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Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com

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EVs Overrated As Climate Game Changers: Expert

Electric cars are highly overrated as a means of tackling climate change, a renowned environmental policies expert has said, adding that subsidizing EVs is making things worse instead of better.

"Electric cars are this icon of us doing something about global warming," Bjorn Lomborg said in a recent interview with the Hoover Institution, a conservative policy and research think-tank. "Now remember, electric cars are actually good for the environment. They emit less CO2 on average -- even if they charge from a coal-fired power plant -- but not by very much, because you still have to build them."

Besides building them, you need to charge EVs regularly, and the power for this charging, globally, often comes from fossil fuel-powered plants. All this combines to make EVs a lot less environmentally friendly than their advertising says. What's more, EVs are still too expensive for most people.

"The electric vehicle is a very, very rich world phenomenon," Lomborg told the Hoover Institution's Peter Robinson.

"It's very much rich people in a rich world who are thinking, 'Oh, I have a house and I can just recharge my electric car in my garage.' What do all the people who live in apartments or in cities do? That's much, much harder. And then finally, of course, it's very costly right now. Electric cars are typically much more costly. That's why you need the subsidy. And so it's extra grating when you hear that this is going to help the world's poor or just the poor in the U.S. The reality, of course, is that most green subsidies go to the rich."

Indeed, some of the biggest markets for EVs globally are in affluent countries in Europe—with Norway the leader—where more of the population can afford a more expensive car, even with subsidies. True, European carmakers are doing everything in their power to make EVs cheaper, but subsidies are still essential for EV sales.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Ronald McKinney on March 18 2021 said:
    Just another anti-EV FUD article.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 18 2021 said:
    Electric vehicles (EVs) are indeed overrated as climate changers and also as the greener, cost efficient future of travel.

    Despite the hype, EVs enjoy niche rather than mass market appeal. Take-up of EVs among consumers remains relatively miniscule. Currently, EVs and hybrid cars combined number around 5 million out of 1.5 billion internal combustion engines (ICEs) on the roads worldwide, or a negligible 0.33%. The total number of ICEs is projected to reach 2.0 billion by 2025 rising to 2.79 billion by 2040 according to U.S. Research.

    Three hurdles stand in the way of mass adoption of EVs: price, range and ease of charging.
    The greatest contributor to the price is the battery, which could account for a significant portion of the cost of an EV.

    The second hurdle is range. EVs with a range of 250-300 miles remain positively expensive for many, costing between $70,000 and $100,000. Car manufacturers are pushing to hit a compromise on technology and price – a $35,000 car that can travel up to 300 miles.

    The third hurdle is the ease and speed of charging at home and en route. It currently takes up to two hours to charge a car for a full range of 250 miles. While many EV owners can charge their cars at home, they can’t yet recharge their vehicles with the ease and speed of gas stations. They need new fast-charging points.

    And whilst EVs are benefiting from evolving technologies, ICEs are equally benefiting from the evolving motor technology. As a result, ICEs are not only getting more environmentally-friendly but they are also able to outperform EVs in range, price, reliability and efficiency.

    EVs have been celebrated as the greener, cost efficient future of travel. The initial cost of an EV tends to be higher than that of an ICE but EVs don’t need oil changes and have fewer moving parts. However, it is not the cost of oil changes and maintenance that matter most, it is ease of charging and also the availability of charging points particularly when one is embarking on a long journey of hundreds of miles. Moreover, the running costs of EVs are not cheaper than ICEs given the continuous rise in electricity charges which tends normally to be far bigger than that of petrol or diesel.

    Furthermore, there will be a need for trillions of dollars of investment to expand the global electricity generation capacity in order to accommodate the extra electricity needed to recharge 50 million EVs. How could such expansion be sourced: nuclear,
    hydrocarbons or solar?

    That is why EVs will never ever prevail over ICEs. ICEs will continue to be dominant means of transport well into the future.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Sam cox on March 18 2021 said:
    I wish there where more cars and trucks with Turbos that can make use of the higher octane of E85. We have technology for higher efficiency engines closer to diesel cycle. I have even heard of running dual fuel diesel with ethanol or methanol. We should ramp up these. Today, if I want a flex fuel truck I can only pick a large V-8 engine. Just use the latest small engine tech and make it a hybrid on the bigger vehicles.

    I would also like to retrofit some older cars/SUV with small hybrid options. Not many aftermarket options for my old boxy Isuzu Trooper. This could be a third world fix and add plenty of jobs.

    Charging the EVs will be a problem if you go all in with solar and want to charge overnight.
  • Alan Dr on March 18 2021 said:
    Some are convinced that combustion engine vehicles will stay around for decades to carry oil demand, while ignoring that price parity or in fact cheaper electric vehicles are just a few years away. Why would people buy technology that is soon more expensive and polluting? While at the same time new batteries have more long range and can charge super fast compared to the vehicles that where available just a few years ago. Somehow these experts believe that the technological development of that has come to a standstill.

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