World gears up for electric cars despite bumps in road

July 26, 2017 by James Pheby
Electric cars can be the stuff of dreams, but there are hidden environmental costs

Technological advances mean fossil fuel in cars could be phased out within decades but switching to electric carries its own environmental and economic concerns as more and more countries announce radical plans.

Britain on Wednesday said it would "end the sale of all conventional petrol and diesel cars" by 2040, following similar proposals by France earlier this month to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution.

China issued plans last year requiring that 12 percent of cars sold be battery-powered or plug-in hybrids by 2020, while India has said it wants to replace all vehicles with electric vehicles by 2030.

Norway hopes to end sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025, and other countries such as Sweden and Denmark and Finland have expressed similar ambitions to phase out fossil fuel engines.

"Given the rate of improvement in battery and electric vehicle technology over the last ten years, by 2040 small combustion engines in private cars could well have disappeared without any government intervention," said Alastair Lewis, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York.

"Nonetheless this is highly symbolic since it signals to both the public and to manufacturers that there is no turning back from electrification," he added.

Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management (CAM), said that last year proved to be a "tipping point", shifting political will into concrete commitments.

He highlighted the emissions scandal, where manufacturers of mainly diesel cars were found to have cheated on environmental tests.

Local and national environmental targets and the progress made by China in developing are also forces propelling the move away from hydrocarbons.

A 'bold bet'

But Flavien Neuvy, economist at French automobile anlaysts Observatoire Cetelem, said it would be a "bold bet" to suggest that the roads will be filled with only electric cars by 2040.

"To say that we forbid in 2040 assumes that we already know which will be the most efficient technology in 2040," he told AFP.

"It's a bold bet because the combustion engine, from an environmental point of view, may become more favourable, as can be seen with cars that can now travel 100km on 2 litres of fuel".

Clean to run, but to make the battery? Not so much

He also believes that the electric car "will be much more efficient than today", and that an improvement from the current average range of 250-300km to 400-500km would be "enough" to make them viable.

"But in reality, there are many other fuels, such as gas, hydrogen, and manufacturers are investing heavily in the self-drive car," he added.

Cost is also an issue, with electric cars currently selling for thousands of dollars more than their fossil-fueled counterparts.

The fashion for in Britain was fueled by government incentives to reduce carbon emissions, but only worsened NO2 levels on a more local level.

Infrastructure overhaul

A switch to electric cars could also have negative environmental side effects, according to the experts.

Neuvy questioned how the extra electricity would be produced, whether there were enough resources to produce electric batteries, how many charging points would be needed and how the cars would be recycled.

Britain currently has around 4,500 public charging points, catering for around 110,000 plug-in cars currently on the streets out of a total of 36.7 million vehicles registered in Britain.

A study last month by IVL, the Swedish Environment Institute, found that production of a large battery currently results in the emission of up to 17.5 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to around 700 hours of driving in a standard car.

Another stumbling block could be the vast infrastructure costs associated with providing recharge points on public highways, although Britain's plan promises to install charge points at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers.

British car manufacturing lobby group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also warned that an outright ban "risked undermining the current market for new cars", pointing out that the sector employed 800,000 workers.

But for now, the momentum appears to be strong, particularly if oil prices rise again.

CAM predicts that new registrations of electric cars in the world will increase by between 2.5 and 6 percent by 2020. "A big offensive by manufacturers" would then lead to a 40 percent increase by 2030.

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Yirmin_Snipe
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 26, 2017
This type of action by governments just shows the stupidity of those making decisions. Electric cars cost more for a very simple reason.... they require more resources to build, which means that at the very moment you buy an electric car you've taken a less efficient step against the environment.

Then you have to look at the resources to fuel that car, the electricity doesn't come with zero pollution. In many instances the pollution generated to charge an electric car with enough energy to go 100 miles is far more than the pollution generated to both obtain the gasoline for the car and the pollution created from driving the car those same 100 miles. Too often people just look at the tail pipe and say well nothing is coming out so it must be clean... ignoring the coal fired power plant belching tons of pollution into the sky 24/7 to charge the car.

At the moment internal combustion engines are the most efficient when you look at the whole life of the automobile.
PTTG
4.8 / 5 (6) Jul 26, 2017
Yirmin, provide some citation.
Davy_Crockett
not rated yet Jul 26, 2017
Improving the environmental profile of EVs means reducing the battery supply and re-cycle chain impacts, and increasing non-combustible electricity sources over time as the supply chain ramps up. Regulations concerning heavy metal manufacturing and re-cycling need to be addressed so they don't lag public concerns.

This issue has been studied more than a few times now. Do your own DD. Only in the dirtiest, worst case scenario does the ICE win. The EV improves its percentage gains every step of the way as manufacturing is modernized.
Nik_2213
1 / 5 (1) Jul 26, 2017
A couple of points...
Unless you have a secure car-port or such, how do you home-charge a purely electric vehicle ? For excellent safety reasons, you cannot trail a cable across foot-path or side-walk, and few authorities would be happy with a slanting 'flag-pole' dangling a cable to your car.

Perhaps 'pop-up' bollard-style power points ? You'd still have to rip up the paving, figure some-way to prevent tampering.

Then, there's the range. Take a wrong turn or blow a few kilowatt-hours on severe aircon demands and you're potentially out of juice...

I suspect pragmatism will push policy towards hybrids, with lower-stressed IC mini-engines allowing clean cruising, and electric-only within urban areas...

Also, I note the policy specified banning diesel & gasoline; a surprising number of vehicles use bottled LPG either as-is or as a dual-fuel. Again, the limited range with LPG is traded for clean running, the 'dual fuel' providing cruising range and convenient refilling...
snoosebaum
not rated yet Jul 26, 2017
stupid obvious point ,, gas powered cars can refuel very quickly , what happens when hundreds of cars are waiting say 30 min [ at best ?] , charging stations will need to be parking lot size. This all works fine now with only a few on the road. This will be a problem for long trips .
tblakely1357
2 / 5 (4) Jul 26, 2017
Lol, so the future is millions upon millions of electric cars being charged by solar and wind.... good luck with that.
david_king
not rated yet Jul 27, 2017
Nik_2213
Currently most municipalities tolerate "free parking" on public rights of way for private cars (a huge subsidy for car owners) but this is starting to change as cities become more dense. Instead of parking meters we might see electric meters and charging stations with underground utilities. Getting rid of utility poles would open up the skies for better quality of life for inhabitants and drones. E-metering could be time-of-day dependent to encourage patrons to charge at off-peak hours for the grid and parking could remain free for car owners willing to let their cars feed the grid at peak load times. At some point car ownership will become mute for most folks and the wealthy will have garages and secure charging while the rest of us hail a self-driving fleet vehicle to get around.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2017
The future of charging is in supermarket car parks and parking lots - not gas stations.
Eikka
5 / 5 (2) Jul 27, 2017
Also, I note the policy specified banning diesel & gasoline; a surprising number of vehicles use bottled LPG either as-is or as a dual-fuel. Again, the limited range with LPG is traded for clean running, the 'dual fuel' providing cruising range and convenient refilling...


A kilo of LPG is roughly equivalent to a liter of gasoline and a typical bottle has 8 to 10 kilos. A vehicle designed for LPG in the first place gets equal range because it has a bigger bottle.

And fuel cells can double that by virtue of their higher efficiency. In the end, the battery electric vehicle will be a transition technology since liquid hydrocarbons are denser in energy and simply easier to handle - a petrol tank doesn't shrink with age or weigh a ton just sitting empty, and you don't need to freeze it with liquid nitrogen to safely recycle it.

Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 27, 2017
Do your own DD. Only in the dirtiest, worst case scenario does the ICE win.


Modern cars do about 90 gCO2/km. An electric car consumes about 0.24 kWh/km (0.38 kWh/mi) which is equivalent to a Tesla Model S. The average CO2 intensity of electricity production in various countries right now:

https://www.elect...page=map

UK: 234g -> 56g/km
Germany: 394g -> 94g/km
USA: 415g -> 99.6g/km
Australia 600-700g -> 156 g/km
Poland 730g -> 176 g/km

You have to further adjust the numbers up by the manufacturing costs of the batteries, and the CO2 figures are for the last 24 hours - the average CO2 intensity in the UK for example is around 400 g/kWh which puts the electric car at 96 g/km.

It's pretty much neck and neck with the electric car falling slightly behind due to the manufacturing costs. In other words, buying an electric car today makes no difference to greehhouse gasses.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 27, 2017
Besides, there's emission reduction potential in switching from gasoline/diesel to gas (-30% CO2) and switching from ICE to fuel cells (-50%) which slashes the average emissions of an equivalent car to about 30 gCO2/km which is hard to beat with an electric car.

For example, the CO2 intensity of Denmark at the moment is 159 g/kWh (22% fossil fuel on the grid) and with 0.24 kWh/km the equivalent emissions of an electric car is at minimum 38 gCO2/km

Ultimately you get -100% emissions reduction by switching to synthetic renewable hydrocarbons - which are absolutely necessary anyways for storing renewable energy in any large amounts. At that point, it makes little sense to use batteries anymore because of the conversion losses and cost - just use the hydrocarbon fuel directly in the vehicle.

So we go back a full circle: cars fueled by some synthetic substitute for gasoline, old cars can still operate alongside, and we don't need a costly full infrastructure overhaul. Win-win.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jul 27, 2017
"
Britain on Wednesday said it would "end the sale of all conventional petrol and diesel cars" by 2040, following similar proposals by France earlier this month to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution."

-I think this is insidious efforts by Disney and Harry potter world to turn the entire continent into a giant theme park.
snoosebaum
not rated yet Jul 27, 2017
@ dick Bruere , good point , guess it depends on geography, here in BC long road trips pass thru small communities that have gas stations but not huge parking lots
greenonions1
not rated yet Jul 27, 2017
Eikka
In other words, buying an electric car today makes no difference to greehhouse gasses.
Unless you buy a Tesla - and charge it a fair bit at a Tesla charging station - http://inhabitat....he-grid/ Unless you live in Sweden, or Finland or any other low carbon electricity market. Unless you drive a Nissan Leaf at .2 Kwh per Km. etc. etc. etc. Globally - the grid is converting over to renewables - and coal plants are closing - so every year we go forward - the picture gets better for electrics.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2017
Unless you live in Sweden, or Finland or any other low carbon electricity market


Guess why those are low carbon electricity markets? Sweden, Finland, France, have one thing in common... high proportion of nuclear power.

Norway is a kind of an outlier because the whole place is full of fjords with tons of hydropower - yet they make half their money selling oil, and use it to buy electric cars from Tesla - which is also ironic.

Unless you drive a Nissan Leaf at .2 Kwh per Km.


But I don't want to drive a shoe with just 70 miles of range.

Globally - the grid is converting over to renewables - and coal plants are closing - so every year we go forward - the picture gets better for electrics.


More like, globally the grid is converting to natural gas, and the renewables are kinda hanging around in the background collecting subsidies, and the picture for electrics gets worse with increasing supply problems for essential materials like lithium, cobalt.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2017
Unless you buy a Tesla - and charge it a fair bit at a Tesla charging station - http://inhabitat....he-grid/


Another empty promise by Musk. They will "eventually" disconnect them from the grid and run them on solar power, which in practice can just as easily mean 20 years to never. Meanwhile, your electric car bought today will not see a Joule of clean electricity in its battery.

The logistics still need to be worked out, as Tesla would need solar arrays as large as football fields at some stations.


Again you didn't read the article you referred to.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2017
Unless you drive a Nissan Leaf at .2 Kwh per Km


More on that point: batteries are heavy. Very very heavy.

Tesla's battery has an energy density of 160 Wh/kg with all the structural parts and packaging. The 100 kWh battery weighs as much as an entire small car: a 1971 Fiat 127 weighed 705 kg empty - the Tesla battery is around 650 kg, yet it only gives the car 335 miles of range. A regular car does 400-500 miles on maybe 20 kg of fuel.

Heavy batteries require heavy cars, bigger cars, to support all the mass. Imagine building a vehicle that has to carry the Fiat 127 around wherever it goes!

The Model S with the 100 kWh battery is 2,250 kg which is three times the old Fiat. Consequently, it uses more energy than the Nissan Leaf - more range in an electric car translates to higher energy consumption. That's just another compromize you have to make to drive an EV: efficiency or range - can't have both.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2017
Well, not quite 20 kg of fuel, more like 30-40 kg, but the point is clear: hauling heavy batteries around is inefficient and counterproductive, yet it's the only way you get an electric car to perform like a normal car. It kills the advantage.

Though you could make the apples to oranges comparison between SUVs and sedans, but that would be about consumer demand and not technology.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2017
Guess why those are low carbon electricity markets? Sweden, Finland, France, have one thing in common... high proportion of nuclear power.
And your point is? You are trying to make the argument that driving an electric car is marginal in terms of C02 advantage. I countered that if you are in a part of the world that has a low carbon electricity supply - that argument is just false. So what if they are low carbon due to having a high level of nukes? - point is still the same. And you are wrong about renewables - the world is changing Eikka - you just let the big bias log you have in your eye blind you to what is actually happening. I hope the whole world is run on modular nukes within 5 years. What I hope does not change reality.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Jul 30, 2017
you just let the big bias log you have in your eye blind you to what is actually happening
@Greenonions1
yes and no

eikka brings up *some* valid points ... and i actually somewhat agree with this point
Meanwhile, your electric car bought today will not see a Joule of clean electricity in its battery
though perhaps not 100% correct because location makes a difference, too many people are under the mistaken impression that simply purchasing an EV and a couple PV's makes them green without considering where the energy comes from to manufacture or drive said stuff (and the grid requirements for most)

this is not advocacy for all of the above, mind you, but there is a lot to be said for some of the arguments eikka has presented
What I hope does not change reality
change starts with hope

it is a primary driver of change
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jul 30, 2017
Meanwhile, your electric car bought today will not see a Joule of clean electricity in its battery

though perhaps not 100% correct because location makes a difference, too many people are under the mistaken impression that simply purchasing an EV and a couple PV's makes them green

i think you need to see a bigger picture:
1) when purchasing an EV you need to charge it. this means
2) your energy provider will be forced to generate more electricity which in turn means
3) they have to add more powerplants

Now think about what type of powerplants they are in the process of adding...mostly renewables (because they are cheaper). So you're forcing them to switch over (all the while also NOT burning fossil fuels in a combustion chamber). So while an EV may not be *immediately* green (Eikka's consitent fallacious argument) it forces the shift to a greener future where the joules in your tank come from a green source.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2017
eikka brings up *some* valid points
Sure - but that does not also make Eikka incapable of putting out some really false information. Take your quote
Meanwhile, your electric car bought today will not see a Joule of clean electricity in its battery.
Sorry Captain - how can you possibly square that complete bullshit - with one example - http://www.indepe...406.html I am transparent about my support for renewables - and my bias towards a cleaner, better world. What I see coming from people like Eikka, Willie and other trolls - is a pattern of mis-information. Sorry Captain - presenting some valid points - does not excuse trying to hold us back in the dark ages with mis-information.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2017
So while an EV may not be *immediately* green (Eikka's consitent fallacious argument) it forces the shift to a greener future where the joules in your tank come from a green source
@AAP
absolutely true, and when the prices come down i am sure more poor folk will jump on the bandwagon

i personally can't afford to get an EV until they can make one that will do the work i need it to do, with 4WD, in remote places, and towing capacity. speed isn't my factor at all because ya don't typically run 60 off-road (unless you're in Hazard county - LMFAO)

LOL

.

how can you possibly square that complete bullshit
@Greenonions
well, i did say "somewhat agree"... so see AAP"s post above yours, i think it explains where i was coming from fairly well
presenting some valid points - does not excuse trying to hold us back in the dark ages with mis-information
true
But that is why you posted counter-points with references and links, right?
Thanks
:-)

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2017
i personally can't afford to get an EV until they can make one that will do the work i need it to do,

The first automobiles weren't cheap, either. New tech that brings a real advantage always starts out expensive. Also the mass market of cheap petrol cars are used cars. There aren't (m)any used EVs on the market as of now.

Found this article for the average price of new cars from 2015. At 33.5k that puts the Model 3 in the average (and not the 'expensive') range.
https://www.usato...6690191/

Looking at how the price for producing energy from renewables has plummeted over the years I'm expecting a similar curve for EVs. Give it 5 more years and I'm sure there'll be a mass market affordable EV out there (which might well be the first generation of used Tesla Model 3's). Once that happens they'll get around to niche markets (4WD, off road, pickups, motorcycles, ... )
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2017
How many of the doubters have an EV?

How many have even been in one?

We will get our second one this year. Time to add more PV panels.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2017
@antialias_physorg
New tech that brings a real advantage always starts out expensive
tell me about it!
There aren't (m)any used EVs on the market as of now
nor are there any EV's that are capable of doing the rural work needed... which is a shame
but then again, they market the EV's to the people with the cash to spend on trendy items and eventually it gets better, cheaper and the poor are able to get into the mix... like computers
Give it 5 more years and I'm sure there'll be a mass market affordable EV out there
i really thought this same thought when the hybrids like the prius took off... but it's still lagging

so there is obviously a hurdle to overcome, and it's not just the range

i do think that if they were to target rural farmers with a workable vehicle that could do the work and be compatible in price that it would make a difference

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