Electric vehicle costs underestimated

A woman gets into her Tesla electric car at a supercharger station in Los Angeles, California in 2018. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)

One of the problems with reckless precipitation is, well, their recklessness, and the current rush (“the race for net zero”) to decarbonize the West (things seem, for some mysterious reason, to be moving at a faster pace. quiet elsewhere) shows very little sign of having been properly thought through. In these circumstances, this article of Financial Time shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, even if the FT, a journal that can come close to promoting a camouflaged form of climate fundamentalism, deserves credit for publishing it.

Author Ashley Nunes goes from a discussion of the price of oil to quoting Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s comment that families who buy electric vehicles (EVs) “never have to worry about vehicles again. gas prices ”, a comment that Nunes views with just a little suspicion:

The secretary is not wrong to praise the economic advantage of electric vehicles. But its laser-sharp focus on one type of thrift must also be called out for what it really is: a budget shell game that conveniently encompasses one set of truths, while downplaying the others.

And in this case, “other” refers to costs that Buttigieg did not mention. For starters, electric vehicles are not cheap compared to traditional cars. Much of this, explains Nunes, is due to the cost of their batteries, and, more specifically, their raw materials: “like cobalt, lithium and manganese.” While Nunes is almost certainly correct that over time the cost of batteries will go down (in fact it already is, dramatically), especially as engineers learn by doing, it probably is. truer of the production processes and complex electronic batteries that batteries demand today. their raw material costs, which can put a floor (as Nunes mentions), at least for a while, under the price of cheap batteries. Over time we will no doubt learn how, as in so many other fields, to do more with less, but magic words are “in time”, words difficult to reconcile with a so called “race” to net zero. . I also can’t help but wonder if, in the meantime, an electric vehicle rush will lead to a to augment the cost of these raw materials, despite growing production capacity.

But perhaps the most serious problem is this:

No matter where you live in America, filling your tank is easy. From coast to coast, there are some 150,000 gas stations spread out all over the place. Electric charging stations – necessary to supplement electric vehicles – not so much. In addition, the existing charging stations are unevenly distributed. California has almost the same number of charging stations as the 39 states with the lowest number combined.

The alleged solution is a national network of shippers. Biden’s infrastructure bill provides $ 7.5 billion to make charging stations as ubiquitous as gas stations. But none of these chargers can – or will – match the efficiency of a regular pump. The first can take hours, the second a few minutes. Which means most Americans will still need to charge electric vehicles at home. The problem? Not all car owners have a driveway (or garage) and those who either have other plans for that space or have more cars than space. In other words, for most Americans, completing an electric vehicle while sitting on the couch is an unlikely prospect at best.

It’s also good that EV owners don’t have to worry about the price of gasoline, as the costs, whether it’s a home charging station, interest on an expensive lease. or time lost to a charger, will always be substantial.

Betting against human ingenuity doesn’t make sense, but the aisle deficit is an EV problem that can be both more urgent and more intractable than most (and imagine how that will be in a more densely populated Europe. populated). Some greens, of course, will see this as a feature, not a bug. Public transport! Cycle paths! Market!

Meanwhile, from the the Wall Street newspaper:

Progressives complain that the tax and expenditure bill passed by the House does not include an “enforcement mechanism” to reduce greenhouse gases. If only. The fine print gives the Biden administration new authority to impose CO2 cuts across much of the economy.

One provision would give the Federal Highway Administration $ 50 million “to establish a measure of greenhouse gas performance that requires states to set performance targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The agency should also “establish an incentive structure to reward states that demonstrate the most significant progress” – and “consequences” for those that fail to meet the standard.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg would have wide discretion over the rules of the program.

It will likely require states to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles by heavily subsidizing electric cars or banning internal combustion engines. Mr Buttigieg could withhold funds from states or demand that they spend money on bike lanes and public transportation. States that exceed the emissions target could get more money to subsidize electric vehicles or high-speed trains. . . .

High speed trains! I forgot them.

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