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EVs, Power Bills and Emissions

How do we change a system employed by government?  If we went cold turkey on many of our traditional national policies the flow on effects throughout the public and business sectors would be ruinous.  If you believe the headlines which state that traditional motor vehicles are heading for a cliff edge where there will be no more fossil fuels available to power them, and that the environment will be so much the better without vehicles that are powered by conventional fossil fuels, then things look pretty dismal.  But is this actually so?

There are numerous countries around the world that have their special governmental team of policymakers pushing for electric vehicles (EVs) to be subsidised and made easier for those who can afford an expensive EV to buy one.  Across the ditch the New Zealand Labour/Green government are creating a fast track for EV purchase in the hopes to lessen greenhouse emissions and keep NZ green.  And in America they have recently brought in policy that reduces the initial purchase price of an EV by up to $7500 USD.  Of course, the subsidizing is paid for by the tax payer.  Those who cannot afford to buy a new electric vehicle pay for the privileges that the wealthier EV owners enjoy – like free use of public charging stations and preferential access to carpool lanes.  What about the grand schemes and plans of making some American States totally EV and thus pronouncing the ban of all internal combustion vehicles by 2040 (California).  Is this really fair?

Could this thinking and ideology be the motivation behind EVs in Australia?  How could the typical Australian on an average wage manage a law that states that you must drive a new and expensive EV by 2040?  By the way, we’ll also use your current taxes to help the wealthy buy an EV quickly (and enjoy its benefits) while you struggle to put the food on the table, let alone by an EV!

Let’s also remember that most of Australia’s electricity is made by coal and other natural resource plants.  A large fleet of EVs across Australia will draw down on the current available power supplies very heavily.  But wait, I know, we could use people’s current taxes to build more expensive cleaner power plants and provide bigger, better power networks!  That will make Australia a better place.  Power companies will enjoy the profits and will be sure to put the price of power up once electricity comes in short supply.

Hang on!  Are electric vehicles really as great as they claim to be?  Supporters of the EV suggest that EVs will reduce air pollution and tackle climate change.  But will they?  (Climate change is another issue – and one that many can make plenty of money, too)  It’s evident that a new vehicle powered by the modern conventional internal combustion engine is, in fact, way more pollutant-free than one might tend to think.  Extracting Lithium and other materials for batteries has an environmental impact of its own.

The appropriate comparison at governmental levels for evaluating the benefits of all those new electric vehicle subsidies, mandates and ideologies should be the difference between an electric car and a new petrol-or-diesel-car.  New internal combustion engines are very clean and emit only about 1 percent of the pollution that older vehicles did back in the 1960s.  New innovations on internal combustion engines continue to improve these engines and their efficiency and cleanliness.

When we consider EVs, and their large appetite for electricity, the energy to power them has to come from somewhere.  Cars are charged from the nation’s electrical grid, which will mean that they’re only as “clean” as Australia’s mix of power sources.  An environmental impact in the mining of the lithium, cobalt, and nickel that go into car batteries is evident.  Extracting Lithium is actually not so bad; most of it is extracted from brines that are evaporated by the sun, but it has a sizeable carbon and physical footprint.  We have a long, long way to go before the production of electricity for the main grid looks as green and as clean as an EV appears.

What’s the inexpensive answer?

4 comments

  1. Michael Healey says:

    I will never buy a new car again unless it is electric and cheap.

    Consider the possibility that the future of Private Fleet might depend on government smoothing the path for the inevitable transition of the economy to clean energy.

    Get with it or you will end up like someone trying to sell horseshoes in the 1950’s.

    July 20th, 2018 at 2:29 pm

  2. John Aquilina says:

    I have bought a car via Private Fleet in the past, and you offer a great service. That saves consumers real dollars.

    But the article above is written by someone who can see what is about to occur in car sales. Tesla have begun the disruption. No discounting, no dealers, minimal maintenance – no opportunity do “middle-men” to make money on the sale and ongoing maintenance.

    My purchase 15 months ago of a Model X Tesla for my Chauffeur Business was forced because I was being sent broke by the ongoing maintenance & fuel costs of my Audi and Mercedes cars.

    The premium Teslas can still be bought with FREE SUPERCHARGING for life! And there are many FREE charge points around. I’ve covered 95,000km at a cost of a dollar a day!

    First service is 80,000kms (for those who don’t sign onto the gaurenteed Tesla buyback scheme which restricts usuage).

    Remote over the air diagnostics – I once made a BIG mistake which put the car in Limp mode. Rang the Technician at Tesla who remotely monitored the car whilst I reset it. All the systems checked out, he cleared the fault code and I was on my way . On NUMEROUS occassions my Q7 would do the same. The dealer would charge $175 for the diagnosis and it would cost a day waiting and a day off the road.

    Free Over the air updates for life. My car has all the new features that are released. It is not superceded.

    8yrs unlimited warrenty on Battery and electric motors, 4 yrs 160,000km on the rest.

    Front brake pads 150,000kms life. No one has changed a set of rears.

    The dividends that owning a electric car as a commercial vehicle out weigh the capital cost. That cost is coming down and they won’t be that far out of reach to Private owner. Get in touch with me at The Limousine Line or use my referral code of john1337

    https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/referral/john1337

    July 20th, 2018 at 3:46 pm

  3. Bruce Gill says:

    I get a sense that the author of this article is fearful that their beloved ICE vehicles are suddenly going to disappear and that sinister forces are conspiring to make these new fangled electric vehicles (aka another form of horseless carriage) totally disrupt their familiar and comfortable world.
    What’s the reality?
    Yes, electric cars are coming. Liquid, fossil fuels are a finite resource. It will become scarce and the impact on the biosphere is not ideal. We Humans also keep breeding and wanting better lifestyles and mobility. Energy supply and use is governed by the laws of physics – we can’t move from A to B without using energy. The point is that electric cars do it much more efficiently than even the most modern ICE powered cars. Why? Because electric motors are very efficient; because burning fuel to produce momentum is inherently inefficient – feel how hot the engine is after a drive. And when you slow down, you can recapture some of the energy otherwise lost as heat in conventional braking.
    Yes, much of our electricity still comes from coal, but that’s far from likely to be so in the future. And you can charge them from solar panels on your own roof – who owns their own oil field?
    Yes, lithium involves mining, but have you seen how much energy and effort is required to supply the petrol and diesel that sits behind the bowser that is all that most motorists see? How many times can a litre of liquid fuel be used? Lithium batteries can be recharged many thousands of times.
    And why might some countries see that it is worthwhile to encourage EVs? Take New Zealand. If they can increase the number of electric vehicles people use, that can reduce the amount of money that leaves their country to import fuel.
    And if some countries are considering some forms of subsidy to kick start more EV sales, that might seem unfair, and might be in some cases, if then only if all EV’s are the price of Tesla’s and Jag IPaces. But EV’s have few moving parts and for most commuter needs, they can be cheaper than ICE cars once production levels go up and novelty value goes down.
    Don’t be afraid of an EV future. After all, horses survived the introduction of the horseless carriage.

    July 20th, 2018 at 6:49 pm

  4. Carol Gleeson says:

    The answer is nuclear powered cars. No CO2 emissions and you need to mine and refine very very little Uranium or Thorium to power them. They predicted them in the 1950s. Where are they? Very disappointed with these scientists.

    July 20th, 2018 at 8:51 pm