EVs are DOA, Haven’t You Heard?

This is critique of critics of EVs. This note is about the nonsense of EV nay-saying.

Keep in mind, please, that this is not coming from a person in love with cars. Cars are an evolutionary misstep, I say. But my declaration of this belief doesn’t mean EVs aren’t going to happen.

Robert Bryce, who’s Substack newsletter carries the tagline, “Energy, power, innovation, and politics,” has a thing for nuclear, which is fine, right? Any solution to the current greenhouse gas loading of our atmosphere, which is still going on to such a degree that humans are altering the ecological basics of Earth and not for the better, needs forceful consideration. What is odd is his negativity on renewables, including electric vehicles, which is the focus of his article Ford Lost $62,016 For Every EV It Sold In 3Q that carries the deck, “Electric vehicles are the Next Big Thing…and they always will be.”

Of course, one could think instead of the sentence “Ford invested $62,016 for Every EV It Sold In 3Q” instead of “Ford losing,” and see this as an indication of Big Auto’s sense of the EV market, where they are willing to spend larger sums of capital than they get back right away, because Big Auto expects the cost per electric vehicle will drop and return on investment will rise as the numbers of EVs manufactured expands. I’m sure that if we were to price out build costs versus sales income on Henry Ford’s early cars, we’d see some sort of similar claim about each vehicle “losing” X-amount of money.

There are ancillary complaints about EVs, and one of the more commonly discussed is the lack of sufficient charging infrastructure. Well, let’s cast back with our imagination, shall we, to when the first commercial internal combustion engine appeared, time-travelling by way of Wikipedia:

The first commercially successful internal combustion engine was created by Étienne Lenoir around 1860, and the first modern internal combustion engine, known as the Otto engine, was created in 1876 by Nicolaus Otto.

Here we are in 1876, with our new-fangled fossil fuel-powered car, and where are those filling stations? Again, Wikipedia:

1905: In St. Louis, Missouri, Automobile Gasoline Co., a subsidiary of Shell of California, opens what some people consider to be the first U.S. filling station. Others suggest that the first gas station was opened by Socal in Seattle, Washington, in 1907.

Well, the first vehicle powered by gasoline was Carl Benz’s 1886 patent, but how long did it take for there to be enough cars to make it economical to have gasoline filling stations everywhere? I can hear the long-gone old-timers: “Dagnabbit, where these crazy gasoline cars going to get their fuel?” I think that gasoline as the fuel for cars only passed kerosene in the first decade of the 20th Century, and I can also imagine people saying that internal combustion cars will never happen because there’s not even a standard for fuel, just as we hear today about different EV platforms and charging ports.

The point is that there are people who aren’t thinking things through in regard to renewable energy, and if not thinking through were about a fantasy football team, I wouldn’t give a hoot. But naysayers on crucial climate issues aren’t helping and maybe they are coots of some sort or maybe they are instead helping retard the de-carbonization efforts increasingly overdue.

Bryce raises a number of points about EVs. For instance, he makes this claim:

The reality is that EVs have long been a niche-market product, not a mass-market one. Further, that niche market is primarily defined by class and ideology.

He also cites researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and includes the following quote:

Many new technologies start off as niche products, appealing only to a relatively small subset of households. But it has now been 14 years since Nissan introduced the Leaf, and 16 years since Tesla introduced the original Roadster.

We’ve recently seen many articles in the press about Ford’s delay on a battery factory and GM’s declaration that they’re pushing back timetables for some models of electric cars and trucks. During the UAW strike against all the major automobile makers, the issue of EVs needing fewer workers was a talking point for some time, although the union seems to have settled that, and will see an expansion of jobs, not a contraction (someone’s got to build the batteries, for instance, and the electric motors, even while jobs making gas-powered engines and their transmissions will decline). There are bound to be hiccups on the way to the replacement of terribly inefficient gas cars (also, of course, polluting and greenhouse gas producing) with EVs, which convert about 85% of the electrical power into motion, compared to less than 40 percent of the energy used in internal combustion cars, with the difference being largely in the loss of energy in the form of heat, something that should surprise no one given that this type of engine has the word “combustion” in its name.

Keep the faith, friends of the future. EVs are alive and well, and whenever exactly these will be the dominant car is yet to be determined, but it will happen, and the current market growth, plus the scope of investment, makes this a good bet.

Now, if only someone can figure out how to get rid of the need for personal vehicles altogether, wouldn’t that be great.

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