Electric cars and liberals’ refusal to accept science

Discussion in 'In the News' started by ALS, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    [​IMG] It costs a fortune to pump, refine and ship crude oil. Yet even accounting for all that, gas-powered cars are a better value than electric vehicles and will be for some time.

    [FIMG=RIGHT]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/523/Volt_News.jpg[/FIMG]Charles Lane - WASHINGTONPOST - March 7, 2012

    Oh the points I could argue with this guy over this piece. He so right and so wrong on a few issues. --Ed.

    President Obama boasted at a United Auto Workers conference last week that General Motors was back in business, producing cutting-edge vehicles like the plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt. He even promised to buy one when his time in office ends “five years from now.”

    Whoops! Just three days later, GM announced that it would suspend Volt production for five weeks this spring, idling 1,300 workers at a Hamtramck, Mich., factory.

    Alas, Obama’s endorsements notwithstanding, there’s not much of a market for this little bitty car, at least not at the price of almost $32,000 — after a $7,500 federal tax rebate.

    GM fell 2,300 units short of its sales target (10,000) for 2011. It is not on pace to hit 2012’s goal of 45,000 units.

    So much for Obama’s goal of 1 million all-electrics and plug-ins on the road by 2015. ... [RM]http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/electric-cars-and-the-liberal-war-with-science/2012/03/05/gIQA7SpYtR_story.html[/RM]
  2. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    I'll take a pass on government-funding issues except to note Toyota did not need any to develop the Prius.

    Weren't the 1st PCs and cell phones huge, unwieldy and crude? The Volt is a testbed.
  3. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    But they've benefited significantly from Japanese government policy, including Japan's national management of metals.

    But they fulfilled a need that wasn't being met. The Volt is just a different way of doing something: so the Volt simply isn't going to sell well at current price or efficiency.
  4. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    The best solution currently available is the "compromise". In between the all-gasoline ("Republican", based on the tone of the article) and all-electric ("Democrat", based on the tone of the article) is the gasoline-electric hybrid. The hybrid is more expensive than the all-gas car and less expensive than the all-electric car. Its improved fuel economy allows buyers to recover the extra cash spent on the car within a reasonable time frame.

    What needs to happen is for automakers to offer basic hybrid models at an affordable cost rather than loading them up with creature comforts and selling them for high end prices. The Prius hits the mark with the "III" package, offering 50mpg and a price tag that is in the same range as competing gas-only cars. The Insight misses the mark in that it offers the lower pricetag but does so with option packages that force buyers to pay Prius-size sticker prices to get the equipment and features they want.
  5. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    ahh come on!.. you want that adaptive cruise control so you can safely tailgate Explorers doing 85mph
  6. rhwinger

    rhwinger Well-Known Member

    If we paid the true cost of gas at the pump that included all those external costs like wars, health, political policies that support despots and all the rest - the Volt would be flying off dealer's lots!
  7. Pavel4

    Pavel4 Well-Known Member

    Mr. Lane ends his piece with:

    "What’s “progressive” about that, I’ll never understand."

    Progress is rarely linear, it's more like the Evolutionary record, full of fits and starts (Punctuated Equilibrium). The road to petroleum-free vehicles is just beginning - we are probably 20 years behind where we could have been. When the ICE was new, it must have seemed very impractical for some time... the same is true for this new attempt at a measure of energy freedom.

    By the time Volt III or IV is available, it will be much better. But Charles Lane has overlooked the obvious - you need Volts I and II to be built first.
  8. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Yes! And I want Bluetooth without having to rinse my mouth with Ty-D-Bowl. That'll give you lotsa blue tooth.

    I am waiting to see how the Prius c compares to other B-class entries. The pricing and packaging details seem to suggest that it will be a good commuter car without all the extra gizmos and will offer fantastic fuel economy if driven in a sane manner.
  9. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    I agree with the author of the article on his point that government should not be subsidizing electric vehicles. Let the marketplace choose which energy technologies should come and go. This makes the most efficient use of all resources.
  10. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    The basic point about energy density is true, but:
    (1) It exaggerates a bit -- the 42mpg rating is only for the rare XFE model, and the Cruze gets far, far less in city driving; in town (where it counts), the Volt can still go further on a charge than the Cruze can on a gallon.
    (2) It misses the point: 35-42 miles is enough to cover most daily driving. For longer trips the Volt still has a similar range to the Cruze, and gets about the same mpg after depleting its pack.

    The true cost isn't included in the price of gas. Some people care about that, even if Charles Lane doesn't give a s***.

    Unlike gas prices, electric rates vary widely across the country. To say it "would take" 9 years for the average consumer is misleading again, because few Americans are "average consumers" when it comes to juice. For many folks back East, it would take much longer than 9 years to recoup the cost. For people like me, where electricity is well under 10c/kWh, the payback would be much shorter -- perhaps less than 5 years.

    And so what it it did take 9 years? Last I checked, the average car is on the road 9 more years, and that will certainly be more true of a higher-end car like the Volt than a disposable econobox. So it actually does pay for itself economically, let alone envrionmentally.

    Well, here he at least acknowledges the externalities ... but he actually avoids addressing them head-on and misleads his readers again:
    (1) Not everyone is charging their EVs off a primarily fossil-fuel powered grid. Our base power is over 50% renewable here (and cheaper than the national average), and for 8.75c/kWh we can get 99% renewable energy.
    (2) EVs are 3x more efficient than gas cars. Even when charged off the eastern coal-based grid, the 99mpgE Volt is using less energy in EV mode than the Cruze.

    I agree. The Volt and Leaf are bleeding-edge vehicles, and no one is pretending they are the best value out there. To say they won't pay for themselves misses the point, and is like saying a Mercedes S500 won't pay for itself. No duh.

    Meanwhile the better hybrids ARE a good value -- the Prius still blows away everything else, at a competitive price, and has been rated the best value family car by Consumer Reports for several years running IIRC. Personally I can do fine without fancy options beyond PW, PDL and AC (Prius level II is FINE with me), and might well have bought an Insight last spring if the base model had been available post-tsunami. I do still think we need to see hybrid technology trickling down to sub-$20k vehicles. The Prius c will be a fantastic addition to our menu of choices, even if still a bit steep for most economy buyers.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  11. JonNC

    JonNC Driving Smarter Since 06/07/2011

    P.S. I didn't bother to read the article, I'm agreeing with Jay on his basic premise.
  12. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    Don't discount the savings from having national health coverage for all the workers and retirees.
  13. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Big news on more Obama subsidies:


    President Obama announces $1B National Community Deployment Challenge to spur deployment of alternative-fuel vehicles; new purchasing incentives; new EV Everywhere research grand challenge

    a long list of items..
  14. SoSlo

    SoSlo Well-Known Member

    The first generation of prius was much older technology, but we are talking over 10 years ago, and everyone including Chevy has learned from each generation of hybrid. I don't see the Volt as some kind of beta technology. In fact I read recently Nissan is working on an extended range vehicle.

    The second generation prius is omnipresent here in Silicon Valley, many examples being over 200K miles without the battery dying. In fact, they are bought in large quantities by Outreach transit and if you drive by Mineta San Jose Airport you can see them by the dozens after hours in the depot. Maddeningly, after 100K miles Gen II Prii are still being sold for over $15K.

    The Volt and the hybrids are best in the hands of large institutions because of their economies of scale, routine maintenance and ability to build their own charging stations. Many short trips in a day plays right into the strengths of the hybrid, namely city economy.
  15. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    Didn't bother to read the article in detail. Maybe it was just an overzealous headline writer, but this is just the new tack among the Fact Free Crowd: just define what you believe as "science" and then label anyone who disagrees as "anti-science". Much as the "liberal" branding was created.

    I'd rather just read the comments here: many are more balanced and insightful than so much of the press commentary. And they're getting paid for their thoughts and we aren't!
  16. Woodywrkng

    Woodywrkng Member

    His main complaint in the video is that it costs too much. Ok Chuck, then don't buy it. Nobody if forcing it on him. His overall whining about electric vehicles is like complaining in 1910 that automobiles were more expensive than a horse.
  17. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    There are some things in our society that trigger the “haters” to lose the ability to evaluate things in full perspective. Nothing comes to mind more than this car. No one questions someone spending $40K on a BMW, but buying a Volt is “foolish”. Subsidies to the oil industry and use of the military at great costs to ensure the continued flow are not a hand out, but tax enticements to develop new technologies that take us off imported oil are. It's crazy!
  18. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    The electric vehicle subsidies have come in at the point the batteries have improved enough that you can have a $40k BEV that goes 70-odd miles if you drive like the average American and more if you care. That you can have a $40k medium-range PHEV that would radically reduce gasoline consumption. That you can have a $32k short-range PHEV that can still significantly reduce gasoline consumption over an HEV. The push now is to help get production and infrastructure scaled up a few years ahead of the technological mainstream so we can bring down costs more rapidly, and accelerate the shift so that we can soften the crippling economic dependency on gasoline. The push is to put more money into the grid, where it's needed, and less into oil, where it isn't.

    Gas prices are already high enough that companies are investing in improved ICEs.
    Hybrid consideration is at an all time high and more companies have them or have them ready. But even HEVs would cut gasoline use by less than 1/2.

    Diesel could reduce oil use, but global diesel demand is so high that its price rises faster than gasoline, making it a hard sell.

    Natural gas could be used to reduce dependency, but CNG vehicles have limitations that make them a hard sell just compared to an HEV: reduced space, shorter range and little or no benefit in running cost due to efficiency being little better than an ICEV.

    If we really want to make oil dependency insignificant we need electricity. It's not really about BEVs, although that's a good long-term aim, it's more about PHEVs: they don't have the limitations of a BEV, they reduce gasoline with hybridization and they eliminate consumption by use of the plug. PHEVs, having larger batteries and motors also have more potential to provide a better driving experience than an efficient HEV. Either way, the key to bringing down prices and increasing practicality is getting cheaper, denser, better batteries and the fastest way to do that is having battery companies sell batteries.

    Tax credits and subsidies are paid for by taxpayers. Most tax is paid by people on higher incomes. People on higher incomes can afford electric cars. So people on higher incomes who could afford to buy them but aren't are paying for people on higher incomes who do buy them. The administration would like to increase taxes on the wealthy: it's tough to be told the your proposed increases are unfair on the wealthy and your tax credits are unfair on the poor and middle class.
  19. rdprice64

    rdprice64 Still Learning

    Speaking of ignoring science ... Batteries depleted after 5 years? ... I must have missed that scientific study.

    Mr Lane also seems to be missing the "politics of science" as it relates to the subsidies, credits, and incentives that the oil companies have received over the years. Energy politics seem to be inevitable at this point, it just seems like its time to level the playing field instead of tilting it toward petroleum industry.
  20. JusBringIt

    JusBringIt Be Inspired

    If I had the money, I would buy a car just for the new technology...I mean, look at the iphone.. It's expensive as hell, and yet people still buy them. If you already have a laptop and a regular phone, what's the need for these things? I guess I mean smart phones in general.

    I guess they need to start promoting other benefits of the technology, because most people couldn't care any less about something that's not affecting them directly and immediately.

    Carbon footprint is a joke in the majority of the outside world. It's not like they press the gas and the smoke from the tailpipe immediately pounces on the hapless tireburner's lungs. If it was that bad, Gas powered cars would instantly become dinosaurs, but...it's not really expected that this will happen.

    Instead of helping people pay for the vehicles, build an infrastructure so that the country doesn't fall apart when gas jumped $2 in two days and the idiots rush en masse to snap up the few electric/fuel efficient vehicles that are left and find there were only so many built and the technology didn't even get a chance to take off.

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