Electric cars suck environmentally, economically, and aesthetically

Electric cars just aren’t worth it.

They suck in many different ways and not just in looks and performance, but also in the vast amounts of subsidies needed to build them.

For decades, the idea of the electric car has captured the imaginations of innovators – including Henry Ford and Thomas Edison more than a century ago. Celebrities, pundits, and political leaders alike have cast these vehicles as the apotheosis of an environmentally responsible future. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proclaimed that there will be a million electric cars on the Autobahn by 2020. President Barack Obama has likewise promised a million electric cars in the United States – but five years sooner.

Someday, the electric car will, indeed, be a great product – just not now. It costs too much; it is inconvenient; and its environmental benefits are negligible (and, in some cases, non-existent). 

Expect the Greens to promise to beat that.

Many developed countries provide lavish subsidies for electric cars: amounts up to $7,500 in the US, $8,500 in Canada, €9,000 ($11,700) in Belgium, and €6,000 even in cash-strapped Spain. Denmark offers the most lavish subsidy of all, exempting electric cars from the country’s marginal 180% registration tax on all other vehicles. For the world’s most popular electric car, the Nissan Leaf, this exemption is worth €63,000.

Yet this is clearly not enough. In Denmark, there are still only 1,224 electric cars. In Germany, car sales totaled 3.2 million in 2011, but only 2,154 were electric.

So failing economically and failing to excite the public so that they buy the over-priced useless things. They aren’t even good for the environment:

Costs and subsidies aside, electric cars have so far proven to be incredibly inconvenient. A BBC reporterdrove the 778 kilometers (484 miles) from London to Edinburgh in an electric Mini, and had to stop eight times to recharge – often waiting six hours or more. In total, he spent 80 hours waiting or driving, averaging just ten kilometers per hour – an unenviable pace even before the advent of the steam engine.

Electric cars also fail to live up to their environmental billing. They are often sold as “zero emissions” vehicles, but that is true only when they are moving.

For starters, the manufacturing process that produces electric cars – especially their batteries – requires an enormous amount of energy, most of it generated with fossil fuels. A life-cycle analysisshows that almost half of an electric car’s entire CO2 emissions result from its production, more than double the emissions resulting from the production of a gasoline-powered car.

Moreover, the electricity required to charge an electric car is overwhelmingly produced with fossil fuels. Yes, it then emits about half the CO2 of a conventional car for every kilometer driven (using European electricity). But, given its high CO2 emissions at the outset, it needs to be driven a lot to come out ahead.

Proponents proudly proclaim that if an electric car is driven about 300,000 kilometers (180,000 miles), it will have emitted less than half the CO2 of a gasoline-powered car. But its battery will likely need to be replaced long before it reaches this target, implying many more tons of CO2 emissions.

A total fail environmentally:

In fact, such distances seem implausible, given electric cars’ poor range: the Nissan Leaf, for example, can go only 117 kilometers on a charge. That is why most people buy an electric car as their second car, for short commutes. If the car is driven less than 50,000 kilometers on European electricity, it will have emitted more CO2 overall than a conventional car.

Even if driven much farther, 150,000 kilometers, an electric car’s CO2 emissions will be only 28% less than those of a gasoline-powered car. During the car’s lifetime, this will prevent 11 tons of CO2 emissions, or about €44 of climate damage.

Given the size of the subsidies on offer, this is extremely poor value. Denmark’s subsidies, for example, pay almost €6,000 to avoid one ton of CO2 emissions. Purchasing a similar amount in the European Emissions Trading System would cost about €5. For the same money, Denmark could have reduced CO2 emissions more than a thousand-fold.

Worse, electric cars bought in the European Union will actually increase global CO2 emissions. Because the EU has a fixed emission target for 2020, it will offset emissions elsewhere (perhaps with more wind power), regardless of the type of car purchased: 38.75 tons of CO2 from a gasoline car, and 16 tons from the electricity produced for an electric car. But, while EU emissions stay the same, most electric batteries come from Asia, so an extra 11.5 tons of emissions will not be offset.

Enough of this blight…they should be scrapped, crushed and taken off our roads.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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