Sunday, January 12, 2020

Facts Don’t Exist

I would really like to get an electric car. Presently I own two vehicles, a gas guzzling SUV from 2002 and a rusty sedan from 1997, neither of which is getting any prettier. Since their fuel and maintenance cost less than a car payment, I keep them.

Recently my dad disputed my assertion that when you do not factor in the price of the vehicle, EV’s (electric vehicles) were cheaper to operate than ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. He didn’t think that was true and that the only way to change his mind would be if he owned an EV to see for himself… a condition that could never be satisfied because he would never buy or lease an EV on principle.

It doesn’t take a lot of Googling to learn that the Kilowatt per mile costs only a tiny fraction of what even the most efficient ICE cars can achieve in miles per gallon, but that’s not good enough for my dad. He has finally walled his mind up on the matter. The subject is too political for him. All the information on the internet is “fake news” and “hoaxes”. EV’s are part of a “liberal agenda”, and that’s that!

Of course it is true that if you compare the cost of a new EV to a comparably equipped ICE vehicle, the cost difference will likely be more than the ICE vehicle’s fuel cost over the next ten years. So I’ll concede that EV’s do not actually save you money under the current pricing conditions.

Another problem I have with EV’s is that the auto manufacturers do everything possible to make their EV’s unfamiliar and unacceptable to people who like their ICE cars. The typical driver doesn’t want to operate a “concept car” for their daily commute. They want something familiar, comfortable, safe, and dependable.

There’s no technical reason that EV’s could not be made to look and operate like their ICE brethren, so why is it that automakers willfully keep a viable alternative as the least-appealing option to the average consumer?

(Insert OPEC conspiracy here)


Thanks to Glenn and maybe George. I don’t know why I bother, but here’s our submission page and my email:

“Electricity is really just organized lightning” ― George Carlin



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6 Responses to Sunday, January 12, 2020

  1. The oldest rater says:

    There are any number of plug-in hybrid vehicles out there which look almost exactly like their conventional counterparts and can be driven just the same way. The major difference is that if you stick to town and remember to plug them in every time you get home, you generally don’t have to visit the gas station for weeks or even months at a time. Also, the quiet operation makes it very nice to listen to the radio.

    I’ve met a number of Tesla drivers. They all love their cars. And yes, electricity is a lot cheaper than gasoline–you can even get it for free in a bunch of places. Many businesses will give you 30 cents worth of juice to get $10 of business and call it a huge win, and they’re not wrong.

    • f2x says:

      I have ambivalent feelings about hybrids. I’m sure they are very nice cars, but their limited electric range means twice the hassle. You are still buying gas, and you still have to remember to plug it in. On top of that, it suffers the Achilles heel that pretty much all electric cars suffer: Finding affordable repair shops. Never mind the fact that the upfront cost is still significantly higher than a comparable ICE vehicle. Then again, maybe I’m being too critical and overthinking it.
      Currently, Tesla is the gold standard for EV’s, and it surpasses nearly every ICE vehicle in almost every category as well, but when something breaks, my mechanic isn’t going to be able to service it. And that’s the biggest problem with EV’s… Getting them fixed when they break!
      When EV’s are the predominant means of transportation… nay, when EV’s reach about 25% of the market, the infrastructure to support them will magically sprout out of the ground because capitalists will trip over each other get at those sweet, sweet consumer dollars. On that day, range and repairs will no longer be a significant issue.
      Soon after, ICE support will start sinking like a lead balloon. Gas guzzlers will be relegated to the likes of current “Classic Car Clubs” for special occasions and weekend road trips. Just imagine people driving their EV’s to the sparsely remaining gas stations to fill up a collection of 5 gallon gas cans so they won’t have to waste gas going too and from, all while they wax nostalgically about the “good ol’ days” in their Chevrolets.
      I don’t know the exact timeline, but the transition is coming, and the key is knowing the optimal moment to dump your old vehicle so you don’t get burnt on a non-standard or dead-end tech that the automakers foist on the early adopters.
      Personally, I think most people that are old enough will look back on ICE cars fondly, but few will be dense enough to want them back after self-driving EV’s take over. It would be like wanting to go back to gas lamps, horse and buggies, and shitting in outhouses. Sure, it’s quaint and charming in its own right, but not practical in a modern world.

      • The oldest rater says:

        You’re kinda vague on the technology, which is understandable because there are at least 3 if not 4 gradations between ICE and full EV.
        Step one is the “mild hybrid”, or start-stop. This turns the engine off when stopped (and sometimes when coasting) to save fuel. It has a very powerful starter (generally as a dual-purpose starter-alternator) which can restart the engine as fast as you can blink.
        Next is the start-stop with “launch assist”, which uses the powerful starter to help get the car going.
        Up from this is the full hybrid, a la the Prius. This can run completely on electric power if the demands aren’t too high. When the battery runs down or more power is needed than it can supply, the engine kicks on.
        All of these save fuel but still get all their energy from gasoline, not a plug.
        The last step before the full BEV is the plug-in hybrid, or PHEV. That finally gives you operation from grid power, generally with power and speed limitations but you can run 100% on juice if you stay within them and recharge before the battery is exhausted. The beauty is that you can use a much smaller, cheaper battery and still save immense amounts of fuel with it.
        I’ve been driving one for over 6 years now. The only problem I’ve had that took me off the road was… a failed fuel pump. So far all the electric stuff has been 100%, save for bugs in the software.

        • f2x says:

          Wait, so start-stop is considered a hybrid now? If they’re going to draw the line there, then why not just call all vehicles hybrids? It’s got spark plugs, so my car requires electricity to run, therefore it’s a hybrid! That sounds as reasonable as “The engine stalls when you press on the break and restarts when you press on the gas, therefore it’s a hybrid!”
          When I use the term hybrid, I’m referring to a vehicle (gasoline only or plug-in) that is able to use an electric motor to propel and maintain vehicle speed while driving, and also has a gasoline engine to provide power when needed or desired. Things like beefed up starters for start-stop just seem like something else… I dunno maybe call it “booster technologies”? They try to squeeze blood out of a turnip, but they don’t drive the car.
          If you don’t mind my asking, how much did you have to spend to get your fuel pump replaced? Conventional ICE repairs range from a couple hundred up to a thousand dollars with an average of around $400. Also, did you have to take it back to the dealer to have the work done?
          Also, you mentioned software bugs… Did they ever provide updates to fix it, or is it just something you still live with?
          When the time comes, I plan skip the whole “hybrid” phase and go straight to the BEV. Ideally I’d love to have an all electric “crossover” or SUV, but that would probably be waaaay outside of my price range. More than likely I’ll have to settle for a used Leaf. My daily commute is only 20 miles, so “range anxiety” doesn’t affect me. And yeah, I’ll still keep one of my ICE vehicles as a backup… At least until I can afford a second EV.

          • The oldest rater says:

            The term “mild hybrid” is used to describe start-stop systems. GM’s Belt Alternator Starter is in this category. It’s a pretty good fuel-saving device, and not just because it gets rid of idling; there’s enough power output to run pretty much all the accessories like power steering and A/C, so they don’t need to be spun by belts making drag all the time. Less drag means more performance on less fuel.
            My fuel pump was covered by the powertrain warranty. The car croaked within sight of a dealership; it was a very short tow to get it there. Had I kept charge in the battery I could have driven the car there even with no engine power; that is a lesson taken to heart. On longer trips I save the battery for the last bit of driving in case I need it for an en-route emergency.

          • f2x says:

            Mild hybrids… Well, today I learned.
            Glad that repair didn’t cost you anything. For as much as they want for new cars, it’s nice to know they cover things like that.
            I’ve only ever owned very cheap used cars. I think I paid about $800 for my ’84 Turismo back in ’89. I loved that car. It was cranberry red with a 4 speed manual transmission, no AC, no power steering, no power windows… Just a 2.2ltr carbureted 4 cylinder, a cheap aftermarket radio, and an ashtray that could hold about month’s worth of cigarettes. Sadly it was utterly destroyed in a wreck on I-75, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.
            But I’m starting to go way off topic now… Ah, the memories!

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