Keeping the faith on EVs not always easy

faitheditors-blog-entry3Lord knows, there are plenty of EV advocates who’ve been electric car advocates for way more than three years, which is how long I’ve been at it. Try decades, maybe even three decades in some cases.

I admire their tenacity and patience, because, frankly, it’s not always easy to keep the faith.

First, there are plenty of people, many with plenty of money, who work relentlessly to denigrate EVs. Add that to the fact that EVs are a difficult sell – except to a relatively small, but admittedly eager, percentage of the population — and the whole EV advocacy gig can get a bit discouraging.

Things tend to look even a bit more gloomy when you, yourself, don’t have an EV. And, in fact, we, ourselves, won’t be getting an EV for more than two years due to admittedly very unusual circumstances. Being an EV advocate is a lot more fun when you actually have an EV to drive and advocate with. I’m pretty sure most EV advocates would agree with me on this.

Finally, there’s a constant stream of bad, negative and discouraging news about EVs.

Here are three discouraging EV stories from just this past week –>

  • leaf-ugly-side$51,000 Nissan LEAF in Australia: The Australian government is offering no tax credits, rebates or other incentives for the LEAF. This means folks down under who want to drive one will have to, as we say, up here in the U.S., pony up an absurd amount of money for a LEAF. Sure, some Aussies have the money, and will pony up. But the vast majority don’t – and won’t. And who can blame them? I wouldn’t pay $51,000 U.S. dollars for a Nissan LEAF. Couldn’t afford to. And I’m certain a large percentage of current American LEAF owners wouldn’t/couldn’t afford to fork over that amount for a LEAF. Which just goes to show you, without significant government support, EVs are dead in the water, to use another American cliché. Yes, I’m fully aware that if the cost of gasoline cars reflected the significant “external” costs that they incur, we’d have a more even playing field. But I – and most of you – won’t be around on this earth long enough to see an economic system in which the true costs of items such as automobiles, coal, oil, fast food – it’s a very long list – comes into being, if, indeed, humanity ever gets to this point at all.
  • german-flagSlow EV sales in Germany: Germany’s got a lot more of something the U.S. needs a lot more of : Mainstream folks who are also dedicated environmentalists. It’s no coincidence, for instance, that Germany has 20 times more solar, per capita, than the U.S., or that it’s the global leader in renewable energy produced electricity. So, you’d think EVs would be doing really well there. Only EVs aren’t doing that well in Germany. According to Deutsche Welle, just a little more than 2,000 new EVs were licensed in Germany last year with just 1,400 added this year. Sure, there are “only” 80 million Germans, compared to more than 300 million Americans, so you would expect the U.S. to have more EV sales. But 3,400 in the past 18 months, and this in the land of widespread solar-charged driving, where there are more than 700,000 rooftop solar systems? It’s definitely not what I would expect, or hope for.
  • nissan-li-ion-battery1Media reports of Nissan LEAF battery loss: No, I’m not talking about another Fox News bash EVs story. A recent piece by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield for Green Car Reports notes that some LEAF owners are reporting battery charging capacity loss, some after having driven their LEAF for just one year and less than 15,000 miles. To be sure, as Gordon-Bloomfield notes, “It’s too early to make any rash conclusions about the Leaf’s battery pack either, since data has yet to be gathered on all the battery capacity loss cases.” On the other hand, this story isn’t exactly a confidence inspirer for me – and I’m a die-hard EV advocate. Imagine what it’s going to look like to the middle-of-the-road auto consumer, much less the EV skeptic. One of my biggest concerns about EVs is how long battery packs will last. Even if the LEAF’s battery pack makes it to eight years or 100,000 miles, then what – how much is it going to cost me to replace the pack? EV advocates tend to gloss over the question of battery pack life and replacement while touting how much less the cost of EV ownership is. That might be true for the people who buy a new car every three, four, heck, even every 8 years. But for people like me, who hold onto cars for 15 or 20 years, the cost of ownership savings on an EV vs. gasoline car comparison might look rather different than the rosy one so often drawn for EVs.
  • tesla-s-modelEPA rates range of Tesla S Model with 85 kWH battery at 265 miles. How, or why, can an EV with 265 miles of range be bad news? No, not because Tesla says the top-of-the-line S Model can go 320 miles and the EPA says 265 miles. In fact, the S Model can, and often will, go 300+ for many people – and it’s irritating to see uninformed news reporting dissing Tesla, Nissan, etc. for supposedly misrepresenting their vehicles by putting forward “inflated” range claims. Of course, range will vary with an EV based on speed, weather conditions such as wind, cold, heat and rain, traffic conditions etc. – just as range, and mileage, vary with every single gasoline car. It’s fantastic news for EVs that an EV can travel more than 300 miles between charging sessions. The bad news is that this EV costs so much. At about $80,000 after the federal tax credit, the top-of-the-line S model isn’t going to be landing in the driveways of average American consumers, with average incomes, any time soon. On the other hand, if enough well-off Americans plunk down $80k for the S Model, eventually the prices will come down, though I can’t imagine that an EV with an S Model 85 kWh battery pack equipped type range will be affordable for at least another decade, and that’s bad news for EVs, not to mention yours truly, who would absolutely love a top-of-the-line S Model some day 😉

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