Tag Archive for: ElectricCars

Death of the EV Dream, Er, Nightmare

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Now that the American Dream has been turned into a nightmare in part by overspending that has led to the highest interest rates in the 21st Century, it is high time to admit that, as Melanie Mcdonagh writes in The Telegraph, the electric vehicle dream, too, “has turned into a nightmare.”

Mcdonagh, who admits she does not drive, points out many problems, among them the horrific impact when a heavy, quiet-running electric vehicle hits an unsuspecting pedestrian or a cyclist. She also notes that some of these “vehicles” are collecting data on route history and road speed that governments (and corporations) can use for remote surveillance (and marketing gimmickry). Another problem is that the much heavier EVs could collapse bridges and force lengthy detours.

Mcdonagh, however, has barely scratched the surface of the mess created by the hipster culture that believes everything sacred must be sacrificed before the god of carbon (dioxide) reduction. It turns out that manufacturing electric vehicles has to date been a bad investment for automakers, despite all the subsidies.

Ford Motor Co. says it will lose $3 billion on EV sales this year, after losing $900 million in 2021 and $2.1 billion in 2022, when the company sold 96,000 units. Price drops by Ford and Tesla (and doubtless other companies) are not coming because the vehicles are cheaper to manufacture but because demand has slowed despite the new Biden subsidies. As Robert Bryce points out, Ford in the first quarter of this year lost $66,446 on every EV it sold.

One reason for the huge losses is the increasing price of battery materials, reflected in the 7 percent increase in the volume-weighted average for lithium-ion battery packs from 2021 to 2022. The Biden subsidies are supposed to offset such costs, just as the Biden build in America plan (in Michigan, at least, by Chinese companies) has no chance of diminishing China’s huge lead in EV battery and vehicle production.

Senator John Kennedy (R, LA) recently asked, “If electric cars are so swell. why does government have to pay people to drive them?”

A new J.D. Power report points to a number of reasons that American consumers are sticking with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. While the highest objections to EVs are high prices and lack of public charging infrastructure, vehicle range, charging times, and the threat of grid disruptions that render EVs useless are also deterrents. Other concerns are fires, power surges that lead to accidents, towing capacity and range, and performance in bad weather.

Even a third of Gen Z shoppers, who have been bombarded with pro-EV propaganda for most of their lives, admit they are unlikely to buy one.

It is obvious that the EV boom, such as it is, has been powered nearly entirely by heavy subsidies and marketing hype initiated by bureaucrats and politicians, most of whom have no background in auto sales or any service industries. Their M.O. is bribery and thuggery (forcing people into unwanted choices through market manipulation). Automakers are beginning to balk at these techniques, if only because they see their customer base shrinking once people cannot buy the vehicles they have used for decades.

While Ford and other companies are now boasting of the towing capacity of their EVs, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. MotorBiscuit last month reported that the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T can be souped up to tow 10,000 pounds, far short of the gasoline-powered F-150, but with an average range of only 88 miles. That hardly works for multiple tows in a day or for towing a trailer to a campsite 100 or more miles from home.

Imagine putting your family into the truck, hitching up the Airstream, and driving out to the mountains for a weekend at the lake. Finding a charging station where you don’t have to unhitch the trailer to get to the plug-in is a huge challenge, and you have to do this multiple times on a 300-mile trip. With a maximum 90-mile range, you need to recharge every 60 or 70 miles, taking 30 minutes or more for each recharge. You lose an entire day each way. So practical.

Far worse, though, are the risks and challenges to tow truck drivers with an EV that has stopped running. Not only are the vehicles heavy, they are dead weight, locked in park, and potentially suspect to spontaneous fires that ordinary extinguishers cannot put out. A 2021 National Transportation Safety Board report notes that “the energy remaining in a damaged high-voltage lithium-ion battery, known as stranded energy, poses a risk of electric shock and creates the potential for thermal runaway that can result in battery reignition and fire.”

Of course, the bean counters with their glorious visions for an all-electric future (replete with blackouts, price increases, and other tricks to keep the majority of people off the roads entirely) do not take into consideration ANY of the real reasons people drive cars and trucks. Their ONLY consideration appears to be the imaginary reduction in carbon dioxide emissions their computer models insist can only happen by inconveniencing “the little people.”

But should those “little people” elect leaders who will end the inflationary subsidies and dictatorial mandates (including those that ban gas appliances, cripple the performance of dishwashers and HVAC units, etc.), the automakers who have heavily invested in EVs will adjust to real market conditions and continue improving long-cherished technologies.

In today’s increasingly top-down world, Mcdonagh points out that “you can’t even discuss the problems with electric cars without getting jumped on.” That is already beginning to change, especially in a freedom-loving America that has had a century-long love affair with the open road.

Meanwhile, lurking in the shadows is an option that could both reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and keep ICE vehicles on the road. Hydrogen-based synthetic e-fuels may be expensive today, but they can power ICE vehicles today and tomorrow without sacrificing a nation to the whims of China’s maniacal leadership.


This article was published by CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

Take Your Foot off the Gas

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In 1991, a year after his controversial firing as men’s basketball coach at North Carolina State University, Jim Valvano published a book titled They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead. It’s a great title.

The past few weeks’ convergence of energy and environmental news reminded me of the irony of that book title. Rolling blackouts, which the 2022 State of Reliability report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) had previously warned about, affected several states on Christmas Eve. Days later, a White House announcement on December 29 hailed Pres. Joe Biden’s “goal that 50 percent of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in 2030 be electric vehicles” and advertised new and revised tax credits for people buying electric vehicles (EVs). Then on January 9, a Biden appointee to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) openly talked about possibly banning gas stoves, which are used by an estimated 40 percent of households across the country.

So half of all new cars and trucks sold in the future would have to be electric? Nearly half of households (not to mention so many professional kitchens) in America would have to switch to electric stoves? We’d need to generate much, much more electricity to fill the void of all that power once produced by millions of gasoline-powered engines and gas-fired stoves.

If environmental zealots in the Biden administration were to get their way, then something would have to answer the call for such a huge increase in electricity demand. Do they have an answer for this challenge?

No. They declared natural gas the bridge fuel to renewables, and then they declared pipeline projects dead.

No new pipelines means no new supplies of “bridge fuel”

The “bridge fuel” conception of natural gas promotes it as a reliable baseload generator with significantly lower emissions than coal (a reliable baseload generator). From there, this view envisions natural gas serving as an emissions-lowering stopgap until sometime in the future when zero-emissions renewable resources and battery storage will be able to meet electricity demand reliably, to the extent that they can replace natural gas to scale. President Barack Obama talked about it in his 2014 State of the Union address, for example, and last year Biden’s “Special Envoy to the Climate” John Kerry talked about it (with some caveats) to the US Chamber of Commerce. Some environmental extremists dislike it on principle, of course, or they suspect that even when renewables and storage were finally ready for the big time, utilities would choose instead to continue favoring low-cost, efficient electricity from natural gas.

The natural-gas bridge is alluded to in the NERC report: “natural-gas-fired generators are now necessary, balancing resources for reliable integration of the growing fleet of variable renewable energy resources and can be expected to remain so until new storage technologies are fully developed and deployed at scale to provide balancing” (emphasis added). Furthermore, “With the continued retirement of coal and nuclear units and a growing reliance on natural-gas-fired generation, the interdependency of the electricity and natural gas industries has become more pronounced.”

In other words, the existing demand for electricity in this country is more dependent than ever on natural gas. NERC warned of an increasing risk of energy shortfalls as “the resource mix evolves” away from “flexible generation (i.e., fuel-assured, weatherized, and dispatchable resources)” such as natural gas and toward weather-dependent, fickle sources such as solar and wind.

Note that this risk is growing before an increased demand for electrification to power cars, trucks, and buses, and possibly also stoves. The Biden administration seems oblivious to the risk, however. Biden’s day-one cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline permits set the stage, cementing his campaign promise to stop pipeline infrastructure. By May of last year, the Biden administration and Congress had taken over 100 separate actions that make it harder to produce oil and gas in America.

On March 24, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed changing its policies regarding pipeline approvals, no longer relying on precedent agreements and also adding “adverse impacts” (including such things as “environmental interests” and “environmental justice communities”) for which it could deny an application. FERC also proposed a new greenhouse gas policy that would require FERC’s oversight of natural gas pipeline projects’ “reasonably foreseeable” greenhouse gas emissions. Those, however, could include future emissions, construction and operation, and even upstream and downstream effects.

Both of those changes would increase the uncertainty surrounding the viability of pipeline projects, which would at best increase their expected costs and at worst prevent new natural gas pipelines from being built.

Federal efforts to delay and block pipeline projects compound the efforts of environmentalists filing expensive lawsuits and of state regulators withholding or slow-walking permits until the projects become too expensive to finish. The Institute for Energy Research described it as the “‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach to stopping pipelines.”

Leaving people worse off while getting in their own way

By stopping pipelines, however, federal overseers are also standing in the way of their own goal of seeing electricity generation transition to zero-emissions resources without dangerous power disruptions. (Of course, they could simply advocate for the only baseload zero-emissions resource out there, which also happens to be the most efficient, reliable generation resource: nuclear power. That they don’t is a great mystery.)

It should go without saying that government taking popular consumer choices away from people leaves them worse off, as consumers as well as makers and sellers. The drive to deprive people of gas stoves and conventional cars and trucks is fueled by the same environmental extremism that opposes gas-fired electricity. It betrays an impatience with people making choices that best address their own needs, and it also shows an inability to wait for entrepreneurs and innovators to solve the riddle of zero-emissions reliable electricity generation (other than nuclear, for whatever reason).

Instead, regulators would rather force changes through government that not only level serious harms against people, but even cripple their own long-term goals.

This article was published by American Institute for Economic Research and is reproduced with permission.