The Riddle of Steel . . . and the EV

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James Earl Jones, playing the evil snake cult leader Thulsa Doom, explains to Conan the Barbarian the meaning of the Riddle of Steel:

He beckons a disciple standing on a ledge, high above, to “come to him.” She does – and jumps to her death.

“That is power!” Doom exults. “What is steel, boy, compared with the power of the hand that wields it?”

Gasoline is like that.

The power it contains is so remarkable it has become taken for granted – like food in the ‘fridge.

A single gallon contains enough power to propel a typical car more than 30 miles, at a cost of around $1.50 (the actual cost of the fuel itself, before the extortionate and regressive taxes are added to the price).   

It can be easily and quickly transferred from pump to tank – or  jug – without need of special apparatus or expensive technology. It can be stored for long periods of time without depending on anything more involved than a physical container that can be kept air-tight.

That is power.

Literally.

The power of mobility. Of inexpensive mobility.

Gasoline – and the internal combustion engine – has made it possible for almost anyone to easily and cheaply travel Megallanic distances. To live in an area where houses are affordable – and drive to work in an area where they are not. To be able to visit friends and family in another state in just a few hours and then come back home the same day, if they like.

To drop everything you were doing and jump in the car right now – even if the tank is almost empty – and go get your daughter who just called for help because her car broke down two hours down the road.

To be 15-years-old and champing at the bit for that first taste of adult freedom, purchased for $2,000 with the money earned from cutting lawns and raking leaves the prior several years. To be a young adult, who got a job out of state – and get to it, easily, in the same $2,000 beater bought at 15.   

Many of us have come to take all of this for granted – especially today’s kids, who can be excused to some extent because they have been heavily propagandized from birth and are too young to remember otherwise.

This is as dangerous as taking it for granted that the ‘fridge will always be full.

Electric cars will make people realize what they have taken for granted.

The enornous voltage necessary to move several thousand pounds of vehicle 30 miles cannot be easily or inexpensively “poured in.” It also cannot be stored for easy transfer into a vehicle. It must be transmitted as needed, which is the equivalent – in gasoline terms – of pumping fuel from a central storage depot say 50 miles away through a network of pipelines – with pumping substations along the way, to maintain the necessary volume/pressure.

Once it has arrived, the volts can’t be “pumped” into the electric car’s battery as you would gas into a tank. The electricity has to be metered at a rate that is comparable to operating a gasoline station pump at about 5 percent of its normal flow capacity.    

It has to be at this slowed-down rate in order to avoid a fire – or damage to the battery. This is unavoidable as EV technology exists – as opposed to what has been promised.

If you’re in a hurry, better worry.

There is no running down the street to grab a “gallon” of volts; you must bring the car to the plug – and then you must wait.

In the 15-30 minutes it takes to instill the gasoline equivalent of half a tank, the EV is back on the road – assuming there was no one else ahead of you. And there are only so many “pumps” – in part because of “pumping losses” that attend transmitting the volts.

Try to visualize how many pipes would be needed – and how big they’d need to be – in order to transfer gasoline from a central hub to a single gas station, 50 miles away. This of course is not necessary – with gasoline – because it can be trucked to the gas station, eliminating the need for cross-county (cross-state) gasoline pipelines and making it technically and economically viable to open a gas station practically anywhere.

Which is why gas stations are everywhere – even in remote areas.

It is also why electric “fast” charging stations will not be everywhere. It is neither technically or economically feasible to to run high-voltage cabling (along with substations, to maintain the “pressure”) over great distances to remote locations.

To multiple remote locations.

EV “fast” charging stations will necessarily be fewer and much farther in between. It is not for no reason that the ones that do exist are in or close to urban areas and near power sources, to reduce the transmission losses and to take advantage of already-in-place high voltage infrastructure.

Even if a whole new infrastructure could be materialized into existence, it would not do anything to address the “pumping losses” that attend continuously transmitting enormous voltage over distances. There is no gasoline analog. The gallon that is trucked by tanker 100 miles from the refinery to the gas station contains the same amount of energy it had when it was pumped into the truck at the refinery.

The electricity that arrives at the end of the plug is less than what was generated at the utility plant. It takes more power to transmit this form of power, increasing with distance. Which means more power – electricity – must be produced than is actually needed to power the EV. This will entail more cost – as well as more “emissions” – unless the electricity is to be produced entirely by solar or wind, which increases the inefficiency and the cost.

Which will make it much more costly – as well as much less convenient – to own and drive an EV.

Teenagers and young adults will not own EVs, as lawn mowing and odd-job (and even first job) money isn’t going to pay the $32,000 minimum price of a new EV – or even an EV that costs a third as much, by which time, such an EV will be worth a third as much precisely because it is near the end of its functionally useful and economically viable life. The $2,000 that would have bought a 16-year-old a functionally viable gas-engined beater won’t pay half the price of a new battery for a tired EV.

So he’ll walk – or peddle. Or take the bus.

So will the young adult – who won’t be able to take that job in the city, without living in the city. Who may never be able to afford his own house on account of the cost of mobility away from the city.

Your daughter will have to wait.

And so will you.

Some inconvenient truths.

. . . .

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46 COMMENTS

    • Bob
      I don’t have a direct and complete answer to a question of such magnitude
      but in “their” overall plan they clearly state that one person with personal initiative
      is worth a 1,000 of theirs. And as successful as their plan has been so far, I’d have to
      say that they seem to know exactly what they are trying to do.
      Eric is setting an example of personal initiative and is proving his value in that regard.
      It should be an inspiration for the rest of us here. I’d rather be a burr under their saddle
      than a diapered idiot acting like the saddle blanket. But I think I feel the frustration you are feeling.
      rog

  1. Why do these electric vehicles need such huge batteries? Couldn’t someone just put a whole bunch of old lead/acid batteries in instead?

    I’ve noticed quite a few places where people are perfectly happy to ride around in their golf carts. Some of them seem to go a lot faster than I remember when I used to actually play golf. I don’t think the electric cars are ever going to make a go of it, and people will see that golf carts are the best way to go. I know too many people who never leave their town, and as they continue to tighten their belts, they’re going to see that a golf cart is much more affordable.

    • Hi Schnark,

      The reason for 1,000-plus pounds of batteries is because the EV buyer demands “Ludicrous Speed” – in order to compensate for the limited range/long recharge time and high cost. You are absolutely correct that a small, light-weight EV would not need 1,000-plus pounds of batteries. But then, it would merely be a basic A to B (and short range) transportation appliance that could not keep up with any IC car – literally.

  2. One thing that nobody, and I mean nobody, except folks like us, is talking about is that our entire electric power grid — from generation plants to transmission lines to transformer substations to your house’s circuit breaker box — right now isn’t adequate for our electric power needs TODAY. Just a summer heat wave of a few days is enough in many areas to trigger brownouts.

    Now imagine adding stratospheric demand in the form of millions of electric cars, trucks, and buses to the power grid.

    Unless we spin up A LOT more power generation plants, transmission lines, and substations, along with all the charging stations and home charging devices, we’re in for a world of hurt.

    And unless a significant percentage of those new generation plants are nuclear, our skies will be smoggy as ever with pollution not from cars’ exhausts, but power plants’ smokestacks. Not to mention all of the pollution from the fly ash piles. Nobody is talking about that either.

    Now there are indeed uses for EVs, and EVs were originally proposed as effective small and inexpensive city commuter cars, á la the original incarnations of the VW Beetle, Fiat 500, Toyota Corona, Honda CVCC, and Mini Cooper…or even the Chevette or K Car. And in European and Asian cities, they have been used as such for years.

    But the EVs being put before us now are not small and cheap city commuter cars. They’re luxury barges. As a matter of fact, the Nissan Leaf, the cheapest and most spartan of the EVs, sells for $30 Gs.

    The bottom line is that so many things defy logic when it comes to EVs. But so many things going on right now defy logic…and that’s all I have to say about that.

  3. Young people won’t miss what they never had, and living patterns will change to accommodate reduced mobility. With luck, there’ll be bus and train service. Food production and distribution will change. We’ll be growing gardens and canning vegetables (not veggies.) It’s back to the pre-industrial future. The wealthy will have their electric cars with gas-powered vehicles as backups, and much expense will be devoted to maintaining the roads for them. Maybe smart cars with limits of 100 miles a week for those with high social credit scores.

  4. There is nowhere that the electric grid goes that the electromotive force is inadequate to charge an electric vehicle’s batteries.
    If the stories we’ve heard for decades about 200 mile per gallon carburetors are valid, 30 miles on a gallon might be pretty inefficient.

  5. This essay demonstrates that Doom (James Earl Jones) was wrong: the real power is in the mind, not the flesh. Using the power of his mind, Mr. Peters has proven the folly of supporting a government that uses force to destroy the market for gasoline-powered vehicles. Thank you, sir, for another beacon of truth.

  6. The entire extreme environmental movement, like a huge bowel movement, is 95% fecal matter, fueled by abysmal and colossal ignorance, downright stupidity, gross misinformation, and often by the sheer malice of those who consider themselves out betters and thus entitled to become our masters. In a sane world these evil and often rather stupid people would be locked up for their and our protection. Time for another French-style revolution. Erect the burning stakes, assemble the firing squads, and let the head-loppings begin……..umm, sorry, got a bit carried away there for a minute……………

    • Most eloquently stated. Liberalism is akin to ignorance and destroying all things practical and efficient only to serve a 150 year failed agenda. Marxism.

    • No no no. Let us NOT have a French style revolution. The American one was far more effective.
      The Froggies were bent on destroying everyhint and seeing what survived, We Yanks sought to address the specific errors that were endemic to the oppressive government bent un “telling us how we should ive when WE had a mind that they wouldn’t”

      The French had out the baby with the bath. The American one had out the dirty bathwater nd tried to preerve the baby alive.

      Today’s “revolutioin” is simply tearing everything down, destoying it wholesale. Evil was on the loose in PortlandOregon agaon New Yesr’s Eve and Day, simply destroying, taking, trashing, tearing down. The respons to the chinavirus is an equalopportunitydestroyer, also bent on tearing everyhting down.

  7. Anybody here seen the Georgia hearing on the election fraud?
    If not, you are missing the best video of 2020. Jovan Pulitzer has just in a few minutes, done more for us than any other person in this country, this past year. If you never watch another second of video ot anything, you need to see this. Go to Rockwel.com. You’ll find it there.
    roger

      • Relief! WE are taking our 25-1/2 yr old Mazda Miata to get her LAST license plate..a legal ‘Antique Auto’ plate from TN..She was born in 1996, the Bicentenial year of Tennessee and we may install the 1996 Bicentennial plate, wh I have saved in the barn. TN allows any plate from 1996 state to be installed… as long as the car also has the AA plate somewhere in the car, like..in the trunk!.. https://www.ebay.com/itm/TN-Bicentennial-License-Plate-/323558946420?_trksid=p5731.m3795 As we head to the local County Clerk’s Ofc I will be thinking of how glad I am the little Miata is NOT an EV. MY wife’s Bro in law bought 2 twin-motor Teslas last summer..they are like fast sewing machines. I pefer the sound of a good IC motor…and re-fueling in 5 minutes.;-)

        • I’ve pondered taking my 1977 Mercedes 300 D, or perhaps the Mitsubishi D 50 pickup powered by their amazing 2.5 litre turbodiesel. The Benz returns about 25 miles per gallon, the Mitsu right at 37. Both still run like Swiss watches, But, my state’s insurance commissioner has made it unaffordable to maintain mycurrent work vehicle, an E 350 withPowerstroke, which cah haul 5K lbs and tow another 16K without strain, I MUST maintain liabilty insurance on ALL the cars tohat are driven.. despite the simple fact I can onl drive one at a time, thus there is no risk on one as I am driving the other. The proce of fuel these days does NOT render sufificient savings when I factor in the TWO insurance polices I spend far more than if I only drive the more thirsty Ford. Crazy, but that’s the way gummit hink. Er,squeeze me, gummit DO NOT THINK.

  8. Another good article, and another alarm clock warning of the coming destructive plans for our future.
    For all of the brain dead SJWs who prattle on about EVs, consider the observation herein about charging stations and their locations. Never mind the correct technical problems of power transmission, or the metaphorical illusion of carrying a gallon of electrical power to a dead EV.
    Tell me this: If the powers that be cannot install even a mere fiber optic cable into counties near by major cities, how in HELL can we be fed the bull shit that power lines will exist to deliver electrical energy for EVs ?
    Forget for the moment the hallowed environment impact, where is the amperage coming from ?
    Solar or wind…LMFAO !
    Just like the insane face mask and the toxic vaccines, the EV push is about our death. And it is at the hands of the backers of thugs like Sleepy Joe, his Second Floor Maid, the Coonman in Va, and the lower evolved, public bottom feeders in cities and counties.
    WHY SIT WE IDLE ?

  9. This whole push for EVs is about one thing: CONTROL.

    I can see where the ’66 Fury is doomed…DOOMED…not b/c some parts are “unobtanium” (there are improvisations, like the 360 LA engine out of an ’85 Dodge Ramcharger, while we take our time with the 318 Poly, and retrofitting an A833 four-speed to replace the worn-out A745 3-speed), but due to bureaucratic diktats. It’ll be a great “garage queen”, but some bureaucrat, alarmed that it’s something that they can’t control, will find underhanded ways to keep it off the road.

  10. Imagine we had never discovered that gasoline could be used as fuel. Imagine we never discovered a use for a substance that costs little more than bottled water, that can be carried around in relative safety, that a gallon of which can propel a 3000 lb vehicle 30 miles in an hour or less. Farther than a horse could in a day. Yes, a horse can go farther than 30 miles in a day, until you harness him to a 3000 lb load. Gasoline is proclaimed as the most evil substance in the world, instead of the miracle it actually is. It is far and away the cleanest and most economical source of energy we have ever used that is available wherever it’s needed. Electricity has none of these qualifications. Which is clearly demonstrated by the fact we had gasoline powered vehicles that could go anywhere long before the state took our property at gunpoint and used it to finance the broad availability of electric power. Before the TVA electricity was only available in heavily populated areas. Without gasoline our standard of living would be far lower, and pollution far worse. Which is exactly where the ecomaniacs are herding us to.

    • the buggies that the Amish build themselves and use daily weigh in at aroind 800 pponds.. and have hydraulic brakes, electrical systems (solar /or spur gear off a turning wheel, charing a 12 volt deep cycle battery, LED lighting, are comfy, solid, can accomodate a family of eight or more…… the reason today’s cars weigh in at two tonnes and more is because Uncle Stupid SezSo. I had plenty of cars from the late 1950’s and through the 60’s. VOlvo sedans weighte in at 2100, MGB at 1700, Sprite at 1500, Mini at 12300, Peugeot for door saloon at 2000, Alfa Romeo Giulietta at arond 1500. Jaguar XK 120 was amonster, around 2300 pounds, the four door large luxury sallo n Mk VII was a hefty 3000. Early Datsun 510 rang up at 1800, Porsche 356 ornd 1400. Most ofthee cars returned in the mid thirties to the mid forties per gallon ofpetrol and were sufficiently fast to require full laert for the local gendarmerie…. Most lent themselves readily to “tuning” for better performance, roadabilituy, fuel economy, and motoring oeasure. NONE could be built ansd aold today in North merica.

        • The much-vilified Ford Pinto (the stats indicate, despite the obvious questionable placement of the fuel tank, that this subcompact was not made of “explodium” any more than similar vehicles of its class) was the result of then Ford chief of design Lee Iacocca dictum of the project: TWO years, TWO thousand pounds, and TWO thousand dollars retail price (in 1970). When confronted by engineering staff about issues with the fuel tank, Iacocca is reported to have turned around to face away from them in his swivel chair, take a puff from his ever-present cigar, and say, “Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Now please read the product objectives and GET BACK TO WORK!”

  11. China consumes half of the coal produced in a given year.

    7.6 billion metric tons of coal, half of that is 3.8 billion tonnes to burn, goes on night and day throughout all of China. In Mongolia, 95 percent of electricity generation is from coal. What is there is done, least expensive, what works the best.

    China has anthracite in good quantities, so it’ll be coal burners out on the highway using li ion as the fuel, a battery just stores energy, cannot produce it.

    Coal is a natural ‘battery’, stored energy, once burned, the coal battery is dead, ashes. Above ground veins of coal get struck by lightning and burn for years on end.

    Coal, coke, is used to make steel, not always, there is new CSP technology out there to hot roll steel.

    All fossil fuels are stored solar energy that takes hundreds of millions of years to form into a resource as an energy source.

    Wind and solar are both wholly dependent on fossil fuels.

    Your electric golf cart runs on coal. Old folks in small towns buy electric golf carts to drive around during the summer months.

    Two people I know, one a friend, the other a local blogger, avid rabid proponents of mask wearing, both became ill with severe symptoms, the local blogger was hospitalized.

    Both wore masks in public faithfully, didn’t do one bit of good.

    • CJWs (Climate Justice Warriors) cheered when the iconic 775-ft stacks of the Navajo Generating Station thundered to the ground two weeks ago. The closed coal-fired plant and the Kayenta mine which fed it employed 750 people, nearly all of them Navajo and Hopi.

      But folks throughout the area had burned that cheap coal to warm their homes in winter. Now charities are trucking firewood to the locked-down rez, because the coal supply is gone.

      Oh well … for climate justice warriors in LaLa Land, where the temp ranges from the fifties to the balmy eighties most of the time, the travails of deplorables who inhabit the vast wasteland between L.A. and New York don’t make a dent in their day.

      They can cruise their climate-saving Teslas down Santa Monica Boulevard and feel good about themselves. 🙂

  12. Here’s the latest pitch from the ‘EV fever’ propaganda mill:

    ‘A decade ago, a lithium-ion battery pack used in an electric car cost around $1,110 per kilowatt-hour. By this year, according to a new survey, the cost had fallen 89%, to $137 per kilowatt-hour. And by 2023, the cost is likely to fall far enough that car companies can make and sell mass-market electric vehicles (EVs) at the same cost as cars running on fossil fuels.’

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90586803/the-price-of-electric-car-batteries-has-dropped-89-in-10-years

    Progress, comrades … don’t it warm your heart?

    But the EV scribblers fail to take some important context into account. Likely they imagine that EV prices follow a corollary of Moore’s Law for computing chips. But chips use materials measured in grams, not kilograms: the Moore’s Law magic is in the nanotechnology. Not so for EVs, made from tons of heavy metals.

    Moreover, commodity and energy prices fell from 2011 to early 2020, creating a favorable tailwind for material-intensive batteries and EVs. But that’s changing now. The BLS Raw Industrial materials index is up 25% from its April low. Reinforcing this trend is a steady decline in the US dollar, making imported materials more costly.

    Hitting the magical battery cost of $100 per kilowatt-hour is not the slam dunk that the EV carny barkers think it is. And if permanent $3 trillion deficits finally ignite double-digit inflation and a dollar collapse, it may never happen at all.

    Say pal, can ye spare me a twenty for a cup of coffee?

    • Also they don’t account for the environmental damage being done. The mines that could produce these materials in the USA have shutdown because they can’t meet the EPA requirements and make money. So if production is done in an environmentally friendly way and cheap hydrocarbon fuels are not around or not allowed to produce them the prices would sky rocket. So long as they are extracted with cheap hydrocarbon energy, with cheap labor, with no environmental concerns yeah the price drops.

      • I recall a few years ago, my ex and my “little goil” (now a 20 y.o. LDS missionary in a Southern state) were headed from their home in Utah along I-80 and they had to divert on US 93 from Wells due to a fire at the Tesla battery plant near Reno…it’d jammed up the entire Interstate! They had to spend the night in Ely and continue on US 50, somewhat slow than I’d taken that route due to the diverted traffic.

        Never mind the disturbing number of Teslas that burst into flame when they short, or the batteries explode or burn after a wreck. Safe, eco-friendly transportation…my ASS!

  13. Put gas in your vehicle, and let it sit for a while before driving it again…and the gas is still there, containing the same amount of energy as when ya left it. Put electricity into yer EV’s battery, and let it sit a few weeks…and POOF! It’ll be all gone…vanished into thin air, wasted.

    Gas is like gold…it retains it’s value. EV batteries are like fiat currency (like Fiat cars, for that matter!)….they just steadily lose their “value”, as it just vanishes into thin air and or gets chipped slowly away by the parasitic systems of the “car”- none of which actually have anything to do with propelling a vehicle or driving……

    EV’s are to “saving the planet” what Hitler was to advancing Jewish culture!

  14. Eric,
    The two worlds I know; the one I grew up in and the one I will likely leave in.
    The world I grew up in back in CA in the 60’s and 70’s you could get a learners permit at 14.5 years old. This allowed the L Permittee to ride a 500cc or less motorcycle on backroads (no freeways). This was my first taste of freedom. My dad had a 71 Yamaha R5 350 I used to blast around the East Bay at 14, what fun. I got my first car at 17; a 68 Camaro. We went to the beach and cruised the main and went on dates and I was free. I had a job and had responsibility as well. We were all skinny, tough and loved to have a good time. There was opportunity for the asking.
    The world I will likely leave: my kids will live in a small apartment in a urban area and pay 50% of their earnings or more for housing. They will work for a firm that will dictate to them what the do and how they live. Thru Social media they will also be controlled by not expressing the wrong opinions privately and on the job or else they are fired. Thru social media the big tech firms will exchange information about employees thereby holding you hostage/slave for keeping you in favor. The big tech employers will constantly pit my kids against foreigner nationals willing to work cheaper and cheaper. There will be no mobility individually but driverless electric vehicles you subscribe to that come pick you up for an automatic withdraw on your bank account. There will be no ski trips, beach trips, camping trips due to cost to travel and for the environmental impact lie they will tell. Motorcycles will be outlawed. People will be pitted against eachother based on race (just as the Soviets did on class). The favored race will be given a free living at the expense of the unfavored race as reparations. ( I hope I am wrong about this.)
    If I can do anything before my time is up on this planet I will fight with my last breathe to not have the ladder be my legacy I left my kids.
    To paraphrase Solzhenitsyn; the lie stops with me, and… I will have none of this.

  15. But Eric, you’re missing the key piece of the system: Distributed grids!

    See, in a complicated wheels-within-wheels scheme, the combination of solar, wind and whatever else they can use to generate minuscule amounts of incremental power locally will be used to charge up your EV. At home, at the office, anywhere there’s a parking stall. Then, when you get home and the Sun goes down, that charge you have on your EV will be fed back to the grid to keep your neighbors’ lights and refrigerator running over night. Then, when you head out again the EV will…

    Oh wait, we used all the charge to get home and power up the grid overnight. But at least your charge account has been debited the proper amount.

    Well, it’s all a moot point anyway because the Chi-Coms will have fusion power any day now. (or they will have strapped several million Weegers to exercise bikes to make it look like they invented fusion)

    • Eric,

      “Conan and “The Road Warrior”: Some of the best cinema of all time. Such great taste you have 😀

      It is a good point regarding the lack of used EV vehicles to be available to the young populace yearning to be free. Of course, do they actually yearn to be free anymore? That’s the operative question. Would they be happy not owning a vehicle and just summoning a Johnny-Cab electric with their twonkies to take them to “approved” destinations?

      Now, as far as electric vehicles is concerned, solar panels are very inexpensive these days. I just bought 4kW worth for >$600. So, I was thinking about changing out the engine on something like my S-10 with an electric motor (say a 20kW unit), and also installing ~20kW/h LiFePO4 batteries (~660 lbs). Then, I can add a modified contractor rack to hold 2kW worth of solar panels, which would charge the truck in ~10 hours, barring inefficiencies.

      If my calculations hold correct, and I drive this truck 30 miles/day, and the modifications cost ~$10,000, I could make back the cost in ~10.3 years, assuming the batteries lived that long.

      Well, it would be a cool project and get me lots of babes.

    • Also, ReadyKW, I’m sorry I posted as a non-sequitur reply to your post. That was in error. I was going to ask what “Weegers” were, then I finally computed the answer, myself. (Uyghurs, an ethnic minority being enslaved in Chinese “re-education” camps for anyone curious)

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