Saturday, July 08, 2017

Car manufacturers force everyone to switch to electric vehicles after June, Part 2 - by Wiggia

The forerunner to this piece was posted on June 24th. (*) The speed with which manufacturers  are heading towards the land of silent cars and emission-free cities grows apace.

Nothing of course is really that easy, but the story that Volvo will not make any more diesel or petrol vehicles after 2019 is the first sign it is going to happen, come what may. 

However the headlines - as in this from the Telegraph: “'End of the road for fuel as Volvo goes all-electric” - are being slightly disingenuous, because the hybrid cars they will produce will not only make up the bulk of production for some time but of course employ petrol engines alongside the batteries. Nonetheless despite the protestations from the motoring press the end is nigh, just not as soon as the headlines make out.

The Volvo statement that they sell 40,000 plus vehicles a year in the UK however does point out one glaring problem for this country, something I have indicated along with others many times,.Volvo state that they do not consider the UK to be a prime market for electric cars as it has the worst infrastructure to accommodate them in the European marketplace: basically no charging points and no signs that they are about to magically spring up even in the no-go zone for gasoline-powered vehicles many of our major cities are soon to become.

Infrastructure has been a subject for ridicule in this country on a general level for decades and is not getting any better, so installing charging points (unless the motor industry itself is going to intervene) will be a long and slow process and you would have to ask, if the government of the day decided to make it a priority, why? when so much else is falling apart or is in short supply or no supply at all.

We can all form our own opinion of the merits of electric vehicles, in a perfect world we would be hastening the coming of such, but we aren’t. As I pointed out before, the governments of the Western world are already back-pedalling on the "electric is cheap and clean" push. As regards the cheap part, they have already drawn up plans to claw back the impending loss in fuel revenue, the incentive schemes are dwindling fast and in the long run there will be no difference in costs to running an electric vehicle as against one powered by oil, however that clawback is managed.

The cost factor is being diminished as manufacturers give sight of plans to make “affordable” electric vehicles. Logically pure electric vehicles should be cheap: after all, they are only the descendants of milk floats, relatively simple mechanics and a simple motor as against ever more expensive oil-driven engines with their cumbersome emission controls. We are assured in the future they will fall in line price wise; we shall see.

As regards hybrids they can never be as cheap as a single-engined vehicle, two propulsion units and expensive batteries make that impossible, and the advantages of hybrids are slight: emissions may be better but consumption figures are not that much better, weight being a factor here, for a lot more layout,  one you are unlikely to recoup.

So in the long game it is electric only that will prevail, all of course if the basic handicaps of today's electric vehicles are overcome, the infrastructure is provided and there is sufficient energy supply to charge them all. So we are nowhere near that point at the moment, in fact a surge in all-electric vehicle sales could end up with the buyers being very frustrated and feeling short changed as they queue for hours at the only available plug in, something I saw the beginning of recently at a motorway services, with only five vehicles involved all requiring thirty minutes for a “quick” charge.

And don’t forget in the event of a major energy failure the motorways could look like the set of a disaster movie with electric vehicles out of juice like the opponents of the Duracell bunny and the RAC unable to help with a can of petrol to get you home Over the top? Maybe.

In reality the range for electric vehicles will improve but at the moment only the likes of Tesla have a range that is approaching the range of a tank of fuel in an orthodox oil powered car, the smaller models are nowhere near that and unless you are a second car owner using one for town use where they make sense, you have problem if you actually cover a higher mileage.

All the manufacturers are going electric, even petrol stalwarts such as Ford and VW now have hybrid models in their popular ranges and will expand the options, but again at this moment in time it is going to take a leap of faith for the man in the street with one car to go this route and not be constrained and disillusioned with the reality over the spin in that which he has parted a lot of money for. As with all things revolutionary the first to buy are the guinea pigs, the ones who will get their fingers burnt; it was ever thus.

* Sackerson says: the "forerunner" was intended as a spoof, aimed at Microsoft for forcing us to buy new computers because of their refusal to continue supporting Windows Vista. It hadn't occurred to me that the powers that be would be sufficiently crazy to try to force such a rapid, radical switch in the car industry!


A K Haart said...

Electric cars may well represent the future of private transport, but do we have enough lithium for all those batteries and should we expect future scare stories about peak lithium?

Sackerson said...

A propos:

wiggiatlarge said...

After just a little extra research some of the above can be verified, the original Nissan Leaf is worth just 25 % of its purchase price after three years, the latest version is around £27 k with government grant and the various reports from long term owners show the range drops along with the battery life in time as with all Lithium batteries, yes they will get there but the current models even with "cheap" eletricity for the moment don't add up, so my comment on the guinea pig early buyers is backed up by the facts.

James Higham said...

Mine runs on pedal power.