Being Green, It’s A Rich Man’s Game

It’s an old saying with an apocryphal origin: “May you live in interesting times“. We Brits are certainly living in interesting times at the moment, as a perfect storm of the pandemic, rising energy prices, global supply chain issues, and arguably the post-Brexit departure of EU-national truck drivers has given us shortages of everything from fresh vegetables in the supermarket to carbon dioxide for the food industry. Of particular concern is a shortage of automotive fuels at the filling station, and amid sometimes-aggressive queues for the pumps it’s reported that there’s a record uptick in Brits searching online for information about electric cars.

Nothing Like A Crisis To Make You Green

My VW Polo loaded for EMF 2018
How I miss my little car, here loaded for EMF 2018.

This sudden interest in lower-carbon motoring may be driven by the queues rather than a concern for the planet, but it’s certainly true that as a culture we should be making this move if we are to have a hope of reducing our CO2 production and meeting our climate goals. A whole slew of lifestyle changes will have to be made over the coming years of which our car choices are only a part. Back to those beleaguered Brits again, a series of environmental protests have caused major disruption on the motorway network round London, not protesting against the traffic but campaigning for better home insulation.

For reasons of personal circumstance rather than principle, earlier this year I gave my trusty VW Polo to an old-Volks-nut friend and now rely on a bicycle. Living where I do within reach of everything I need it hasn’t been as challenging as I expected it to be, and aside from saving a bit of cash I know my general fitness level has gone up. Though I have less need for a car now than I used to, I intend to find myself another vehicle in due course so that I can do silly things such as throwing a Hackaday village in the back and driving halfway across Europe to a hacker camp. With an awareness that whatever I choose should be as good for the planet as I can make it then, I’ve been cruising the used-car websites to see what I can find.

Rollin’ on Chip Fat

Of course I’d like an electric vehicle, but there’s the snag that many of you will no doubt share with me, electric cars ain’t cheap. As an impecunious scribe I can just about find one that’s maybe a decade old, but when its range is less than I can easily cycle without getting tired it becomes little more than a very expensive automotive project in terms of its use to me. I’ve reached the odd conclusion that one of the greenest vehicles I can find is on the face of it the least green, if I run a diesel car from the 1980s on biodiesel derived from vegetable oil which is readily available pre-taxed where I live from industrial processors then I can drive around as close to carbon-neutral as possible.

Rear of a Mercedes, with "Biodiesel" written on it.
This car is green, but not the right green. Mejidori, Public domain.

So I could pick up a super-reliable old Mercedes for a song and waft around on used chip fat, but here I meet a problem. When it comes to being green it’s not so much the greenness that matters as being seen to be green, and as a result our whole approach to the matter has been one of perception and technology rather than affordability. In short: it’s easy for higher earners to buy an electric car, insulate their homes, fit solar panels, or buy a heat pump, but for the  lower earners who make up much of the population who can’t afford to replace their gas boilers even though they’re belching out CO2 many of those things remain a distant dream.

My chip fat Merc would arguably have a lower net CO2 output per mile than that Tesla whose power comes from a coal or gas fired power station, but the received opinion of the world around it would be that it’s old and dirty, and that I should scrap it and somehow achieve the impossible and find the cash to buy a Tesla.

Here’s the rub. If aspirations of green living only available to those with money are transformed into legislation and requirements are imposed upon people at all levels of society, there is an inevitable disconnect between aspiration and reality. This understandably leads to resentment of environmental requirements among those without the means to meet them.

If Only A Few Can Afford To Be Green, How Can We Meet Our Targets?

This should be of concern to environmentalists and politicians, but closer to home it’s a problem for we engineers too. When we approach environmental problems we do so with solutions that are high-tech, our minds are too often on the elegance of the solution rather than on its practicality for mass adoption. We should be thinking about how a heat pump system can be transformed into a no-brainer upgrade for someone on a modest income, or why an electric conversion industry for fossil-fuel cars hasn’t taken off except for a few boutique classic cars despite promising signs. It’s no use justifying a ten-thousand-dollar-plus purchase by saying it will save that much in lower bills over so many years, when the customer simply can’t rustle up the $10k in the first place. To make progress with such things they can not simply be a lifestyle choice enabling the well heeled to pat themselves on the back for their chequebook environmentalism.

It would be a convenient device as a writer to sign off with some witty one-liner involving the phrase “costing the earth” to signify both unaffordability and urgency in one go. But it’s better to end with a question: If you have a Big Idea for a bit of climate-saving tech, can the person who delivered your Uber Eats order afford it? If not, we need to do more work before we can call it a solution.

Header image: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0.

245 thoughts on “Being Green, It’s A Rich Man’s Game

  1. verrrrry cherry picked facts to make the point.

    In essence the post says the obvious. Living according to todays preferences in a luxurious manner is expensive. Having some lesser degree of style comes with a significant savings. Which is always true in everything.

    You of course could pick a modern VAG diesel and have even greater efficiency. The 1.9l turbo diesel engines are incredibly efficient and long lasting. Comparing that efficiency to a Tesla owner that is somehow limited to only using the dirtiest electricity possible? That is a stretch. Most countries where you can buy and would drive a Tesla have a decent percentage of their electricity derived from renewables.

    1. I can’t really afford a newer car, sadly.

      The renewable percentage argument is shaky for the same reason it’s shaky when used for mining Bitcoin. While the shortfall is still made up from high-CO2 power, saying “I’m OK because I paid for green power” doesn’t do much to change the CO2 emissions of the whole.

        1. Even that probably isn’t true. Take air-source heat pumps in the UK. They cost upwards of £15k to have installed, even though the actual cost of the Mistubishi heat pump is around £2750.
          So where is all the money going? You might ask.
          Well, the installers (and they must be accredited or you won’t get the govt grant = no D.I.Y then) obviously make a massive profit out of this. So you’re effectively transferring £7k profit to the directors of a private limited company, who are free to use it on whatever they like, such as a big house, jetting away on holiday, flash cars etc etc

          At the end of the day, whatever you do shoves a load more CO2 into the atmosphere. The only way to counter this is by only using green technology that does the same job for less money than the polluting stuff.

          1. That’d line up with my thinking that minimizing spending ultimately minimizes environmental impact in the most straight forward way possible.

            That used diesel forces all sorts of efficiency down-chain due to necessarily lower margin parts and self repair as opposed to a Tesla, which would (normally) be the opposite.

            Sounds like Jenny’s doing well on that score regardless of what happens

          2. You buy a heat pump that has pre-charged tubing and extensions. Hang a unit on the wall, hang a unit outside and drill a few holes. I bought a GE heat pump of the sort used in hotels. That needs a large rectangle cut in the wall rather than just a hole for tubing but it was only $1K. It was an amazing coincidence that there was the correct electrical outlet exactly where I needed it. That’s happened to me many times in case any building code inspectors ask. The fact I have bins full of conduit and fittings and wire is yet another coincidence. It isn’t an entirely trivial undertaking but you can DIY a heat pump. Some companies will not sell you HVAC equipment and supplies without a contractor’s license. But, some will.

          3. Something is very wrong if installing a heat pump costs upwards of £15K. We got an air-air pump installed last year for under €4K – that’s including the one outdoor unit and two indoor units from Daikin btw.

            Other than greatly increasing the climate indoors (cooling in the summer and better heat distribution throughout the house) we expect it to also pay for itself in less than 10 years by lowering the electric bills.

      1. You can’t afford a newer car. This is also the reason why you can’t afford an electric vehicle with better range. So why not target the people who can afford it? Tesla honestly has the right idea in what they’re doing. Instead of producing the cheapest possible car (like a nissan leaf) that probably won’t sell because it honestly isn’t all that nice compared to the ICE variants in the same price range; Tesla produces a high end car that will sell. It creates cash flow and a reason to continue improving manufacturing methods and overall bringing the price down of the cars and all or most of its parts. Not only that but it’s adding more electric vehicles to the pool of used vehicles that someone else can then afford. You also say “[…]arguably have a lower net CO2 output per mile than that Tesla[…]” which is not telling the whole story. Have you compared the maintenance schedule of an electric car compared to an ICE powered car? Having fewer moving parts and replacing the same or similar parts less frequently is a big deal, especially when more people own these cars. CO2 is far from the only way that cars harm the environment. Don’t get me wrong, electric cars aren’t perfect but they’re getting better. Just like ICE cars weren’t great when they first came about.

        1. > So why not target the people who can afford it?

          Because that’s only going to be 15-30% of the driving public who could possibly buy them, and even for the rich people it still doesn’t make sense economically.

          Plus there’s the whole social justice aspect. The whole green drive is highly regressive, since the government is pushing tax money onto rich people to buy cars which will never solve anything until the poor can buy them too. That’s the problem with Tesla: they are never going to actually make a “people’s car”, because then they’d actually have to produce millions of goods cars at slim profit margins instead of riding on hype and selling half-baked rich nerd toys.

          1. Doesn’t make sense economically? Have you seen all the junk that everyone buys that doesn’t make sense economically? And you’re saying Tesla’s success and innovation has nothing to do with every major car company announcing new electric vehicles even after many have previously tried and already failed? 15-30% is a large spread and 30% is definitely nothing to sneeze at. Maybe I’m drawing a false equivalency but I see it kind of like flat screen TV’s. They used to be a thing only for the rich and purely a novelty. But now they’re so cheap that people literally give them away. Actually, same can be said for ICE cars as well. But if you know of a better way then by all means, get it done!

          2. > Have you seen all the junk that everyone buys that doesn’t make sense economically?

            Naturally. Still, it doesn’t make economic sense. EVs are a luxury item. They make “sense” when the point of comparison is a mid-range luxury sedan, which is like saying you’re saving money by drinking Gatinois instead of Dom Perignon. True, but if you’re talking about saving money, Tesco value bubbly is £7.50 a bottle.

            > every major car company announcing new electric vehicles

            There’s the little problem of regulations concerning fleet fuel efficiency, which mean every company HAS to start selling EVs or other vehicles that count as zero emission, and they don’t want to be left out of the game when the ICE bans come to force.

            >But if you know of a better way then by all means, get it done!

            If only I had the money.

      2. What about a used EV?
        There are multiple costs with driving a vehicle and you seem to be fixated at the acquisition cost, which is only a percentage of total operating costs.
        Cost per mile for fuel is a pretty big number
        Insurance cost
        and maintenance cost.

        Especially on older non-EV vehicles, the maintenance can be a big part of the cost. EV maintenance is measured in years, while petrol tends to require things like oil changes every few months.

        If you do the total math, you may become enlightened, as opposed to just complaining that you don’t make enough money to do anything.

        1. I’m not sure what the market is like in Europe, but in the US, about the only used EV you’ll likely to find for less than the cost of a new compact gas-powered car would be a Nissan Leaf – a fairly short range design to begin with, and I’ve heard reports of used examples being way below the original range specification. Someone with a slightly longer than average commute (by US standards) might need to be able to charge one of those at work, or risk not making it home.

          1. Early Leafs had severe battery degradation issues but they introduced their Lizard chemistry in 2014. Leafs since then have not suffered from severe battery degradation.

            I think the primary drawback to used Leafs are that most people with low incomes have longer commutes making the Leaf ill suited.

            That being said, I have a Leaf that I drove on a 50 mile round trip commute for years and only trickle charged. I could also L2 charge at work or the Nissan Dealer 5 minutes from my house so it was mostly never an issue but I did still have range anxiety.

            Now days I work from home and the Leaf just sits in the driveway most of time. I use it as a run about for errands but never go more than 15-20 miles on a trip. I probably charge it once a month at most and the only maintenance I’ve had to do on it was change the 12v battery. It works great as a second/convenience car and the hatchback is great for Costco/HomeDepot/Ikea runs.

          2. Used Chevrolet Volt (Gen1 or Gen2) hatchbacks, all under ten years old and mostly quite reliable, are pretty easy to find for less than a decent new commuter car. Most commuters hardly need to use gas, but it’s an option when necessary. There’s a European version called the Ampera, but I don’t know how the prices look over there.

            Mine is almost 9yr/200k miles, on its original brakes and battery, still gets 30+ miles per day on battery power.

            Like using plastic waste for fuel, sometimes a step in the right direction that solves two problems is better than a perfect solution that’s out of reach.

          3. The first generation Volt was famous for having a 16 kWh battery but only using 9 kWh of the capacity to deal with the range fade. It’s essentially masking the problem until it hits a certain age where the battery starts going down rapidly.

        2. In the UK it’s possible to buy a Leaf or a, if you can cope with a super-mini type car (we can), the Renault Zoë is a good bet. It has some active battery management, so even older Zoës have a relatively decent range. The best I get hits 100mi and in the depths of winter (-5ºC), about 58mi, which is enough for any journey I need to do.

        3. The problem with EVs is that even the most affordable battery replacement is still the cost of a reasonable used vehicle. And any of the “dealer” type ones are wacko insane.

          Until auto manufacturers start being more reasonable on battery replacements, used EVs are a far worse option than, say, a used hybrid.

          1. I agree. A couple of years back I was quoted NZ$32,000 by an authorized Nissan dealer to replace the 24 kWh battery on my Gen 1 LEAF, though I read that someone in California had it done for US$5,500 just a month prior. The same dealer explained that the car would be off the road for 3 months if I wanted to have just the bad cells replaced because the analytics data would go back to Japan and then suitable cells would be shipped from Japan before being installed locally.

            But the question is: Does it matter? My original 2011 battery shows 60% SOH and I use only about a quarter of an 80% charge on my daily commute (about 3 kWh at 6.3 km/kWh). When should I expect that this battery will be unsuitable for my needs?

          2. Depends. Once the battery starts going, 60-80% is usually the deflection point where the capacity fade of a battery changes from linear to exponential because the damage it has already accumulated is starting to accelerate the damage caused by further use. That’s why 2/3rds capacity is conventionally considered the “end of life” for a lithium battery.

            It’s difficult to say when exactly it’s going to give up on you. You’ve essentially reached the shelf life of the battery and the wild card is whether you have individual cells that have aged significantly faster than the others. Those cells are now fading very quickly despite the light use of the battery, and the BMS will call it quits once they no longer keep a charge.

            I would say 1-3 years and it’s done.

          3. This is what I meant about dealers not being reasonable:

            “the car would be off the road for 3 months if I wanted to have just the bad cells replaced because the analytics data would go back to Japan and then suitable cells would be shipped from Japan before being installed locally.”

            In other words, the battery itself still has value. So just yank the pack, replace it with a refurbished one already available, and when the cells come in, sell it to a new owner. Pipelining is cool.

            Except I don’t actually believe the whole “replace bad cell” crap, which is why they don’t do this: in general for a Leaf you should be at end-of-service life in ~10 years, which is where the whole “ICE cars are way cheaper” comes from – the service life for the main components of a reasonable ICE should be 30+ years at this point. The whole “10 years or 200k miles” for an engine is just comical. Engines don’t fail at 200k. Seals start to fail at 200k.

            Until they can actually get a regular 500k mile battery in reasonable vehicles, it just doesn’t make sense, especially because you can get a good fraction of the way there with a hybrid.

          4. >Until they can actually get a regular 500k mile battery in reasonable vehicles

            It’s really not about the miles, it’s about how long you want to keep the battery. If the average driver does 15k miles a year, they will reach something between 150-180k by the time the battery reaches its shelf-life and then it’s going down fast.

            There are no EVs on the market with batteries that would last more than about a decade, since the emphasis is on high energy density (range) and the ability to charge up rapidly. All the lithium battery chemistries that could last up to 20 years or more have severe handicaps that don’t fit the consumer preferences.

        4. Have a 23 year old buick Riviera that drives just fine. Paid $1000 for it at a junkyard. You will never see that with a EV as most will be scrap long beforn then and the battery pack in toxic landfill.

          Oil changes are no brainers. Get a used older Toyota and you can get 300,000 miles out of with just basic PM. I’d like to see one of those EV get that sort of mileage with the original battery pack.

          And the thing is the used Toyota or Honda is cheap enough that ordinary people can afford as opposed to the new EV’s.

          Even better the non-EV’s don’t use batteries made in China by slave labor and raw materials sourced from Africa and dug out by slaves and children and smelted in China where there are no environmenta laws. Seems to be you green types just offload all the pollution and human suffering to 3rd world countries just so you can virtue signal.

          1. >You will never see that with a EV as most will be scrap long beforn then and the battery pack in toxic landfill.
            You won’t see many EVs at junkyards because they will still be on the road. The electric motor itself will last much longer than an ICE and the battery pack will have been replaced and the old battery pack used to smooth out grid usage.

            > can get 300,000 miles out of with just basic PM
            From a diesel engine, sure. I would be mightily impressed to see 300,000 miles from a gasoline engine, and if you use it for any towing then you’re trolling.

            > ..the used Toyota or Honda is cheap enough that ordinary people can afford as opposed to the new EV’s
            Did you just compare the cost of a *used* ICE vehicle with the cost of a brand-new EV? I save NZ$240/mo in fuel with my EV (yes, that includes the cost of the electricity, which I pay extra for so I it is sourced from 100% renewables), so counting the trade-in from my ICE vehicle, the EV had paid itself off and actually began *making* money after 13 months.

          2. The production of anything at all in the current world economy will likely find offshored production to places with less rules where lives and cheap… Its not an EV problem, its a world problem that applies to damn nearly everything you can buy to some extent or other.

            Cheap used EV will come in time, and as it stands you can get new EV that will be good for most folks entire needs – so the only car they need for £25k ish in the UK, which is very comparable to a new ICE car of similar type… Yes its still expensive enough many won’t be able to afford it yet, but that is also cheap enough many will, and in a decades time or so as the more wealthy continue to upgrade to the newer models all these old ones will be reconditioned if needed (exactly as happens with used ICE cars) and be back on the road at more affordable prices.

            The real downside to EV right now is if you don’t have a place to charge it at home, which many many people, even reasonable wealthy folks living deeper in the cities won’t, and until that is resolved a battery EV doesn’t work for all. The cost is just the way things are with newer techs every time, and will resolve themselves with some time, but charging infrastructure for those without a driveway/garage actually needs work…

            As Neil says worn out battery packs are still useful, for a very long time after they cease being good for a car, and now the Cars are treating their batteries better through cooling the expected lifespan in the car is huge, things like the early Leaf showed the problem, and guess what its been fixed – I expect more batteries will be written off with the rest of the car after an accident than reach end of life on some of these newer battery EV models…

          3. >worn out battery packs are still useful, for a very long time after they cease being good for a car

            The typical failure mode of an EV battery is reaching the end of its shelf-life, not it’s cycle capacity. Since the limiting factor is time, not use, there is actually not much second-life purposes for used EV batteries. For example, if you put them in a “power wall” bank, you’ll just have to replace them with a new set a year or two later because they’ll be completely dead, or too unstable to be safe.

          4. “I would be mightily impressed to see 300,000 miles from a gasoline engine, ”

            You’re kidding, right? What, does the metal get tired and sleepy or something?

            Engines don’t really fail. Seals fail, and that’s a labor cost, not a materials cost. There are plenty of teardowns of high-mileage engines available. Go watch them. Most of the engines have no mechanical wear. All the issues are just carbon buildup. You could refurbish them easily and it’d likely last nearly as long.

            The issue with batteries is that you can’t refurbish them. Best you can do is recycle them, and the car manufacturers pay utter garbage for that.

          5. Have you noticed that the design lifespan of the Tesla power train is now 1,000,000 miles? That’s battery, motors and gears. It’s going to take a while for the stock of used EVs to build to the point that you can easily find a cheap used runabout, but they are going to displace ICE cars sure enough.

            There’s also a small matter of economies of scale. As volume builds, unit costs fall. We’re not far from the point now that making EVs will be cheaper than ICE, and a new battery pack will be cheaper than a replacement ICE unit. At that point it becomes a no-brainier for people looking for a new car to buy an EV. Some time after that purchase it will go to the used market and the cost advantage moves down there also.

          6. @Pat, you’ve never hear of engine ware? There are a lot of moving parts, mostly hot, moving against each other. Even with good lubrication they ware. Things start to rattle, parts become loose. Most older engines die because of mechanical failure, not because of seals (seals are cheap and easy to replace in comparison to needing a re-bore, new crank shaft etc.) 300,000 is pushing the limits for a large, slow rev’ing Diesel engine. Small petrol engines of the type common in Europe are pretty much worn out by 100-150,000.

          7. >the design lifespan of the Tesla power train is now 1,000,000 miles?

            Smoke and mirrors. The battery lasts the equivalent number of cycles to reach a million miles when new, but you have to spend those cycles on day 1 to reach the distance which is impossible. If you don’t drive the car at all, the battery will still die in about 15 years just sitting even in optimal conditions. That’s approximately the properties of the NMC chemistry being promoted by Tesla.

            Put the two on a graph: a million miles on day 1, zero miles on year 15, and draw a straight line between them. Then draw another line starting from zero that corresponds to how much you actually drive in a year. Where the two lines intersect, that’s probably going to be the end of life for your “million mile” Tesla.

            If you’re doing 15k miles a year, the intersection is at 12 years and 184,000 miles.

      3. > While the shortfall is still made up from high-CO2 power, saying “I’m OK because I paid for green power” doesn’t do much to change the CO2 emissions of the whole.

        Grid scale power is more efficient than ICE vehicles at converting fuel into power. Multiple studies have shown that EVs using the dirtiest of grid scale power will have lower CO2 emissions that an ICE vehicle. Depending on the timeline that flip occurs anywhere from 5-10 years of life. When you introduce green power and renewables that timeline shrinks.

        1. That’s still missing a significant bit. When estimating the manufacturing cost of EVs, these studies assume the battery is always optimally used – or they leave out the embedded cost entirely.

          The EV takes a big efficiency hit when you consider that the battery is rarely used in a way which would maximize its ESOEI. A modern lithium battery costs 200-300 full charges worth of energy to make, and assuming a 200 mile battery, your average driver (less than 40 miles/day) will only manage less than 800 total cycles before reaching the end of its calendar life.

          The next problem is assuming that EVs actually achieve their rated range (energy use), which is systematically wrong by a margin of 20-50%. This is because there’s a huge gap in how the vehicle range is measured/reported and how people actually drive, which is the same MPG gap problem as with ICE cars: the manufacturers use loopholes and omissions in the tests to “optimize” the result.

          Put two and two together and EV efficiency takes a pretty bad nose dive. But wait, there’s more: EVs also have significant self-discharge losses, not because of the battery but the electronics. A Tesla will lose about 80 Watts (2 kWh per day) just standing by. That’s another 14% off…

          1. I don’t even know where to begin with this because literally everything you said was wrong. I must be the greatest hypermiler on the planet because both of my EVs have far exceed their “calendar life”.

            It’s funny that most ICE car manufacturers use the same loopholes as EVs to fudge their miles but this only counts as a tick against EVs.

            Your claim about Tesla’s losing 2 kWh per day is misleading almost to the point of being a lie. Assuming it were true, a Model 3 LR losing 2 kWh a day would mean it’s battery would be depleted in 39 days. It’s not true however, the high power consumption only occurs when you have the car in Sentry Mode, not “stand by”. Most EVs run off their 12v battery and behave similarly to their electronics laden ICE counterparts in those respects.

          2. >both of my EVs have far exceed their “calendar life”.

            Oh really? What year models?

            >but this only counts as a tick against EVs.

            When the studies in question use the worse assumptions for ICEs and best assumptions for EVs. The MPG gap is a well-documented phenomenon, and if it wasn’t taken into account for the regular cars then guess who would cry foul instantly? That was the point.

            > the high power consumption only occurs when you have the car in Sentry Mode

            While you can disable features to bring the energy drain down, the owners either don’t care, don’t know, or they want those features and willingly use the energy anyways.

      4. Hi Jenny,

        I’d disagree with the premise behind the “you can’t really get green energy from a renewable provider, because of shortfall or because grid electricity isn’t targeted” argument. The reason why it’s flawed IMO, is because the energy from all electrons is equivalent.

        So, if you subscribe to e.g. Ecotricity and use 3MWh in a year, then you’re paying for Ecotricity to generate 3MWh of renewable electricity. Some of the time that means Ecotricity is pumping spare renewable energy into the grid and fossil fuel providers are paying extra for it; and some of the time fossil fuel providers make up the shortfall. At all times, the specific renewable energy will be distributed locally to the renewable sources, most of which will be still paying for (majority) fossil fuel energy providers.

        But overall, you’ve cut CO2 emissions by 3MWh in a year, which is exactly equivalent to having the renewable energy delivered specifically to your house.

        Importantly though, by choosing a renewable energy provider (that actually owns its own renewable sources), you’re depriving the fossil fuel industry of funds and helping to invest in more renewable energy. Ultimately, the caseload that’s needed to cover supply when the diminishing fossil fuels can’t make up the shortfall.

        PS. I still have a couple of Maplin catalogues from about 1980 ;-)

        1. >But overall, you’ve cut CO2 emissions by 3MWh in a year

          Not so fast. When the renewable producers are pushing “spare” energy into the grid, it has the effect of dropping the spot price until someone uses it, because electricity can’t be stockpiled.

          The drop in prices does not mean fossil fuel generators drop off the line and produce less CO2. They will sell even at a slight loss to avoid the trouble of throttling the generators. If there is flexible demand, the surplus simply means more power consumption, not less CO2 output. The trouble is that this flexible demand tends to be wasteful and would not happen if there wasn’t subsidized surplus of renewable energy on the grid.

          For example, power companies in Texas tend to give out free power at night to “sell” wind power that they can’t fit into the grid. People use it to e.g. heat their pools, mine bitcoins, or whatever they wouldn’t normally do if they did have to pay for it. Meanwhile, the producer collects federal and state subsidies for every kWh thus consumed.

          1. We can see what the carbon intensity is, in real-time from a variety of sources. For example, in the UK, where I live, the carbon intensity is currently:


            183g CO2/kWh.

            We can see that on Windy and sunny days in the UK our carbon intensity goes down, which means that renewable energy is definitely displacing fossil fuels. Coal, for example, right now represents 0.00% of our electricity; Wind = 39%, Nuclear = 15%, Hydro 2%, Solar also 0 (cloudy day). Some is being imported from Norway and France and the rest is mostly natural gas (not fracked gas).

            We can also see that this displacement means less fossil fuels are being burned, because the UK is using far less energy than it used to, even 20 years ago:


            We peaked at 405TWh in 2005, and dropped to 331TWh in 2020. So it’s simply not a case of renewables providing energy in addition to constant fossil fuel output.

            But importantly, in the UK we can literally buy electricity from renewable energy companies and UK law means that fossil fuel generators do actually drop off the line (well, they reduce the amount they burn on a dynamic basis).

          2. >We can see that on Windy and sunny days in the UK our carbon intensity goes down, which means that renewable energy is definitely displacing fossil fuels.

            True, but you’re not addressing the point. Some renewable power is displacing fossil fuels, while some renewable energy is spurring on additional demand that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

            Falling overall energy use also does not mean that surplus renewable power cannot fuel additional demand, because you’re comparing two different things: long term trend vs. daily variations.

            >UK law means that fossil fuel generators do actually drop off the line

            Renewables have the right of way, but that doesn’t mean fossil fuel have to drop off the line as long as they find customers to buy the extra electricity. This is given because the market price isn’t fixed – the price simply drops until someone is willing to buy.

        2. >you’re depriving the fossil fuel industry of funds

          They always take theirs by jacking up the prices when the renewable generators are not turning a surplus, since wind turbines or solar panels cannot choose their output. They cannot increase production at will to keep the prices down, so the fossil power generators simply won’t produce until your power company, and by proxy you pay them what they want.

          1. Dude (!) are you saying that the fossil fuel merchants will spitefully fix prices in some sort of cartel to try and make the option of wind and solar uneconomic?

            Also, by your admission above, presumably on windy nights people will delay charging their EV’s until the free power comes online. Now, this sort of shift WILL reduce CO2 emissions, and all done via the capitalist system. Sweet!

          2. > fix prices in some sort of cartel to try and make the option of wind and solar uneconomic?

            No. Everyone simply ups their prices whenever they can to make their own ends meet.

            If you can’t sell today because it’s too windy, then tomorrow you will add today’s expenses on top of the price to make ends meet. The producers don’t need to collude with each other, because they are all in the same situation anyways.

            >presumably on windy nights people will delay charging their EV’s until the free power comes online.

            Well, yes, but the number of EVs is insignificant to the question, and people will still use the free power for all sorts of frivolous uses because it is paid by others.

    2. Also, the supply of used diesel cars is rather limited, particularly if you’re sticking to older designs that are easier to run on 100% biodiesel. The barriers to entry are different, but even more rigid than new electronics since the supply is fixed and dwindling. Any way you slice it, you have a problem of how to use finite resources to tackle a problem.

      On our side of the pond, we’ve had our Secretary of Transportation claiming “Electric vehicles shouldn’t be a luxury,” but in my neighborhood, buying a new or nearly-new vehicle is a luxury few can afford. The most reasonable strategy would seem to be to wait for prices on used EVs to come down – and see if the batteries are still working at that point.

      1. > and see if the batteries are still working at that point.

        That’s the big issue though. They won’t. The batteries are always a tradeoff between price, capacity, safety, durability etc. and if you wish to minimize price and maximize capacity, then you get neither safety or durability.

        Batteries have a “best by” date which comes by the sooner the higher the energy and power density of the chemistry. Sure, you can build a battery that lasts 25 years – such as lithium titanate – but then you get half the range and power, and you re-double the price of the car, plus some other potential caveats like the inability to fast-charge, or no charging below 0 C etc.

        1. Can confirm! I have an 80k electric fiat e500. Real range is probably under 60 miles and abominable in winter (which no one seems to acknowledge).

          And oddly it reports ~4.x miles/kwH. Which at around 22kwH doesn’t add up to less than 60.

          Although The battery has held up so far. I would guess it will for 120k~150k unless there’s a non-charge related failure.

          If you’ve got your own shop and fairly extensive automotive and electrical experience you can service the battery system. But it’ll be absurdly (think 15k) more expensive than tearing down ICE engines which on the cheap end are mostly time.

          Although maybe battery rebuilders who understand cell balancing will pop up. We can hope!

          1. I’d not suggest ‘serviceing’ the battery system yourself, I know I understand enough to do so for a battery built of the standard cell type things, but much better to send that off to a specialist, which now the batteries have become so important refurbish and recycling will pop up – its suddenly become a problem that can be fixed and make money in the process same as most refurbishing…

            How long it will take is another question, and as many of the current crop of EV’s are really not easy to separate their battery from – its even more involved than removing a clutch in man hours I’d suggest its still going to be somewhat expensive if you don’t do the dismantling yourself (and few folks will). But then when your clutch, gearbox etc dies, and in an ICE that will happen much more often you pay up for the replacement part and all that labour, or sell the vehicle to the garage who then fix it anyway and sell it on…

          2. “Although maybe battery rebuilders who understand cell balancing will pop up. We can hope!”

            This is really probably a myth. There are plenty of companies who have tried full-scale cell replacement/balancing and… they abandoned it, because it doesn’t matter. Yeah, maybe one cell’s a bit worse, but “refurbishing” a battery to get it from 55% health to 60% doesn’t make sense. Customers just came back six months later complaining.

            I think the problem’s far more fundamental. Otherwise you’d just pipeline the refurbishing and swap battery and call it done.

            Basically, to me it looks like the whole problem is they solved the EV problem for all the people who think buying new cars makes economic sense.

      2. Expensive cars EV cars and technology are financing the R&D for cheaper EV technology, including battery chemistry. This is how the super expensive Tesla Model S financed the Model 3, and how existing Tesla cars are financing the promised $25,000 car. You can expect those cheaper cars to use this new, cheaper battery chemistry:

        Be aware that in this new technology you can charge your batteries to 100% without degradation. With the current technology you must avoid charging to 100% (or discharging to 0%) frequently because the battery might degrade faster. Check this video for details. You can also get a good used Tesla with a battery that is not degraded yet, if you choose that option.

        1. >Expensive cars EV cars and technology are financing the R&D for cheaper EV technology

          Not really.

          For any technology so subsidized, among competing ventures, those who do not re-invest their profits in R&D can keep lower prices and win over the market in the short term. As long as people keep paying high prices, e.g. through state subsidies, the market remains small and the prices remain high.

          >This is how the super expensive Tesla Model S financed the Model 3

          No it didn’t. Elon Musk went on multiple begging tours for billions and billions and sold a bunch of IOUs on the company to finance the Model 3. They never made much money on the Model S, which too was financed by investor cash instead of profits from the Roadster; the original “three step plan” was just talk. Tesla would still be in the red if it weren’t for the clean car credits, which is essentially a government subsidy. The Model 3 is not a cheap car either – yet they’re not making any profit selling it.


          They’re not going to sell that outside of China. It has too many problems, such as lithium plating when charged at low temperatures, half the capacity, and the cheap price is because of Chinese state subsidies for its production.

          1. There’s some new LFP drop-in replacements for regular 12 Volt starter batteries. How they manage to work below 0 C is by having internal heaters and a controller that diverts the alternator output to the heater until the battery is hot enough to accept charge. Only problem is, it can take over an hour of heating starting from -20 C before the battery actually starts to charge, so you will still end up with a dead battery.

            For an EV, that’s an even bigger problem because you have 500+ kg of batteries that need to be heated up, and that eats up a significant amount of time and kilowatt-hours. No heated garage, no winter driving.

          2. lol, no heated garage, no winter driving. Gets to around -5 or-6f (approx -21 C) here with a wind shield of -20/-14 f (-25,-28 C). The electric car in the driveway plugged in overnight must start up and drive on magic or some other voodoo. Now the infotainment system booting up that’s another story till the chips heat up. I will have to leave it unplugged one day and see if it dose not start in the morning? I will then call on the sun gods to heat it up. Have a fun day.

          3. LFP is actually appealing for many uses even without subsidy, due to its power parameters, cost, simplicity, convenient engineering properties, and the ubiquity and relative nontoxicity of its components.

            Up to now, the major investments in the technology were Chinese, because investors in the West aren’t that fond of investing in low-cost/moderate-return technology.

            The cheap price isn’t primarily driven by subsidies. It’s driven by the fact that iron and phosphoric acid are cheap, abundant, and easily produced, and by the fact that reasonably performant LFP cells don’t require much in the way of finesse to manufacture. Nickel and cobalt are heavily supply-constrained, and efficient non-LFP cells are nontrivial to manufacture.

            One downside of this chemistry is that the cell will be damaged by charging at an excessively cold temperature, so it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all battery technology.

            Another downside is that, for situations where maximum power density is a figure of merit and cost isn’t a major factor, LFP is at a disadvantage. But there are a lot of situations where it’s a big win to have a battery pack with 2/3 the capacity, 6 times the cycle lifespan, and 1/5 the cost.

            Additionally, LFP doesn’t add significant fire hazard. It’s neither complicated or hazardous to extinguish, and requires no special training or tools, in contrast to other lithium battery technologies. It also doesn’t provide additional chemical energy to a fire and serves as no more of a source of ignition than any other equivalent current source. Specifically, LFP battery packs are not notably prone to thermal runaway, nor to releasing oxidizers when heated.

            The charge/discharge profile is simpler, and as long as the cells aren’t over- or under-volted, they don’t suffer significant degradation of lifespan or capacity. It’s not tricky to get LFP cells to accept charge at very high rates compared to, say, lead-acid chemistries. This increases the ability to efficiently store energy from as-available power sources, such as solar or wind (or even opportunistic grid-charging for vehicles).

            There’s no such thing as a miracle technology, but LFP does represent a combination of attributes that hasn’t previously been available in the power-storage toolbox.

          4. >I will have to leave it unplugged one day and see if it dose not start in the morning?

            It will start – LFP and others will typically discharge when cold, but it won’t take charge until you get it warm. You have to run heaters on the battery (waste energy) if you want to keep it outside and charge in the winter.

            It’s possible to leave yourself stranded by driving somewhere and letting the battery go cold, at which point you can’t recharge and you don’t have enough juice to get back home. Other lithium types take a trickle charge even in the cold and the charging itself heats them up to the point where they start accepting more power, whereas LFP gets destroyed if you try that.

          5. One thing to remember Dude is in such extreme cold as to be a problem for batteries ICE suffers too, diesel just plain won’t pump without a preheat etc.

            Then there is the thermal mass, yes it took some energy to get it warm enough (from somewhere quite possibly just it being warmer outside) but it doesn’t shed that heat that easily, and that EV battery has the smarts to keep itself warm enough, and in many cases can actively cool itself if needed (some just cut the energy going through it to stay in the goldilocks zone) – its a tiny energy cost to maintain the proper temperature when its not in use, so won’t really be much of a problem unless you park up and leave it unplugged for a long time – and that would be the same in those temperatures for ICE vehicles too.

          6. > such extreme cold as to be a problem for batteries ICE suffers too

            While it’s not nice for the engine, with 5W40 oils in my car, I have no trouble starting up cold at -25 C. The gearbox and clutch feel like stirring molasses, but the engine starts and turns over just fine. Still, 10 minutes on the block heater is a better idea before you start – and it takes about that much time to brush off the snow and scrape the windows anyways.

            A charged lead-acid battery (>80%) works down to -40 C and even half empty it won’t freeze until -20 C. A fully charged one will still give you current at -70 C.

          7. >yes it took some energy to get it warm enough

            A rough estimate for a generic metal/mineral material is 1 kJ/kg/K which means heating a 450 kg battery up from -20C to 0C takes 9 Mega-joules, which is 2.5 kWh. It would take an hour to get the temperature up from a regular heater socket, although many parking lots are on a 10-15 minute on/off rotation between the sockets to keep the peak power down, so you may actually take over 2 hours.

            That amount of energy is also approximately 8 miles worth of driving, which is a significant amount considering your daily commute if you need to do that both ways.

            The block heater in regular cars draws about 250-500 W and you’re supposed to use it for a maximum of 30 minutes, so the engine heating takes no more than 0.25 kWh of energy. One tenth of what it takes to warm up the EV battery.

          8. You are assuming you let it go cold Dude, the usually done thing (at least it seems from my reading) is for the battery to remain at the correct temperature range for an EV (and actually for lots of ICE powered cold weather specialist vehicles use energy continually to maintain a good temperature), which means its only needing a trickle of energy at any time to maintain the temperature – how much is entirely down to the temperature differential and insulation values.

            So yes you will not have the same range you would using it in the summer or a more moderate climate for the energy input – but then you wouldn’t with any other power system either – serious cold just flat out requires energy to combat.

      3. And the people who start applauding the government on giving subsidies to make them more affordable for more people need to ask one question, Where does government money come from? That’s right taxes.
        People who chose not to buy an electric vehicle are paying for electric vehicles.
        No one ever thinks beyond the face value.

        1. As a whole, richer people pay more taxes – at least in absolute terms if often not in % terms; so in fact the rich are helping to fund EV development as well as paying for the EVs themselves. Nevertheless, I’m all for #TaxTheRich, like they did in the post WW2 period.

          In addition, it’s great that people who choose not to buy an EV are paying for electric vehicles! In a tiny way it’s capturing fossil fuel externalities :-) .

          1. Since the rich own the businesses that sell the cars, their parts, the services etc. they’re gaining that tax money right back. Meanwhile, the poor don’t pay net tax, so it’s actually the working class that ends up paying.

          2. >the top 10% pay 70 percent.

            The top 10% also owns 70% of all assets. If the money is re-invested equally back into the economy (it isn’t), 70% of it would end right back in their hands. In practice, government spending favors the top 10% through targeted subsidies, so they get more than they pay.

    3. The problem with modern diesels is that the legislators are unfortunately trying to ban them entirely from private use. Modern diesels are expensive and fragile due to their complicated engines that try to squeeze both ultimate fuel economy and no NOx or particulate matter out of the tailpipe, so you can’t count on a modern diesel car to last 1,000,000 miles like you would an 80’s Mercedes. They’re efficient as long as it lasts, but the maintenance costs are astronomical and as soon as anything breaks, the car is essentially scrap.

      Some few years from now they can no longer meet the new regulations with new diesels, and the manufacturers either have to start paying penalties, which are then passed onto the buyers, or stop selling them altogether as people stop buying them anyways.

      >Most countries where you can buy and would drive a Tesla have a decent percentage of their electricity derived from renewables.

      Yeah, like Norway, which makes nearly 100% of its electricity by hydroelectric dams, but then exports over a thousand barrels of oil for every Tesla they import to the country to pay the trade balance. What a car costs in terms of its environmental impact is not only in the fuel it uses.

          1. Since new gas appliances become illegal to sell, the old appliances become difficult to maintain. The main problem however is that they’re banning ALL new gas appliances, including generator sets, which is a smart move in a state which regularly gets blackouts for natural and political reasons.

            The irony is that by dismantling the gas infrastructure, they’re also destroying the means to deliver renewable energy to households without investing in expensive batteries: the gas grid can be used to store and transmit hydrogen and synthetic methane made by surplus solar power, which they are currently struggling to fit into the electric grid (see: duck curve).

          1. The fast peaking power plants are also large diesel engines between 50-100 MW. They’re modified marine diesels the size of apartment buildings with cylinders large enough for a man to stand inside. They’re used to balance the grid against variations in renewable power, because turbine generators can’t throttle fast enough.

            They run on natural gas, but the ignition is done by squirting in diesel fuel.

        1. Which is high comedy considering that CA’s power grid is barely capable of handling existing demands and often with rolling blackouts during the summer months.

          Now imagine CA”s power grid melting down when the greenies force everyone at basically gun point to retrofit all devices to run off the grid. Massive blackbouts.

          BTW CA has to now import energy because Newsom has killed all new proposed NG power plants.

      1. Exporting oil has nothing to do with the nations own energy use, its got nothing to do with the environmental impact of running an EV or anything else there…

        ‘Trade balance’ is a flawed concept to measure such things by – and its rather cherry picking to look only at oil exports, Norway exports lots of its clean electric too! How they pay for what they buy, unless it has an environmental cost tied to them directly in its production is irrelevant – I sell you oil, you might make fibreglass wind turbine blades – do I suddenly get greener for selling you the oil? Its nothing to do with me what you do with it…

        1. >and its rather cherry picking to look only at oil exports

          Oil and gas amount to 40% of Norway’s export value. Equally well, you can’t argue that Norway exports only clean electricity to import Tesla cars.

        2. >unless it has an environmental cost tied to them directly in its production is irrelevant

          You’re still arguing that drilling up oil may have an environmental benefit. While possible, for the most part it’s just going to get burned and the CO2 added to the atmosphere.

          1. No I’m simply saying if you have something your neighbour needs you might as well supply them, and what they do with it isn’t anything to do with you – if you didn’t somebody you and they don’t like so much might end up owning a large portion of your buddies energy supply, which is bad for all of you right now. Or are you also suggesting that selling your old computer, some VPN encryption server etc to somebody who then uses it to run a human trafficking ring or something is your fault as you gave them the tool!?!?! If you outright know they are going to do something objectionable with it maybe it is, but you only supplied a tool, one they could get from many other places, with many perfectly legitimate uses and you probably have no idea what its going to be used for.

            In the case of crude oil shipping lots of it will end up in plastics (which may or may not be a good use ecowise), roads and roofing will get some (again even roads can be a good thing eco wise – despite the protestations building roads makes things worse by many without intact road networks you would end up building pointless trains that won’t get any passengers instead at higher cost), Lubricants (which again could be used in good ways compared to say whale hunting again), as well as burned – its a material with too many interlocked uses!

            So the only part of the oil’s carbon cost that is really their fault is the costs in the extraction, and perhaps shipping (if they are being paid to ship it – so making money on that part too I’d say you can blame them, if the other side is the one doing the shipping its got to be their fault). The fault for the consumption of the oil they supplied is on their clients.

            While you do have to consider how much offshoring of emission is done to make the goods you are using – that is a cost that should be at least partly applied to your nation as you can control and change your requirements/use etc. The shipping of oil and how it then used outside of your borders is something you don’t control – and something you have no reason not to do as its far better (both in green and global stability terms) to ship oil to your local friends who still have the habit than give the more distant and potentially less friendly nations more control of your neighbours.

          2. >So the only part of the oil’s carbon cost that is really their fault is the costs in the extraction

            Still, it’s a huge amount of oil far exceeding the environmental value of the car. You can write whole dissertations about the matter, and it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, it is still not green.

          3. To put things in numbers; suppose a Tesla costs $100k to import to Norway. They sell oil for 40% of the value, which at current oil prices is about 470 barrels.

            The oil equals 800 MWh in energy, which on face value would drive the car itself for about 160 years at 15k miles per year. Someone will use that energy for whatever ends, and this is the real material cost of the purchase: ten times more energy than the car itself will plausibly use in its lifetime.

            No matter how you argue the case, the difference is great enough that it simply cannot make sense.

          4. Soo not only are you saying they sell the oil really cheap so have to sell huge amounts extra to make up the price, but also that its the only way they pay for the Tesla, ignoring their other exports, many of which are majorly green and sustainable…

            While also blaming them for all the harm caused by somebody else’s bad habits – you want to include the CO2 cost to actually make the tesla in the end users account fair enough, but if they sell or don’t sell their own oil at least the same amount of fossil fuel was getting burned, as the demand was there and its the fuel source they are already set up to use – can’t just magic up another option, and probably even worse types of fossil fuel with much less efficiency and/or greater transport costs. For now selling oil to those next door that need it is not only obviously the sensible thing to do, its also the greenest, as if you don’t you end up working the crummy coal strip mines harder, fracking, and shipping massively massively futher etc – all worse than what is currently happening!!!

    4. If we’re still considering wvo conversion, the unit-injectors (or pumpe-düse) ain’t that well suited, but the Bosch VE/VP set-ups are.

      Though if you’re looking for a economical long-distance car that can often be retrofitting with a diesel particle filter if not factory equipped, then the 1.9 PD’s are attractive, as long as they’re well serviced (camshaft and hydraulic lifter wear otherwise) .

      But avoid the short and/or tall body-type cars, go for the stationwagons or sedans as they’re the body type with least aerodynamic drag, and keep the “windage trays” on (plastic belly pans meant to improve aerodynamics) despite the average knuckledragging embarrassments of mechanics dislike for them.

      But if you’re not long distance driving, then PLEASE avoid diesels, they have a crap fuel economy when the engine is cold, and they especially pollute with stop&go traffic, which thanks to the EGR and its intention to reduce NOx means you’ll clog up your intake side with soot, and also the DPF if equipped with that.

      But as mentioned, if you need a economical highway/motorway/open countryside roads cruiser for long journeys, it’s diesel or go home.

  2. “It’s no use justifying a ten-thousand-dollar-plus purchase by saying it will save that much in lower bills over so many years, when the customer simply can’t rustle up the $10k in the first place”
    Leasing and similar schemes like PCP are common way to fund cars (>80% in the UK). If you do significant mileage, it is already cheaper to lease and run an EV than an ICE car if you can charge at home. Like any tech, EV costs will only come down over time.

        1. The same thing that you’re talking about here also of course applies to entire ocuntries. When we’re complaining about other countries still belching out CO2 so why should US/UK/northern europe make huge efforts to cut their emissions, well, it’s the same problem.
          Marginal cost is a killer and it’s easy for the rich to ignore.

          On a smaller note, there are quite a few people out there converting old Triumphs to electric. Alas they’re not cheap, but I’ve seen sub-$5K ones that are quite nice, and am currently investigating how hard it would be to build one around salvaged battery packs to hopefully lower that even more.

          1. I’ve been thinking it would be a fun project do one myself, I don’t have any money to speak of either, but a grand here and there over the course of a year or two, three, (probably more) as you get to each stage of the conversion would be possible I expect…

            Don’t think I’d fit in an old Triumph though… Perhaps an old Landrover to confuse the really hardcore ecomentalists – its an old 4×4, that wafts and wallows around quietly…

          2. Interesting Mr Name Required… Can’t say I’m shocked at how much they are asking, as right now EV’s are very much for the wealthier end of the market so they can get that price, and they probably really tidy up the decades heaps…

            I doubt it costs them anywhere near that though, as that article says the Landrovers are a great canvas for such things because of how they were built, so you don’t have to do much to ’em to stuff lots and lots of batteries in – which is one of the reasons I was thinking Landrover, infact a skim of that article hits almost all the plus points for picking one I was thinking, the other being the Series Landrovers at least are very very bolt together modular, so can be full cab most of the time and just take the back off if I ever need to carry bigger crap, plus as I expect I need the roof raised a little in any vehicle really (I’m tall) putting in a bolt on taller roof structure and perhaps custom drop down windscreen is comparatively simple.

          3. A friend of mine (Roderick Wilde) built an EV conversion of an old Land Rover. He used a series DC motor and lead-acid batteries, which made it an order of magnitude less expensive than the Australian one mentioned. It worked well and made a great rock-crawler. The batteries gave it a super-low center of gravity, and the DC motor had tons of torque. The main drawback was its 40-50 mile range.

  3. Interesting about the fuel ques prompting people to look at ev’s. Ive had the misfortune of borrowing an ev on occasion, and subsequently had to sit in a queue waiting on a rapid charger to come avaliable every single time I have had the need for one. Usually to do the decency of returning it with a full charge. While ev’s are clearly the future, waiting on fuel doesn’t strike me as the best reason to switch

    1. The beauty of electric vehicles is that the government can easily control movement by turning off power. Sure, you can go as far as your remaining charge but the roads will be blocked by people who had very low charge when the power was cut. The best time to cut is probably early evening when people are home and their car is charging.

      That would never happen except the ground work has been laid. A forced shutdown? Like that couldn’t happen? Maybe new cars should have a pandemic feature that allows them to be disabled by the authorities. I don’t think this all ends well.

      1. Wow, that’s quite a pile of nonsense you’re unveiling.
        How do you think ‘da gubment’ can turn off electrical power more easily than fuel for vehicles? I know it’s nearly Halloween, but “oooohhh, wouldn’t it be scary” is not the same as a reason.

        1. He’s right. The power companies in California, by order of the government, can and do cut off power to large areas simply because it’s windy. They call it a PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutdown).

          My daughter had the power to her condo killed for two days because the winds were gusting to 40 mph. It has solar panels on the roof (that she’s paying for), but, they were turned off too. Public safety don’t cha know.

          1. California resident here…

            California routinely does rolling blackouts to reduce the chance of wildfires. The last time PG&E shut down power due to wind was on 10/11 and it affected 25,000 people in a state of 40 million people. That’s 0.062% of the population.

            ERCOT shutdown power for 75% of Texas residents because of a snow storm. Any power company can shutdown the power whenever they need to.

            Your daughter’s solar was off because she doesn’t have an ED from the grid and didn’t march her butt outside and flip a switch. Don’t blame the power company for that.

          2. CA resident here. It’s well known the reason why we have rolling blackouts is because PGE refused to spend billions on upgrading the power grid. So new everytime a stiff breeze comes along the have to shut down for fear of starting another massive fire and killing people.

        2. It’s a whole Pandora’s box with electric cars anyways.

          Consider: the government wants fuel taxes – a lot. Vehicle and fuel taxes are a huge revenue stream and get used to pay almost anything but the roads and bridges they’re collected for. The state must figure out how to tax electric cars, and the most likely outcome is mandatory GPS tracking.

          Any way you cut it, since the new tax cannot be based on the controlled sale of electricity (as with fuel) within a certain area, and they can’t trust you not to trick your odometer reading, the government must force active geographical tracking in all cars. Once that’s done, speed policing and congestion charging everywhere becomes that much easier.

          1. >Tax on tires.

            If the average set lasts for five years, you would have to pay something around $200-300 per wheel. Of course people would then start driving their tires bald to avoid the tax.

          2. Oh, for heaven’s sake… If the grid goes down, you can generate your own electricity with PV or wind, etc. so you can still drive your EV. But if there’s a fuel shortage, you can’t make your own gasoline.

            As for taxes; they have to pay for the roads somehow. They aren’t free, you know.

            Many of these FUD problems come about because people have no backup plan. If you have no backup plan in case your electricity, or fuel, or internet, or phone, or whatever goes out; then sooner or later some disaster will leave you “without”… Maybe it’s time to think ahead?

            Hacking is all about making “light” with what you’ve got, rather than cursing the darkness.

    2. There were queues because people were worried that the fuel supply would be interrupted and for many that would mean an interruption in their wages. Presumably the people who were looking at EVs would be able to charge their EVs overnight on the cheapest power rather than having to wait for a rapid charger. Regardless of the current state of queuing for fuel I’d be quite pleased to never have to go to a petrol station ever again.

      1. It’s as with the toilet paper problem. People started pooping at home instead of at work, which meant they had to buy more TP, which meant some of the stores temporarily ran out, which made people panic and buy all the shelves empty as soon as they could be re-stocked.

        Now the lockdowns are gone, fuel demand got up, some stations ran out, people panicked and started hoarding fuel faster than they could re-supply everywhere. Enter the usual suspects to blame either capitalism or immigrants.

        1. Yeah, all of that and Brexit has reduced the number of truck drivers we have available (we used to have quite a lot of Eastern European truck drivers who were willing to accept low pay and poor working conditions).

          1. In the long term, driving out cheap imported workers is a benefit to the British public.

            The main problem is that the present economy exploits lowly paid people to do all the productive work, while the rest of the society divides the products of said work among themselves through rendering “services” to each other. For example, by selling coffee at a high markup instead of people simply brewing their own. The economy runs by spending.

            So, if you want good living standards, you have to live like a parasite, fooling or forcing others to pay by inserting yourself in between the value chain and jacking up the price. It means someone else has to do the actual work for next to nothing, so you can squeeze yourself in there.

    3. I can see how borrowing an EV could be stressful. Public charging is not as convenient or as fast as a fuel station, and it always seems like a challenge when you need it (i.e. emergencies). But the interesting thing is that when you can charge at home you rarely if ever need it.

      We charge our Model 3 when the range drops below 150 miles, about once a week or less, or if we know we’re driving a long distance (e.g. to the airport and back). If it’s low, just plug it in and forget about it. Full tank the next morning.

      Our other EV is a Leaf and it gets charged once a month or less. It only has about 60-90 mile range but post pandemic we’re only really using it for shopping trips or errands less than 15 miles round trip. I had to drive about 20 miles the other day and hopped in to discover it only had 35 miles of range. I zipped over to the Nissan Dealership and naturally their charger was dead, I spent 10 minutes trying to get a charger to work at a grocery store and then another 10 minutes fast charging it.

      It was a hassle, it was stressful, and it was unnecessary too because I brake regened downhill all the way home and ended up with the same range I had when I left the fast charger. It was also the first time in 18 months that I’d tried to use a public charger.

  4. “It’s no use justifying a ten-thousand-dollar-plus purchase by saying it will save that much in lower bills over so many years, when the customer simply can’t rustle up the $10k in the first place.”

    You could always lease one or get a loan for it. I made a conscious effort to save money and was able to buy an EV because I live within my means. If you are barely living inside your means to the point where you work just to live then chances are that you have been living a life of many unnecessary luxuries.

    It’s all irrelevant anyway because physics don’t care about your excuses.

    1. > You could always lease one or get a loan for it. I made a conscious effort to save money and was able to buy an EV because I live within my means.

      That’s nice for you. Do you have any advice about bootstraps?

      Some people can barely live within their means despite working two grueling jobs a day, and saving for an EV is not a priority over putting food on the table or paying off medical or educational debt. When faced with the options of “pay for a visit to the ER so my appendix doesn’t rupture” or “buy a thing to offset my impact on the environment in a small way” there really isn’t an option. Help those people instead of buying that flashy EV and then they’ll be free to make a choice.

      1. > Do you have any advice about bootstraps?


        How many books have you read about success? How many about whichever field your jobs are in?

        Do you have a goal of switching to a single job? Have you written down exactly what your ideal job would be?

        How often do you go looking for a new job? Do you scan the papers every day, check out Craigslist, and ask around? Do you study up and learn how to interview, how to make a resume, how to do well in your job?

        Are you willing to move to get a better job? Have you compared the expenses of moving with the extra money?

        The US is having a shortage of workers right now. I’ve read this in the news, and I pass a *ton* of “help wanted” signs in my area. I have no reason to believe it’s not true today.

        Lots of people have been in your situation, and you can find out what those people have done and what works and what doesn’t. Much of this information is available for free on the internet and in libraries.

        Your first step will be to do everything you can to get more spare time. That probably means cutting down to a single job, and one that will pay more than both of your existing jobs.

        Once you have spare time you can use it to bootstrap a better life.

        There are 3 psychological aspects that determine success in life: fluid intelligence, conscientiousness, and luck. Each of these is responsible for about 30% of the variation in life success.

        Conscientiousness is the ability to work hard, to do a good job, and to make sure all the bases are covered. You can pump up your conscientiousness by building good work ethic habits. In other words, don’t approach work as something to be avoided, approach it as something that you must excel at.

        Static intelligence is how much you know, and fluid intelligence is how easily you learn something. Fluid intelligence can’t be changed, but there’s an out: if you keep learning as an adult, you can amass more knowledge than a smarter person who stops learning, and most people simply stop learning as adults.

        Most people don’t read even a single book a year – if you can read 10 books a year you will be far ahead of the average person. Choose books that will help your life success. Audio books count, are easier to than reading, and you can listen to them while doing other things (such as driving, or doing manual labor).

        Finally: you can’t do much about luck, but you can give luck a better chance to happen. Move to a city, or a different area of the city, or hang out in a different area of the city. Go to meetups and group meetings for your areas of interest. Generally put yourself in whichever environment you think will give you the best chances of achieving your goals.

        There are many examples of people who sat down, wrote out their situation, and attacked the problem logically. Those people are now successful.

        Go thou and do likewise.

        1. That’s it? Do a bunch of stuff that you’ve already done (at least twice to be working two jobs), but this time get more money somehow? Gee, thanks for the advice. I guess you haven’t seen the stats about corporate profits vs worker productivity vs worker compensation. Money, unlike water, does NOT trickle down.

          1. >worker productivity vs worker compensation

            Real value output of workers hasn’t improved much since the 70’s. The problem is that “productivity” as measured by GDP increases when people simply make more money change hands, not by making more of the real goods and services that are the basis of your living standards.

            The real value output of the economy has instead gone down with the disappearance of basic industry and manufacturing to countries with lower living standards. The workers have shifted to services and commerce, which does not actually produce anything – the measure of increased “productivity” actually measures the increasing consumption of real value.

          2. Dude: I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing. What I’m describing is the amount of profits that workers generate for the companies where they work. You’re debating the meaning of “productivity.”

          3. >What I’m describing is the amount of profits that workers generate for the companies

            You may, but that’s not in the statistics you’re talking about. Worker productivity is generally measured by the revenue they cause – whether that results in profits is another matter entirely.

    2. hmmm. I think your comment of “If you are barely living inside your means to the point where you work just to live then chances are that you have been living a life of many unnecessary luxuries” is completely uncalled for, as you do not know the circumstances of the those that are in this category. For example, what about those that have a disability that minimizes their earning potential, or medication costs, or even costs to take care of others like elderly parents, etc? Perhaps those that make flippant comments like this should take a step out of their comfortable lives and look to others that are not as fortunate.

    3. Lease? Yuck!

      Do you know how to tell which of your friends lease their cars? They are the ones that never visit, only invite you to visit them and always want a ride somewhere in your car because they are worried about hitting their mileage limit.

      Or they are the ones that always have a new car. Because they ignore the mileage limit and so get locked in at the end of each lease, either lease another or pay for all the over-miles. It quickly becomes recurring leases for life.

      Either way they end up spending way more in the end than if they just bought a used car. Might as well just be a slave to the car company, they own ya.

    4. “If you are barely living inside your means to the point where you work just to live then chances are that you have been living a life of many unnecessary luxuries.” Wow. Just wow. I don’t know if you’re a troll or if you honestly believe the most likely explanation for not having savings is a habit of wasting money. Either way it’s sad.

      1. It’s always a good idea for policy makers to remember that there are a lot of people out there who are intellectually incapable of understanding that being poor usually isn’t a choice.
        If hard work meant success, single moms would be CEO’s…

      2. Truth be told, you have to live pretty far below the median income to have no potential for saving money. While such people do exist, it’s no longer a matter of the “working masses”, but the bottom 10% who are truly that poor. It’s another question entirely how long it would take one to save for the cheapest (proper) electric car, and whether they could keep up with the upkeep.

        It took me three years to save up the price of a new car, and I’m not poorly paid, which is why I decided not to buy one but spend a fraction of the money to fix the old one back to shape.

        1. If you assume a steady income with no debt and no dependents in the developed world you’re right. The trouble is that’s a lot of assumptions.

          There are so many reasons that a person can be struggling financially other than bad spending habits. Here’s a totally not autobiographical example: A woman decides to quit her job and go freelance in 2019. She has a mortgage and a car payment but both neither are extravagant. She also has savings. Her self employment goes great for 6 months then the pandemic hits , budgets tighten, and no one is hiring. In the course of 18 months her savings disappear and she start accumulating debt even though her spending in that time frame has actually been cut back to essentials.

          1. If you’re in debt, then you by definition do not have savings. Even if you have money in the bank or cash in a cookie jar, your net total is negative. However, mortgage payments can be negotiated down, extended, re-financed etc. You don’t have to use all your spare income for that.

            The trouble seems to be that many are willing to go to debt too easily to gain something big fast, and then spend the rest of their lives paying it off. That is also a kind of “unnecessary luxury” since you’re paying a whole lot of interest on top to have it now rather than later.

        2. “Truth be told, you have to live pretty far below the median income to have no potential for saving money.”

          Or have to take care of high cost dependents.

          Or have to deal with costly health or other limitations.

          Or have to deal with serious debt due to lack of generational wealth.

          Don’t try to presume why other people struggle and you don’t. Truth be told, you have no idea how people struggle, and neither do I.

      1. I don’t think they’re that similar.

        Leasing looks like a loan covering the steepest part of the depreciation of the car, then you have nothing to show for it at the end and have a bunch of liability with mileage overage and damage penalties. It’s a reasonable option if you want the peace of mind that a new car under warranty brings or you need a new car but want to wait a few years before buying.

        A lease makes sense if you need a new car now and want an EV, but also want to wait for more mature or more reliable tech to purchase long-term (ex. future Teslas with longer life LiFePO4 cells). But if you have a serviceable car now, even if it’s a not particularly fuel friendly ICE, it’s still a more environmentally responsible option to keep it on the road until you’re ready to buy than to buy or lease something new in the short term.

        1. That last bit is very dubious, if you can afford the lease and sell your serviceable ICE you help the poorer folk get a hopefully greener ICE more modern ICE power unit – making them greener, you get to be greener yourself in the interim before buying, and the leased EV will end up sold at a cheaper rate to somebody after your use too – so again a car you once used will be useful in making others travel greener…

          As long as your old car isn’t crushed needlessly – which if its serviceable it probably wouldn’t be I’d argue its greener, a vehicle might end up off the road crushed – but it will be a more shoddy one than yours was, or one extra vehicle ends up on the road, helping whichever poorer person bought it to be a more productive and profitable member of sociality – its hard to work if you can get there, and you certainly do less useful work if you have to spend hours travelling slowly – so maybe they will able to afford an EV or home insulation etc.. (Ideally public transport would actually be affordable and up to the task, but in many places it really isn’t either)

          1. Wow, how generous.

            If you are going to pay that kind of money and your motivation is to help the planet remember that the majority just went to bank and car manufacturers’ pockets.

            You could do more good for the same money donating tune-ups to the poor or salvaging lower emmision ICE cars from the junkyard, fixing them up and giving or selling them cheap to the poor..

          2. That might do more good to your society, but tuning up ICE or putting yet more of them on the road is not on the whole a good step for the planet, we most certainly need to rapidly reduce the quantity of them…

            Sure it would be nice to buy or lease your new EV from some not for profit charity type company, that does all the wonderful stuff with your money providing community improvements, does lots of pubic transport EV’s or something… But the world doesn’t actually work that way most of the time – if you don’t have that choice your still better off making your life greener and letting your older but still rather better than others can afford stuff trickle down..

        2. Very few businesses operate merely on good will. If there’s a company between you and your car, then you can be assured you’re paying them some profit in excess of the actual cost.

          A middle man always costs extra.

    5. So instead of buying the massively overpriced thing you borrow to buy it and pay more?

      If you need transportation, cheapest option, by far, is a used ICE. No question. Gas, maintenance, all of it wouldn’t come close. ICE vehicles are all labor. EVs are all parts.

      Think of it this way: crash an EV, and the battery is likely still worth $5K. Rear end an ICE and there isn’t a single part anywhere near that.

      1. Even some new ICE cars come close to used car prices if you just need some wheels. Dacia used to sell below £8,000 before they were bought out by Renault who jacked up the prices.

  5. As this is hackaday – maybe a diesel hybrid is the answer. But not the ones available cheap right now – roll yer own with a toyota prius or similar and replace the petrol engine with a diesel. Then you can run it on chip fat etc.

    Or buy an old Nissan Leaf with a used battery (under 2 bars) and stick a diesel genny in the boot, that you can run while you drive along (exhaust pipe out the back of course!). Plug it in for the cheap driving, but not using this, and for long range crank up the generator, run on chip fat of course. But the smell of the exhaust might make you hungry, just sayin!

      1. I think a small generator in a trailer would be a better idea. That way it’s portable, the engineering to build it is easier, you can carry other stuff in the trailer, and for local within-battery-range driving you don’t have to carry the weight of an unused engine.

        1. I’ve mentioned once before on HaD, one entry at a Concours deLemons (yes, lemons)
          drove his old EV (i.e. weak batteries) to one of the events with a generator on a trailer feeding the batteries/motor.
          IIRC, at 35 or 45 MPH, he was able to maintain charging equilibrium for the 400 mile distance to the event. I don’t recall his MPG… B^)

          Personally, I check FindCars or Craigslist every couple weeks for an “affordable” used hybrid (my one-way commute is 40+ miles, and the company I work for provides a charging station.)

          1. Lol I like it – assuming the generator was even halfway decent the MPG should be much better than putting fuel through a car – as the generator will be running in its efficient windows most of the time…

            I agree with others above a trailer makes more sense on the occasions you might need it, not sure a shot leaf is the answer though, they never had much range to begin with..

  6. Does an electric vehicle really lower carbon emissions? That electricity is generated somewhere, somehow and it doesn’t grow on trees. Where I live it is generated by burning coal (in another state, many hundreds of miles away I have learned).
    So unless generation of electricity in big power stations is a lot more efficient than burning gas in a vehicle, I can’t see it as anything but fooling ourselves (and doing so at a high price as this article says).

    The bicycle is the big win, clearly.

    1. “So unless generation of electricity in big power stations is a lot more efficient than burning gas in a vehicle”

      Generally speaking, it is. The average efficiency for ICE is 15%. The average coal plant is at 35% efficiency. Even with voltage loss due to distance, it’s still more efficient.

      That doesn’t even account for the ability to use carbon capture and other mitigation systems at the power plant; you cant do that with cars.

      The whole article is a but of a red herring though. The author states they currently don’t need a car to do the majority of things. Why does the author need to buy a car then? Would a daily rental/car share work better? It seems like it.

    2. Isn’t the “Does an electric vehicle really lower carbon emissions? .. Where I live it is generated by burning coal” a bit of a circular argument? Why not put solar PV on your house roof? Presumably you don’t live in a state so mean that they actually charge you to generate your own electricity?

      Or maybe you don’t have a house roof – can’t you set up a cooperative to buy some wind turbines or solar and get paid for what you generate? Then you’re skewing the power distribution more towards making EVs cleaner where you are?

      1. Even coal powered EV are very very likely to be better than any ICE power in carbon emission – coal might be really dirty, but its burned efficiently, and the coal transport and mining is usually done with lots of massive train cars, with the electric distributed by the grid, then powers the EV – all very efficient really – the ICE fuel in potetia of crude oil travels massively further to get refined, then travels usually by lorry fleet as a refined product before being put in your tank and burned at woeful efficiency – the only step in that whole process that is reasonably efficient is the initial travel from extraction site to refinery, everything else is horribly inefficient but works because the fuel is valuable and energy dense enough that burning large portions of it for no gain still leaves useful fuel left…

  7. The thing that I wonder about, if I live within my means and save money in the bank, I’m not spending it on CO2-generating businesses (e.g. rides into space, long-haul jet holidays etc).

    So the money is sat there in the bank earning no interest. What’s stopping my neighbour from borrowing the money and going off doing exactly what I’m trying to avoid?

    It seems that the individual has almost no control over what the immediate society they are living in is doing at almost any level. And even if they do, that society will compensate for the greenness elsewhere.

  8. Here in Quebec, electricity does come from hydroelectric generators. So electricity is much cleaner.

    But I’d argue lack of money is green. I’ve never driven a car in my life. I rarely get in one. I’ve been on an airplane twice, one round trip. I can’t afford endless things, to toss aside, most things including books, are bought used. I don’t have prepared food delivered except on a rare occasion.

    I’m not perfect, but there’s not room to be wasteful.

  9. This article talks about the purchase price of the vehicle, but that’s not all there is as far as BEVs being for the privileged (I am lucky that I am privileged enough for a BEV to be feasible, but I do know that I am privileged.)

    Even if you can afford the vehicle itself – can you afford a house? Or a townhouse rental that has a garage? Because BEV ownership is currently only viable for those who have access to home charging (with a few very rare exceptions) – people who live in multistory apartment complexes with multi-row parking aren’t going to be able to charge. (At least in the USA – most parking spaces in complexes such as this that would be suitable for EV charging are already reserved for handicapped parking. Anything that isn’t a handicapped spot is going to be too far away from the buildings with electrical supplies, or worse – in the middle of an asphalt parking lot.)

    1. Good points.

      I’d just like to add, that increasing fuel taxes (for whatever justification by the government, such as developing green alternatives) is laying a greater burden on the poor.

      1. Everything that affects everyone affects the poor more than the rich, that includes climate change. If one of Richard Branson’s mansions gets flooded he’ll be fine, but that’s not the case for most people’s homes.

      2. Perhaps, perhaps not – more fuel tax but with better, cheaper (or even free) public transport might end up reducing the burden on them! Once they accept a private vehicle is beyond their means and use public transport it might well be cheaper right now as it stands anyway, despite the frankly crazy cost of some train lines in the UK – as owning it yourself has constant costs, many of them.

        Everyone aspires to a car because its the done thing, and they are convenient, doesn’t always equate to a greater burden being without (though with how poor some areas public transport is etc, for some it really will)…

  10. For city usage:

    Renault Twizy, 100 km range, new 10k €, no government aid.
    smart EQ fortwo, 160 km range, new 18k €, incl. 3570 € government aid.

    Aint no cheap.

    Oh, Sheepersharing, basic car sharing is between 5 and 10 € for a two hour food shopping tour. (Compared to a single ÖPNV ticket: 3,00 €, good for 2 hours.)

    (Northern) Germany, of course.

    1. >Renault Twizy

      That’s not even a car, it’s a quadricycle by law. Can’t go faster than 45 kph in most countries, so it’s limited as a “neighborhood car” that has no business on connecting roads (60kph and above).

  11. Many years ago I built a Graham Lamming style biodiesel processor from an inverted water immersion heater tank, an old central heating pump and various bits of copper plumbing, and ran my old 1980s Landrover on chip fat biodiesel.

    Apart from the time, mess and faff, the killer was that the chip shop oil delivery companies cottoned on to biodiesel and demanded (or paid for) the used oil back, so it was no longer freely available from chip shops.

  12. My question to the author would be: why do you need to buy a car? You’ve stated a bike works for most of your daily life, which would imply you live in a dense enough area to have good public transit. For the times that this doesnt work, would renting or using a car share make more sense financially?No insurance, no maintenance etc. Of course if you use those things enough it balances out but that’s a calculus that needs tike to figure out.

    1. The article isn’t really about the author’s particular circumstance, that’s a launching off point to make a more general point about the general unavailability of green options for people on a budget.

    2. Many people don’t have the luxury of living close to where they work. So they have to rely on a car, or public transit. The recent focus of public transit on getting people out of cars ignores tye people who rely on public transit to get around.

    3. I have a similar situation, I can bike to work all year round and public transport is available, but it’s twice as expensive per mile as fuel and you need a car anyways because the bus won’t take you much anywhere, especially in a hurry or at a convenient time. Then there’s the usual objections: the sparse schedules, the weather, the waiting, the last mile issue, and dodging the hobos/druggies/crazies along the way.

      The majority of public transit users are either living and working along a regular route, or they’re subsidized to use public transit because they’re too poor, too messed up, or too old to drive themselves.

  13. The Problem as I see it from the States is, There is a Political Divide between the Application and the Solution of ‘Green’.
    As pointed out in the Article, Actual ‘Green Choices’ are not what sells, it the Perception of Green the gets Funded. And with anything Political, it’s the People Making the Decisions that will control the choices and the laws that demand the choices. And benefit Financially from these laws.

    I work in a Winery/Brewery. We are limited to the amounts of CO2 that we are ‘Allowed’ to dump into the air from fermentation. It’s a green thing. However, the CO2 we are ‘Dumping’ back into the air, was captured by the plant growth in the early spring. We are releasing CO2 back into the air, where our plants captured it about a year ago. How is it green, to ‘Prevent’ us from capturing and releasing more than a ‘Licensed Amount’ of CO2 back into the air. It’s ‘Green’ as we are required to purchase ‘Carbon Credits’ from some entity. It’s about the Money, political power and Perception of Green.

    CO2 buildup is/will be a problem for humans to be able to survive. My opinion is the Politics of solutions are in the way of actual applications.

    I wish somebody would get that Cold Fusion thing back working again.

  14. I don’t know about the UK but here in the US one can usually find a good condition “small” (by US standards) car by the side of the road for under $2,000 ~$1.500GBP.

    But you wanted to be greener than that? Well, I’m not recommending driving something with engine problems or broken environmental controls that belches out half-burnt fuel. I’m talking about something that runs well. Sure, it’s not the same as a hybrid or an electric car but consider this…

    A new car takes a lot of energy to build. I don’t know how it’s done in the UK but here we have trains hauling parts and partially assembled vehicles between factories in the NE US and Mexico day in day out. That’s thousands of miles. And for the new vehicles, hybrids and electrics we have ships bringing us rare earth metals from China and no doubt as soon as they hit international waters they are burning the cheapest, dirtiest Diesel ever pulled from the ground.

    So who’s greener anyway? My neighbors who buy a new Tesla or Prius every 3 years or me who buys cars at about 40k miles and drives them past 200k while keeping up on the engine maintenance?

    I wouldn’t worry too much about getting an electric status symbol. We can all get those when they start to fill up the used market. Maybe, just maybe by then enough of the electricity on the grid will be renewable to actually call that green. Meanwhile, save your money. We all get old and it’s nice to retire before your activity level is completely lost to arthritis,back pain and such.

    Oh, and the biodiesel idea sounds great and all but… Now that fuel companies have caught on to it and are buying up the restaurant grease so that DIYers can’t get it… Does it really make a difference? If the gas station has a pump with a sign that says it is carbon neutral biodiesel I bet they charge more for it, don’t they? But if nobody bought it would they stop making it and only use fossil fuels? Or would the biodiesel just get mixed into the regular diesel and the same amount of both get consumed in the long run?

    1. Your neighbours, unfortunately are still probably significantly greener, unless they keep or crush their old EV/hybrid so nobody else can benefit from their old car, or buy one to never actually drive it anywhere… There is a need for new cars all the time as the older ones get beyond sane repair, or get crashed, buying in the new more efficient ones reliably if you can doesn’t make you less green, just makes more of the stuck up, vain, fashion statement filled, look how rich we are types in the process (at least while there is still a sufficient need for new cars to keep the population moving)…

      Production of Cars globally is pretty similar, UK/EU and Japanese factories are likely doing more in smaller spaces with less transit of the bits than in the USA, but there is still lots of global parts shipments too – putting Mercedes engines in ‘other car brand’ x for instance (though when they are all owned by the same parent companies are they really other brands, or just different stickers…).

      One thing to consider if you want to be green(ish) and cheap might be a motorcycle (potentially with sidecar or trailer) – already says she cycles, so the weather isn’t overly concerning I guess (I’m the same I actually prefer cycling in the wetter windy conditions – can push harder without overheating) – obviously can’t carry as much as a car, but if its just you and your stuff probably enough, and a motorcycle doesn’t have to be expensive, though many of the most visually striking and powerful ones are of course…

  15. +! Ms. List! The problem with being “Green” is and has always been thus since I have been watching the technology with interest since the early 70’s. The other problem is that converting diffuse energy to energy dense applications has (and will likely continue for the foreseeable future) to be capital intensive – thus costly… A lot of it is disingenuous IMHO as well. I once asked the new owner of a 250Kw wind gen how much carbon was released in the 130 cu yd of concrete for the base, the steel tower, the iron and copper in the alternator (including mining, refining and shipping), the fibers and plastics in the blades, vs the amount of carbon saved over the lifetime of the equipment (which turned out to be about 1/4 of the advertised BTW). I got a very angry dismissal of course. Clean hydro power? sure if you neglect the env cost of the massive concrete dam, and again the iron, copper etc mining refining for the turbines, not to mention the decimation (or the cost of accommodating) of the natural wildlife in the previous rivers, (salmon runs, water levels animals that eat the salmon etc.) Nuclear? Massive infrastructure, mining, refining issues again. Waste is an issue still not handled in the US, think “forever chemicals” x some large order of magnitude. Fusion? massive infrastructure, mining, refining issues again, also still 30 years away after 40+ years. Solar? infrastructure, mining, refining issues again. Batteries? Mining, refining issues again, in addition to the on top of the costs of the generation of the electricity to charge them. I am not opposed to any of these methods per se, It would just be nice to see a bit more critical thinking before accepting the latest gimmic as “Green”.

    Full disclosure: I have lived “off grid” for 10 years with a diesel gen, and fairly recently replaced my giant car batteries with 5Kw of LiFEPO batteries, not particularly because I’m a tree hugger, mostly because I was impecunious at the time (thanks for the new word!) at the time and when given the cost by the local utility to connect me to the grid (with me doing ALL the work except the final connection) I told them where they could stick their grid. I still have not spent the equivalent amount on diesel BTW, though with the battery cost I have, but I like where I am.

    1. Exactly this. The Total Cost of Ownership in tonnes of CO2 equivalent for a given technology, versus the MWh that it generates over its lifetime. I think we are already there with offshore wind (but as you say, exact figures are hard to come by). You can extrapolate though from the cost per MWh of the energy produced, to some extent.

      I have a hope that once Solar PV was energy-positive, you could create a self-powered factory in some desert area which just exported solar panels (SiO2 being all around)

      For other technologies, e.g. nuclear, well once you’re in positive balance with say wind power, mine the uranium powered by renewables alone. You could probably make a lot of the reactor components with just electric power, although you still need to give off a bit of carbon for the steel and cement.
      But we will need hydro and nuclear for when the wind aint blowing and the sun aint shining.

      1. I’d argue at least for Europe and most of the Americas the population centres are dense enough that the grid goes nearly everywhere with pretty high capacity interlinks already, but spread out over vast enough areas its never windless and dark for all of it all at once! So if you beef up those connections a bit, and ship the electric from where it is in excess to where its not you might be able to do without…

        I am still very for hydro/Tidal dam (in the right sort of places) and nuclear personally, but actually NEED them I don’t think so, it just makes our current lifestyle more economically and ecologically supportable – to go purely for a vast connected renewable grid needs more area devoted at least in part to renewable generation, and some energy storage than having a nuke or three providing 20-50% say average steady output of the grids demands…

        Its very hard to put a carbon cost on a wind turbine for its lifespan, as even though bits of it will be replaced the concrete foundation and steel tower might well still be in use in your great grand kids era, maybe even longer – same with hydro, that massive dam (assuming its built correctly) will last decade after decade doing its job, the turbines probably get changed multiple times, but the concrete is still there, needing very little if any work… No denying they have an upfront cost, but then so does building a coal/gas power station, the oil refinery etc…

  16. It seems that there is a lot of focus on energy consumption and greenhouse gases emission only where it is visible, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

    I’m starting to be concerned about raw materials and waste. It is actually encouraged to build things cheaply, not maintain/repair/upgrade it, and to discard it when it’s out of fashion or has failed.
    Scrapping perfectly usable cars is one thing or intentionally make them less durable*, but I think it’s going too far when the same applies to buildings, home appliances, clothing, and almost everything we use.

    *Some cars had tweaks to make them pass emissions, for example by running a bit hotter than reasonable and then cooking the oil. At the same time, the manufacturer comes up with “long life” maintenance intervals. This way the customer can save money on gas and maintenance, and then dispose his car “not worth fixing” to buy a new one.

    I am not an expert, but I’d rather recycle more oil and use more gas but save raw materials and “grey energy” by having things that last longer.
    Same with battery voltage thresholds on smartphones/tablets/laptops to extend battery performance at the cost of a lower number of cycles, paired with batteries that are made hard to replace by Mr. Regular. So when it gets bad performance/range after two years, better scrap it and buy a new one.

    1. True up to a point, the throw away culture definitely needs changing, and our waste piles are a problem we really do need to deal with.

      But you also have to balance the economies and ecological cost of continuing to run old less capable/efficient things compared to a new one – at some point it was better ecologically to recycle the old one as the new one works so much better. For instance at what point should I replace the relatively new gas HW and heating boiler for a more efficient heat pump based system? (which with how little the boiler is running – the house is well insulated, and has large south facing area to catch the sun, so rarely needs extra added heat, just living in it is enough, and the HW can sometimes be done with the immersion heater powered by our solar panels excess – so in my case quite possibly only when it becomes uneconomical to repair, but for somebody else who needs more hot water, or heating, perhaps has an older less efficient boiler quite possibly right now is the correct time).

      Also how much overbuilding its worth putting in – why make the fridge/freezer/oven with really thick high grade steel if by the time the internals are knackered the thin stuff will still do the job perfectly – even if the internals are easy to replace so the thick stuff seems worth it to keep the product lifespan up there will come a step change in tech somewhere that won’t fit in the space the old tech did – so do you keep the making old less efficient replacement internals forever or shift everyone to the newer tech as theirs fails? If you do the latter any overbuilding costs will not get paid back, as you end up having to recycle it long before those parts actually failed – so spent lots of extra energy making a more repairable durable product but didn’t get the life out of it anyway…

      Unfortunately its really not a simple thing to legislate or design right across the board, the low hanging fruit are parts availability – if you make manufacturers have to sell to Joe public any part at cost +3% max or repair it for them with a capped price of say 25% their equivalent new product (they do still need to stay in business) or something similar for 40 years, with huge fines for fiddling the books on how much it ‘costs’ then you encourage designs that are easier to repair and longer lasting – as the parts want to be a little pricey to build so they can make a little more profit, but they don’t want to spend lots of man-hours in the repair shop or put their initial purchase price up too much that everyone buys the competitors products… Perhaps with extra tax/fines for every repair needed within x years of products life..

      That sort of rule makes the market regulate itself away from disposable and hopefully find the right balance on its own, in a way regulators just couldn’t manage from outside easily…

  17. If the grid’s green enough then technologies with low up front costs become viable. That 2kw electric heater if fed green electricity is green. Likewise that immersion heater. The only reason they’re not viable today is that natural gas is so much cheaper per unit, but I could see gas specifically being heavily taxed.

    Cars are a whole other thing but I’d advise that if you can get away without buying one you absolutely should avoid them. A £5k car run for 10 years insured at £1k/yr, taxed etc. costs £4.50 per day before you even use it or park it. If you don’t need it every day of the week then the train or car rental is usually cheaper.

    1. Yeah, but you own the car so you wouldn’t have to take the time to rent a car for a day whenever you need to go shopping somewhere else than the corner store, or go through the trouble of arranging a train seat and the taxi at each end of the trip.

      If I need to visit my family back in the old home town, it’s 40 minutes by car. On public transit I start with a mile of walking, then 15 minutes by bus in the wrong direction to reach the main bus station, then 1-2 hours of waiting, then 2 hours by bus in the right direction, then stepping off the bus and walking on the shoulder for a couple miles. On the way back, I have to walk 5 miles to town to take the bus back to the city. Of course, that assumes I meet their schedule.

      Or suppose I rent a car. I have to reserve the previous night to have it by the morning. I live in apartment, so they won’t deliver unless I have a parking space, which I won’t because who rents a parking spot if they don’t own a car, so actually I have to take the bus (or a taxi) to the rental place downtown before I even get the car.

      And while you could get a rental as low as £12 a day on some special offer, a more common price is £50-500, and you may have to pick the car up from some airport 20 miles away. It’s going to be more expensive than your £4.50 per day all things considered even if you drive just once a month.

      1. My car has no depreciation and road tax, insurance and MoT all in at £550/annum so that’s £1.50 a day. I do the maintenance myself which is mostly mileage-related anyway. So that works out even better in the car’s favour.

      2. Well you’ve thought about it and that’s all that matters. Could you concede that a car unused for months at a time is a waste of money compared to renting or train/bus/plane?

        As an example I visit my parents once or twice a year at a cost of £100-150 by train or plane. There is no way I could even get insurance on a car for less than that so if that’s the only trip I made in it it’s a waste of money. Convenience doesn’t factor in as it’s a long journey that needs prep work regardless.

        Local trips are where nuance comes in. I could commute to work by car but parking near work costs £10+ per day. Combine that with the ongoing ownership costs and a taxi at £15 looks tempting, as does public transport at £7 or cycling at maybe £1 for depreciation. If parking were £8 though? Or it were raining heavily? The balance will shift. Then there’s all the other trips, groceries and DIY supplies, the vet etc. Public transport would cover them but it’s a lot harder when you don’t remember the timetable. I’ll be buying a citroen ami next year to cover those trips but I doubt I’ll commute in it.

        1. >Could you concede that a car unused for months at a time is a waste of money compared to renting or train/bus/plane?

          In that case, I could suspend the license plate and halt the insurance and taxes. It’s a small fee to do that, but you save it back.

          1. Leaving a car sitting for a while after doing so also has a recommissioning cost – at least if you don’t want to wreck it, and that can be pretty high depending on how long you took it off the road, and how well you set it up for this storage – tyres for instance don’t like sitting still under load, the battery will be flat or even dead…

            Also if you halt the insurance and somebody steals it whatever value it had is lost, and unless you are running around in a wreck so cheap its not worth stealing in the first place that means you probably can’t afford to cancel the insurance – so that is an ongoing and fairly high cost to have a useless tarmac mounted ornement…

            Its complex, but ultimately I agree with CampGareth if you don’t ‘need’ a car rather often rental, public transport or taxi’s make vastly more sense, sure rental has some inconveniences, but ultimately compared to public transport for the time you ‘needed’ a car obviously not big enough to matter, and compared to owning one all the time to almost never use it its going to work out vastly cheaper.

            Ultimately in most places you don’t actually ‘need’ your own transport at all, as between public transport, cycling walking and private hires you could do everything without major inconvience – even more so now you can order for delivery basically anything in existence if you so choose. So the only thing to consider with owning a car is how much it really costs compared to those other transport costs – which vary based on how much you need to go places, what that journey costs via other methods (a train going anywhere near London for instance is stupendously costly per mile covered) and what you are willing to pay for the convenience factor.

          2. “Leaving a car sitting for a while after doing so also has a recommissioning cost – at least if you don’t want to wreck it,”

            Not using the car is not the same as letting it sit. Disconnecting the battery and popping it on jacks costs exactly zero dollars functionally. That’s multiple months, no problem.

            “Its complex, but ultimately I agree with CampGareth if you don’t ‘need’ a car rather often rental, public transport or taxi’s make vastly more sense,”

            A single 7-day car rental for someone with no insurance is going to run you close to $300-400+ for a distance trip. Do that twice a year and you’d just be better off buying a low-end vehicle.

            Plus car insurance is really only expensive if the car’s expensive and you haven’t been carrying it.

          3. Pat It is not just battery and tyres, leave it awhile and the fuel can turn to sludge, water can end up staying where it shouldn’t, all the working fluids can seperate – to properly prep a car for real long term storage is a massive pain, and has meaningful cost as does undoing that afterwards.

            None of that is likely to really cause issues in the shortish term, but longer term it can – just disconnecting the battery and blocks are good, but not enough for real longer terms off the road. (You can get around some of these problems just turning it over every now and then – get the pumps going so remix and spread the fluids around nicely)

          4. >even more so now you can order for delivery basically anything in existence if you so choose.

            Funny that.

            I had to order some spare parts for my car. The company that sold it didn’t offer shipping by delivery as an option, so I had to pick the parts up from the post office downtown, by bicycle because the car was obviously broken. The box was too big for me to ride the bike as well, so I had to push it for 6 miles.

  18. It is funny the article misses the point where the wealthy countries are those who contaminates the most. Already poor people are in the right side of the equations.
    Extreme consumption is the problem, like your 1st world country problem of driving across Europe just to go to a hacker camp.

    1. “Already poor people are in the right side of the equations.”

      You mean the poor people in 3rd World countries that are burning the plastic off wire to get the copper/alumin[i]um?
      Or, the poor people who slash and burn rainforest?
      Or, the poor people who destroy the environment mining for diamonds and gold?
      Or, the poor communities that dump their raw sewage and toxic chemicals into the nearest river?

      1. Please check the abundant papers on contamination distribution. You will find right at the top the US, China and the EU.

        Also, your hand picked counter arguments are misleading at best.

        The rainforest is destroy so soy and cattle can be raised to feed mostly wealthier countries.
        Diamond and gold are excavated so wealthier countries can use them for fashion or technology.
        Toxic chemicals are produced in factories, to produce goods that are sold… guess where…

        And even after that, most countries in the world combined don’t contaminate as much as the top ten.

    2. Keep in mind that austerity doesn’t solve anything – the poor in the developing countries have even less means to solve our problems. The rich countries drive around in SUVs and develop renewable energy, while the poor countries slash and burn their forests for more farmland in the face of uncontrolled population growth.

  19. One big problem with pure-electric vehicles in these parts is the lack of charging infrastructure. Add to this that charging is not “instant”, while a typical ICE-style car can be refuelled and be driving off in a few minutes, the electric car is still charging hours later.

    This greatly crimps the range and utility of these vehicles.

    Many would have more than enough grunt to pull a decent-size caravan, but most do not feature tow hitches… so the grey nomads are buying up diesels rather than going electric.

    For the rest of us, work-from-home arrangements have seen bicycle sales go through the roof.

    Pre-COVID, I was relying on a bicycle for my private transport needs (I do not have a driver’s license). During COVID, sadly check-in laws and phone use laws are in conflict, so rather than risk a AU$1033 fine for “use” (they don’t define what “use” is… hands-free “use” is counted… I guess even using a phone as a paperweight is “use”) of a mobile phone whilst in operation of a vehicle… or have to find some random staff member to do a manual check-in (and recite all my personal details to those in earshot)… I’m basically restricted to staying at home, or getting driven by others to places. Green indeed!

    Here’s hoping next year, check-in requirements drop, and I can then resume cycling again.

    1. Depends on what you need to do, the long range capable EV’s will do something around a whole day of driving at road legal type speeds on their battery now, so if you have one of those all you need to do is find pretty much any electric outlet to plug into every night.

      If you go for one of the more practical, cheaper and smaller battery EV the range is definitely lower, but even those models have options that do 150miles or more, which is a pretty good stint, and even the baby of the range will do perhaps 80 miles, which is more than most do in a day…

      It doesn’t really matter how long the charge takes if you can plug it in and forget it while you sleep, or do whatever your travelled for in the first place while it happens… So even the smallest EV is probably good for most folks that can find a way to plug in. Still people it won’t be as convenient or practical for no doubt about it (like those with no charger at work/home etc), but the range and utility isn’t that greatly crimped by the length of a fuel stop, as most of the time you won’t need to go out of your way to find a ‘fuel’ stop, just plug in where you are and get on with your life, the tank is always full(ish) when you need to go somewhere again…

      1. > a whole day of driving

        They don’t. A whole day of driving for me is about 8 hours at 60 mph, which is 480 miles. That would be me taking a road trip to visit relatives down south. Start in the morning, lunch at midday, finish by late afternoon.

        A Tesla Model S 90D would not do that (294 mi real range). It needs a recharge half way through, and if I don’t have a supercharger then I’ll have to stay for the night somewhere in the middle.

  20. Not owning a car makes your life much better. I replaced mine 16 years ago with an annual pass for public transports, the car had finally reached the end of it’s useful life and it was a nuisance in the city anyway. I haven’t missed it since then and the side effects were absolutely positive. Better health, less stress, more free time and substantial monetary savings that enable me to retire early whenever I want.
    Most people cannot calculate the total cost of car ownership, they only see the fuel. In most European countries, effective cost is >0.50€/km; on the contrary, first class rail is <0.20€/km. You don't have to be a hardcore greenie to ditch your car if you can do the math.

    1. It depends where you live. In a urban setting where you live alone in a flat and have no job it makes sense. For homeowners and those who have a family well forget it. That means no taking the kids to games or amusement parks or camping.

      And for those in a rural setting or doing commuting a car is mandatory.

    2. Works only in dense urban environments *if* the public transport isn’t a steaming pile of poo…otherwise it takes literally several times longer to get anywhere and you have to constantly wait.

  21. Wow, looks like the EV skeptics are out in force. FWIW, we bought our first owner, second-user EV (a Renault Zoë) for £7500 4.7 years ago, with just 693 miles on the clock. It still does up to 100 miles in the summer (58 at -5ºC in winter) after 44K miles. In the UK this is fine; the range is sufficient for vacations to either end of England as well as trips to see my Dad (about 45 miles) and to other major cities.

    EVs really are the future here, now. In Europe, new EV sales are hitting 10% or more of auto sales and basically doubling each year. In the UK it’s about 15%, which means that they’ll reach 100% by the end of the 2020s and represent something like 50% of cars on the road by the very early 2030s.

    That’s good and as the S curve of adoption slows down, EVs will also get cheaper (since manufacturers will start to be recuperating on R&D; economy of scale; funding enormous growth rates and having to contend with supply starting to match demand). In the meantime people can buy a run-around Leaf for about £5K minimum (though my Zoe is still worth about £7K).

    1. The same Europe that is dependent on fossil fuels from Russia in order that keep your economies working and you from freezing to death in the Winter because green can’t supply you people with the necessary baseline energy. Save for Denmark.

      Comical. I’ll take you guys seriously when you can sustain yourselves with no energy imports and not be reliant on China for slave labor built battery packs, solar panels and magnets. You know the stuff that makes you green by world’s #1 polluter and human rights abuser.


      1. Wind is much higher in winter. Europe also has a lot of off-shore space for wind farms. France has lots of Nuclear. We’ll get there. It’s true that Russian natural gas energy is a major problem for now.

      2. China isn’t the biggest solar panel maker right now, I believe that is Germany as it stands…
        Battery are built all over the place, Tesla for instance have pretty big capacity, not in in China..
        And where did the chips in your phone/computer you wrote that comment come from? Everything in the global economy has some part in it somewhere that comes from places with low value on human life and rights, and its so universal you can’t really avoid it, or even know how much came from such places – even your locally sourced all wooden furniture maker will have some ties to such places, the light sources they worked under, the motor in the tool, the chip in the motor controller, the clothes they wear etc…

        The need for energy important, well we probably don’t actually need energy import at all, we choose to, as gas from Russia and Oil from the Middle-East is better than burning yet more shit but easy to get coal like the stuff Germans dig up in those massive open cast mines with the monster bucket wheel excavator things (which are really quite impressive), cheaper than reopening the really deep but good burning coal mines in the UK etc… We could get our current fossil fuel requirements from inside Europe, its just not a good idea, meanwhile we are on the whole shifting quite rapidly away from burning so much of it anyway…

  22. I’ve been trying to make sense of this entire topic and associated technologies for over a quarter of a century and the more I learn the more I just see scams and scammers everywhere. I have come to the conclusion that what we are doing now is not that horrendously bad and just needs optimising, the rest sustainable growth, will be supported by the commercialisation of fusion power because any form of cheap, reliable and abundant energy is the foundation stone of a modern economy. I worry less about cars and their fuel than I do about human factors, issues such as greed, selfishness, dishonesty and zealotry are far greater dangers as they are corrupting the very operating system of civilisation.

  23. Selling an electric car that is cheaper to build, with less workers to pay, for the same price as the luxury version of the car? Naturally the manufacturer will do it. Apple showed them how.
    Green is sexy now and good to sell to people with money. Also it’s a sale of indulgence. ;)

    And if GB is much like my country, the distribution of wealth will make the industry appease to the rich first.
    There is also the problem of constitutional capture,but that is a story for another time. XD

  24. I run the heating for my house using 2 old air to air start/stop (not inverter) air conditioning units converted to air to water. They were units that were taken out of service as the controllers had stopped working and replacements were uneconomical to fit. I designed and built my own controller (using an ESP8266) that has predictive heating based on a weather feed and can both heat the house in the winter and cool in the summer.

    The units have been running problem free for the last 3 years – save the odd (can’t resist it) software upgrade.

    In total it cost me almost nothing to build/install and rivals any over priced unit there is on the market. Details (and other energy saving/renewable projects) can be found on the website.

    1. Thanks for the pointer that’s an interesting site – registered! I notice not many publish performance data for their installs, this is obviously the most useful part. What COP are you getting from yours?

      1. I’ve not tried to calculate it but I do keep figures for power usage and have done for several years while I have been both improving insulation/adding heated/cooled floors and so on.

        My house is roughly 250 square metres and is kept at around 23C in winter and 25C in summer.
        Electric use averages around 29kWh in winter and 20kWh in summer – a lot less expensive than oil fired heating (which I had before). I still have the oil boiler as a backup on the really cold days but it generally gets used only 2 or 3 days a year.

  25. The car I took into town today set me back $300 and a couple days work. It gets >20mpg. I can not bitch. I would love an EV but I have yet to see one in my price range unless very very expensive pieces are dead. Even if I got one given their rarity you are not going to get a good deal on pieces. Last time I bought a pull it yourself short block engine they told me to just take everything. No one would trust a loose piece hastily removed and I suspect I gave them 2 or 3X what they gave for the whole car anyway… Just easier all around.

    Also, if you have a long commute or drive a lot, and live in an area with smart meters, god help you if you go over your providers threshold for demand metering. A friend of mine got hit with that and it was less expensive getting a big diesel genset to run his shop for the amount of time he needed it vs get put on demand metering for a month or more.

    I think his sin was short bursts of very high use got him kicked into a much higher rate.

    And in the old emissions argument, obviously you get your power from somewhere and there are environmental effects, and you are talking about a large machine that is already extant vs manufacturing a new one. I suspect the environment would be far better off if all cars were driven until they were useless as in unable to function anymore as cars, not just old and astatically undesirable. A friend of mine from another country told me out pick and pull junk yard looked like a used car lot back home.

    1. There is an embodied energy to an older vehicle, that with its years of service is much more spread to the point it barely matters to its ongoing use cost – however those older vehicles will need more energy and emissions in the maintenance as well as more to run. And its that more to run one that is real killer – for most older vehicles its only rather modest amounts of driving around before the extra it needs to move compared to a new model starts to outweigh the cost of building the new model. For a better economy focused old car you are almost certainly correct run it to death is the best thing for it – as it will take many more miles to outweigh the cost of building a new car and doing the same milage, but anything a bit more luxurious, powerful etc it really shows up quite fast…

      Also worth noting that the retired older vehicle was likely made from mostly fresh out the ground metal, a new one is much much more likely to be largely recycled metal (maybe even from those older vehicles) so the environmental cost of the new one is probably not as high as the old one was by a reasonable margin.

      As always putting hard numbers to this is basically impossible, pick x example and it looks like running everything to death is the only sane option, y and it looks like you should replace your car every 5 mins for the newer models to be more ecologically friendly… Just too many variations to really work out a proper representative average in a way that means anything – try and do it globally and it means nothing to anybody as their location has wildly different production methods, try and pin it down to nations and its still not all that easy to make meaningful as so much of building anything now is tied into the global economy, so they might buy Korean or Japanese (etc) over ‘locally’ produced..

      I don’t know where you are, but it does seem to me like consumer energy prices really need to be fixed in a great many places… And not just in our own consumption rates, but also in our feed back to the grid rates – something the power companies are not keen on, having to pay us back at similar or even higher rates than the stuff we bought off them is bad for their profits! Talking of which perhaps your friend should just have bought an EV/hybrid to power his shop – some of them are not all that expensive compared to a similarly capable generator, and you get to drive ’em too (scale of that spiked power demand of course matters alot here, if your tiniest generators can handle the spike load then the EV cost is going to be way way higher).

    2. “I would love an EV but I have yet to see one in my price range unless very very expensive pieces are dead.”

      Really, hybrids are basically the best way to go here. They’re the only ones that make economic sense. Even a 10-year old vehicle with 100k still likely has a good amount on the battery (and they’re reasonable anyway, on the order of $2K), and at that point you’re likely in the $5K range.

      Which, OK, seems like a lot more than $300, but unless you’re spending less than ~$1K/yr in gas costs, it’ll likely cover itself.

      Once you get to hybrid level efficiency (50+ mpg) there’s likely no fuel cost benefit to switching to EVs, and the price difference between the hybrid battery and the EV battery *more* than makes up for any maintenance differences.

      PHEVs are probably an even better option, but they’re not quite there yet.

      1. Unless its a plug in I don’t think its worth it – at least on a purely environmental front – you can get that 50mpg and better out of normal plain ICE, so unless your common driving location really gets a benefit from the hybrid – lots of stop start it really won’t pay off the extra build complexity.. ON the cost to buy now everything is supposed to be hybrid or EV so ‘green’, tax, run etc being a hybrid might make it worth it, but really in general a hybrid is just slightly nicer in driving performance than a similarly economy focused ICE – at least for most drivers that will do a fair amount of motorway cruising and not all stop start city traffic..

        Plug in really is the only sensible hybrid – if you are going to carry any extra weight of battery and motor you really should be leaning into using them as much as possible – because they are more efficient, and cheaper to run off too – they also gain because they almost always use the ICE engine like a generator not connected to the road – so it can run at its most efficient 100% of the time its running and let the efficient battery deal with the fluctuations in supply/demand, where other hybrids are often a normal ICE car with an electric ‘turbo’ effectively, so do get towards the best range for the ICE engine faster with the boost, but they are not always there…

        1. Of course it’s worth it on the environmental front! Don’t let “best” be the enemy of “better.” And striving for “perfect” often times screws you in the end.

          US average is ~25 mpg, putting out over 400 grams of carbon/mile. *Existing* hybrids could cut that in *half* and they’re cost-effective in the long term just from fuel prices. PHEVs aren’t quite there – the batteries are too expensive. And I mean, jeez, the Honda Insight pushes 70+ mpg, with a *quarter* the carbon emissions.

          You think cutting emissions by a quarter is nothing? Transportation already is only 14% of the world’s total. Cutting it by 4 would take it down to 3.5%. You’re *way* in the ‘diminishing returns’ part at that point. 3.5% of current carbon emissions is like, 1900s level.

          (Plus a 50 mpg ICE is diesel, and that’s cheating on the environmental front because of the higher carbon output per gallon).

          The only way you’re going to shift things is to bring things to cost parity such that switching to the “better” vehicle pays for itself. It’s the same way solar uptake went crazy. Hybrids can get there right now.

          PHEVs *might* be able to get there if you fixed a few of the stupid things: namely, standardizing the batteries to win on economies of scale. Right now they’re just too expensive. The batteries don’t last long enough to get you down to the point where used ICEs don’t make sense due to the cost of gas.

          1. There have been 50mpg and greater petrol powered ICE before, its not even hugely uncommon, and you are comparing the US average, which with all the massive pickups and muscle car etc is hugely skewed downwards, by the folks that wouldn’t buy a hybrid anyway as they want a car that does 1 mile for 5 gallons while making lots of noise… If you can get them to buy into more efficient vehicles with a hybrid I’m all for it!

            Compare the hybrid to the more normal 30-50mpg of most normal European type cars as that is what it would be replacing its not making a large amount of difference, in many cases the hybrids aren’t doing any better than the equivalent petrol model, because they are hauling around all that extra weight but not getting much use out of it! Hybrids that are not plug in only really gain in constant stop start traffic so the electric elements are getting lots of use, on the longer cruise its just hauling extra weight. Where the Plug in Hybrid is always gaining as you have x (battery size) miles of range entirely electrically – usually enough for the little town drive, maybe even enough for most folks daily commute and it will always take a chunk out of your motorway cruise fuel use, while still getting the regen braking bonus..

          2. “and you are comparing the US average, which with all the massive pickups and muscle car etc is hugely skewed downwards”

            Yeah, that’s a bit of a myth, even the US passenger sedan average is only ~30-ish mpg.

            “If you can get them to buy into more efficient vehicles with a hybrid I’m all for it!”

            This is literally my point. Hybrids nearly double fuel efficiency, straight across the board. Anything past that is obviously going to be diminishing returns.

            “Compare the hybrid to the more normal 30-50mpg of most normal European type cars ”

            European hybrids can nearly hit 80 mpg. It’s just a size/weight issue. If you get European cars to ~60-70 grams/km, it’s just pointless to talk about transportation emissions as a serious issue. The entire freaking planet could run at 60-70 grams/km.

          3. The enemy of better is time, assuming climate models are accurate there is no room for investments in half measures because they can’t make a profit before they have to be phased out.

          4. In practice a European Hybrid and the same model not hybrid tend to have the same sort of fuel consumption in the real world (at best for the hybrid – it can easily come off worse) – as all that extra weight for the hybrid system is nothing but waste if you are not always in stop start traffic where its really paying you back. If you are a heavy town driver it can work for you, but anybody (which is nearly everyone) spending lots of time of the more major roads commuting daily gets nothing at all out of the hybrid system but more weight on most of that commute.

            My point is just buy a more efficient ICE vehicle – its cheaper to make, should be cheaper to buy, and for almost everyone works out damn similar or better fuel economy wise than the half arsed hybrids. Or buy a Plug in hybrid (if hybrid you must – as things stand in general EV looks the smarter choice, assuming you can charge it up at home), as those have enough electric range you actually will end up burning less fuel pretty much no matter how hard you try not to!

            p.s. Worth pointing out the plug in variety almost always (if not always) use their ICE engine entirely as a generator, so it runs in the most efficient way it can all the time – relying on the battery to smooth out the supply/demand fluctuation. Which is another gain on the other style of hybrid that tends to be little more than a electronic turbo, helping push an otherwise conventional ICE around, all that can do is help the ICE towards its most efficient window a little faster…

          5. “Which is another gain on the other style of hybrid that tends to be little more than a electronic turbo, helping push an otherwise conventional ICE around, all that can do is help the ICE towards its most efficient window a little faster…”

            I think you’re making a different distinction – you’re basically talking about the difference between a mild and full hybrid. I’m assuming everything’s a full hybrid, and the battery’s just small so you don’t really bother with making it actually pluggable.

            Toyota HSD hybrids are full hybrids, for instance, the engine’s always at optimal RPM. The battery’s just too small to be realistically useful (1-2 kWh) in the “plug-in” sense. Even some cars “labelled” PHEVs I wouldn’t call PHEV: the first-gen Prius “Plug-In Hybrid” has an electric range of freaking 6 miles. Any PHEV that has a battery under 5 kWh isn’t a PHEV.

            That’s basically my entire point – an ICE running at its optimal point with regen braking and engine cutoff is realistically good enough from an environmental standpoint, *and* it’s economically viable. Getting a “practical” PHEV needs a battery that’s probably 10x larger and those batteries just aren’t usable yet.

          6. “The enemy of better is time, assuming climate models are accurate there is no room for investments in half measures because they can’t make a profit before they have to be phased out.”

            It’s not a half measure. Realistically if you can get a vehicle that’s pushing 50+ mpg to be the *typical* vehicle, that’s long term viable. At that point you’ve cut US emissions from light-duty vehicles to 7-10% of current total emissions, and you’re wasting your time trying to go further because the additional cost isn’t worth the return.

            Think about it this way – if it costs consumers money to go from 50+ mpg to full electric (say, by putting additional taxes on vehicle gas), you’d be better off having them spend that money *other* ways (say, by adding taxes on high-carbon electricity, or taxing industry/agriculture/etc.).

          7. Pat even a ‘true’ hybrid as you call it – which is a good way to describe the difference, is still weak tea really when you take away so much battery – sure your ICE might be in its best efficiency more often but size and weight constraints (because you are always hauling the E-motor and ICE motor, both fuel and whatever battery) means the ICE engine tends to be smaller and works out less efficient.

            And you can’t make as much gain from being a hybrid either, as the battery and electrics in these type of hybrids tend to be much more primitive… Still got nothing against these hybrids, nicer to drive than a real eco ICE I expect (just that they are perhaps too expensive ecologically and fiscally for the gain – where a Plug in is definitely worth the extra cost). Plus maybe some of your ‘pure’ ones out there even with the crummy battery size really do work well enough in fuel economy in the real world, but none of that type of hybrid I’m aware of is anything but much thirstier than you would expect compared to the similar model pure ICE…

            p.s. obviously I’m just going based on what I’ve read, I can’t claim to have tried ’em all etc.

            p.p.s Also I agree with you just pushing everyone towards something that resembles efficient MPG is a very good thing, and can end up in the world of diminishing returns enough its better to spend the money somewhere else – which is why I’m not sold on the non-plug in hybrids, seems like a lot of extra cost to the basic ICE power version (along with more hassle to recycle/repair as its got yet more points of critical failure, many different materials to deal with, so more processes on its component parts) for much much less gain (especially on the environmental front with how many journies can be powered directly from the every greening grid) than that little bit more on top for the Plug in version.

          8. “sure your ICE might be in its best efficiency more often but size and weight constraints (because you are always hauling the E-motor and ICE motor, both fuel and whatever battery) means the ICE engine tends to be smaller and works out less efficient.”

            I just have no idea where you’re getting this idea from.

            The electric motors cost you zippo: they reduce the transmission weight enough to pay for themselves. Which you can see in HSD weights: the gearbox+motors+etc. basically weigh what a transmission weighs. A little on the light side, actually. Combine that with the lighter engine since it’s now smaller and you’re talking around ~50 kg less overall.

            And the battery’s small, so in fact the combination of everything: E-motors, ICE, battery, etc. – it’s all basically the same weight wise. And I have no idea why you think a smaller ICE is necessarily less efficient. Definitely not significant enough to matter.

            Can you do it different ways? Sure! But getting a normal ICE vehicle to 40+ mpg (or 50+ mpg diesel) requires a *lot* of compromises. Enough that people won’t be willing to make them, and not because they’re stubborn or anything.

            You have to *murder* the weight. Super-light underpowered vehicles are less useful (fewer passengers) and harder to control and use safely on the highway due to the light weight and poor acceleration. And obviously sacrificing stuff like air conditioning is just not possible in certain areas.

            It isn’t a “muscle car etc.” mentality. You either have multiple vehicles in the US (which is unaffordable for many) or you have a vehicle which can handle highway driving, and for that you need a heavier vehicle with decent acceleration. Otherwise it’s just a death trap.

            Again: if you could get the US’s light duty personal vehicle fleet average to half its current carbon emissions, you’re wasting effort throwing more money at it. Used full hybrids will get you there for virtually no cost. Literally the only thing you need to do is boost the reseller market.

            The US’s light duty fleet averages 25 mpg, and costs about 1B metric tons of CO2 per year. Or 10% of global emissions. It doesn’t make sense to try to do more than cut it in half or so. That money’s better spent elsewhere.

  26. While I’m all in favour of solid old classics being kept on the roads – fuelling more cars with crops that either are food or directly compete with food was shown to cause problems, the phrase “Palm Oil Crisis” and accelerated deforestation by farmers as the price rose to meet demand were a consequence of the EU mandating a bio-diesel element of pump fuels some years ago if memory serves.

    This is Hackaday, why are we not seeing an EV swap into that old Merecedes or some article about rejeuvenating the battery on that low range used EV? If you’re willing to make a few hacky compromises (and I’m pretty sure we are around here) it should be possible to conjure up something to do the job.

    Hell, if we’re just trying to be as green as we can afford why not pick the nearest servicable old banger (re-using an entire car is still fairly green) and maybe look at simple low-cost improvements (streamlining, weight reduction, etc.) or hacks (ECU remapping perhaps) that can make it as green as possible for a low budget.

    I’d really like to see Hackaday run some articles that help folks get started with hacking EV’s – where to find information, training, and tools for getting on the bandwagon of pulling Teslas and Leafs out of junkyards or salvage auctions and making things go.

    1. I’d love to EV my car, so how to do it? Buy a used Tesla motor and power unit, spend months converting to EV and then get to pay much higher car insurance rates, looks good, is very quick, but mucho big bucks.
      Doing a conversion is only a rich mans option, i.e. you have the time, money and space to do it.
      I’ve looked, and the junk yard (recyclers) EV motors and batteries, are many times more expensive than a secondhand ICE vehicle. Any car modifications are hard work and expensive (if they do anything).
      Electric cars are lovely if you have the money and the time to charge them, no new ICE cars by 2030 (in the UK) I’ll believe it when I see it. Look at all those poor quality new build houses, without the EV charging points or even the basic cable infrastructure, the (UK) government is not serious about being green, the people making the descisions do the minimum they can get away with to be seen to be green. Older and middle aged people in politics will be long gone, if not dead by the time their misdeeds are seen for what they are. Public transport is very poor outside London, including most major cities if you live in the cheap bits outside the city center.

      1. People have been making converted EV for ages, even so far back they had to use lead acid as lithuim cells barely existed at all!!! Can’t see why it would be a ‘rich mans’ option… Your insurance shouldn’t go up much if anything, the car still looks like whatever it was, isn’t suddenly stupendously valuable, and a conversion doesn’t need to cost a fortune…

        No doubt the conversion work (if you can’t do it yourself) will be expensive enough, and the parts are not going to be stupidly cheap – but that is partly because they will work and stay working – your really dirt cheap ICE car will do what maybe a whole year if your lucky before something too costly to replace goes bang? The EV motor and battery should last damn nearly forever in comparison, so of course they hold more value….

        I don’t disagree much on the politican though, always too slow to do what really needs to be done, especially if its going to cost them something), and/or too hamstrung by public outcries to do the job properly…

        1. Go check and see, I’m sure my insurance will go up if I make any modification to my car, bearing in mind swapping to leather seats and different wheels will put up the insurance, so a change to the drive train, brakes, gearbox, power steering etc. that will be fine will it.

          1. You can end up making it cheaper to insure too – how much change if any there will be can also be offset against the road tax, running costs etc as well. Not everything makes insurance worse, and the change doesn’t necessarily end up costing you more overall even if it does.

  27. A very relevant analysis:

    I’d love electric vehicles to be practical and cheap for everybody. There is no doubt they are superior to ICO (Internal Combustion) cars in many ways. But in order to become anything more than a fad, they have to prove cheap and practical enough to penetrate the “poorer part” of the market. And in many ways the “poorer part” of the market is much tougher to satisfy than the “rich part” of the market. This seems quite difficult given the contemporary battery technology which faces substantial challenges due to fundamental issues of energy density. Every buyer of EV should be aware of the issues discussed in this post as it is potentially important for the resale value of the car and the economy of the entire investment.

    1. Is not sustainable at all for everyone to own a car. This is something so ingrained in people mind, this entitlement to own as much as you can afford. Imagine if everyone in the world would have the same consumption level as people living in the US.

      What we need is a change in mindset. Instead of owning a car rent one for those occasions where public transportation or other less pollutant form of transport aren’t practical.

      I am saying this as someone with a family and living without a car for the last 5 years.

      1. While I agree with the sentiment your own transport isn’t the biggest issue with consumption level, its really quite small fry compared to much of the American markets overconsumption (and its not like the EU is all that far behind), great if you can go without though.

        Its also not just a change of mindset, you also need to provide public transport at a sensible cost and good enough service level that it actually is possible to go without, which in many areas isn’t practical or even possible… Even many of the poorest areas of the world are full of ‘personal’ cars, the old reliable Merc diesels etc because such transport is so useful…

  28. I think that people that can afford green choices such as electric cars should use them, because not every one can afford them. surely its better over all if at least a few people can be green.

    I also think that fossil fuels have given us the illusion that cheap transport for everyone is a thing when it is not. The dollar price of fossil fuel does not reflect its true cost because the environmental impact has not been paid for yet. We’ve deferred that cost for future generations to pay.

    If you think about the entire history of humanity, the ability for an individual to go where you want when you want has always been very expensive up until cars became ubiquitous after World War 2.

    Imagine a journey of 200 Km or thereabouts. Once upon a time the only option was to walk which would have taken a very long time. Then horseback or horse and cart travel came which was faster but now you incur extra energy costs. Gotta feed that horse. Next comes the steam engine at about 15% efficiency and you need to find a more energy dense fuel, coal, but now you can travel that same distance in under a day. Then we get a doubling of efficiency with the motor car which *only* wastes 70% of the energy it uses but you can now make that same trip in a few hours and on your own schedule but this is a horrifically resource intensive/energy intensive way of doing it, and this is why I think that personal travel is just inherently very expensive, either in energy or in time.

    We humans normalize things so quickly. The ability for the average person to get on an aeroplane and travel to the other side of the planet is truly astonishing and has only been possible for a brief moment in the history of mankind, but we have normalized it to the point where we don’t even think about it any more. If you suggest that perhaps we might not like to do that (to treat the planet that way) people look at you weird, like you just grew an extra head or something. But do we really need to go to the other side of the planet just to look at it? Really?

    So here we are with our built environment optimized for the two car family and the environmental damage that we have done is right in our face. We are forced to reckon with the fact that petrol cars actually aren’t so cheap as we thought they were. You could say that EV’s are a bit more honest in that respect, as far more of the total cost of ownership is evident in their up front cost.

    But is personal transport cheap? No.

  29. A thing I have noticed is that the target of being “green” is moving.
    I remember like 20 years ago where turbocharged diesel engines were considered “green” because they were more efficient than regular petrol engines.
    Another thing that is happening now is happening are pellet stoves and wood stoves. For the wood stoved with plants harvested locally the CO2 impact it’s zero, or almost zero if one uses an electric saw to cut the branches.

    The added advantage especially in mountain is that what basically it’s trash, like dead trees, corn kernels and leaves, wood scraps become fuel.

    Problem is that burnig wood makes soot, PM10 and other chemicals, so basically here under 400 meter ASL it’s almost forbidden to use a wood stove.

    1. Of course the targets move – as we understand more, or the previous measures create too extreme a shift than the desired the ‘best’ ‘green’ etc option has to change in response.

      Diesel at the time made a great deal of sense – just how bad the particulates have proven to be wasn’t really known, and not only is it efficient, but there is large portions of crude that make it easily compared to the lighter more volatile petrol… (In may ways Diesel isn’t actually bad at all – the problem is the population using it is too large and dense)

      Rules on such things are usually somewhat stupid in some edge cases or other – wood stoves sound great, but if everyone in a city starts fitting them because they are vogue, and ‘green’… Well they aren’t green at all in the wrong place, so the rules come in, but they can’t be perfect, that is just too complex so they create a catch all that catches some users it shouldn’t, but mostly those it should…

    2. There are now gasifying wood stoves that burn the actual wood in a separate insulated chamber and the resulting gas in another burner, so there is basically no PM produced because the solid products are not drawn up by the draft or they get caught by the filters in between. It’s a wood gas generator modified for use in domestic heating.

  30. Wow; lots of interest in this article! I agree with Jenny’s fundamental point; going green is expensive. That’s because big business and big government want to do it in such a way as to maintain their wealth and power. But we’re hackers here. We don’t have to do it “their way”.

    EV are inherently cheaper than ICEs. I’ve been driving EVs since the 1970’s, by building them myself. Get an old car, install a used forklift motor and golf cart batteries, and you have an EV for 10% of the cost of an auto company EV. Scrapped automaker EVs are also a wonderful source of cheap high-tech batteries, motors and controllers.

    PV panels are cheap. But go “guerrila solar”, without the help/hindrance of your local power company. Simply buy and install the panels yourself, and use the power without grid-tie and all the licensing entanglements.

    Get creative! We aren’t going to solve the climate change problems with the same sort of thinking that got us into this mess!

    1. Well said, though you sort of contradict yourself, as going green is only expensive if you have to do it the expensive way, so Jenny is both very wrong, and right depending on your skills/time/resources.

      Personally I’d rather encourage grid-tie in as that is good for everyone else and little hassle and no cost, maybe even some money in it once its running for you. Being too ‘self’ oriented isn’t going to help either – if you can do things like pass your excess back its a good thing! (but if the regulations are impossible to deal with, just not bothering with the grid tie up, but still doing the solar is a position I can get behind)

      1. Ah,but it’s easier than you think! The main thing stopping most people is the fear of the unknown, and lack of knowledge.

        If you don’t know how to do something, ASK! The web is an incredible resource for finding information. Find people who’ve done it, and get advice. If you tell someone you’re building an electric car, it’s amazing how often they’ll reply “How can I help?” That’s the second most common answer after “You’re nuts.” :-)

        For twenty years, I taught classes of 4th-6th grade students to invent, build, and drive their own EVs. No kits, no plans, and only a $100 budget. 80% of the time they succeeded! Why? Because kids that young don’t know it’s “impossible”. They will try anything; and if you try hard enough, you will most likely succeed. (Our website was but you’ll have to use the Wayback machine to find it).

        I have a 1980 Renault LeCar that I converted into an EV using only hand tools, while living in an apartment with only street parking. That one cost me about $5000 because I had to “farm out” things like welding and machining.

        On solar: In many areas (including where I live), the local utility wants to maintain their monopolize power generation. They have enacted rules that require special permits and expensive installations. There are subsidies, but they get all the power. The rate they pay for PV generation is much less than what they charge, so your savings are small. You can’t have your own battery backup.

        “Guerrila solar” is when you say to heck with all that, and simply put up your own PV panels. Then you get ALL the power they generate. Use it yourself, to reduce what you need from the grid. Use an inverter to generate AC; or run things directly off the PV panel’s DC (many home devices don’t care if they’re run on AC or DC — but use DC-rated fuses and switches). Charge batteries (maybe even the ones in your EV) so you have power when the grid is down.

        Sorry for rattling on. But it really isn’t as hard as people have been led to believe. Going green is only expensive when it includes the cost of making someone else rich.

        1. You have to consider if somebody has the time – as that really is a cost to doing it cheaper by doing it yourself. And if they need to learn how first that is yet more time. Not even considering any legal certifications that may be needed after you do it yourself, or what your insurance will think etc – much as I hate to say it, for most, even those with some time or skills to do so they are probably better off paying some ‘professional’ so all the certification etc isn’t their problem and the insurance won’t throw a hissy fit and not pay out when needed etc.

          I assume by “(many home devices don’t care if they’re run on AC or DC” you are talking about the fact most home devices have a (usually external) power supply to turn AC to the DC they run on you can replace with a straight DC feed or have I missed something and more devices really don’t care if you feed them High voltage AC/DC low voltages any more having fancy PSU inbuilt that can deal with that (something I don’t think I’ve ever seen – lots of things with supplys that can take a range of DC (advertised or not) and of course most AC adaptors now just cope with the common options in global grid voltages)?

          Sounds like your area the self solar system is even more BS than here, still stand by what I said though a grid tie in is what you want as you will exceed any home battery and demand probably quite often… Sharing that back, even for no money, and even if its part of enough oversupply it is just going into other battery/pumped hydro etc for later is good for everyone – and most of the time it probably won’t be, as with ever larger grids and connections between nations yours will be in sunshine while somewhere not all that far away its dull overcast..

  31. nobody will read this or care…. but electric cars are not “green” thats flat out greenwashing. considering the toxicity to the environment that is required to create the vehicle are terrible. not to mention the fire hazards, and the relatively short life span completely backed by a company’s need for ever higher turn over rates in the name of profits. if ya dont believe me, try to recycle a battery, or the half ton of plastic, the seats, etc. wont happen. even if someone takes to be “recycled” it just ends up being dumped and burned in a 3rd world country.

    having said that. restoring any old car to operability and going easy on the gas pedal is much better.

    the truth of the matter is that we as a species know how to make cars that can last a lifetime or more, but our obsession with fancy and new overcomes the appreciation for a well made machine that can stand the test of time.

    our material science and engineering skills can overcome these hurdles, but they wont, for want of profit.

    military is a bigger polluter than every car on the road in our entire country.

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