Car death

October 12, 2017 § 58 Comments

Once you go electric, you’ll never go back. Ever since I got a Chevy Volt, my car life changed. Most Americans drive 29.2 miles a day, and that fits with my wife and my driving habits. Since my Volt gets about 70 miles per charge, during the week we use zero gasoline. Once a month we have to fill up the 8.9-gallon tank, which takes a couple of minutes and a fistful of dollars. I have a small fist, too.

I used to drive by gas stations and marvel at the people standing there, or jockeying for position, or scowling because their card got rejected, or, my favorite, simply waiting in line. I don’t notice it so much any more, but for about a year, every time I passed a gas station I thought, “Wow, it sure does suck to be them.”

Now it’s a simple fact of life. Gas stations are, in the main, no longer part of my existence. People who choose to hang out at them are, like smokers, simply making bad choices.

Even more than a Prius, electric cars generate huge amounts of superiority complex. You’ll hear a car’s engine and think, “What an outdated clunker.” So what if it’s got a black horse-on-a-yellow-background or if its badge is a three-pointed star?

Or, “Wow, your car is so noisy. What a junker.” Or, “Don’t you know that your car stinks?” Basically, electric cars generate all the superiority of commuting by bicycle without all the sweat and health benefits, although not getting run over by a car is a pretty big health benefit.

Electric cars are going to massively increase bike ridership. This is because they will morph into self-driving cars, and once you take the idiot out of the driving equation and replace it with electronic avoidance systems, cagers will mostly stop hitting people on bicycles. This will also put bicycle injury lawyers out of business, another benefit on the immediate horizon.

Gas carophiles think that the full electrification of cars is a long way off, but they’re wrong. Why? Because China.

China has a big pollution problem, and unlike Trump, they’re trying to address it, not perhaps because they see intrinsic value in clean air, but because the regime sees intrinsic value in people not being furious about having to live in a carcinogenic soup. China, Inc. also recognizes that every place “USA! USA!” drags its feet on clean technology, it is giving China, Inc. a massive head start in the global sales war and the global mass production war.

According to Forbes, “…there are now more than 140 EV [electric vehicle] battery manufacturers in China, busily building capacity in order to claim a share of what will become a $240 billion global industry within the next 20 years. As in all things auto, EVs and the batteries that will power them promise to be big industries in China.” What Forbes doesn’t add is that if it’s a big industry in China, China is going to be a gargantuan player in that industry. Tesla’s big Nevada battery factory, with its 35-Gigawatt/hour production capacity, is a newt compared to China’s capacity, which today stands at 125 GWh, and in two decades will double to 250.

Oh, and another little detail: It’s a zero-sum game. Each new electric car replaces a gasoline one.

Of course my secret agenda isn’t simply to get rid of smoky cars, it’s to radically increase safety and bike ridership. Thank you, China, Inc.



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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.


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§ 58 Responses to Car death

  • Phillip Carter says:

    I’m skeptical of new technology doing all good things and no bad things.

    Look at the internet, which was supposed to bring the whole of human knowledge into everyone’s hands, allowing for vastly improved and informed decision making. Instead our population has gotten clearly and decidedly stupider.

    Better, self driving cars will mean more cars on the road. Some will game the system – bikes can play chicken with cars and win. Massive job dislocations if you drive for work.

    Self driving electric cars are doom! Unless you’re on a bike.

  • Al Coovert says:

    Electric cars are vaporware/haloware.

  • shano92107 says:

    whoa — smug alert in PVE!!!


  • senna65 says:

    Especially for a guy who chooses to live in LA…

  • senna65 says:

    You’re riding a pretty high horse there Wanker…

  • LesB says:

    The gasoline engine and the oil industry are dinosaurs.

    Chito, or course, will do all he can to buck this trend.
    Except that he’s doomed too, going down in flames.

  • flehnerz.uwyo says:

    Autonomous vehicles won’t object to BMUFL!

  • dangerstu says:

    My wife has electric car it’s great, the elephant in the room is that the electric grid has no where the capacity to support everyone going electric.

    • fsethd says:

      Shhhhh …

    • Carlos O says:

      The PV (photo-voltaic, not Palos Verdes) I installed on my roof pump electricity back into the grid every single day after I run my AC all day long. EV coming my way sometime next year to use up some of my surplus energy.
      Speaking of cars, 99.9% of the cars we drive are designed to easily cross from Los Angeles to New York and back with all seats full and a couple of dead bodies in the trunk. But we use them to commute to work and carry nothing more than a PBR in the cup holder and a back seat full of empty happy meal boxes.That’s like using a 16lb sledge hammer to hang a picture on the wall. But it’s our god-given right, guaranteed by the constitution it seems, to drive in our own cage, electric or not.

    • darelldd says:

      Good news! We can do this. Note that the gasoline grid could not support everyone driving gasoline cars when gasoline cars were first introduced… Look at us now!

      • fsethd says:

        Everything has tradeoffs, it’s just that some are better than others. I’ve yet to meet a person who said, “I tried electric and am now fully committed to gasoline.” Just like no one ever said, “I’ve tried a car and am now fully committed to a horse.” Unless of course they were marrying one.

  • Eric R says:

    We got a Fiat 500e a few years back and once you have an electric you will never go back to the old way. I love going home every few days and just plugging in. No gas station hell. Eventually will replace my other gas guzzler when I have the $$$.

  • Waldo says:

    Your readers want to know how your small fist compares with the orange occupant’s of the White House.

  • Kevin B says:

    Battery factories, bah. We’re going to be the world leaders in coal!

  • France adds itself to the list of countries banning the sale of fossil fuel powered cars.

  • Jorgensen says:

    Electric vehicles only displace pollution at this point in general.
    Renewable sources need to become a larger percentage of the electric power sources to claim bragging rights. There are goals, such as the DWP has, with a plan even, SCE got greedy and muffed San Onofre, setting any plan to exploit renewable energy by back by billions that the ratepayers get to participate in paying off.

    Meanwhile the energy producers are lobbying hard to reduce the economic benefit of installing solar power on your own roof.

    • fsethd says:

      Solar sucks … for Exxon.

      • darelldd says:

        It is one of several compelling reasons that the oil companies would like to see H2 cars instead of battery cars. The H2 is trucked and dispensed like gasoline. It can be branded. It can’t easily be made at home. And it’s more expensive. All great things… for Exxon.

    • darelldd says:

      “Electric vehicles only displace pollution at this point in general.”

      Thought battery cars already provide benefits well beyond merely “displaced pollution” ….even if that was the only benefit, it is still a benefit. Controlling a relatively few, large, single-source pollution points is far more effective and efficient than unleashing hundreds of millions of pollution sources across the globe. And when you make just ONE power plant cleaner (by using better feed stock – let’s say sunshine instead of coal) then you suddenly clean up hundreds of thousands of cars all in one go. EVs are the only cars that are getting cleaner after purchase.

      And yes, it is a travesty that there is recently so much push back on solar power. The only good news is that fighting against a needed change is generally the last stage of resistance before that change takes hold. A great example is electric cars. Only in the last few years has the fight stopped, and the corner has been turned.

  • Mr. Grinch here…

    If we are to save our grandchildren and great-grandchildren from roasting, electric vehicles are just part of the solution for a few reasons:

    1) Just making a standard electric vehicle uses exponentially more energy than making a bike or a pair of shoes. Most of that energy comes from fossil fuels.
    2) The same is true for maintenance of an electric car.
    3) The electricity needed to charge them comes largely from fossil fuels. There is more and more renewable energy available, but it’s still a fraction of what is needed.
    4) The stuff used to make the batteries is really nasty!

    Very roughly speaking, I’d guess that a standard electric vehicle has about half of the “carbon footprint” of a gas-powered vehicle. That’s good! But, it’s not enough.

    Our society needs to adapt to using more than one mode of transportation. Use the right tool for the job! Want a beer from your local convenience store? Get off the damn couch, put on your shoes and walk! Gotta get the kids to school? Jump on your bikes and use the bike lanes that local governments have installed to encourage active transportation. Commute to work? Hop on the (electric?) bus or train. Does the whole family want to go see Auntie Dearest a few towns away? OK, unplug the electric car and hit the road.

    Make sense?

    • fsethd says:

      Idea! A human powered pedal-type vehicle!!!

    • dpcowboy54 says:

      Mike Wilkinson is right…more on his #4….
      Battery production and manufacturing is perhaps the single worst energy drain and environmental disaster mankind has conjured up in the last 100 years. It is a filthy business.
      The carbon footprint to make and maintain an electric car is not “…about half” that of a gas-powered vehicle. It is roughly equal to a gasoline car. It’s just that we don’t smell the exhaust, wait in gas lines, or hear the engines.
      The best thing anyone can do for the environment is to keep their automobile running very well…and….walk or ride a bike. Slow down and put on a sweater Dog Dammit!
      The hubbub around electric and hybrid cars is a pep rally that looks inward, not outward, and solves very few ‘real’ problems.

    • darelldd says:

      >> 4) The stuff used to make the batteries is really nasty! <> Our society needs to adapt to using more than one mode of transportation. Use the right tool for the job! <<

      Amen! I mean seriously – this is where the conversation should start and stop.

  • alan klainbaum says:

    I don’t understand how this works. As more and more people get EVs the utility company will continue to raise their rates for electricity until the EV is way more expensive to operate than any fossil fuel burning vehicle.

    What effect on the environment will millions of tons of dead batteries have?

    What is the environmental effect of manufacturing all these batteries?

    What is the environmental effect of producing the electricity to charge these batteries?

    • fsethd says:

      If it’s more expensive, hopefully less people will use them and will ride bikes or use public transportation. The Constitution is silent on our right to drive a cage.

    • darelldd says:

      I hope to help you understand how this works. And I’m assuming you want some answers and are not just posting up “statement questions.”
      1. Please note that EVs are not perfect, and never will be. They are not powered by rainbows and the laughter of children. What they represent is a better way to move our skinny asses when we are lazy. A better way when compared to how most people do it now with gasoline. It is unrealistic to compare electric cars to the utopian idea of *no* cars at this point. At least not if the point is to learn about EVs. As we are certainly going to continue to drive private automobiles for a bit longer, we need to choose the lesser of the available evils. So, I’m not showing you that EVs are perfect and have no environmental costs. Only that they’re the lesser evil. (and way the hell fun to drive!)
      2. Worry about the cost of electricity going up – Learn how much electricity it takes to explore, drill, extract, transport, create and deliver a gallon of gasoline, and this question becomes irrelevant. Who knew that drilling rigs and pumps were electric? The cost of gasoline didn’t become unattainable when we produced hundreds of millions of gas cars. The cost of electricity didn’t become unobtainable when we built hundreds of millions of electric-gobbling homes and business. So I can’t quite follow this logic of EVs making electricity super expensive. Plus… we all have the ability to make our own electricity at home as I currently do. That should keep a lid on it.
      3. Batteries are not going to the landfill. They are designed and built to be recycled (just like consumer batteries, and in fact entire cars now). We figured out this need long ago when millions of lead starter batteries (from gas cars) were becoming a huge problem. Or to put this a completely different way, the environmental effect of millions of tons of burned gasoline is far, far worse than dealing with the batteries. An electric motor lasts far longer than a gasoline engine, but we don’t worry about all those engines being disposed of for some reason. The bigger, better question: What are we doing with all of these dead cars, no matter how they’re powered?
      4. Manufacturing anything has negative effects on the environment. Manufacturing a battery once or twice for the life of a car, is better for us than manufacturing gasoline every day to keep a gas car rolling. The bigger, better question: What are the damaging effects of manufacturing all these cars, no matter how they’re powered?
      5. It amuses me that when we buy a new TV or blender or AC unit, or oven or computer… we never ask about the environmental damage of powering it. But with a car? Big deal, I guess. Electricity can be produced in almost limitless ways. Hell, we can produce it from gasoline if we wanted! Every day, the global electric grid gets cleaner. And millions of us are making our own electricity on the roof of the house. In fact, my household, with two EVs, two AC units and lots of cold beer in the fridge, produces more electricity than it uses. Where is the more important concern about: “what is the environmental effect of producing and then burning (!) the gasoline to move these millions of gas cars every day?” (and my favorite: Who asks about the damage from the electricity used to make that gasoline!)

      – Darell, the EV advocate who hardly drives.

      • fsethd says:

        You and your stupid fuggin’ rational logic fact shit.

      • dpcowboy54 says:

        D. You are short on facts and long on wind….the environmental impact of batteries, whether we manufacture them, dispose of them, or recycle them, etc., is huge …and replacing gasoline powered cars with battery powered cars just tilts the windmill in the battery direction. In essence, we will be trading the devil we know for the devil we don’t know. The same goes for solar. I have been involved with creating an economic white paper on the actual cost of batteries versus gasoline, and much to my surprise – the costs were similar. What we really need to do is quit transporting ourselves via vehicles and do more of it with our own power, as in walking or running or riding a bike.

        • fsethd says:

          Darell’s responses were super polite and factual. Which of his facts do you disagree with using other facts? And “long on wind” in this case means “taking the time to provide a thoughtful reply,” which is the kind of breeze we need more of.

        • darelldd says:

          >> D. You are short on facts and long on wind <> In essence, we will be trading the devil we know for the devil we don’t know. The same goes for solar. <> What we really need to do is quit transporting ourselves via vehicles and do more of it with our own power, as in walking or running or riding a bike. <<

          Full agreement. And yet that's not our current reality. We will still have private automobiles for some time, unless you've worked out a plan to make them unavailable to everybody. So while we are transitioning to more sensical transportation, and when the fleet naturally turns over, we need to choose what sort of private transportation kills us the slowest.

          Electric transportation is not just coming. It isn't just here. It is what we have to do if we want to continue moving big things quickly. And that doesn't only mean private cars, of course.

      • alan klainbaum says:

        Darell – Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply to my questions.

        1. It would be nice to have something that quantifies the current and projected cost per mile of operating an EV vs a combustion engine vehicle based on realistic current and future electricity rates.

        2. It would be nice to see a calculation that compares the carbon foot print of an EV with a combustion engine vehicle taking the entire life cycle into account, from manufacturing to disposal. Nothing is 100% recyclable including batteries. Maybe its 50%. I have not idea what the real number is. Manufacturing batteries is not an environmentally clean process.

        3. Recently I was at an airport where they had charging stations for cell phones. You inserted you credit card and it allowed you to charge your cell phone for $5. Capitalism at its finest. I once was traveling to Las Vegas and stopped along the way to get something to eat. The restaurant had an EV charging station that charged more to charge your EV batteries than it would cost to fill the gasoline tank of most cars.

        4. If you want to charge your car efficiently at your home you may need to upgrade the power circuits to your home. This can cost thousands of dollars. Also electric cars are more expensive than gas cars to purchase and the batteries do not last forever. Do you ever re-coup your investments or you just buy the electric car because you think it is cool to have something different? It would be nice to see a calculation taking all this into account. Electric lawn mowers have been around for more than 40 years now. It never really caught on. In the 60’s and 70’s they tried to push electric stoves for cooking. That never worked out well either. Electricity is expensive. Try heating your house with electric heaters.

        • darelldd says:

          @ Alan Klainbaum,

          1. Every one of these studies you seek exists. In multiples. Back ten years ago, I had links to all the current studies on my site – Many of those links are broken these days as I haven’t kept up. But more importantly, there are modern, more relevant studies available now. When you go searching for them, don’t stop at the first one you see, and for sure consider the source and who has reviewed and published it. You will find studies that show how operating a hummer is better for the environment than operating a Prius. And – sit down – even one that shows that riding a bike is more harmful to the environment than driving a gas car. I kid you not. (The assumption was that all calories for the bike rider came from meat)

          2. No, nothing is 100% recyclable, of course – if for no other reason that it always takes energy input to recycle anything. But the recycling of batteries (we have many, many years of data on lead starter batteries) really is one of the success stories for recycling – especially when you consider the fact that these truly were just being dumped when expired. I won’t put a number on it – that number is elastic depending on what you take into account, but lead starter batteries today are certainly above “50% recyclable.”

          3. “more than gasoline” charging. This I have not seen. What system was the charge station, and what was the cost? You’re saying that you’ve seen an EV charging station that would charge $40 to fill a battery car, are you? My family has driven ~300,000 miles on electricity, and I’ve paid exactly zero to charge my cars. 90% of EV charging is done at home.

          4. We’re getting off into the weeds a bit here. Every car sold today is capable of charging from any outlet into which you can plug your toaster. Yes, you can upgrade your electrical if you want better/faster. Just like you can spend money to make your bike or car better/faster. If if you want an electric dryer (for ten years I literally used my electric dryer outlet to charge my car). But nobody has to do these things.

          Do I ever recoup my investment? In a word, yes. But that’s all compared to gas cars, right? My EVs have been the cheapest cars to own that I’ve ever had. This includes purchase, fuel, maintenance, insurance and resale. Cradle to grave from my personal perspective –
          which I think is what you asked. (not actual, C to C of course). Beyond changing some bulbs, tires, washer fluid and wipers, I pay almost nothing for maintenance. There are no oil changes or spark plugs or any of that other stuff. In 300,000 miles of battery driving, I have never had to change the brakes due to regenerative braking (note that I’ve done it once to get ride of squeal that came from not enough use of the brakes!). I’ve made money on the sale of some cars, and lost money on others. Bottom line – I’ve ended up financially ahead of than any gas car that I’ve previously owned.

          There isn’t a single person in my neighborhood who uses a gas mower these days. And… I have an electric oven and heat. I don’t need to “try” heating with electric heaters, I’m doing it. For free. My PV system was paid off over 10 years ago. So no money for gasoline, and no money for heating and cooling my home – probably for the rest of my life.

  • Carlos O says:

    Most people hear “EV” and they think Chevy Bolt, Tesla, or similar. That’s a misconception; electric assisted bicycles, electric scooters, electric skateboards, Segways, hoverboards, etc. are all EVs.

    • fsethd says:


    • darelldd says:

      >> Most people hear “EV” and they think Chevy Bolt, Tesla, or similar. That’s a misconception; electric assisted bicycles, electric scooters, electric skateboards, Segways, hoverboards, etc. are all EVs. <<

      Unless you're both in California AND pedantic… like me.

      At least according to the CVC, bikes are "devices" and not vehicles. E-bikes have their own little 3-tier category now too. Still not vehicles.

      Everything else you mentioned (and wheel chairs and just about everything else you can think of) is regulated as a pedestrian per the CVC.

      Of course *we* can all chose to call these things whatever we like…

      Sorry. tried to warn about the pedantic part. It's what I'm steeped in.

      • Carlos O says:

        I stand corrected, technically, for the time being. But a group of us is trying to fix that definition.

  • dpcowboy54 says:

    Wanky – You asked for it!
    I am going to give you one example, because a response with many examples would be long!
    D wrote – ” Batteries are not going to the landfill.” Yes, they are. Currently, it is estimated that while a huge proportion of lead acid car batteries are recycled (99%), only about 20 % of Lithium Ion (used in EV’s) batteries are recycled. They end up in landfills, but no one really knows where they end up. Why?
    At present, there are no regulations regarding recycling of large-format Li-ion batteries, even in the United States. We need that….
    Further, in disadvantaged countries, where huge percentages of the world’s car batteries (including Lithium Ion batteries)end up, the recycling and dismantling process is completed by children in non regulated conditions (think child labor in your dirt backyard).
    There is an old saying in the environmental arena, “There is no Away”. in this case, “Away” is an easily tossed out phrase (no pun intended) that is conveniently ignored in favor of the ‘clean’ argument. The argument is fine, but a deeper dig into the facts about the production and carbon footprint of anything reveals that it takes ENERGY to make things, and the making and operating of electric cars is no more or less free of environmental consequences as that of gasoline powered cars.

    I also refer to this publication: Sustainable Materials and Technology, December 2016, where the author, Linda Gaines, writes, ” Even with advertising programs, education, and convenient curb-side pickup, recycling of common consumer products in the United States has not been a resounding success” Less than 18% of overall consumer recyclable products ever get recycled. Read this:

    Here’s a good solution to this whole mess: Ride your bike or walk.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks, Dean!

    • darelldd says:

      >> Here’s a good solution to this whole mess: Ride your bike or walk. <<

      Right! And personally it is what I do. I ride a bike more miles per year than I drive (at least when I'm healthy enough to do so). It is why my daily driver is only driven a few times per month. And why it is 15 years old. Fueled by sunshine it's entire life.

      I started and tossed many replies to this latest post. All of them argumentative. I was up at 5:30 for a great ride this morning, and don't want to lose my buzz! And I just have better things to do with the rest of this beautiful day, than to get all grumpy.

      Cheers, and thanks for caring enough about all this to post your concerns.

      – Darell

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