The American driver is being nudged into electric cars like the Tesla and most Americans are already driving cars like the Tesla in that almost all cars made over the past roughly 25 years or so emulate the Tesla via the use of plastic extensively – and specifically, for parts of the car that, prior to about 25 years ago, were generally made of steel.
The front and rear “clips,” for instance – which are also literally that in that they clip on to the rest of the car’s body and for that reason are easily torn off the car. It is why it’s a common sight to see a car with its entire front (or rear) clip ripped away after what, in past years, would have been a minor fender-bender. One that could be easily fixed as well as an accident easily driven-away-from. But you can’t drive away from an accident that’s left you without a front or rear clip – which clips also often house the car’s plastic headlights and turn signals, among other things.
These clips are more disposable than repairable – and that brings us to the “environmentally friendly” object of this discussion.
Plastics are usually made of . . . wait for it . . . oil.
How much oil is used to make the millions of plastic front and rear clips (and other plastic parts that used to be made of things like glass, such as the modern car’s headlight assemblies, as well as the parts of the front clip that used to be made of various metals, such as the grill and no-longer-extant external bumpers) is hard to know for sure – but one can be certain it is great deal more than used to be used when plastic wasn’t used for these parts of the car.
It is likely in the millions of barrels – extracted, refined and used for this purpose rather than the purpose of propelling the car.
Ironically, new cars use plastic in lieu of metal as part of compensatory efforts to reduce the amount of oil (gasoline, refined from oil) used by cars made heavier – via “safety” decrees – by the same government that is nudging Americans into plasticized and electric cars for the sake of “the environment.”
These heavier cars also convey more kinetic energy when they hit something – like the clip-on front or rear clip of another modern plasticized car, resulting in more damage and a higher probability that the entire clip will have to be replaced with a new one, thereby doubling the quantity of plastic that had to be manufactured for that car, thereby causing more oil to be used and – presumably – more “greenhouse gasses” to be emitted during the course of all the extracting, refining, manufacturing, transporting and so on that goes into each front and rear clip.
Which must also be painted, it bears adding.
And then repainted, when the clip is replaced.
Paint generally entails the use of oil (even if water based) and the process of applying it requires energy, most of which probably does not come from solar panels. Just as more oil (and energy) is used to make car exteriors that are now a third or more made of plastic, it also takes more paint to paint a car that is entirely painted.
A scuffed bumper could be polished back. You cannot polish a torn piece of plastic. You replace it and then you must respray it – to match the rest of the car. Think of the millions of gallons of paint that have been sprayed above and beyond what was formerly necessary and all of the “excessive emissions” produced along the way, as to power the compressors that run the paint sprayers, etc.
But there is an even larger “environmental” problem – assuming one actually cares about the environment, as opposed to using it as a pretense for imposing something else in its name.
It is the heightened disposability of the plasticized car itself, which is a function of the fragility of the plasticized car and the ratio of the cost to replace its fragile plastic panels – which remains high – vs. the value of the plasticized car itself, which depreciates with each passing year.
People who’ve been in relatively minor accidents in a plasticized car that’s eight or nine years old will be familiar with this already. Get hit from behind, get pushed into the car ahead; both clips and all the associated plastic may need to be replaced (and resprayed) plus whatever other damage was done to the car. The cost to replace even one clip can exceed $2,000 and if the car is only worth $5,000 you’re pushing the limit of what the insurance company will agree to spend to repair it.
If it exceeds it, the car – fundamentally still viable in terms of its function – gets thrown away, possibly years of useful life remaining – to be replaced by another (possibly new) car, with all of the associated “emissions” and Earth-rape the “environmentalists” – as they feign themselves – are supposedly appalled by.
It is almost certainly the case that a steel-bodied, metal-bumpered car that can take a minor impact without suffering major damage is more actually friendly toward the environment than a plasticized, disposable modern car.
But being “concerned” about that assumes “the environment” is truly the object of the “concern” – when in fact it just another excuse to make life more expensive and difficult for the average person, while guilting him into believing the burden he bears is necessary and never to be questioned.
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