Supermarket Math – The Lost Skill

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Lower operating costs do not mean lower ownership costs – but it takes a person able to perform supermarket math to be able to understand the difference.

Ford is apparently counting on people who do not understand it.

These are the people being pitched on the “savings” they’ll realize by purchasing the electric version of Ford’s half-ton pick-up truck, the F-150, which will be available sometime in 2021. The “savings” include lower fuel and – supposedly – maintenance costs.

The former is true.

Maybe. Assuming the cost of electricity doesn’t rise through the roof on account of increased demand – the result of increased EVs drawing more power from the grid – and assuming the utilities that produce it do not pass along the costs of increasing the capacity necessary to meet the demand.

And not counting the costs of wiring up one’s home to be able to “fast” charge the EV.

But never mind that.

And never mention the cost of the thing itself – which if past is prologue will be on the order of twice the cost of the standard/non-electric F-150. Which makes the cost of the fuel irrelevant. If you care about total ownership costs.

As opposed to operating costs.

Which is why the latter is always touted as the Great Boon – while the Great Bane is unfailingly never discussed, in the manner of the crazy Uncle who lives in the attic and transfers with the title to the house.

Nor the cost of decreased longevity – battery powered vehicles not lasting as long because their batteries don’t last as long as the vehicle and cost almost as much as the vehicle to replace.

Nor the cost of time – while you wait. It’s true you’ll wait less for things like oil and filter changes with an EV. But you’ll wait just as long to have the tires changed, the coolant replaced (EVs have coolant, too) and the brakes and suspension and other parts replaced and fixed.

And you’ll wait a lot longer to get back on the road. Everyone knows this but no one wants to talk about it – in the manner of the absurdity of a dirty old bandana or a literal diaper qualifying as “PPE.”

Also never mentioned, of course, is that the only reason Ford and other car companies are building EVs is  . . . because they have to.

There are “zero emissions” mandates to be complied with and only electric cars comply with them, even though they are “zero emissions” in the way your dog is when he emits someplace else rather than in your yard.

In the cognitively dissonant world of EVs, the emissions produced during the extraction of raw materials – including really nasty stuff like cobalt – their processing and the assembly of the EV and its battery pack do not count because they don’t come out of the tailpipe.

Just the same as the specific “emissions” EVs are supposedly being pushed to tamp down – i.e., carbon dioxide – are still emitted, just elsewhere. And in gratuitously greater quantity – because the EVs being sold tout extreme high-performance (Tesla) and (F-150) extreme capability, such as the ability to tow/pull a very heavy load.

This of course takes a much larger, more powerful electric motor and battery – which requires the generation of much more electricity than needed by a motor and battery half the size, which would adequately power a small electric commuter car. But small electric commuter cars can’t pull 12,000 pounds or do 0-60 in 3 seconds. And it’s hard to sell them otherwise – see the example of the Nissan Leaf – because their ownership costs are about twice that of the non-electric equivalent.

And so the EV manufacturers have stopped even trying to make EVs that make sense -in other than the regulatory compliance sense.

Instead, they’re working overtime to make EVs as powerful as possible because that’s a sell – and may, they hope, paper over the ownership costs and since no one’s talking about the “elsewhere emissions” or the much higher carbon dioxide “emissions” produced – largely by coal and oil and natural gas burning rather than gasoline burning – it’s a regulatory win, too.

Except it’s still a loss.

So the numbers are fudged  – or ignored.

You can fudge them by basing your math on the monthly payment (or lease) rather than the MSRP. This has been a standard car salesman shuck and jive for decades. Get the buyer to focus on the monthly payment – never the total sum of all the payments. You can make the monthly payments seem “low” by stretching them out for longer, precisely how the ballooning cost of new cars in general has been hidden. The average new car loan (six years) is nearly twice what it once was (three or four years).

You pay less per month, but you still pay more.

And how about paying in perpetuity?

One of the other numerical tricks being played – and which EVs will play, hard – is to keep the payments down by keeping them going, forever. You trade/swap the EV for a new one every so often. This keeps the payments “low.” And no worries about paying for a new battery when the one you’ve got can no longer hold a charge – because you’ve got a new EV!

But you do keep paying.

Which means you pay more.

Supermarket math. A lost skill.

. . .

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28 COMMENTS

  1. No long distance towing with that thing. Range drops like a rock even with gas or diesel power. With a chemical battery it will be even worse (because of how batteries work). But liquid fuel takes a few minutes to replenish but charging the batteries well…. sit and wait a spell then some more. It’s not viable to turn 3 hour trips into six hour trips or longer.

    • Hi Brent!

      One of the Catch 22s with EVs is that to achieve “ludicrous” speed – or tow 15,000 pounds – a very large, very heavy battery pack is required. This means more to lug around, which requires more power, which reduces range. Unless an Ernest Angley-style meeeerakuhl is in the offing, I expect the electric F-150 will weigh at least 500 pounds more than a non-electric equivalent.

      No small thing, that.

      ‘Cuz there ain’t no free lunch!

  2. Its socialization of energy> We will ALL pay the increased costs of electricity these dumb bricks cause. Including grandmas using a fan at home. Used to be you were solely responsible for the gas you put in the tank. Welp. Thats gone.

  3. Hey Eric,

    I just watched a promo for the truck. Supposedly they’re offering a hybrid as well. Which, if not for the near certain ludicrous cost, is not an inherently awful idea, especially if it were a plug-in hybrid with a diesel/electric power train similar to a Volt. Such a truck could probably get 50 miles of EV range with a pretty small 35 or so Kwh battery (a fraction of what will be needed to deliver kind of acceptable range in the Pure EV version), and deliver pretty outstanding long distance mpg with an efficient diesel engine generating power for the motor.

    But, I did notice something in the promo that will make your teeth ache:

    A voice says the following while the same words appear on the screen:

    “New features include a hands free highway driving system…” At the same time we see the drivers seat recline into a fully flat “bed”. Hmmm, kind of seems to encourage taking a nap while on the highway.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

    • Hey Jeremy!
      That must be the Epstein Package- so you can suicide yourself once you realize that you’ve indebted yourself for the rest of your life by buying such a truck!

  4. Well, unfortunately for math, most people won’t do it. Or at least do enough of it to get the complete picture.

    It’s the same thing with people who drive for Uber and Lyft. They don’t do all the math. If you total ALL your expenses as a driver, you will find that you won’t make money doing it (some cases you will be LOSING money). So you shouldn’t be doing it. But yet thousands of people do it because they don’t look at the complete picture. Largely the longer term costs of the mileage you put on your car, but that’s not the only thing. The higher insurance costs, the need to have a newer car to even drive for them make it a loser.

    When I was between jobs, so many people would say, drive for Uber until you get another job. I would then tell them I couldn’t afford to lose even more money as a jobless person (plus my car was too “old”). They just don’t get how money actually works. I did the math on driving for Uber, never would pencil out, not even close.

    It’s no wonder why socialism is so popular. Because people don’t want to accept the reality of how money is and how it works. The government of course makes it harder to even make money to begin with in today’s business climate. That is due to regulation making so many things that people used to make a living at, a non-starter today.

    I had a friend who would deliver pizza as part of his job at a restaurant. One night he was talking about how he was always broke. Just couldn’t break out and make money. I ask him, “have you figured out your expenses for delivering? He hadn’t of course, so another friend and I helped him figure out his expenses. He was not only not making any money he was LOSING MONEY! He never delivered another pizza and returned the car he had bought the day before, that he couldn’t really afford. That new car would have really dug him into a hole.

    For something like Uber to work, the business model needs to change. First, I think they probably aren’t charging enough to even meet expenses. But just that won’t save it. The second problem is bigger.

    Uber corporate has thousands of people. What are these people doing? It’s too top heavy, as Uber needs to take a much smaller cut from the drivers. They also have to allow older vehicles to boot. Uber only needs a handful of the people that work there, mainly some programers and customer service people. They need to move out of high cost SF. I bet Uber would work fine with about a hundred corporate people. Granted it won’t ever be great money for anybody (taxis never rake it in either), but at this point the model that both Uber and Lyft use today will fail. Then nobody will have a job.

    • Delivery drivers work for tips, unless they have a company supplied vehicle. When a buck was worth something and people paid cash it was a pretty good summer job. In high school a friend drove for Dominos back when they were expanding and new (and had the 30 minutes or free policy). He had to fight to get the Friday/payday night shift because a $12 order was a $20 and “keep the change.” These days with everyone paying via the app and just adding 10% (if that), the tips aren’t there but the base pay is the same as if the round up was still happening.

      • A friend of mine started making his fortune back in the 60’s when fresh outta high-school he bought a Mack dump truck, instead of a fancy car. He’d run loads from Brooklyn to Long Island for $250. Cops and DOT didn’t bother professional drivers back them. Diesel was like twenty-something cents a gallon; insurance and registration was negligible…..

        Today….if you were to do the same thing: Registering and insuring the truck would cost 5 figures; Diesel is over $2/gal; Cops and DOT pull ya over at random and you’ll get a few grand worth of tickets even if you have a brand new truck….and meanwhile, in the intervening 50 years, how has the price you get paid for hauling that same load risen? IT HASN’T! It’s still $250….

        And they wonder why no one will stem the tide of invaders?

      • He wasn’t really getting tips anymore. The pizza place had started charging $5 for delivery. Customers assumed (incorrectly) that the driver was getting the whole $5. So they didn’t tip anymore……

    • It’s hilarious! One can’t even operate a bus and charge the riders the actual cost of their ride, because no one would pay that price to ride the stinking bus- so they must subsidize “mass transit”- and here we have Uber and Lyft….trying to do the same thing as the bus, only opn an individual basis, thus making the cost of a ride even higher! (At least with Uber and Lyft, the drivers essentially subsidize the rides…instead of the taxpayers…so I guess we should be glad for that!)

      Even before ride-share services, most small towns and many smaller cities had already lost their taxi companies, because it just was no longer a profitable business- and where they do still exist, it is usually only because there is a substantial population of welfare queens- so the taxis make most of their money off of the taxpayer dime on Medicaid calls.

      I’m thinking that this unsustainable ride-share BS is just a temporary thing to rid the world of the remaining taxi companies- part of the agenda to restrict our ability to travel and to live anywhere but congested cities once it becomes financially unfeasible for most to drive private cars. The ride-shares will disappear because they are unsustainable (Unless they substantially raise their prices…but then they lose most of their customers- so, same effect.)

      In NYC where one needs to purchase a “taxi medallion”(license) to operate a taxi (for each car operated as a taxi)….the price of a medallion a few years ago was up around a million bucks (for ONE!)….last I heard, their value had dropped by over 75%- probably even more by now.

      This collectivist world is so messed up there is no fixing it- and meanwhile, it seems TPTB are doing their damnedest to make it even worse!

      • Taxi drivers are mad as hell. Last week they shut down the bridges into Manhattan because not only are they on the hook for their debt-purchased and worthless mediations, with the city shut down there’s no business either.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2020/09/17/new-york-taxi-drivers-shut-down-bridges-in-desperate-call-to-end-life-sentence-to-debtors-prison/#3ff08749111e

        This really shows what taxes are all about. The apologists say that the city is providing them a service and a protected, managed market. Yet when the jitney buses, Uber and Lyft come to town there’s no attempt at enforcement. Same thing with Air B&B, except that apartment owners were the ones turning units into short term rentals so they got in trouble. My guess is that because the city already got their money for the medallion, or the cost was in the secondary market not the fee collected by the city (who should have held auctions if they were that valuable), so they didn’t bother trying to manage the industry.

        • Hi RK,

          Yup. It’s all part of the general plan to enserf the population. Get everyone onto the treadmill of hard work for low pay for the sake of perpetual debt service, which keeps them easy to manage. It is no accident that the “lockdowns” not only didn’t hurt the large corporate chain stores, they helped them. At the expense of small businesses and particularly independent/small businesses.

          They want everyone on the farm. People who aren’t forced to abide by corporate “policies” don’t have to wear a Face Diaper, or abide by most of the obnoxious, humiliating decrees. So those people must be forced to bend knee by destroying them financially, so as to make them have no choice but to live under a bridge, or go to work for a company.

          • Small business owners are the biggest enemies of the “new world (work) order”. Especially the ones that have managed, in spite of today’s horrid business climate and the high taxes on self employment to become financially secure. The ones that have earned themselves a nice house, maybe even a weekend cottage on a lake too. They have nice cars and a boat but aren’t worth $25 million either.

            They don’t “need” or want anything from the state, and oppose large government and its many taxes and regulations.

            • Hi Rich,

              Yup – that’s me, sans the boat and weekend cottage. I’ve lived below my means for many years and so am debt-free and can live decently on very little, a position not many people are in and a position they don’t want anyone to be in. I can say FU to the Diaper. I never have to attend “diversity” classes or pee in a cup, either.

              • These small business owners should be the goal of most of us, but are vilified by so many in the press and by the general public.

                And you know how much the government wants it, just think of it every time you have to file your quarterly taxes…… The feds special F-you to small business people.

                • Hi Rich,

                  Yup. I especially love the 15 percent off the top FICA… which all us independents get to pay. That’s in addition to the federal and state taxes,’natch.

              • Amen, Eric!

                Sad thing is, that (at least until more recently) it hasn’t been the state’s guns which have kept most people from living autonomously and independently as we do, but rather their lack of zeal for liberty, and their willingness to trade their freedom, autonomy, privacy, and precious time for what they perceive as perks- which in reality, are not perks but rather detriments and enslavement.

  5. EVs are touted as solutions to three supposed problems with IC engines: Pollution, Cost, and Dependency on oil from dysfunctional Middle Eastern countries that hate us.

    EVs don’t actually solve these problems, but merely shift them around. Take pollution. Instead of emissions at the refinery or tailpipe, the emissions happen at the power plant, the battery factory, and the mines where the rare earth metals come from. Or cost: you don’t pay at the gas pump, you pay at the electric meter instead. And now we have to worry about countries with rare earth metals, like China, Afghanistan, and many African countries that are politically unstable and hate our guts too.

    And on top of that, we’ve already addressed those problems for the most part. Modern, proven technology like EFI and overdrive transmissions make IC vehicles cleaner and more efficient than ever before. Adjusted for inflation, gasoline is cheaper than it was in 1955. And thanks to fracking, we are not only energy independent, but an energy exporter.

    We just won’t learn…

    • I believe the typical gas powered car made anywhere from the late late 1990’s up to about 2017 can, with very good care, easily run for 200,000 miles, mostly on one engine and maybe one transmission, although changing trannies once might be more likely.
      Pollution and Cost are non-factors when compared to any EV. EV’s do not run 200k miles without replacing the battery, which is a massive cost and is beaten by the IC already. Pollution emissions drop precipitously per mile driven with an IC. If you drive the typical 12-15 thousand miles per year, then that IC should last you a minimum of 14 years and perhaps longer. The pollution cost of manufacturing your transportation would be far less if you only had to buy 2.5 cars during your lifetime.
      EVs have yet to last anything near that long. The cost of gas and electricity really is irrelevant to the costs, both in money and materials, of manufacturing. Its just sad that we have no free market in…anything, really, anymore.

    • Now stop it, Bryce! Don’t you know that the TRUTH and common sense have no place in this world of political agendas and TV-addled lemmings?!

  6. Electric pick-up trucks…. I can see the commercials now: A group of androgynous cross-dressers piling in with soy steaks and an Easy-Bake oven, so they can drive to the communal outdoor space to have a pic-i-nic.

  7. Is Ford doing this to look compliant to their government overlords or do they really think F150 people are that stupid? Only Bezos has the money to waste on EV’s which I hope he looses his ass on.

    • They sell so many of those damn things to companies that are “doing the work” to go green they’ll pretty much have the number one selling electric vehicle on fleet sales alone.

      • Yup, they will get lots of big fleet sales. Feel very sorry for the employees that will get stuck with these vehicles, as it will make their jobs much harder.

        • Salary is for suckers. If you’re hourly, waiting on the charger while on the clock sounds like a great way to pass the time. If they want me to charge at home they can install a charger and pitch in for the electric bill too.

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