E-Rant! Lots of Supply . . . Not Much Demand

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Here’s a rant about the forced production (via mandates and regulations) of electric cars, juxtaposed with the very-little free market demand for them.

Put another way, the government can force the car companies to make electric cars, but it can’t force people to buy them.

Especially when they literally can’t buy them.

Most people can’t afford a $30,000-$50,000 car, whether it’s an electric car or not.

Will the government give people EVs – like Obamaphones?

Who is going to pay for all of this?

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Eric,

    The 240V Tesla charger for your house isn’t a supercharger, per se; it won’t recharge your car in 40 minutes. What it will do is allow you to charge your car overnight and be ready for your morning commute with time to spare. To get a full charge on 120V will take 8-10 hours, if not more. If you get home late from work, you might not be able to fully charge your car before you leave the next morning. A 240V unit easily halves that time, so you’ll DEFINITELY be ready to go in the morning.

    Secondly, the Tesla home charger only costs $500, though that does NOT include installation. You’ll need a professional electrician to come out and do that for you. Now, since the Tesla charger needs 240V; since the 240 needs be brought out to your garage; that’ll cost extra to upgrade your home’s electrical system to install the charger in your garage. I think that $1,000 is probably a reasonable estimate for the charger and installation thereof.

    Then, if you’re a wise EV owner, you’ll want to keep a charging cable and adapter in your trunk. The cable is an adapter that lets you plug in to a grounded, 120V outlet, so you can charge your Tesla; that is to say that it has a 120V grounded plug on one end, and a Tesla charging plug on the other. The other adapter one would need is for CHAdeMO, which is used for many EVs. Since many public EV chargers are CHAdeMO, it would behoove the EV owner to carry one with him. These cables together cost hundreds more dollars.

    • There needs to be an inexpensive commuter car that can recharge over night on 120VAC.

      The old Smart EV was one of those…~75 miles range when charged, easily charged overnight via a regular extension cord (no need to pay for the installation of a 240VAC charger)

      Sister-in-law loved hers (husband a used car dealer, gave around $5000 for it in trade)…they live at the beach, roads flat as a pancake, so it was the ideal daily driver for her around town.

      • “There needs to be an inexpensive commuter car that can recharge over night on 120VAC”

        Physics is in the way. P=VI & V=IR To get the energy in per unit time it requires high current, high voltage, or both. The standard resistance of copper wiring is also in the way. All this comes before having the magical battery that can accept such a high charge rate.

        Even with a magical battery you’re simply out of luck on a 120V 15A circuit.

        The reason you could do it with the Smart EV was because of short range and tiny car. But that’s a very niche market.

        • Hey Brent,

          “The reason you could do it with the Smart EV was because of short range and tiny car. But that’s a very niche market”

          It seems that there could be a huge market for such a vehicle, as it would meet the actual driving needs of many millions of people. Again, those who live in suburban America, rarely drive more than 30 miles a day, and have easy access to an outlet, would be very well served by such a vehicle, as long as it wasn’t absurdly priced. Anyone who routinely needs to drive long distances will always be ill-served by an EV. However, an inexpensive EV with a 60-80 mile range, would be really convenient and practical for me, and many millions of other people.

          If the market for EV’s were allowed to grow naturally, I suspect that emphasizing the convenience and practicality of a such a car would be common. If you need range, it is absurd to even consider an EV. If you need a simple car for daily errands, etc… such a car would be great. If something like the Fiat 500E cost $15,000 instead of $35,000, I would be very interested. It would be great to never have to go to a gas station again. The focus on range and performance is absurd. Simple, short range, inexpensive EV’s could be ideal for many people.


          • Amen, Jeremy!

            People who want a simple, sensible and affordable EV should make effigies of Elon and burn them. The guy has singlehandedly perverted the design ethic for EVs, which are now expected to be essentially electric versions of today’s luxury-sport IC vehicles. Which defeats several purposes – including the supposed purpose of replacing “environmentally unfriendly” IC cars with “clean” EVs. Because most people can’t afford a $40k-plus car – IC or EV. Especially one that has to be replaced twice as often as an IC car.

            An EV’s 0-60 time should be as irrelevant as a muscle car’s gas mileage. An EV’s price should be as relevant as a pick-up truck’s tow rating.

            • Morning Eric,

              Yep, it’s frustrating. I live in Santa Fe and have a carport with electricity. I never drive more than 20 miles a day, often go days without driving at all, and almost always drive alone. I rarely need to pick up big things, if I do I’ll use my truck. Three or four times a year, I drive to Albuquerque. Again, I’ll use my truck.

              My truck was built at the tail end of the sweet spot you talk about. No assist, no buzzers, manual transmission, etc… I love it and hope to keep it going for many more years, thus a practical daily driver has value to me because I wouldn’t drive the truck so much. Given my actual driving needs which, except for the “often go days without driving part”, are shared by many millions, there could be a huge market for a simple, inexpensive EV that would charge overnight hooked up to a standard outlet.

              I’m sure that Brent is correct that this would constrain the design to a small, pretty low range car. But, so what? If it has adequate range plus a little buffer, which for millions of people means 60 – 80 miles, range above that, especially at the expense of affordability and ease of charging, is as irrelevant as performance.


              • It wouldn’t even need to be ‘freeway or interstate capable’, either; as long as it could handle anything up to major arterial streets/thoroughfares, a simple, short range EV like you talk about would be adequate for many people.

                • Hey Mark,

                  I think there was a little German car that, even though barely ‘freeway or interstate capable’, managed to sell pretty well for awhile.


                  • Like the underwear that someday soon I might have to wear, “Depends”.

                    I recall as a kid, accompanying my Dad, then a USAF major stationed at Andrews AFB, MD, when we got on the Beltway (I-495), if heading clockwise (at the point near where I-295 intersects near the Potomac river in MD, WB), there was a significant downgrade…we could get that ’60 Beetle, with its 36 hp engine, up to 68 mph, and it was screaming! And if you had enough of a headwind, which hurt the top end slightly, you could get the front wheels to temporarily lift off!

                    Needless to say, coming back the other way, the Beetle did 45 mph at best up that long hill…to the exasperation of not only my Pop but anyone else caught behind us.

                    OTOH we had a fun ritual in good weather. When we entered the neighborhood from near the Temple Hills Dr and MD 5 intersection, it was at the top of a significant hill…hell, we kids did a lot of kite flying on that plateau! Anyway, the ritual was to turn off the engine and coast all the way home. As the Beetle was lightweight, it was easy to drive. I recall my big Sis, once she turned 12, just before Dad got his orders to transfer to McCoy AFB (near Orlando, FL) she got to take her turn behind the wheel, and got the hang of the “dead stick maneuver” quickly!

          • I think we’re missing something on the time cost of EV. Let’s say I drive 10 miles to work at 8AM. 10 miles back at 4pm. Next I do 5 miles out and back to pick up the kids from daycare at 5PM, grab their T-ball gear and do 5 miles to the ball park for their game at 7pm. At 9pm I have to take the baby to the ER 10 miles away because shes running a fever. We drive back around midnight..

            When do I charge the car? Will it be charged in the morning so I can repeat the process? What happens if the breaker trips and it doesn’t recharge, or I forget to plug it in?

            It doesn’t matter that I “only drive 50 miles a day” the car needs uninterrupted time to recharge, or it will eventually run down and die.

            Furthermore; there’s a paradox in play. These cars are meant for city commuters but most city dwellers don’t own their parking space. They have to ask their landlord/condo association/city municipality to install the charger. Even if these entities install chargers, will they maintain them? Will they protect them from vandals? Will they ticket non-EVs who park in front of them? Will they demand exorbitant fees to use them?

            • Hi Curt,

              First, I don’t think that EV’s are suitable for everyone, or even most people, and I certainly don’t support subsidies. My point is that there could be a vibrant market for a sensible EV for millions of people if the perverse incentives created by government intervention didn’t reward cronyist opportunists like Musk for producing expensive toys for rich people. I stated that access to a “personal charging station” is necessary for an EV like I describe to be practical and convenient. So, I consider a simple, inexpensive EV to be best suited to suburbs, not cities, for the reasons you cite.

              “It doesn’t matter that I “only drive 50 miles a day” the car needs uninterrupted time to recharge, or it will eventually run down and die”.

              According to this study, partial charging does not cause premature degradation of the battery, but actually increases overall life. Also, lower volt charging has a positive effect on battery life.


              “When do I charge the car?”

              Well, if the cited study is accurate, anytime you have access to a plug during the day.

              For me, an EV like I describe would be great. It would render range anxiety essentially meaningless, eliminate trips to the gas station and the attendant need to plan those trips and reduce wear on my IC vehicle that is better suited to only a tiny minority of my actual trips. I suspect that there are a lot of people out there in a similar environment.


    • “Then, if you’re a wise EV owner….”


      Sorry,,, had to go there. Can’t think of anyone being ‘wise’ buying one of those POS over an IC at the stage of technology they are at now…

      Now here’s a question…. When are they going to come out with a automated hand free EV motorcycle?

  2. Thanks for the comedy (clover) rant. You sound like me when I get behind one of them,,, and I’m a geezer! (70).
    Beautiful country by the way…..

    • Yeah, WTF is it with people going BELOW the PSL?! Even New Yorkers are going slow these days! It used to be that if you saw an NY plate, you could count on the guy doing at least 15-20 mph OVER the PSL! Now, even they don’t do that! WTF is going on?

      I remember the other day I was driving along the river when I got behind a late model Chevy Malibu. While the Malibu isn’t known as a “driver’s car”, it’ll handle the curves securely and competently, even if not spectacularly. That is to say that this clown could have gone much faster in an already low PSL zone! I could understand if the person was in an old car with worn springs and shocks and old bias ply tires where you can FEEL the car squirm on them; I could understand slowing for the curves then. But this clown had a MODERN VEHICLE! He could have gone faster than he did. I’d like to know WTF is going on…


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