Electric cars are a bad idea – for numerous economic and practical (as well as environmental) reasons which readers of this column are already very familiar with.
Electric trucks are a much worse idea. So – of course – it’s being lemming-rushed by practically every major automaker, most lately Volkswagen, whose CEO Herbert Diess just said he thinks they are . . . “a good idea.”
And in one sense, he’s right. It is. Trucks are where the money is. Cars – electric or not – hardly generate any net profit for the companies that make them. Trucks, on the other hand, are hugely profitable. In part because people love them – which they do because trucks are what cars used to be.
Big, roomy for people and stuff; i.e., practical.
And in part because trucks are versatile . . . from a manufacturing standpoint.
The best-selling trucks – models like the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado 1500 – serve as the basis for SUVs. Sometimes, several – as in the case of the Silverado, which serves as the basic platform for the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade, too.
It also makes sense because there is much more space in a truck for battery packs that are almost as big as a small car – and weigh almost as much as some cars once did. These huge battery packs can store a lot of power – and that can be used to power tools, which is a draw for people who buy trucks – many of whom work at jobs sites where there is no power and so would otherwise have to rely upon a generator.
But has anyone thought this through?
Sure, a truck has plenty of room to house a huge battery pack. But – Kodak Moment – it requires a huge battery pack to power a truck. A huger one than is required to power a car, which is smaller and so, lighter. More weight equals more battery – equals more weight, again.
The smaller electric car battery uses fewer raw materials to make it and requires less power to charge it. Better for the “environment.”
The bigger, more powerful battery needed to power an electric truck eats up more raw materials to make it – not so good for the “environment.” Or at least, worse than it needs to be. It also costs more to make it (and to replace it, when the time inevitably comes ) and it will require more power to charge it.
Does this not contradict the supposed EV brief of “efficiency”? Of increasing consumption and wastage – as well as cost?
Does it not make all of the problems that beset electric cars even worse?
Consider what trucks are used for. Such as hauling things. Adding a trailer adds several thousand more pounds of weight to a vehicle already very heavy. Pulling such a load requires more energy. Some of the public relations agit-prop for electrically-powered trucks talks up how much an electric truck can pull.
What is left unmentioned is for how long?
It is impressive to be able to be able to pull say 18,000 pounds. Just as it is impressive to be able to get to 60 MPH in less than 3 seconds (per the Tesla Plaid).
But what good is it if all that weight can’t be pulled very far? Every road test of every electric vehicle confirms that weight – and load – significantly reduces an electric vehicle’s range. Which of course it does. There is no free lunch when it comes to energy used to power (or pull) anything.
And trucks are expected to pull – are touted as being capable of pulling – enormous loads.
Just as the Tesla Plaid is touted as being capable of “ludicrous speed.”
Which is great – unless if by using these touted attributes you end up with a short-leash radius of action. What’s the point of capability that you dare not use?
An electric truck that touts 300 miles of range when it is not pulling a trailer weighing several thousand pounds (or carrying 3-4 people) now only goes 150 miles.
It does the same thing in a V8-powered truck pulling an 18,000 pound trailer. But it’s not a problem in the V8-powered truck because the range isn’t reduced to the same “compounding interest” degree and – ultimately – is an irrelevance. Because refueling isn’t inconvenient.
And – most of all – it is fast.
Also, not-electric trucks can easily carry vastly more energy than their electric brethren. Twenty-five gallons of gas takes up less space than 1,200 pounds of battery pack. And those twenty five gallons only weigh about 160 pounds (a gallon of gasoline weighs just a bit more than six pounds) and can power the truck for close to 400 miles.
The same at-cross-purposes problems plagues the touted electric truck perk of being able to use it to power tools at a job site where there is no power. But (drumroll, please) this will use power – potentially a great deal, if we’re talking heavy-duty construction-type equipment used all day long.
What happens at the end of the day?
You may have made it to the job site. But can you make it back home on the charge remaining in the battery pack? Do you have time to wait at a “fast” charger? If you are a contractor, will you be paying your workers to wait at the “fast” charger?
Good ideas are often rejected. Probably because they make too much sense. Bad ideas, on the other hand, seem to propagate like weeds in between the pavement.
Probably because they are almost always prompted by – or pushed by – the government. The free market would punish an idea as terrible as an electric truck – by assuring they’d never be made in the first place.
. . .
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