The eTron Con

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Some inside baseball that’s relevant to the bum’s rush (Uncle’s rush, really) toward an Electric Car Future:

They don’t send me electric cars to test drive. Not one. Not yet. Probably not ever.

They send me everything else – except for GM, which stopped sending me cars to punish me for expressing un-PC opinions about the company’s leg-humping of “diversity” (see here for more about that). But the point is, GM  did send me cars and could send me cars.

Just not electric cars.

Why is this relevant to the EV discussion?

Because it demonstrates badly how gimped EVs are – and I figured someone (it won’t be the “consumer” press) ought to tell you about it, in case you’ve taken too many pulls on the electric car crack pipe and actually bought into the EV hype, which is potentially much more dangerous to your wallet than a time share or a Pampered Chef distributorship.

Okay, gather ’round.

My place in SW Virginia is about 200 miles from the central press car hub for the northeast region, which is located in the Northern Virginia/Maryland suburbs. Press cars are brand-new cars put into a special fleet for distribution to car journalists like me. A driver who works for the fleet management company drives a new car to a journalist’s house or place of business, drops it off for him to test out for a week and then comes back the following week to pick it up.

It’s no problem for the delivery drivers who work for the press fleets to make the trip from there to here in 3-4 hours, traffic depending. Usually doable on a full tank but if it’s a muscle car or some such, no problem. Just refuel and back on the road.

No worries.

Unless it’s an EV.

Now the driver’s got a worry.

Because an electric car can’t make it from there to here without stopping at least once – for a minimum of 30-45 minutes each time and that’s the best-case scenario, assuming the driver can find a “fast” (high voltage) charger. These are still hard to find – and if one can’t be found, then it’s an overnight stay for the driver and what was a 3-4 drive becomes a two-day ordeal.

Two days’ pay for the driver, plus the cost of a hotel for the overnight stay. The EV will not have burned any gas during the odyssey but a lot money and time will have been burned through.

The other option is a flatbed truck – which could get the EV here in a few hours – but that gets into money (and time) too. And as hard as it may be for government parasites to grok, people who can’t legally just steal money to support their activities have to think about what things cost and operate within certain economic parameters.

So, no EVs for me – or any other car journalist outside the orbit of an EV’s range on a single charge. Which means only urban/suburban journalists within about 50 miles of the press car hub get EVs to test drive.

This accounts for the vacuous, dishonest coverage of EVs. All you need to do is flip it around to see what I mean.

Imagine Consumer Reports or some other Pravda-like organ of the establishment car press got a non-electric car to evaluate and it conked out after 100 miles (or even 200 miles) and had to be hooked to a special and hard-to-find apparatus for at least 30-45 minutes before they could it back on the road again.

Imagine this car’s performance noticeably deteriorated in cold weather; that it could not be refueled in very cold weather – unless an enclosed/heated garage could be found. That running the car’s heater and headlights had the same effect on the car’s range as a hole in the gas tank of a non-EV would have.

The resulting coverage would make what happened to Ford/Firestone back in the ’90s seem like a minor bitch about the location of the cupholders. There would be open talk of gyps and cons and general preposterousness. A car that can’t make a 200 mile trip without a major (and possibly overnight) pit stop?

That is something even a Yugo could do.

And the Yugo didn’t cost what an EV costs.

But you’ll not be told such tales by the Pravda-like car press because the only car press that gets EVs is the urban/suburban press and that is very much like expecting to get political coverage that’s even-handed toward Trump out of a Latinix transqueer gender studies professor at Berkeley.

Which brings to me to the worshipful coverage given the 2019 Audi eTron – which is Audi’s first all-electric crossover SUV and the tip of the spear – so to speak – of what is on deck to become an LBGTSUV EV juggernaut.

It is a very weird juggernaut in that there is almost no market demand for these EVs, which in total comprise barely 1 percent of all new cars sold, almost all of them in urban areas of California and Arizona (where, not coincidentally, it is warm all year long). Yet Audi (and VW) as well as Mercedes and BMW are practically tripping over each other to get as many EVs into production as possible.

Who do they think is going to be buying them?

The eTron will sticker for $75,000 – to start. A “well-equipped” model will sticker for $86,700.

Keep in mind that Audi will be competing (if that’s the right word) for buyers in that 1 percent bracket with all the other hawkers of similarly high-dollar EVs. If the market for these EVs doesn’t somehow come into existence after the fact, there is is going to be much more than Hell to pay. It could mean the collapse of several big-name car brands, who’ve “invested” (abuse of language, hence air quotes) in vehicles for which there is no market, in the desperate hope that one will come into being.

Well, maybe not so desperate.

It is not a coincidence that the biggest bum’s rushers toward the Electric Car Future are German companies – Audi/VW, BMW and Benz. It is because in the home market there are fatwas even more severe and lunatic than those in force here. Fatwas which forbid cars that aren’t capable of  at least part-time all-electric operation from even being used in certain “protected” areas, such as urban areas. These areas are being expanded upon. It is an artificial – government created – “incentive” to build EVs, though no one seems to ask aloud what “incentive” buyers will have to purchase them if they can’t afford them.

It doesn’t matter. The car companies won’t contradict the now-sacrosanct EV orthodoxy, even if it ultimately kills them. The reason being that management isn’t going to suffer. The fish rots from the head down, but in the case of huge corporations, the heads are extremely well-paid even if the company rots under their watch, so what do they care? Most of them are not “car guys.”

They are money guys (and gals).

And so long as the getting’s good, they’ll be getting – and then, going.

Meanwhile, the Pravda press will continue on its knees, supplicating the EV god.

And outliers like me will sit back and watch the show.

. . .

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  1. If the United States followed those European rules defining urban areas, then my abode that is 20 miles sans stop signs along two-lane roads from the nearest city limits would probably fall under their definition of an urban area.

    Which goes to show how fond of rules that government apparatchiks are.

  2. Eric,

    Have you ever had the chance to review the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV? It functions like the Volt and is the only affordable crossover EV in the US. In the past you’ve reviewed fairly Mitsubishi (Mirage) and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

  3. And this is why I believe that as more cars become autonomous and electric, the used car market will explode! (I’m talking 00’s and early 10’s the latest), up until a point where automakers have to take a hard look in the mirror and realize that they gotta stop with the BS and stick to real cars, lest they go bankrupt…

    Who am I kidding, they’re gonna OD chasing the electric dragon

  4. We love our Nissan Leaf. $11K used. We use it for around town driving in the mid-Atlantic, and plug it into a regular wall outlet at home to charge. It is all electric with about a 95 mile range. We get the rough equivalent of about 165 mpg. It isn’t for everyone, because like you said, long trips are out of the question. For us, it is perfect.

    • Bryan, how did you figure 165 mpg? What does it cost to charge one of those things up, and how does that compare with fuel economy from a combustion engine? How long does the battery last before it has to be replaced?

      • The EPA uses a comparison of BTUs per gallon of gas. It provides a rough estimate. See this link.

        The cost for electricty in my state is roughly 11 cents per kWh. Depending on how you drive it, and which electric car you own, you can get anywhere between 3 miles per kWh to 5 miles per kWh. For us, assuming a car that gets 25 mpg, the Leaf is about 1/4 of the cost in energy. It also has less maintenance cost, no alternator, no transmission, very little engine cooling needed, etc.

        Battery life is a big question. As is the economic impact of disposal as all these huge chemical batteries lose capacity. Nissan has a 5 year 30% loss warranty. The Leaf came out in 2011, and there are still plenty of them on the road with 70% of the original capacity. I think the battery life depends some on usage patterns, charging patterns, and temperature, as Eric mentioned. Extreme heat in particular seems to be a problem that all of the battery manufacturers are working to resolve. Ours is 3 years old and has 32,000 miles and we still have over 95% battery capacity, so I’m hopeful that it will last 10 years, 100,000 with no problem.

    • Hi Bryan,

      There are indeed great deals on used EVs, which depreciate far more steeply than most IC cars do. Think about why. And it’s a great deal – for you – because the first owner ate the depreciation.

      Would you have bought a Leaf new?

      Would you have paid the non-subsidized MSRP of appx. $40,000 for it?

      To be clear, I don’t oppose EVs. I just oppose the mandates and subsidies and economic absurdity of EVs.

      • Hey Eric … that anonymous reply above was me as well. No, I would not have bought a new one, but I wouldn’t buy any new car. 🙂 I think a lot of the used Leafs on the market now were leases. They seem to be popular in that market.

        I’m a voluntaryist, but also an environmentalist. We agree … the mandates and subsidies are anti-market and misguided. Subsidies are theft. We also agree that EVs aren’t for everyone. When people get such a religious fervor in favor of anything, I tend to be very skeptical. In our case, our scenario with the used EV works well for us.

        Keep fighting the good fight!

        • Thanks, Bryan!

          A few months ago, Fiat was offering a lease deal on the EV version of the 500 for something like $60/month… I thought about getting one, but the thing couldn’t make it “down the mountain” and back on a charge, so it was a no go.

          Literally! 🙂

  5. Not only would the government media organs be “outraged” at an ICE car that was as hobbled as a typical EV is, Uncle Sucker would be in full cry as well, dragging CEOs to Senate Investigative Panel dog and pony shows for public excoriation and preparing all manner of new regulatory fatwas and edicts.

    Oh yes, and the lawyers would be lined up for the scalping as well.

  6. So what it sounds like they’re saying is that these electric cars are going to be the only way to get around congested areas, and everyone else will be categorized as gross polluters and relegated to paying for the privilege of driving a second class fossil fuel wasting environmentally challenged automobile.

    I’ve been looking at these motors for bikes, trikes, etc. They’re a couple thousand dollars for the lithium ion batteries, but a friend of mine picked up a trike and used some lead/acid motorcycle batteries; the whole thing, including the trike only cost him a few hundred dollars. He loves it and drives that thing all over the place.

    These things are becoming quite popular, but in a number of places their illegal to ride on bike paths, and some clovers get quite ticked off when someone goes flying by over 20 mph. If electric power is relevant anywhere it’s with bikes and trikes. I think that’s where it will shine. I’ve also seen some people slapping a few banks of batteries into their boats along with an array of solar panels and the boats cruise along somewhere around 5 to 10 mph which isn’t that bad. They run all day while the sun is out and can run a few more hours in the dark until the batteries go dead; probably a better deal than these cars that can’t leave the cities.

    There are no fatwas for boaters or bicyclists, and yet a growing number are going for the electric gizmos. Why can’t the government just let the market do its thing? I haven’t noticed any government funding for trikes or boats, and yet these companies are still in business while the government funds these dipshits screwing around with cars that nobody even wants for a fraction of what they cost to build.

  7. As usual I really enjoyed your article. I appreciate your world view as well and have for some time felt like I live in a parallel universe separate from the dystopian reality of today’s oppressive approach. You definitely brought back memories of a better (in my mind) time with this article. My first car which I shared with my older brother was a 1964 Corvair Monza coupe, red with black interior. My brother unfortunately took it to college and it died a slow painful death. The most notable thing I remember was the tendency for the Monza to lose it’s fan belt but it was an easy fix and a minor nuisance. My other memorable car was a 1987 silver Lincoln LSC which I bought used. I loved that car and wish I still owned it. It had troubling intermittent electrical problems which the dealer never seemed to solve. The would keep the car for days then return it saying the battery connections were dirty and now it was fine only to have to call the tow truck the next week and go through the same thing, finally traded it in but I still have fond memories of that car. I currently have a 2004 Mustang Mach 1, Azure Blue. Not too many around, provides plenty of fun. Thanks again for your insights and commentary.

  8. This environuttory has infected electric companies too. My local electric utility (NIPSCO, NW Indiana) announced plans to quit using coal generation within TEN years! Keep in mind, this electric company presently makes 75%+ of its power with, you guessed it coal! So it has to figure out how to replace three quarters of its present generation. Keep in mind this company is very close to brownouts in the summer as it is AND has some of the highest rates in the midwest already.

    Sigh……. Keep in mind Killary didn’t even get elected and Trump turned down the heat on coal and they still are making these dumb a** decisions.

    It’s going to close down coal plants with decades of useable life in them. What a waste. Of course they are vague about what they think they will replace it with. So any amount of electric cars on the grid will break this company if they go through with this idiocy.

    • Rich, it’s evident throughout every business, institution and agency today- in America, and the Western world, that the brainwashed fools who are in decision-making and directorial positions are pursuing a course of cultural, economic, societal and national suicide.

      And they, and everyone below them ensure that the politicians who are elected will foster and spread more of the same.

      It’s hard to tell if the suits do these things because they believe i n them, and lack to intelligence to realize the consequences; or if they are just carrying on with what they know will be mandated policy once the next leftist is elected in 2020- or more likely, a combination of both.

      America, and all of the first-world is DONE. There can be no recovery from this downfall which is soon to occur, because we are losing so much infrastructure; so much intellectual capital and skill; and so much of stability and structure of a functional society, that it would take well over a century to rebuild what we are now seeing the last glimpses of; and to get it functional and efficient again.

    • Maybe they will follow cow fart save the earth Jerry Brown’s plan in California. Subsidize (and now mandate all new construction) installation of roughly $30,000 or more (financed) worth of rooftop solar on their homes and businesses. All those hundreds of thousands of homes magically backfilling kilowatts into the neighborhood all day long. Makes it fairy dust appear to keep peoples A/C and TV running during business hours.

      Actually a brilliant political virtue signaling con. Utilities pay roughly 3-4 cents to the homeowner for his excess, through a rubrics cube matrix of hours/time/days/ seasons rate structure, run the electricity next door over existing wires (electricity always follows the shortest path) and then charge the neighbor 25 cents per kWh. At night even the solar home/ business owner loses on the kilowatt transfer casino bet. And the home/ business owner eats the cleaning, maintenance and any other costs for the next 20 years. Talk about money for nothing and no power plants for free. Until it dosen’t work. Much like Eric getting an EV delivered.

    • Pretty soon you will see thousands of large Federally subsidized wind turbines popping up in your pristine countryside. They are a huge eyesore, kill birds of prey along with beneficial bats, and at night the blinking red lights will drive you crazy.

      That’s how they will replace coal.

    • Interesting article, Dip- I guess it just provides a little support for what we can easily notice just by looking around today.

      One thing’s for sure though: No matter who wins, or how radical they are, the basic tenets of the long-established authoritarian-collective state will continue- mainly welfare and wars. (And the article does correctly cite a major upcoming war).

      The key tenet of the left, welfare, will keep the leftists happy.
      The key tenet of the right- war, will keep them happy.
      And a big war will just give all of the dummies on either side something to unite over.

      Just like WW2- If you watch movies from that era and or listen to stories of older relatives (etc.) who lived during that time, it is SCARY how ALL just put aside their differences and ignored any injustices, because winning the war was the utmost thing on everyone’s minds- and I hate to think what it would have been like for someone like myself, or most on this site, to have lived then, because dissent was not tolerated- even within families- you either put on a happy face and went along to get along, or you went to some far-removed corner of the earth, or suffered the consequences.

      Hopefully I’ll be out of here before the next one starts.

  9. Don’t forget that all these billions “invested” in electric, are billions not invested in the cars people would actually buy. The development dollars will at some point probably stop going to IC at all.

    I see a future where new car dealers fight each other for the remaining gas and diesel powered vehicles as electrics sit on their lots rusting. I know GM already has quotas about getting more light trucks to sell, you want another dozen pickups,,,,,,, you got to take these two Bolts too, we don’t care you didn’t even sell five of them last year.

    • Hi Nunz!

      It’s on a loop. Drop off a new car, pick up the one I had the previous week. So, for example, I have a CLS450 right now; the guy who brought it took back the X2 I reviewed last week…

  10. Yesterday I was coming home from Albuquerque. While driving through Telluride I took a short detour up into the hills overlooking town to get some fall color pictures. I happened to be near the airport. While descending back to the main road a flatbed tow truck pulled out of the airport parking lot with a brand new 911 on back. I’m certain there was nothing wrong with the Porsche. It was just time to go home and the elite who spent the weekend in town had someone transport his vehicle back to Texas.

    This is so common in Aspen that I see it all the time. Before holidays the vehicle transport trucks line up across the street from the airport unloading Teslas, Land Rovers, Porsches and the occasional Ferrari.

    BTW I was in Albuquerque for a conference of nerds and engineers. One of the attendees drove from Santa Clara California in a Tesla. I didn’t get too deep into the details but he mentioned listening to Navaho Radio, so my guess is he might have had a little bit of range anxiety when crossing through the reservation. Hell, I get nervous if I have less than half a tank when out there in the badlands. There’s a whole bunch of nothing in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. No way would I try that trip in an electric.

    • Car transport. Geesh.

      Now I understand why Austin-Bergstrom airport converted all of their new long term covered parking to “reservation only” and banished us peasants to the off site lots or non-covered spaces.

      To quote Jack Nicholson’s Joker, “What this town needs is an enema?”

  11. You’re not an outlier. You’re just one of the few in the majority that will call BS when it arrives and starts to stink up the place.

    I’ve had a couple of hybrid cars. They’re perfectly fine to drive for the most part and for someone who doesn’t travel or need a vehicle to do actual work, they generally can make some degree of economic sense. The minute my life and career needs went back to long highway trips instead of short city hops, the hybrids went bye-bye and a TDI appeared in the driveway. Full EV? Not in my future.

    This EV koolaid foolishness is going to ruin some otherwise viable companies and eventually result in tens of thousands (and over time, vastly more) good jobs for normal people vanishing. Direct losses at the car companies when their magical mystery market or ridiculously priced toys never appears, their direct suppliers, peripheral suppliers and accessories, distributors… Plus those younger people that are tricked into building a career in EV’s only to see the margins vaporize and upward opportunity make off like a fart in a hurricane.

      • Sanity, in the context of a tribe or society, is what two or more people (with weapons) decide it is. Same goes for “reality” and “economics” and “truth” etc. It’s all relative to the current power structure and their ability to enforce it. A republic can temper this to a large degree, but we haven’t had one of those in more than a century.


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