Are electric cars worth it?

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My friend, and expert on electric cars, Phillip Adams, made a proposal at a public political meeting that we should make the transition to electric vehicles. He had a solid argument, and there were several different lines of reasoning leading to that conclusion.

A person speaking in opposition, with good intention, noted that we do burn coal to make electricity, and therefore, while we all want to eventually see all the cars be electric, don’t jump on that bandwagon too fast, buddy boy…

Phil was right, the arguer-againster-guy was wrong.

There are three main reasons for this.

1) The process of making a car move by causing hundreds of thousands of tiny gasoline explosions inside a big metal box is inherently inefficient in many ways. Most of the motion being created is not in the direction the engine ultimately turns (but 90 degrees to it), energy is wasted cooling the system which gets too hot, and it requires copious petroleum based lubrication, the system does not handle torque very well, which causes extra energy to be required to accelerate, it takes the release of additional fossil Carbon (via CO2) just to get the gasoline to the car, etc. etc. Electric vehicles are inherently WAY WAY more efficient than gas cars. X amount of energy going onto an internal combustion energy will get you just so far. The same amount of energy going into an electric car gets you much, much farther.

(By the way, it is very difficult to compare the two directly in a meaningful way, because the average internal combustion car is probably half as efficient as the average electric car for a whole bunch of design related reasons that have nothing to do with the power train. But having said that, the ratio of electric to gas efficiency is probably around 1/3, meaning that an electric car uses about one third the total raw energy that a gas car uses. This does not count costs of delivering the energy to the point of use.)

2) We use only a certain amount of coal to generate electricity in almost every electric market in the United States. Coal provides a lot of electricity, but sufficiently below 100% to really push the electric vs. gas comparison way over the edge.

3) During the life of a car the ratio of coal:methane:wind:solar in the electrical generation mix will change only in the direction of less coal, and mostly in the direction of less methane, and always in the direction of more solar and wind. (Note as well that for electric cars, total lifespan may be quite long because their engines don’t get leaky and require a rebuild like gas engines do, so they probably last much longer.) Plus we are using a double-digit percentage of nuclear all along (a contribution that will probably remain stable for ten or twenty years, then slowly drop off for a decade, then go to low single digits for the next half century).

4) (I said three, but I’ll throw this smaller one in as well.) Considering that the future requires that we go electric, buying an electric car now helps nudge the market in that direction, making it all happen faster.

4b) Electric cars are cool.

At one time it was true that electric cars in some part of America were not a good idea if measured purely by fossil carbon release per unit distance driven on the day of purchase.

This is not true today and probably hasn’t been for a few years. Right now, a typical electric car is roughly equivalent to a gasoline car with an 80 mpg rating, and that ratio is improving constantly.

But why should you believe some energy-company-hating, tree-hugging, hippie like me when you can see what business-friendly Forbes Magazine says, which, by the way, produces a conservative estimate because the data are automatically at least five years old in comparison to the average age of the electric car you would buy today.

See: Charging An Electric Vehicle Is Far Cleaner Than Driving On Gasoline, Everywhere In America.

See also this: Should you buy an electric car if you live in a coal state?

And yes, the train shown above is an electric vehicle. The railroad companies figured this out a long, long time ago.

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In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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93 thoughts on “Are electric cars worth it?

  1. Mass adoption of electric cars needs to account for how you would replace the gas taxes.
    I think this adoption will lead to government tracking of everyone’s driving.

    1. MikeN, no, I’m not going to accept those points as requirements.

      Yes, we need to address gas tax revenue loss, but there are a lot of ways to do that, including an axle tax on electric vehicles. No, the government is not going to track everyone’s driving.

    2. An axle tax would be one time or annual car tax, and not per mile driven like a gas tax.
      Are you suggesting this tax only for the electric vehicles?

  2. For many ‘mericans electric cars have HUGE disadvantages. But if you consider 90% of drive is with in 60mi radius of the home, then electric makes sense IF you have enough money to make the purchase worth it, because right now I would have to have 2 or three vehicles for my home at this time and electric aint cheap.
    But it gets better when considering that you could always get solar energy yourself to keep the car going, but you would need 2 cars to get this to work. #1 car is at home during the time you are using #2, then at night you swap. Which brings up the other downer, you can’t just by the car you also need the charger! Neither are cheap!

    Then the sociopath view…I’m dead before I am forced to give up the gas car…so don’t care!!!!

    1. Excuse me, the Tesla Model 3 (with 75 KW battery) has a range of better then 300 miles.

    2. L. Long: Many, many housholds have two cars. In many, many cases one being an electric car makes enormous sense. So, I really thing this is best looked at as a glass if half full situation. Many households right now can benefit from replacing one of their cars, as it ages out, with an electric car.

      Here in Minnesota you can get a barely used leaf for $8000. These are from a stock of leafs that have one or two damaged battery cells. So, they are practically new and have more limited range. But that is a perfect solution for many.

      Electric cars are not actually that expensive. They are more than tin can gas cars, but then again, all decent cars are.

      You don’t have to swtich between cars to use solar. You could get an in house battery, but you don’t even need to do that. Just hook your solar up to the grid (you would be doing that anyway) and then charge your car(s) off the grid. That works fine. They sort of hold the electrons for you.

  3. A bit pedantically, perhaps –

    The locomotive you pictured, which is the Canon City & Royal Gorge locomotive 402, is not an electric locomotive, but rather as a diesel-electric locomotive. It uses a diesel engine to generate electricity onboard, which then is used to drive the electric motor. So it still uses hundreds of thousands of diesel fuel explosions to make it go, it just uses the electric generator and electric motor as a kind of fancy transmission.

    There are electric locomotives out there, but this is not one of them.

    1. RickR, I picked that locomotive because it is an electric locomotive.

      Yes, it uses a diesel engine to produce the electricity That is the point. An electric motor is so damn efficient running a vehicle that it is actually worth it to carry around a generator and generate the electricity to do it, rather than using the engine that runs the generator to run the train.

      This is exactly one of the electric locomotives, and I chose it to make this very point. Thanks for asking! (I knew someone would.)

  4. The big US companies are looking at electric in a big way.

    Of the 40 electrified vehicles Ford plans for its global lineup by 2022, 16 will be fully electric and the rest will be plug-in hybrids, executives said.

    Ford has a plan and money dedicated to get there. GM hasn’t explained a strategy, but

    (CEO) Mary Barra has made a bold promise to investors that the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021.

    Similar for other companies. GM is also, it should be noted, sinking huge amounts of time and money into developing autonomous vehicles. From the data they’ve collected in testing, as well as the data Waymo and other groups here and in Europe provide, the current state of autonomous technology results in amazingly safe driving — far safer than cars with humans at the wheel. Sadly, the unfounded fear of “robot drivers” in the US public, and the catering of insurance companies to that ignorance, is a significant roadblock: you can take a serious hit in your insurance cost, for example, if you tell the company you intend to use the Autopilot feature on a Tesla.

    It’s my suspicion that electric cars and autonomous cars will take off at about the same time, in large urban areas where personal ownership makes little or no sense, due to cost of storage and limited use. I can see large companies having fleets of autonomous vehicles shuttling employees to work and in-city meetings, or uber-type (although I hope better operated) companies offering rides for hire.

  5. Filthy particulate smog needs to go. Arguably one of the strongest short-term arguments for EVs is getting a handle on really dangerous air pollution.

  6. Just wondering what yanks think of LPG as a transport fuel? Its got some advantages for health and environment, over petrol and deisel.
    Theres very little doubt all electric cars are gunna be big, and soon.

    1. We use a lot of LPG vehicles. Many small vehicles, some large ones like buses.

      They are still fossil fuels, so we have to get rid of them, but many are used now in places where you need some combination of clean and range.

  7. One of the unmentioned disadvantages of electric vehicles is that they’re quiet…

    Yes, it’s a disadvantage! I’ve witnessed students nearly come to grief with our institutional hybrid vehicles. There will be an increase in pedestrian injuries/deaths and in roadkill, and I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time before someone picks the signal in the stats, unless and until the cars are designed to avoid collision with humans and wildlife.

    1. There are efforts to urgent the inclusion of a system for electric cars to make a sound when in the city precisely to alrt pedestrians.

      The autonomous systems now are amazingly good at avoiding pedestrians, and they will only get better.

    2. My Bolt EV makes an audible buzzing sound at low speeds for exactly that reason. I have on occasion come up behind dawdling cyclists who would most likely have made way for a noisier vehicle.

    3. I used to drive around a Volvo that squealed loudly if it went under 20 mile an hour or was standing still. When people would complain, I’d call it a safety feature.

      Being quiet is not a reason to dis electric cars. There are technologies already available to handle that problem.

  8. I hate to disagree with our beloved host, but it’s my understanding that trains in the U.S. are diesel-electric because they need the low-speed torque that only an electric motor can provide. Marine propulsion is almost entirely diesel because low-grade fuel is cheap and starting torque is less of a problem.

    One of Greg’s earlier pieces was a major influence on my decision to buy an electric car (thanks! I love it!) but it motivated me to look into the subject more deeply. The main thrust of his argument is correct, and there is a growing consensus that we need to electrify everything we can. In Europe and Japan, trains are entirely electric.

    What do I love about my car? I live on a pretty high hill; it takes a lot out of the battery to climb it, but it recovers about half in the descent. It’s equipped with friction brakes, but they’re hardly used. A full recharge, 240 miles, costs about $8. The pedal is a speed regulator rather than an accelerator, which means that 150 kW (200 HP) is available at any time, not just when a judicious use of the gears has the engine in its power range.

    1. One of the problems with the regenerative braking system on the Teslas is that it was designed to be quite aggressive. When the car is driven in areas where abrasives are used for snow removal, the abrasives can get into the brakes and, because of the regenerative braking, the brakes are rarely flushed out; this causes excessive wear on the brake linings. On the Bolt on the other hand, the aggressiveness of the regeneration system is adjustable so that it can be reduced when driving in snow/ice where abrasives are used.

      It is, perhaps not surprising that the folks at Tesla didn’t pick up on this problem because abrasives aren’t used in California (it only snows in the mountains and chains are required for driving in mountainous areas). (95% of the population lives in snow free areas)

    2. I doubt that engineers making cars to sell in America are unaware of variable road conditions. Also, the nature of both the drive and the braking, with respect to aggressiveness,etc, is problematically adjustable. There is also a cleaning procedure and product. This is just another example of demanding that the newer, superior technology dance backwards and in high heels like Ginger Rogers.

    3. Re Greg Laden

      As a matter of fact, I read an article about 2 years ago about this problem which was detected when Teslas were brought in for servicing. Apparently, California based engineers who had never lived in the snow belt were, in fact, unaware of this issue. Of course, Michigan being in the snow belt, engineers there who designed the Bolt, were well aware of the potential problem. As someone who lived in Southern California through undergraduate school, the use of salt in Rochester, NY where I went to graduate school came as a surprise.

  9. Greg:

    “Yes, it uses a diesel engine to produce the electricity That is the point. An electric motor is so damn efficient running a vehicle that it is actually worth it to carry around a generator and generate the electricity to do it, rather than using the engine that runs the generator to run the train.”

    Not exactly. Imagine the transmission, shafts, and differentials need to distribute power from a direct diesel drive to the multiple drive axles of a locomotive. Complex, heavy, high-maintenance, etc. Diesel electrics do away with that, putting an electric motor on each wheel. It’s also a lot easier to keep the diesels in its most efficient power band, particularly in multiple-locomotive configurations where some can be idled when the full power needed to climb mountains isn’t needed. Power can still be provided to all the drive wheels even if only a couple of the diesels are hard at work. You need a lot of gears to do this with direct drive (and this is one reason why diesel tractors for trailer-tractor rigs have lots of gears), and wouldn’t have the flexibility in a multi-locomotive scenario as you do with diesel electric.

    And as mentioned above by someone, the fact that electric motors deliver full torque at low RPMs is very valuable.

    They can be more efficient than direct drive, but that has a lot more to do with the flexibility of providing a lot of power options, particularly long-haul routes over varying terrain where you have multiple locomotives. I’m pretty sure that the reason you find diesel electric for shunting engines in rail yards has a lot more to do with torque at low RPMs than fuel efficiency (again, as mentioned by someone else above).

    If the fuel economy of diesel electric for a single-engine scenario with few drive axles were clearcut, the long-haul trucking industry would’ve switched years ago, because this technology goes back about a century.

    For real electric rail look for those with wires strung overhead … the level of electrification for both passenger and freight trains is extremely high in Europe, for instance.

    Like this:

    1. And, similarly, electric moters in cars can take advantage of their differences (from fuel) to run the car more efficient. Compare transmissions (esp. reverse gear) for example.

      You are holding all the mechanics of cars constant and comparing that to locomotives. But the car mechanics are different in electric cars in many of the same ways as in locomotives.

      And this is the general problem with EV perception, and clean energy generally. Alternatives to the old ways, and to petroleum, are required to dance backwards and in high heels.

      The bottom line is the reality of different energy quantity use between the two technologies. We can see it, measure it, it is real. The discussion of how it is that way does not drive the observed data, but rather, helps explained the data. Your idea that the industry would have advanced more quickly if is was really more efficient leaves out so many aspects of reality, including pressure from the very wealthy industry, subsidies, and culture, that is is actually scary wrong.

      Electric driven locomotives are real. Trust me. They go by my neighborhood every day.

      Did you know that not all electric powered engines use overhead wires? They use a different system, sort of the social security of transportation technology…

    2. “And this is the general problem with EV perception”

      I haven’t said a word about EVs. Diesel-electrics aren’t EVs. And for the record I love EVs.

      “And this is the general problem with EV perception, and clean energy generally. Alternatives to the old ways, and to petroleum, are required to dance backwards and in high heels.”

      And diesel-electric locomotives are an alternative to old ways (the technology is nearly a century old) and petroleum how, exactly?

      “Did you know that not all electric powered engines use overhead wires?”

      They’ll beat the crap out of those that haul around their own diesel engines in regard to overall emissions, efficiency, and maintenance costs. Europe has a much higher percentage of electrified lines than here in the US for a variety of reasons which I’ll leave for you to figure out on your own.

      Yes, of course I know that not all electrified lines are overhead wire. Don’t try to illustrate your supposed superior intelligence by making stupidly condescending statements.

      “Your idea that the industry would have advanced more quickly if is was really more efficient leaves out so many aspects of reality, including pressure from the very wealthy industry, subsidies, and culture, that is is actually scary wrong.”

      Tesla’s battery-powered full-sized tractor-trailer rig, now undergoing road trials (hauling parts between a battery factory and an assembly plant, 300 miles distant from each other) is getting a lot of industry interest. UPS has already placed a significant order for trials and testing. Fuel costs are 40% of the trucking industry’s direct operating costs, maintenance something like another 10%, so UPS (and others) are licking their chops at the possibility. Believe me, if companies like Mack or Freightliner had been able to offer diesel-electrics at competitive price that significantly out perform straight diesels in fuel economy, they would be selling them.

    3. “Your idea that the industry would have advanced more quickly if is was really more efficient leaves out so many aspects of reality, including pressure from the very wealthy industry, subsidies, and culture, that is is actually scary wrong.”

      And the railroad industry was different how, exactly, when it moved to diesel electric? It’s an inherently progressive, forward-looking industry compared to the diesel truck industry, even though the same companies are actually making the diesel engines?

    4. >the railroad industry was different how, exactly,

      The trucking companies are so money minded they felt the Monopoly board was too low class.

  10. How does electric charging work? I estimate a Tesla is about $10 a charge. Do grocery stores and the like provide this for free, or are you charged?

    1. Dunno, but the QLD government wants to set up a bunch of charging stations from Brisbane to Cairns and not charge the drivers anything, at least initially, to help get the ball rolling.
      Dunno how people who only park in public streets can charge up at night.
      Aint gunna have a power cord on the footpath!
      The way around that would be a massive infrustructure spend on every street, and why should people who are already very wealthy get such money spent on them? Be better off spending on electrified public transport for all, then digging up every bloody footpath.
      Of course the really wealthy, who store their motorcars in their own little motorcar houses wont have to worry and can run a cord no probs.
      Question. Im told people in Canada plug their engines into mains to keep em warm overnight.
      How do street parkers plug em in?

    2. Currently, Tesla model S and model X can be recharged at no charge at Tesla show rooms and other Tesla facilities (model 3 will cost). There are also charging stations being installed in garages and parking lots (e.g., the Whole Foods garage parking lot in Roslyn, Va. has two charging stations; I was unable to find out if there was a charge for their use)

    3. Charging stations are being installed everywhere. Right now, I live in a suburb with not too many electric cars. The nearest charging station is about one block closer to me than the gas station that I use. Obviously, we do not have enough charging stations yet but that is a matter of time.

  11. Yeah- it will help emissions. But …A] Cobalt mining is not exactly a benign process B] cannot fathom how exporting the American notion that every family needs a car [or two] is sustainable – really? 2+ billion cars with attendant manufacturing environmental costs? Seems insane- why not shift America’s “my car is my selfhood” mania to a public transport acceptance? C] and still- as we ramp up electrical demand across the globe [just do a small search as to bitcoin’s grid impact] what will all THAT infrastructure require and impact?- even a wind /solar supply scenario requires manufacturing and maintenance energy ….

    1. >Yeah- it will help emissions.

      No. Ultimately, full electrification and shift to electric vehicles, heating, cooling, etc. will eliminate emissions .

      >But …A] Cobalt mining is not exactly a benign process

      That is a huge concern, but sulfer ion batteries are developing very quickly and are likely to replace cobolt-using batteries within a few years. I personally don’t expect battery technologies to dramatically increase in capacity, etc., but I do expect us to get off Cobolt pretty quickly.

      >B] cannot fathom how exporting the American notion that every family needs a car [or two] is sustainable

      That has absolutely zero to do with the issue at hand. But, since you mention it, it will be interesting to see how vehicle use, and the use of space and transport in general, change over the coming decades. It has always changed, and often changed dramatically. One thing I’m pretty sure of. Assuming that the status quo is unchangeable or some sort of end product is not likely correct.

      >C] and still- as we ramp up electrical demand across the globe [just do a small search as to bitcoin’s grid impact] what will all THAT infrastructure require and impact?- even a wind /solar supply scenario requires manufacturing and maintenance energy ….

      I think you may be a bit out of date on the current capacities and likely future capacities.

    2. Wondering if exporting the Western concept of “we all need our own powered cage to transport each of us ” is IMHO the underlying basis of your post re the worth of EVs- a build out of our kind of system that includes the other 6.5 billion people – the attendant production of roads, garages, wiring, etc will , I humbly submit , negatively impact our biosphere on a grand scale- and is that the “worth” your post wants to investigate?
      I am more than willing to see the latest data for world wide current and anticipated energy production- especially the projected impact of China and India as they too embrace a western consumptive based culture. That’s a 5 to 6 fold increase in consumers without Africa or the rest of the Americas…. Do you have a good source for that kind of comprehensive overview?

      And then of course, there’s the manufacturing capacity of “just” the raw materials : steel , plastic, aluminum, rubber and glass. Again- meeting a planetary demand for some x-fold increase in these basics for automotive independence around the globe seems to me far fetched- but if you have cogent source material for getting a rosier picture than I will be happy to take a look.

  12. Tesla collected hundreds of millions from California in extra credits under CARB, because the Teslas have a fast battery swap feature. Have any Tesla owners done this fast battery swap?

    1. I don’t know, but if the number is low or zero there’s good reason: the initial estimates for battery life were short (3 years?), but with the data gained during charging, changes to methodology have resulted in the battery life estimate going to around ten years.

    2. Has nothing to do with battery life. The point is you get a fast recharge by swapping out the battery.

    3. Misunderstood. Their first battery swap program didn’t last long (it was in 2015). It was a trial program, and there was essentially no demand for it. The Supercharger program grew faster and worked better.

      They have recently received a new patent for a modified swap system, but I don’t think it has moved to testing status.

  13. No demand for it because it was by appointment only and charging $250. And that it was fake, just to get those credits.

    1. And that it was fake, just to get those credits.

      No, not fake at all in the real world, only in the minds of some.

      It was not charging $250 — that’s flat out false. And, when initially introduced, Tesla’s own wording was

      At least initially, battery swap will be available by appointment and will cost slightly less than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan.


      Tesla will evaluate relative demand from customers for paid pack swap versus free charging to assess whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary for that upgrade.

      It went by the wayside because of low use, owner uncertainty (learned from owners) about whether when the swapped out a battery would be returned to them with more miles because it had been somehow swapped to someone else, and because consumer preference moved to their Supercharger system. You know, market forces and all that?

  14. Tesla’s statement are less convincing that their claims of future Model 3 production. I’d like to see proof that this actually existed and was used by people. Have any Tesla owners done this fast battery swap?

    1. Actually Mike, you lied and got caught out. So the problem is not with Tesla – despite your mendacious doubling-down here – it is with your false claim that the service cost $250 and that it was ‘fake, just to get those credits’. Both lies, both unacknowledged and you have another pop at Tesla instead.

      Piss poor.

    1. Who said anything about EVs are evil because Tesla? I think it is not fair for Tesla to get benefits that could go to other companies. These credits were sold by Tesla when the companies might have bought from other companies, or even created a demand for more production of EVs.
      I do think Tesla should be under SEC investigation for their statements on production which look like deliberate lies to prop up the stock price and allow Elon to keep a larger share of his company when he has to acquire more cash(his burn rate has Tesla broke by August).

    2. Evil based on pure dishonesty. He seems to imply that Tesla was doing something illegal by selling the credits: they weren’t, that’s one of the things they were designed for. Also omitted

      – California, in 2014, reduced the number of credits Tesla was awarded per Model X from 7 to 4
      – The sale of credits to other companies was requested by other companies because they didn’t produce enough ZEVs to qualify for California to award any to them
      – Tesla was not given credits for its battery-swapping program because the state decided it wasn’t a satisfactory quick-charging method (that probably played a role in the elimination of the swapping program, in spite of the fact that it most certainly did not cost $250 each time, as some have alledged
      – When the number of credits possible per vehicle was increased Tesla didn’t qualify (note that they actually received a decrease) because the range of their vehicles at the time didn’t reach the required level

      There are a couple other issues: Tesla does not get the same benefit from the CARB credits as other companies (Chevy and the Bolt is the most apt comparison) because their production levels are not high enough. The old line “Chevy loses $10,000” on each Bolt that was tossed around a few years ago isn’t true, because they made up that margin on the credits. Tesla didn’t have that return. As these credits diminish the gap will decrease.

      I don’t know why Tesla is mikeN’s latest preferred target for blatantly dishonest claims, but there is some consistency: the assertions are so egregiously false they are easily shown untrue.

    3. No there was nothing wrong with selling the credits. What was wrong was Tesla’s getting the credits.
      They demo a 90 sec swap that was with robots. I have since found one person who blogged about doing the battery swap. Took six minutes, and 8 minutes the second time(part of one process). It was not automated like the demo, but done by hand.

      I read $250 before, but can’t find that. Other sources say $80 for the swap, which included swapping back in your old battery.
      The blogger’s experience reinforces the idea that the whole thing was a fraud. They claimed it to get the credits, then did as much as possible to discourage people from using it. Appointment only, $80, and you have to make a return trip to the one station that happens to be next to a line of superchargers. When they finally get some people that show up, they have to do it by hand. The blogger claimed the appointments were booked solid, but another site said a handful of people used it. May have been because there were two stages in the process.

      Tesla did not explicitly lose credits in later years. California ARB said that as of a certain model year, those claiming the credits had to provide a record of everyone who used the program. Called out like this, Tesla did the minimum to maintain appearances for their prior fraud, then wrapped it up.

    4. As there is at least one person who has used the fast battery swap, I will say it is not a total fraud, but Tesla’s gaming the system.

    5. ‘Fraud, fraud, fraud’.

      Rightwing liars do like to use the F-word, don’t they?

      What a bunch of shameless liars you all are.

    6. California’s ARB itself said the rules change is to prevent gaming the system. Tesla repeatedly tries to suggest modifications that allow them to get those credits easily, and ARB keeps shooting them down. The responses to Tesla have a different tone that the others, at one point explicitly saying they are preventing gaming.

  15. Power poles often have street lighting on them.
    Formally incandescent they are being switched to 60% more efficient LED even out here in rural NZ .
    Over night street charging for EV’s could easily be supplied from the extra capacity of street lighting circuits at little cost or disruption.

    Cobalt is a byproduct of nickel and copper mining.
    It was previously not economic to recover it from many operations.
    As demand rises recovery will become economic from both primary operations and from formally discarded slags.

    Indications are that present Tesla battery tech will be good for around 200,000km @ better than 90% capacity.
    That’s comparable to the life expectancy of an ICE engine .
    The rest of the ICE drive train also has a limited life much of which not even present in an electric car .
    In NZ the Nissan leaf EV leaf topped the local consumer reliability survey.
    Surprising considering they are not sold new in NZ instead are imported second hand from the UK and Japan .

    1. oh I am sure that as cobalt demand increases there will be an increase in getting to those supplies that , earlier, had been uneconomical to process- pretty much the same arc as we have seen in fossil fuel exploration/exploitation…. and likely the same arc of greater and greater energy expenditure for a smaller net result. Its kinda the price of infinite consumption juxtaposed against finite resources….

    2. mikeN, you are getting sounding more foolish all the time. The comments about losing credits came from the state. The information about the lack of use of the battery swap was well documented.

      When Tesla sent out an initial round of about 200 invitations to test the battery swap program only about four to five people opted to try it, Musk told shareholders at Tesla’s annual meeting Tuesday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. And each of those respondents used the swap service just once.

      The overwhelming choice by Tesla owners was for the supercharger network. That doomed the swap.

      Your continued insistence to state things that simply aren’t true, and to refer to scams purely because you don’t like the company, is astounding.

    3. Here is the state’s description of the update for model years 2015-2017, after which they switched to range.

      My reading of this is that if they could get 4% of the sold cars to do a battery swap 25 times in a year, Tesla would collect an extra credit for every car. Each credit is worth thousands of dollars, so financially Tesla should have been able to maintain this program if it was real by dropping the charge and carefully selecting the users.

  16. And to nobody’s surprise, rhetorically bankrupt MikeN continues lying about Tesla as a means of undermining EVs in general because they’re a bit, well, you know, progressive.

    God what a bore.

    1. Elon Musk all but endorsed Trump’s tariff plan, strange for someone who would be using lots of steel and aluminum, calling for equal tariffs for US exports and imports, so I wouldn’t be attacking him as too progressive.

    2. No, musk said nothing about aluminum. He specifically addressed the tariff put on US cars imported to China and the Chinese governement’s policy that would require companies that want to manufacture in China pair with a Chinese company. EVs are big in China now, and he wants in on that market.

      But he said nothing about steel or aluminum. Christ.

  17. Please do note (this seems relevant to the conversation at present) that Tesla is the single most commonly sold electric car, but the total number of electric cars sold by Tesla is approaching less than half of the total sold. That seems to be a trend. This should not really be a conversation about Teslas, but about EV cars in general.

    1. True. It’s just interesting that mikeN has chosen to lie about them and issues like this, when it is so easy to show that nothing he says is correct.
      I also think a good part of the attention paid to them in general (aside from the “exotic” feel of the price) is their extremely good auto pilot system. GM and Waymo are catching up, but Tesla’s is still on top.

    2. This is why any conversation about electric cars includes Tesla.

      As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.
      The purpose of Telsa is not to sell electric cars.
      Elon Musk’s goal is to make electric cars mainstream.

    3. ” serengeti ”
      Nah , as far as my understanding goes.
      I thought serengeti was a heap of i dividuals ( often really stupid people ) attacking one individual ( scientist usually )instead of a scientists field.
      Not Mike N attacking (or whatever it is hes doing) some enormous field dominating yank company.

      I could badly, possibly erroneously, critique Ford Company on a number of grounds , but i wouldnt be calling such a process serengeti.
      Not trying to be a pedantic prick as much as seeing a gross error and calling it so readers aint confused.
      Perhaps a new term needs to be invented for what you mean BBD.

    4. Serengeti strategy

      I see the essence of this as smearing by proxy, or ‘personalise and demonise’. If you can’t attack climate science, attack climate scientists individually; if you can’t attack the inevitable policy responses like a shift to EVs, attack a specific company or just go after Musk (personalise and demonise). Musk *is* Tesla, so a good target for this shit.

      The constant use of the word ‘fraud’ is a pretty strong clue to what’s going on here. Whistle the doggies. Grrrr, snarl and snap. At a specific proxy target which is easier to take down than a consolidated herd.

    5. Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering what zebra strategy was, figured it was something about seeing things in black and white.
      Li, Serengeti strategy means to attack the weakest of the pack, highlighted by Michael Mann in one of his books. I found it funny because he unintentionally identified himself as scientifically weak.

      I don’t consider Tesla the weakest of the pack, and admire Musk for spending money to produce infrastructure and proceeding towards a goal. However, his company is built too much on gaming of subsidies.

    6. Li, Serengeti strategy means to attack the weakest of the pack, highlighted by Michael Mann in one of his books. I found it funny because he unintentionally identified himself as scientifically weak.

      Learn to read. Just separate from the herd is sufficient.

      Personalise and demonise, like you did with Mann, and are still doing with Mann.

      Thanks for the demo.

    7. Hmm, perhaps I misunderstood what Mann was saying. I took most vulnerable animals to mean the weakest. But perhaps he intended it as they are weaker because they are isolated.

  18. Including Tesla is good. Ignores all others is backwards looking. In five years every single car company will have an electric car. In ten years the majority of cars sold will be elerctric. In 15 years, 100% internal combustion will be but a smidgen of car and truck sales.

    1. Yup. Ford has plans to have 40% (minimum) of its fleet electric by 2022
      Chevy is planning on 20 all electric vehicles by about the same time (they are selling loads of EVs in China now)
      Cadillac is hinting at around 20 by the same time, but it’s difficult to say with them: the seem to be enamored with the ad campaign pushing themselves as a “luxury” vehicle company

      If these mainstream companies are as successful as they want to be there will be a drastic change in the car market. Add in autonomous capabilities and the “you won’t have to drive a car, it’s be automatic” future my 1960s era Weekly Reader promised me will be mostly here. (Now if only I could forgive them for telling me that the Howard Hughes built the Glomar Explorer to mine from the ocean floor.)

    2. March 19, 2033, you say 100% internal combustion will be but a smidgen. I predict at least 90%. Let’s say 50% is the over under.

  19. However, his company is built too much on gaming of subsidies.

    Keep the purely fictional bullshit coming — we need something and someone to laugh at.

    1. Yes. I think Elon is engaged in fraud to keep the stock price higher. This minimizes the amount of stock he has to sell to keep the company going. The plan is to ramp up production, and he keeps falling behind the projected ramp up pace. Nevertheless, if he gets to a certain production level, then he can meet demand and the company is making profits. He would like to do this with more of the company in his hands rather than less. So he says things like we are going to move the assembly line at 1m/s. That he will take his compensation if he produces a trillion dollar valuation for the company. Anything to keep the stock price up.

    2. And with utter predictability, the f-word again.

      Let’s keep on incessantly libeling a single player for the transparently obvious purpose of smearing the whole EV industry by association.

      Rightwing rhetoric in all its bucket-of-shit intellectual bankruptcy.

    3. ARB seemed to agree with the idea. They thought it would promote EVs and the industry to single out Tesla and let others share in the credits instead of letting it be gamed. I would think someone who wanted to promote the industry would care about that. If Tesla has fraudulently gained credits, then this artificially increases the supply of credits for sale, lowering the price, and reducing incentive for others in the industry to get these credits.

  20. Let’s keep on incessantly libeling a single player for the transparently obvious purpose of smearing the whole EV industry by association.

    The odd thing is that those tactics require the person doing the attack to completely ignore every single fact that shows their objections are wrong. The only bit of consistency from the history of comments is the utter denial of reality that doesn’t fit a preconceived mindset: Trump’s inauguration was huge and there was a conspiracy to make it seem small (despite all the evidence showing the opposite. Trayvon Martin was a thug who was killed in complete self-defense, despite the evidence that shows that isn’t true. The Nazi who tried (and succeeded) to kill someone in Charlottesville was really just trying to get away from people attacking him and accidentally bumped into another car. I haven’t seen him comment on the fact that the black man who was attacked and beaten by Nazis in a Charlottesville parking garage (with the attack recorded on garage security cameras) was initially charged with assault because he fought back, but I’m sure the argument would be that he taunted those nice Nazis and they were innocent.

    1. The odd thing is that those tactics require the person doing the attack to completely ignore every single fact that shows their objections are wrong.

      See list of all previous victims of rightwing Serengeti-ism.

      Facts don’t matter. All the doggies need to do is keep barking loudly. People not paying attention can be fooled into thinking that the doggies have a legitimate reason to be making so much noise. Doggies know this.

      Woof, woof, woof.

    2. Facts don’t matter.

      A friend of mine sent a story about a bit put online by a satire site. The site routinely makes fun of the right-wing, racist, alt-right related sites (anything with “patriot” in the title, — the places really disgusting people get information). The satire site posted a stock photo of Gerry Brown at a signing event, and ran a story to the effect that Brown had signed into law a bill that required schools to force children to use Arabic numerals in classes instead of the traditional “American” numerals — which is a funny bit of trolling. She (the friend) said a good number of the right-wing sociopaths in her area took it seriously and were outraged, spouting all the usual crap those clowns do.

      So nope — facts don’t matter to folks on the right anymore.

  21. “Facts don’t matter. All the doggies need to do is keep barking loudly. People not paying attention can be fooled into thinking that the doggies have a legitimate reason to be making so much noise. Doggies know this”.

    Interesting idea. Well articulated . I can see it.
    However i worry about ” noise “.
    Noise can be fucking valid.
    Blows my mind how objections to nukes are ignored by pretty much everyone. ( just a noisy bunch of hippies and doctors and scientists, and most hippies and doctors and scientists dont give a stuff either! )

    I dont think people care to much about facts. Which is a bit of a problem for democracies. Can get really messy. Quickly.

    Corruption is such a debilitating thing. Allegations should be investigated.
    If this Tesla company is corrupt, fuck em.
    If they aint, goodo.
    Corruptions got fuck all to do with how valid
    science is in electric cars.

    1. Blows my mind how objections to nukes are ignored by pretty much everyone.

      Some of that has to do with dishonesty, but more (at least for the general public) has to do with the fact that the typical person absolutely sucks at judging risk.

      – Survey people about how they rate their driving ability to that of others and they will overwhelmingly say they are better than others
      – Much of the public (aided by click-baity articles, I will admit) is on heightened concern about the “dangers” of self-driving cars after the recent case of an Uber test vehicle striking and killing a cyclist. It is a tragic accident, but using a single extremely rare event (the data that has been collected here, and in Europe, in autonomous driving testing, shows them to be far more safe than cars with humans at the wheel, even when you correctly adjust for the different population sizes)) to condemn the entire endeavor is unfounded — especially when there is no concern at all for the much higher number of deaths that day from accidents that happened with people at the wheel
      – I conducted informal surveys in my undergraduate classes this year: I asked whether they would be comfortable riding in an autonomous car (most said no because they would never be safe). There were some other questions, but the one I use for comparison was whether they would feel comfortable being on an international flight (almost all replied yes — the few that didn’t stated that they are uncomfortable flying at all, so their objection was not due to the length of the flight but anxiety over any flight). After we talked about the results I presented data on accidents resulting from distracted driving as well as the amount of time a human pilot is actually controlling an airliner on an international flight. (And yes, we know flying is safer than driving: the point is the disconnect between being concerned with a car not having a driver while not caring about the lack of human control in an airplane.)

      Re mikeN’s yelling about Tesla: you can ignore all of his objections — they aren’t based on anything resembling facts. Tesla just seems to be another of the “left wing” things people like him enjoy spreading conspiracies about. Are they perfect? Probably not. Are they guilty of what he says? Certainly not.

    2. “… typical person absolutely sucks at judging risk.”
      Very true.
      Id like to clarify something. Not sure if corruption is being alledged. Or funny book keeping.

      Either way, science aint affected.
      If people can challenge the science behind electric motors and battries, and wheels , thats great, and science will advance.
      Aint gunna fucking happen though.
      Theres nothing wrong with it. Its as established as all fuck.
      Like the science behind nukes.
      Like the science behind AGW.

      The morality or rationality of EVs, or nukes, or AGW, is really whats at issue.
      I dunno what anti EV people have against em moraly or rationaly.

    3. “I dunno what anti EV people have against em moraly or rationaly.”

      Maybe because the push didn’t start with the companies the right is familiar with — it could be that if it had been GM, or Ford, etc., who made the first bold steps to EVs the resistance wouldn’t have been so strong, but the fact that it was one of these newfangled “startups” ruffled their feathers.

      There is also something strange going on — at least in Michigan. The right here took money from the established car dealerships and passed a law prohibiting companies like Tesla from selling cars here, since they don’t have a traditional dealer network. (They also attached an appropriation to the bill: they have no intent of spending the money on anything, but we have another law, also pushed through by the right, that says things they pass that have appropriation items attached can’t be overturned by public vote.) Since then they have begun to paint Musk himself as a fundamentally bad guy — it’s starting to take on the same form as all of the fake accusations against George Soros, the guy who has been the right’s favorite target in spite of doing nothing to deserve it. It could be the fake crap being spread here about Tesla has its roots in some asinine dislike of Musk.

  22. I have seen Tesla dealers, not too far from Michigan. Do they operate differently?

    >if it had been GM, or Ford, etc., who made the first bold steps to EVs the resistance wouldn’t have been so strong,

    They made a movie about how the rightwing killed GM’s electric car.

    1. Tesla has showrooms where you can get information (and there may be basic service and a supercharging station in them), but the only way to purchase one is through their website.

  23. Great post and really informative. Going for an electric vehicle can definitely be a tough decision. I would say it is always great to experiment first or not go the traditional route of buying or leasing. Personally I have been using steer and have a subscription for electric vehicles and would really recommend it for people looking to use an EV.

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