Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Graham asks: I am a bit surprised that you are still in the “emissions” camp as the reason for going electric. You rightly point out a modern IC engine is a very low emitter. It’s all about automated manufacturing costs. The IC has about a million nuts bolts and screws to be fitted. An electric motor is a dream for automation in a factory. The batteries seem expensive at the moment, but that will soon change. The electric cars once they really get going will have almost a zero service requirement (except Tesla) and apart from brake pads will run like washing machines and refrigerators, maybe 500,000 miles “Emissions” is just the Political spin.
My reply: You’re right – and wrong.
Certainly, it is easier to assemble an EV. It is not cheaper. I have been hearing that battery costs will come down for decades. EV batteries don’t “seem” expensive. They are massively expensive – far too expensive for EVs to be other than massively subsidized boutique cars for the virtue-signaling affluent.
Consider that the lowest-priced EV on the market – the Nissan Leaf – lists for $30,000. This is more than twice the price of a current non-electric entry-level compact sedan/hatchback.
In plain language, EVs double the cost of driving. While reducing how far you can drive and making it more of a PITAS to drive.
The $30k Leaf has a pathetic 150 mile range and even the 200 mile model – which costs $40k – takes forever to recharge.
It’s silly. As well as crazy.
Your statement that EVs have (or will have) almost zero service needs is also silly. I dealt with this issue in my column about Jay Leno. EVs simply have different service issues – as well as additional service issues. Including battery replacement – which is a massive hidden cost that few people appreciate. Because they’re not told about it.
A new non-electric car has almost no service needs for the first five years, other than inexpensive things like oil and filter changes (which are vastly less expensive than the cost of the EV or its batteries or the “fast” charger you’ll have to pay someone to install at your house).
It may need to have its tires rotated or replaced, its brake pads changed.
EVs need exactly the same things.
A non-electric car might need things like a timing belt after 70,000 miles (or whatever the interval is) which an EV will never need. But the non-EV will never need a new battery – and its owner will never pay several thousand dollars to replace it.
The non-EV’s range will never decline, either. The EV’s will – as the battery loses charge capacity – which is inherent in the chemistry of batteries as they exist.
Maybe a new kind of battery will be invented that doesn’t lose charge capacity for at least 150,000 miles of daily-driving (and daily recharging). But it does not exist now. Debating what might be is interesting – in the manner of Area 51 and the little men supposedly working there in cahoots with the U.S. government – but it’s neither here nor there as regards what is, eh?
And 500,000 miles? Really? My teeth just fell out of my head. How long does a computer or sail fawn generally last? And what is an EV if not a sail fawn that rolls? And hits potholes. And sits in the hot sun – and the extreme cold. That gets wet.
Yeah. 500,000 miles … like a washing machine. Have you noticed they don’t last very long anymore?
Because they have got-damned computers, too – and are sail fawns that wash clothes.
For a couple of years. Then you throw it away and buy a new one. Which is exactly what will happen with EVs. What is planned for us. Less mobility – for more money.
To keep us paying … and to keep us in debt. As well as under control.
. . .
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