them on ”

    They also produce heat when not connected to anything. The batteries probably have ‘self discharge’, loss of charge even when not connected to anything. Sort of like a well-filled party ballon eventually empties. Search on Self-Discharge Losses in Lithium Ion Battery Cells for example. I am not sure of the amounts of loss.

  4. If you had that 2.4 second Tesla and challenged me to a race from Charlottesville to San Diego and I had to drive my 84 Mercedes 300SD, I would win by hundreds of miles over the 2400 mile run mostly on Interstate 40.
    But a Tesla like that would be fun for stoplight pissing matches.
    Part of the dirty little political secret of the push for EVs is the proponents want to make the private car a local use perk for the beautiful people while eliminating the car as a road trip vehicle and making the deplorables take the bus.

    • My kids and I often make a similar run, from Los Angeles to North Carolina, in our Honda Odyssey (the HO!) and I am quite thankful that the HO can easily handle the 75 mph speed limits in Arizona and New Mexico. Regarding the way things were in earlier decades, I watched a James Corbett documentary ( that stated how public transportation was huge in Los Angeles and around the country, but the Rockefellers’ desire for making everyone dependent on oil actually got rid of a lot of public transportation and simply put many public transportation vehicles out of service. A similar thing is happening today with the push by National Propaganda Radio and others to “donate” an old car. Many of those cars could be fixed and continue to run if not for government regulations and planned obsolescence by car manufacturers (e.g., try getting parts for a 1996 Honda Accord (our other car, the HA) and ask where the parts will be shipped from–in L.A., we’ve had parts shipped from the East Coast). Today’s push seems to be to get rid of individuals’ cars and have everybody dependent on public transportation and on other people (via Uber et al.). In both cases, many otherwise adequate vehicles will be trashed. Where are the environmentalists protesting this waste?!?

      • Hi Trish,

        This movement to push us out of independently owned and controlled cars is about control; about them controlling us. Relative independence of movement is one of the very things remaining to us that’s not under their immediate control and it drives them bonkers.

  5. Pass the popcorn.Will be fascinating to watch the change over to the electric economy.It WILL happen.HOW it will play out though,we can only guess.

    • Hi Fred,

      I dunno. Hitler also thought that he could beat the Russians by force of will. Reality sometimes bites. Imagine the government decreeing that everyone will own a 2,500 sq. foot home. Wait, they tried that . . . back in the early 2000s. The end result wasn’t pretty!

      In the end, someone will have to pay for all of this.

      Who will it be?


  6. AARGH!!!! There is one thing that keeps electric cars from being viable. How do we know this? Simple,it’s been done before. DON’T KEEP THE BATTERY IN THE CAR!!! Remember streetcars and trolleys? Remember how they were viable for almost a century? Why was that? Because they didn’t keep the battery in the car.

    • Hi Anonymous,

      Sure, certainly… but then how to power the car? Trolleys were fed power via cables and operated on limited runs. That only works for cars if they do the same. It’s not viable.

      There would need to be some way of transmitted energy through the ether, Tesla style (not the car, the man). But how to do that?

      • I disagree. I think slot cars are the only tech that works. A hot rail or cable running along the freeway – and you are good to go. In fact, with a slot car infrastructure ANY vehicle could easily have a “powered wheel” (an electric motor / wheel combination you simply bolt on in place of the existing tire) added to it as easily as changing a tire. And with toll road tech easy enough to figure out how much / who to bill for the electricity.

        • The cost of building such a guideway would exceed the cost of a current road with a railroad embedded. Electricity is cheap compared to highway reconstruction. Perhaps you should investigate trolleys before you ignore them.

  7. Hi Eric, one point, you make regarding roads…. “Which electric cars will use – and wear out – just the same as cars powered by internal combustion engines.” a bit off here- Because electric cars weigh much more than a normal car of the same size, they wear out roads much faster. Here in Europe, the country which has gone furthest so far with adoption of electrics, Norway, has realised this problem and recently proposed a “tesla tax” on heavy electrics cars!! never like taxes but couldnt help laughing at this one!!!

    Personally, I do think that there is a place for electrics, as small urban cars, say to do the school or grocery run for people in congested cities. There was something here in London some time back called the G wiz. A cheap, electric car which I thought was quite brilliant. As it didnt have all the un-necessary nonsense it was extremely cheap (like 6K new)…….. unfortunately it disappeared and now all electrics are like 25K+

    • Something that weighs substantially less than 80,000 pounds wears roads substantially less than that which routinely weighs at least that much.

    • I’m with Bill. The typical car/SUV (even the monster Ford Excursion) causes effectively zero damage to asphalt. The grass encroaching from the verge is more of a threat to the road surface.

      However the 80,000 (or more in some locations!) trucks cause the overwhelming majority of the damage to the roads. They sort-of pay for it with diesel fuel taxes, but there is push-back from the people whose goods are on the truck as they don’t want to pay them.

      • The failure to spend every penny collected as fuel tax on the highways can’t be blamed on those who pay the tax or drive the vehicles. It is very similar to the reason why the social security trust fund is illiquid, being full of IOUs from other trust funds.

    • Hi Tor,

      I tried… it’s impenetrable. I cannot fathom how to actually buy anything with these Bitcoins. Either I am an imbecile or the system is designed for Internet hipsters and I am not one.

  8. I have an electric vehicle and I actually spend less time fueling it than the gas car I had before. I just plug it in in the garage when I am done driving for the day and unplug it in the morning when i go to work.

    I would spend 5 minutes every week fueling my gas car, but I doubt I spend more than 1 minute combined per week plugging and unplugging my car each day to keep it topped up. (4 seconds plugging and unplugging each day * 2 * 7 days = 56 seconds/week)

    For long trips though, the fueling time becomes more of a hassle. Fortunately, I don’t typically drive more than the 300 mile range of my car per day.

    As far as the electric heat, I have it programmed to pre-heat the car for 20 minutes before I go to work, but since it is plugged in overnight, it just uses the house power to heat it, so it doesn’t lower the range.

  9. The part of this story which is not mentioned, is the hydrogen fuel cell. Companies such as Ballard Power, the fuel cell company, and mercedes, BMW, the old Chrysler, and other companies were working on these ten years ago.

    The fuel cell replaces the big battery, and the hydrogen tank can get refilled at (future)?
    Hydrogen station. So the tank can get filled from time to time.

    While the electric motor would not be much different than an electric car motor. Perhaps exactly the same.

    The benifit is no pollution from the car . Just water vapor.

    The problem is where do you get the hydrogen from, and infrastructure to deliver that.

    Batteries are basicly a temporary measure.

    • The biggest issue with fuel cells is fouling of the membrane. If you’re going to the moon over the course of a few days that’s not a big problem. But over the course of a few months or years eventually there will be degradation due to impurities in the gasses. And there’s the H2 extraction process to deal with, still a very high energy process.

      Nothing really scales as well as gasoline.

    • Hell, Andy Granatelli was working on hydrogen powered cars in the early 60’s…..and still the same problems of producing fuel.

    • They sell 2 H2 cars in Cali Toyota Mirai & Honda Clarity. Although SoCal has the majority of the H2 fuel stations there are about a dozen opening up in SF Bay Area soonish.

      IMO a Hybrid IC & Fuel Cell power plant being fueled by H2 from a HOME production system would be the ideal setup.

  10. In the interest of fairness…. Electric vehicles can utilize electricity generated in off peak hours, such as over night produced from wind generation, making utility costs cheaper and alternative energy more practical for power grids. The more electric vehicles there are, the better it is for power grids. And the argument about torque causing extra time for energy replacement may be true for drag racing, but is that really an honest issue for electric vehicles in urban driving? There is currently an exponential growth in the use of electric vehicles. Shall we feel sorry for all those misguided people, or are they leading a permanent trend? There isn’t a single “problem” with electric vehicles that isn’t actually an opportunity.

    • There is not enough off peak power available to charge hundreds of millions of electric cars. But even if it were we’re still dealing with the energy management smart grid to ration it. In other words technocracy. The way it works is to simply not have ordinary people driving.

  11. re this: “which will inevitably mean higher prices. And not only because supply and demand but also because it will be necessary to add to the grid infrastructure – build new utility plants – in order to meet the increased demand. This will have to be paid for – and will be paid for in the form of higher utility bills.”

    Not following why this would raise utility bills. Imagine you have one power plant that supplies 1,000 people at current useage. Imagine useage per person doubles because of electric cars. You build a second power plant. You double the income from utility bills – and double the costs of generating that power.

    Seems like a wash, unless new utility plants are significantly more expensive or less efficient than the current infrastructure.

    • Depends on the generating station’s fuel more than anything. It is relatively inexpensive to build natural gas turbines, and many of them can run on other fuels like diesel. They can even be automated to the point of not requiring any on-site manpower to run. Moving up the price ladder comes renewables, which require a lot of space and overbuilt capacity to get significant amounts of electricity. But of course there’s money to be had in subsidies to offset much of that expense, and in many states rules that force ISOs (grid operators) to accept your power even if there’s no demand -meaning that coal and nuclear baseload plants have to be taken offline since power is used as it is generated. The fact that coal plants aren’t easily shut down on the fly is the primary reason for their demise, not because coal is expensive. And it is being replaced by gas turbines not renewables.

      At the other end of the spectrum is nuclear, at least in its current, overly regulated and over-scaled form. The only way to ever come close to break even is to scale up to several terawatts of production, have a build schedule measured in decades and teams of lawyers to fight the inevitable lawsuits filed by every (petroleum backed) wackjob environmentalist who doesn’t understand statistics.

      In a sane world we’d be converting our cars to run on natural gas, running our power grid on nuclear and using electric vehicles (that pull power from the grid instead of trying to carry it with them) on rails.

      • Ready, we see more CNG vehicles all the time and even some big rigs. I’d agree it’s a great, cheap fuel source and one we have plenty of. This last round in the patch saw several of the power plants built in west Tx. alone. We have a glut of power in Tx. and wind gen even sells power in off peak times for an $8/MW loss due to subsides which reduce the loss in those times. Of course they could do without subsidy but who’s going to turn it down? Ok, there actually have been some cases here where the subsidy hasn’t been taken but it’s rare.

        I’ve talked to guys running CNG pickups(GM) and they say they’re fine….you won’t mistake them for a diesel but they’re fine when leaving the big trailers in the yard and only using the small ones. Of course what I call small others would call a heavy trailer but the heavy trailers are goosenecks and fifthwheels that seem to always be well overloaded.

        I use propane to heat even as we speak. After 60 years of being in the sun every day my hose has finally sprung a leak on the crimped male adapter and the valve just leaked like a sieve a few minutes ago when I transferred from one tank to another. I don’t mind buying a new valve or connector after that sort of service….not at all.

        We have a gas plant a few miles NE of us and on days like today with a NE wind I can smell the money….just not mine.

        • Morning, Eight!

          It annoys me to teeth-aching distraction that sensible solutions such as CNG have been shunted aside while electrics are being literally shoved down people’s throats.

          It is being done for no rational reason, since the fuel (CNG) is abundant, inexpensive and very clean – in terms of actually harmful emissions. But CNG does produce C02 – which isn’t a pollutant but is being characterized as such by the government and others looking for an excuse to terminate internal combustion.

          • I wonder about propane in very cold weather. My propane heater,
            according to its manual, will run out of juice from a 100 lb. tank in just a couple of hours in 15 below or colder temps. The tank size I’d need for serious winter driving would therefore be gigantic.

            • Hi Ross,

              The CNG (not propane, but basically the same thing) cars I drove back in the ’90s were capable of switching from gas to gasoline, which eliminated any worries about range on the gas (gas) vs. gasoline. For me the main sells are:

              * Relatively inexpensive vs. electric cars; the cost premium (IIRC) for a CNG/dual-fuel Ford Crown Vic vs.a standard gasoline-fueled Crown Vic was about $3,000.
              * No range issues.
              * Refueling could be accomplished in a few minutes, as with gasoline.
              * CNG is relatively cheap, very abundant and extremely “clean” – in the meaningful ways.

              • eric, I have used propane vehicles all my life. My tractor is a propane 4020 and its engine burns so clean it just goes and goes. The previous owner was allowing me to use it once and I asked after looking at the boots and rusted spark plugs how long it had been since it had a change. 20 years was his reply, we can’t get the damned plugs out and don’t want to have to pull the head from trying. I felt his pain so I used a secret weapon he didn’t have, Kano Kroil. I squirted them and tapped them and let them sit. I did this a few times before I started to try to remove them. They all came out intact but it was a dicey process. I can send you the broken extension from the deal I found just yesterday in the barn looking for some plumbing parts and there it was on the quite dirty floor.

                Once those plugs were out, it was a sight to behold. They were worn down some but didn’t look a hell of a lot different from day one, dry and clean. Of course I used some fancy govt. supplied(to my cousin building the Glen Rose reactor)pure aluminum never-seize so plug change was never a problem after that.

                That’s the good part of compressed gas and the bad part is jacking with a tank you can no longer legally pull down the road unless you qualify as a hauler that’s too expensive and lengthy plus costly process for anyone to do. Of course it’s still done but just on back roads and now everybody who hauls a tank carries it on another trailer.

                The other part is lack of power, expensive transfer hose and other gas supply parts and 80% as a maximum load for a tank. I’ve tried more than 80% but in the hot part(most of the time)of the year in west Tx. you’re simply going to find the relief valve working overtime sending that extra into the atmosphere.

                The other part of a road going vehicle is losing bed/trunk space which is a drag, esp. in a pickup. Back in the day when cars had tanks in the trunk it was always something only the knowledgeable person refueled….and I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to perform the process. The other side of the debate is cost. When propane cost nearly nothing it was a good deal. Too many times I’ve bought propane in esp. the last 30 years and it would be the price of gasoline or sometimes more expensive. This makes no economic sense in fueling a vehicle. The amount of power you lose should be made up in a much lesser price. If this isn’t the case you’re just “pissing in the wind” as we’d say herebouts.

                I looked at CNG powered vehicles several years ago when GM was the only game in town for light trucks and even then they were something along the lines of $8,000 over a gasoline vehicle.

                I’m guess that price has come down “some” but wonder what it might still be since the only light trucks I’ve seen with it were company trucks, mainly for pipeline companies and you know where they were being fueled and there was some fancy bookwork involved if they were claiming fueling costs and they may have been just double dipping into their own supply. Right now, a liquid fuel is still king in every practical and economic way much as we’d probably all appreciate an engine that ran forever……and would outlast every vehicle made now which negates its longevity.

          • The problem with CNG is what would happen if you had self serve and poorly maintained fuel systems in some cars. They would have a problem with going BOOM. Municipal fleet use with fueling taking place in central depots works fine, but everywhere for every man? I don’t think that would work.

            • Since natural gas is methane, and propane contains more energy than methane, why aren’t there frequent propane explosions with inexperienced people using it on grills and RVs?

    • Jim, try to get a permit to build a new electric plant. It’s not a level playing field and it’s quite literally filled with all sorts of govt. regulations to make sure Joe Blow can’t compete with GE. The plants aren’t cheap to build and so they don’t get built without loans. Everybody’s standing around with their hand out no matter what insignificant seeming govt. job they have and you can bet the site isn’t even named before everyone has been paid.

      Of course if it were nuclear then cost over-runs would insure a higher rate…..forever…..or as long as that plant lasts….which may be forever for people living anywhere near it.

      Go to Ca. and take a sample of the Pacific for nuclear wastes. Ah, Japan has come to Ca. in a big way. Fukushima indeed.

  12. Good article Eric.

    Solid points in the “pro” column:

    Also – I’d like to know how the range is affected when a lithium Ion battery is cold soaked at 10 degrees F for 24 hours. It’s winter here in Michigan and all the Teslas I see in the summer seem to vanish in the winter.

    Seems they’d have an advantage in snow traction with the heavy battery packs.

    “Electricity only seems like a good deal vs. gasoline at the moment – because there is no electric analog to the roughly 50 cents per gallon folded into the cost of every gallon of gasoline.”

    However, the gas tax “free ride” EVs currently enjoy isn’t going to last long:

    See this:

  13. Ironically if some of those electric car advantages were adapted for use in gas cars, they would be popular. Instant heat for example, something I wonder why carmakers (especially high end ones) hasn’t done more to bring to market.

    • Instant on heat for IC cars means you need a much bigger and heavier and bulkier battery, which hurts handling and performance, plus adding costs and hurting MPGs, triggering higher CAFE taxes.

      Still, it would seem that on, say, Mercedes S series cars, those tradeoffs wouldn’t be as important as getting a leg up on the competition.

      • My ’60 Corvair Monza had a GM licensed (built by AC as I recall) Southwind gasoline heater. Heat before out of the driveway, even in Flint, Michigan. Kind of messed up fuel mileage figured in city driving since the fuel burn was consistent no matter how many miles you were covering. But even then, the cost was irrelevant unless you were a statistics nut like me.

          • Nearly every vehicle I’ve had in the last 35 years or so had a block heater, all but one installed by me. We have cold winters sometimes and we always have some really cold nights and single digits aren’t uncommon at times in west Tx. Some of my engines are my own rebuilds and I always use an over volume oil pump since I know come warm weather I’m going to be beating on one pretty hard at times and a bit more than factory oil flow plus better oil is going to pay off. I also know 80% of engine wear occurs on cold start-ups and I also know I like getting in one that’s really cold and having hot air as soon as I start it. I also like not seeing the oil pressure go very high on those cold starts.

            You’d probably like looking at the inside of my engines since I’m prone to smooth things out like the valley and hog out oil return holes on the heads and valley of the block and use a windage tray not only to reduce HP loss, which doesn’t affect much in a street engine but more to keep the oil from atomizing and return more of it back to the sump faster. I always do some head port matching to the intake and some all the way to the valve and even on the exhaust side. Making the combustion chambers match in volume down to a single cc certainly doesn’t hurt anything either. I’m not opposed to using different lifters on the torque side either. I learned this trick by tearing down a Chevy built engine installed in an Impala at the Tonawanda plant where they experimented with various things on engines and then installed the engines into regular cars when they were through testing them. I’ve had two Chevy’s with engine parts such as camshafts that aren’t in their books. Both were exceptional engines and had extremely long lives. Don’t know how many miles over the 200,000 the Tonawanda engine would have gone if that damned plastic timing gear hadn’t failed. No lip inside the cylinders and I easily pushed the pistons out that I still have. Almost no wear on the rings or the piston skirts in that engine. It also had a crankshaft with chamfered oiling holes and smoothed counterbalances. Oh, and here’s the clincher it was a custom build. It had the con rods and caps number matched. I was a bit surprised the con rods weren’t stress relieved after all the other things.

              • Block heaters keep the coolant warm so the engine is close to operating temp at startup. The block heater is basically a hot water heater element where one of the core plugs would normally go. Most of the time the windshield is partially thawed in the morning from the heat coming off the heater core, even with the fan off.
                Personally I prefer a block heater. I prefer my engine to be warm for starting as opposed to just the cab. I can wait for heat but the sounds a real cold engine makes on startup make me cringe.

            • > damned plastic timing gear

              I went through two of those on the small-block 350 I had in my high school car. Ehh. High-school driver is my excuse.

    • They need to get their minds off the idea of the electric coming from a “battery”. I just don’t see it working, so many things that just are of no advantage (like the weight etc).

      Granted that also means there would likely never be a “pure” electric car either. That’s probably the reason why hybrids won’t ever cut it with those people.


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