The Inconvenient Truth About Banning Petrol Engines

We've often written about how converting to electric cars is not going to cut the Gordion knot, and Automologist MAC has had it with the...

We've often written about how converting to electric cars is not going to cut the Gordion knot, and Automologist MAC has had it with the government claiming that the way to zero emissions is so simple. 

Doesn’t matter how much the advertising chaps try to make the juice flow, it just isn’t gonna be like this.


I feel like a rant coming on. I am getting completely fed-up with big government issuing directives that petrol power is coming to an end and we are all facing a future of insipid electric-powered driving. Well, who the heck are they to tell us, the consumer, what we want ten years before we want it? Who are they to tell us that electric engines are the best? Wouldn’t we all be in a pickle if they had told us to convert to hydrogen a few years ago. As far as I can tell, anyone who tells you that the electric car you will be driving in the future will be just as convenient as your current gas-guzzler is simply lying to you.

Sorry chaps, it ain’t gonna look like this either.


Now, before you get your hemp-trousers out and go all green on me as you type those poison-laced comments at the end of this article, hang on whilst I explain my position. In an emission-free world, which we are trying to achieve for the sake of the planet, it is true that electric vehicles do have a place. The EV is king of the urban commute, as long as you have the ability to recharge at home and do not live in a high-rise or an old European home that does not have off-street parking, that is, and you have the ability to recharge in off-peak hours to boot and thus not overload the power grid. Electric engines are perfect little torque monsters that are fantastic for inner city driving, and most will have the range for at least 90 percent of commuters' needs. Plus, battery technology is improving in both cost and energy density, so future batteries will not weigh a million pounds. I am also assuming that renewable energy will come to the fore, so that all bugbear about electricity coming from coal will no longer be valid.

No, that is not the issue. Firstly, the issue is going to be energy bottlenecks—the “let’s all go away for a public holiday” logjam along the highways of the world. No transport system in the world can be built up in the time that governments have set to adequately cope with the 300 million electric cars trying to get away for that must-have cultural holiday, and are foregoing their access to a home charger. Whilst I was filling my car up with fossil juice this morning, I timed the entire transaction—three minutes from the time I stopped ‘til the time I got underway again, with 62 litres in the tank that should be good for about 500 kilometres with my car.

Probably more like it. Best take a good book with you.


Currently, even a fast-charging car would have to sit by a plug for at least two hours to get the same 500 kilometres. Trust me, I am good at maths, and you can forget the promise of a 20-minute charge for a 400 kilometre ride from my old friends over at Porsche; that would require getting about 2,400 kilowatts into your car and the sort of heat that would be generated would melt anything other than liquid-cooled charging cables. So, forget the self-service station as these babies are going to be manned and very expensive, to the tune of about half a million each at current prices, so a charge station of twelve electric ‘pumps’, like the gas station I was in earlier, would be setting me back 6 million—that is if I only want 36 customers per hour. So, boys and girls, where are we going to find that money?

Okay, how about this one—in the UK and Sweden, about 60% of the cost of fuel is subject to either tax or VAT (GST). In Europe, Bulgaria has the lowest rate at 45 percent. What happens when they ban fossil fuel? Where will they possibly go then to collect so very much money, all GBP30 billion per annum of it. For sure, there is tax on electricity, about 5 percent, across most European countries, but if you are canny enough to be wearing those hemp-trousers, perhaps you would have gotten yourself a little windmill or solar array and won’t be paying big government one brass farthing for your energy needs. Big government has failed to consider this in its entirety. The UK, for example, has pledged a mere GBP600 million by 2020, about enough to build 100 of the new electric filling stations that will be needed in the UK, but there are currently about 9,000 petrol stations.

This is going to hurt.


newimages: Nissan; inhabitat.com; drivespark.com


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