Gay cars and their dirty little secrets

From proper cars to gay cars now.

It is certainly no secret that I hate electric cars and the sanctimonious creeps that drive them. Now people are starting to wake up to the dirty little secrets these gay cars have:

Electric cars are promoted as the chic harbinger of an environmentally benign future. Ads assure us of “zero emissions,” and President Obama has promised a million on the road by 2015. With sales for 2012 coming in at about 50,000, that million-car figure is a pipe dream. Consumers remain wary of the cars’ limited range, higher price and the logistics of battery-charging. But for those who do own an electric car, at least there is the consolation that it’s truly green, right? Not really.

For proponents such as the actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, the main argument is that their electric cars—whether it’s a $100,000 Fisker Karma (Mr. DiCaprio’s ride) or a $28,000 Nissan Leaf—don’t contribute to global warming. And, sure, electric cars don’t emit carbon-dioxide on the road. But the energy used for their manufacture and continual battery charges certainly does—far more than most people realize.

A 2012 comprehensive life-cycle analysis in Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that almost half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially the battery. The mining of lithium, for instance, is a less than green activity. By contrast, the manufacture of a gas-powered car accounts for 17% of its lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds. 

That is just production of the gay cars.

While electric-car owners may cruise around feeling virtuous, they still recharge using electricity overwhelmingly produced with fossil fuels. Thus, the life-cycle analysis shows that for every mile driven, the average electric car indirectly emits about six ounces of carbon-dioxide. This is still a lot better than a similar-size conventional car, which emits about 12 ounces per mile. But remember, the production of the electric car has already resulted in sizeable emissions—the equivalent of 80,000 miles of travel in the vehicle.

So unless the electric car is driven a lot, it will never get ahead environmentally. And that turns out to be a challenge. Consider the Nissan Leaf. It has only a 73-mile range per charge. Drivers attempting long road trips, as in one BBC test drive, have reported that recharging takes so long that the average speed is close to six miles per hour—a bit faster than your average jogger.

And about those batteries:

To make matters worse, the batteries in electric cars fade with time, just as they do in a cellphone. Nissan estimates that after five years, the less effective batteries in a typical Leaf bring the range down to 55 miles. As the MIT Technology Review cautioned last year: “Don’t Drive Your Nissan Leaf Too Much.”

If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Similarly, if the energy used to recharge the electric car comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will be responsible for the emission of almost 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every one of the 50,000 miles it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gas-powered car.

Even if the electric car is driven for 90,000 miles and the owner stays away from coal-powered electricity, the car will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than its gas-powered cousin. This is a far cry from “zero emissions.” Over its entire lifetime, the electric car will be responsible for 8.7 tons of carbon dioxide less than the average conventional car.

So for all the billions spent on saving the planet what are the actual savings that the sanctimonious drivers can claim in their quest to save the planet by driving gay cars:

Those 8.7 tons may sound like a considerable amount, but it’s not. The current best estimate of the global warming damage of an extra ton of carbon-dioxide is about $5. This means an optimistic assessment of the avoided carbon-dioxide associated with an electric car will allow the owner to spare the world about $44 in climate damage. On the European emissions market, credit for 8.7 tons of carbon-dioxide costs $48.

And the cost of creating that $48 lifetime saving?

Yet the U.S. federal government essentially subsidizes electric-car buyers with up to $7,500. In addition, more than $5.5 billion in federal grants and loans go directly to battery and electric-car manufacturers like California-based Fisker Automotive and Tesla MotorsTSLA +1.64% . This is a very poor deal for taxpayers.

Anything that needs a subsidy is a dumb idea.

 

 


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  • And you can fix a broken engine. Try that with an electric car battery.

  • Its a pipedream, alright. The only electrically powered cars that work as well as real cars are the petrol-electric Toyotas. These are the latest incarnation of the American “Doodlebug”, a petrol-electric railcar that gave rise to diesel-electric ships, locomotives and portable generators. Old technology that works, and when running downhill, like locomotives, the batteries get recharged using momentum, where the electric motors become generators. Still, these wont replace real cars!

  • Gosman

    While I don’t disagree with a lot of what you state here it must be stated that the figures are in relation to the US where a lot of electricity generation is achieved using coal fired power stations. The figures for NZ would be much less.

    • Richard McGrath

      The difference in carbon dioxide emissions between production of electric vs gasoline cars is the killer though, as WO pointed out.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Don’t waste your time on the “sanctimonious creep”

  • Andy

    According to RIchard North at EURef, the gig is basically up for gay cars anyway

    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83700

  • what about the environmental cost of disposing of the batteries at the end of their lifecycle?

  • spollyike

    What is it with gays and their stereotype? I don’t see how being gay means you have to also be a socialist liberal and greenie but they sure all are aren’t they? WEIRD.

    • Richard McGrath

      Lindsay Perigo is the standout exception to this tendency.

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