With all the marketing and laws imposed on us, I started to think and look into things.
As I turns out, I got an opinion and have things to say! Lucky you dear reader, ha?
What are we actually looking at?
First up, no one has a problem with cars as such, except for some misguided green politicians thinking they are the root of all evil.
The problem we are looking at is climate change ant that is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, one of these gases is CO2, which happens to be exhausted by cars. But there are other gases, like methane and other sources of these gases like cattle and planes and ships an industry and forest fires and volcanos and so forth.
Now, the current marketing of EVs (from now on used for electric vehicles) is that they are “zero emission” cars. Some car brands even put Z.E. on their cars to make sure the message is understood.
When I first stumbled upon EVs a couple (many) of years ago, I was very excited about them. A car that wouldn’t harm the environment that, as an alpine fellow, I loved so much. Glaciers would grow again, forests expand and temperatures drop. That was around 2009 ~ 2010, I was way younger and more excitable than I am now and reality has caught up.
At that time there was a young, obscure American company (as we used to call start-ups) called Tesla showing of a prototype for a car to be and asking for a down payment of 35k€ to be among the first to own one of these cars (please don’t nail me down on the price, I think that’s what they asked back then. It was a phone call, yes that was still a thing, so I can’t go back in my mails), but the resell price still to be determent.
That kind put me off back then and with the first cars selling around 120k€s I was very glad to have backed out, because there was no way in hell I would have spent that kind of money on a car. Skip forward about 10 years.
Dieselgate happened, all the world goes crazy about banning ICE (internal combustion engines), the EU decides 2035 will be the last year one of those stinkers will be allowed on the streets, here in Austria we are even more progressive, 2030 is our target. VW promises affordable EVs, every car company follows. Heavens, finally?
Are (B)EVs really a good idea?
Will battery powered EVs actually save us? (Battery is what that B stands for)
Governments and media say yes,I am going with no. And here is why:
First up, yes EVs are zero emission if you compare them to ICE cars, driving next to each other. But as soon as you zoom out a bit, you will find that EVs and ICE cars need to be filled up. In terms of EVs that can actually happen without any emissions as well, depending on where you live and how you look at it. But for most of us, there are emissions needed.
Here is a link showing the grams of CO2 per kWh for EU Countries
The EU value is the average, so we will take that into account. Rounded 296 grams per kWh. The EV I drive for company trips has a 80 kWh battery so that would be 23680 grams of CO2 produced to fill up. These 80 kWh will get you around 300 km of range so 78,9 grams per km.
Why do we take the EU average into account? Because were are importing energy from other states, since we are already unable to cover all our demand, since we are switching to renewable energy but the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.
But 78,9 grams is not bad at all compared to the 140 grams my ICE car puts out. And that is direct output, not considering the CO2 output caused by transporting and producing the fuel. But I could not find any data for this, so why don’t we just double that number? 78,9 grams v.s. 280, all on board with this?
Back when Mercedes released their first EV they posted the extra amount of CO2 they emitted for building the EQC over the standard GLC, it was 11,2 tonnes of CO2
In grams that is 11200000 grams, huge number. The average buyer of new cars sells that car after 4 to 5 years in Austria and the average daily driven km are around 30 to 35. So let’s go for worst case, 5 years 35 km per day that equals 17.885000 grams or 17,885 tonnes of CO2 emitted by an ICE car, and 5.039.737 grams or 5,039737 tonnes of CO2 by an EV over the same period. Of course the extra CO2 for production of the EV needs to be added to the balance here making up 16,238737 Tonnes of CO2.
So basically 18 vs 16 tonnes of CO2 for 5 years. Not a lot of a difference and with rising numbers of humans and with further moves toward abandoning fossil fuels in some nations and thus moving energy production towards others that margin will shrink, unless these countries go nuclear. And that isn’t really where we would like to go either.
At this point I am not even talking about battery degradation, because while you still see some cars built in the 1910s driving around in 2021 we very likely won’t be seeing cars from 2010 driving around in 2121 using the same battery, at least at the current state of development. Has anyone mentioned used cars yet? That is a huge marked and while no new cars with ICE engines will be allowed after 2030/2035, used cars will be around for a while. They won’t all disappear and be very popular because fixing things on ICE cars usually doesn’t cost about 50% of what the car sold for brand new, which is the case for most EVs if the battery needs to be changed out.
Also I compared this to my car, a big, non environment friendly gas guzzling BMW. A current Toyota Yaris only puts out 86 g/km and compared to that, the overall CO2 emission of an 80 kWh EV are higher than if the ICE car (And if you ever dream of going on a vacation again, you at least need an 80 kWh battery).
So am I against EVs? No.
Do I think EVs are the future? Also, no.
Are ICE cars going to stick around? In some fields like emergency services yes, but otherwise also no, since we are prohibiting them.
So, no to everything?
Ok, you asked, so here is how I think it will work out, we have about three options here.
Please remember, although I wrote a lot about EVs the subject is still climate change, not cars.
1.) We abandon personal transport and public transport will be the only option
2.) We decrease the number of people on this planet.
3.) We change the way we consume things
Number 1, in my eyes, this is where things are going to head in terms of transportation. A car for a single person is a huge waste of resources, production wise and running it just the same. Whereas trains, that are used way longer than cars and transport many more passengers, are also eclectic powered and don’t need huge batteries, are a way better mode of transportation. And if you look at long distance connections, also way faster.
I think, as an Austrian, number 2 is something I am not allowed to say, but here me out. I am not talking about a final solution, eradicating everyone else. What I am saying is: at our current level of resource consumption, our population won’t be sustainable, whatever we drive. So over a long time, numbers will need to decrease. We are not only talking cars here, every person born uses resources, many of them limited. This world only has so much to give and not everything can be switched to renewable sources. Growing populations need more space to live at and more food, which means more space to grow food. Space on earth is finite and some of it needs to be preserved to keep a couple of trees around so we can breath oxygen.
Number 3: I think this would be sustainable, for some time at least. Lowering the resource consumption by sticking with things for a longer period of time will reduce our emissions. No one needs a new phone or computer every year. Never ending streams of new clothes, shoes sunglasses and so forth. This is something every one of us has under ones control, something that can be done right away.
Does one really need to fly on vacation every year? Eat meat on a daily basis? Drive the kids to the school that is in walking distance? Dream up fancy crypto currencies that eat up valuable resources without providing any actual benefit? Bigger and bigger data centers for networks that are only doing one thing, spy on us to find out how to make us buy more?
The question of climate change is one of the biggest we, as a society, are facing and the answer as to how to deal with this is yet to be found. One thing I am certain about though is that switching out one part, the drive train, in cars won’t be the thing that saves us.
Please remember, this is only my opinion, that I formed from data I gathered myself. If you have an opposing point of view, maybe even with data to support it, by all means contact me and will have an discussion about it.