Not just Americans, I think they suck too

Electric cars suck, and American’s hate them and don’t want them, so says Joel Johnson:

Electric cars are terrible. They just are. They’re a solution for a problem we don’t have. Or rather, they’re a solution for a problem we aren’t about to change: our sprawling, big-ass cities filled with things we can’t afford to buy yet must haul around. (Like kids.)

Modern electric cars make about as much sense as rooftop airports. They’re fairy tickets to a more-or-less inevitable future that hasn’t actually arrived. For most of the American market, the only advantage electric cars offer over gasoline-powered vehicles is the permission to daydream about a time when their decision to drive in the first place doesn’t hurt the environment.

Even auto executives agree with me (as much as it pains me to say so): two-thirds of a couple hundred auto executives think electrics and hybrids combinedwon’t make a dent in the market until 2025.

Not just American’s think they suck, I do too.

You can abstract almost every discussion of energy down to raw power. And you should. There is a finite amount of condensed sunlight on this planet and a finite amount of raw materials. In 2010 the United States still made 83% of our energy from fossil fuels—much of which we burnt to generate the electricity that was sloppily sent down a creaking, inefficient power grid to fill up the batteries of our electric cars. Batteries which we made by expending more energy to pull lithium, copper, and aluminum out of the ground.

It’s not that I think electric cars are doomed forever. It’s inevitable that in another couple of decades, their range will increase as battery capacity improves. Maybe by then battery capacity will approach the astoundingly high energy density of gasoline. There’s simply too much money being poured into battery research to stop innovation. (Even if it will just as likely come from companies focusing on making a better iPad battery: car battery companies are approaching market saturation in the current economy.) Plus, if China’s any example, solar should be as cheap as coal in another five or ten years. At that point, the hazy sky’s the limit.

But today, right now, in the middle of a terrible recession and a miasmatic material hangover from decades of unchecked consumption, I can’t look someone in the eye who’s about to buy their first car and say, “Look, buy this electric vehicle. It’s not very fun. It’s not what you want. You can’t really haul anything. It’s very likely not any better for the environment. But it is very, very quiet. Especially for the hours and hours it takes to charge.”


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t disagree with you more on this subject.
    Watch a movie called who killed the electric car an oldie now but a goodie.
    Also check out the Toyota rav4 EV (EV electric vehicle) shut down and not allowed to use the battery technology owned by big oil. Still running today last time I saw one for sale on eBay it had appreciated in value about 600 produced I think 300 in the US and 300 in Japan. The only commercial EV that was sold and not leased, so it could not be recalled and destroyed like the others.
    Do some research on the Battery technology and I think you will find it is ready.
    Also do some research on the efficiency of an electric motor over internal combustion, you will be even more surprised.
    Hybrids are a complete waste of time and space. The main problem as I could see was the small electric engine and way to small battery pack(1.3kw). In the US people have been adapting them by turning back on the EV only button that was disconnected for the US market and putting bigger capacity batteries and adding battery chargers PHEV plugin hybrid electric vehical. Wich the industry says people don’t want.

  • Crap post. The only reason I can’t buy a Chevy/Holden Volt right now is because it’s too expensive. Everything else about it is my dream car: full electric for the 56km range which is more than I need for day-to-day driving, petrol option for the occasional longer trip, all electricity used in the 4-hour overnight charge will be hydro generated.

    • Try and drive from Bucklands Beach to Henderson and back and see how you get on.

      • Liberty

        That whale is why you have a carbon  pumping V8  Sunday car.
        Plus an electric car to commute to work.  Most commuters  would only do 10-20km a day.


      • Not living in Dorkland I had to google maps it to find out it’s 70.6ks return. So, for 80% of the time (56k) you’re running on lovely cheap electricity, and for 20% of the time you’re subsidizing the Arabs’ retirement funds by using the petrol engine. Plus, you’re not wasting gas while you’re stopped on the so-called “motorway”.

      • Anonymous

        Pulling some figures out of my arse here. But I believe, it has been estimated, that if we used off peak power 11pm to 6am when our generation from hydro far exceeds demand then we could run about 60% of the vehicle fleet without having to increase generation capacity. A range of 160km’s on one charge is available the average commute is about 40 km’s a day, Howick to AK return 40K. I think you are out of step with the majority on this one.

      • Anonymous

        The real loser would be the Government Tax revenue, remember 50% of the price of petrol is tax and that is before the average consumer has paid tax on there earnings first.

  • devlsadvocate

    Suck it up. If we don’t promote electric cars to the people who can actually use them (e.g. office workers who drive just across Auckland to an office and then home again – 80-100km round trip max daily) then there just won’t be the money to improve the tech so it’ll someday be good enough for the rest of us. You’re trying to demand that they be as good right now as petrol and diesel, which have had much more time and money to develop.
    We already know there’s better battery tech around the corner (lab-proven, but not ready for field use) but that’s never going to get here if there’s no business case.

    • A-random-reader

      Yep. Petrol & Diesel have a hundred year head-start. I can’t wait to see what is around the corner – we live in exciting times.

      The article probably makes more sense for the USA as the distances travelled there are much greater and a lot of the electricity comes from burning oil & gas. But neither of those things apply to NZ.

  • EX Navy Greg

    I have the best solution. I have a range rover that sucks harder than a hundred dollar ho from kings cross which only gets used once a week max, I live at work.