Government pushing Electric Cars - the next scandal?

  • 18 January 2019
  • 28 replies
  • 14936 views

As I would hope everyone is aware in the past the Labour Government encouraged the purchase of diesel cars via tax advantages both in fuel costs and road tax costs. This was because of the genuine benefit of reduced CO2 emissions but ignored the obvious increase in particulates and perhaps less obvious increase in NO2.

(This is not an anti Labour rant, all politicians are equally bad.)

It should have been obvious to anyone - merely by looking at the exhaust of a diesel car, I have seen some pumping out such thick clouds of filth that you would believe they ran on coal let alone diesel.

The disadvantages of diesel have been obvious for years so I have little sympathy for people who have bought them in the last ten years. Especially as you still see PARENTS parked outside schools with their DIESEL engines running all the time. Scientific reports have also shown that pollution is worse inside rather than outside a car. See https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/12/children-risk-air-pollution-cars-former-uk-chief-scientist-warns

So is the Government making a similar mistake with electric cars?

How so you may ask? After all electric cars are inherently zero emissions. True enough but Electric Vehicles use lithium batteries. As anyone who has a mobile phone or laptop or similar electronic device i.e. everyone knows the LITHIUM batteries in those electronic devices have a finite life span. I would suggest an average of three years but some last a lot less and some last longer.

This means that your very expensive electric car even with a Government subsidy is going to cost you a huge amount after a few years ownership to replace the batteries. We are talking THOUSANDS of pounds per car. Once people realise this the secondhand values are going to plummet - possibly more than is happening currently with diesels.

Does this mean we should stick with petrol or worse diesel cars? Of course not.

What it does mean is that electric cars are at best a very short term fix. The proper fix (in the absence of a radical improvement in battery technology) would be the widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cells. These like electric cars are zero emission, they only emit water. Also unlike electric cars you can refuel in the same time as a traditional petrol, diesel or LPG car, i.e. minutes rather than hours.

Unfortunately all governments consist of technical illiterates. (Typically they are failed lawyers and bankers or worse career politicians.)

Sadly chief executives at both motor manufacturers and oil companies are little if any better. They have taken the 'easy' path and are focussing on electric vehicles. This is particularly stupid on the part of the oil companies. If the oil companies assisted in the take up of hydrogen as a fuel then it would fit extremely well with their existing infrastructure unlike electric charging. They would be able to make hydrogen at 'refineries', distribute in tankers and then sell via former petrol station forecourts. It is not despite what these oil CEOs may think practical to convert petrol stations to electric recharging stations, you would have queues of cars for miles and miles.

(Actually hydrogen might not be made from natural gas which is apparently the current main source but the electrolysis of water potentially from renewable electric sources, see https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-processes )

There is also a second major flaw with the rush to electric vehicles. At least here in the UK and I am sure a fair proportion in other western countries many vehicle owners live either in terraced houses or flats with no off street parking that can reach to their home. This means the only place they could recharge an electric vehicle at is at one of the handful of commercial recharging points. Even in London these are rarer than hens teeth. You also have to pay to park and charge at these points. This then precludes the possibility of using any solar panels on your home to charge your own car. (The proposal to convert lamp posts to charging points is another dead end, there are far fewer lamp posts than cars.)

With hydrogen you just would pop down to your local supermarket, do the shopping and fill up at the neighbouring 'petrol' station.

If as much effort was put in to hydrogen fuel cell technology as has been in to electric vehicles this would all have been sorted by now. All the technical issues for hydrogen fuel cells have been sorted it is merely a matter of getting costs down and building the distribution infrastructure. There are even some cars available in the UK and a few petrol stations that also sell hydrogen. See - https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/buying-and-selling-guides/hydrogen-cars/

Disclaimer: I am not in the motor industry, I have no links to any fuel companies - hydrogen or otherwise.

28 replies

Badge
I think I disagree with everything you said about EVs and Hydrogen :-)

There is very little comparison with laptop and mobile phones. EVs have very sophisticated BMS (battery management software). This is why rapid charging slows down as battery charge fills up to perfectly balance the cells. They tend to get most degradation in year 1 and basically flatline thereafter. I reckon you will have batteries surviving well beyond the mechanical and computer elements of cars and they will be repurposed for energy storage.

Hydrogen replacing petrol using the same model just screams inefficiency and keeping control away from consumers. Hydrogen may have a role in shipping and maybe land freight, especially if we use overspecified renewable energy (to replace the nuclear that is too expensive to build) as a base generation with surplus going to lithium, salt and hydrogen storage.

My twopenneth!

- - - Updated - - -

Also, Tesco and VW are rolling out Pod-Point EV charging big time in those supermarkets, with a mixture of AC and rapid DC. So rather than pop to the fuel station after shopping your car refills whilst you shop. Perfect for those with no domestic charging.

- - - Updated - - -

Possible final point: hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are still EVs. The fuel cells create electricity which flows to batteries to run the motors. Just less batteries then a full BEV.
I certainly don't claim to be a battery expert so bow to your greater knowledge.

I would however say you are wrong to claim all my points are incorrect. It is still the case a lot of houses have no off-street access (mine included). It is still the case recharging takes longer than either petrol or hydrogen refuelling even with rapid charging points. However if Tesco etc. roll out significant numbers of rapid charging points you could use whilst shopping this would be a great help. I wonder though at the practicality of having say 100 rapid charging points at a supermarket. The energy demand would be huge, only having a handful of points would not make any help.
Userlevel 7
Badge +10
He? didn't say your points were incorrect, he said he disagreed with them.

I think it's academic anyway because it's perfectly clear that Hydrogen for now (at least for EV's in the UK but not necessarily for other applications like mass energy storage) has lost the battle to Lithium. (Incidentally if the batteries are changed hopefully much of the Lithium will be recyclable)

I wonder if the recent decision by Hitachi to shelve the Nuclear power plants will nudge the argument back towards Hydrogen, or there had better be some serious investment in renewable energy because the bottleneck is going to be what the grid can supply.

jelockwood;21542:
I certainly don't claim to be a battery expert so bow to your greater knowledge.

I would however say you are wrong to claim all my points are incorrect. It is still the case a lot of houses have no off-street access (mine included). It is still the case recharging takes longer than either petrol or hydrogen refuelling even with rapid charging points. However if Tesco etc. roll out significant numbers of rapid charging points you could use whilst shopping this would be a great help. I wonder though at the practicality of having say 100 rapid charging points at a supermarket. The energy demand would be huge, only having a handful of points would not make any help.
Badge
As woz says. This is a debate, I am not arrogant enough to state my opinions are perfect. Hence why I think hydrogen will have a role once we have so much renewable energy we will need to store and deploy it. The OP position was quite bullish though.

I have a very short range 2011 EV and a long range 2015 EV, so I am the first to admit that infrastructure needs serious growth. Getting power into sites is expensive, but actually once sub-stations are in place you can get some crazy power supply in. Big supermarkets already have massive supplies so they are surprisingly logical. Motorway services are actually a bit more difficult.

Living with EVs changes one's perception. I used to believe the hype of hydrogen, but now see it the same as fusion - a pipe dream, but great once its time finally comes. Battery EVs are not that technologically revolutionary: just improved battery density and infrastructure for those that need it. Electricity will come from the grid and domestic solar. On the other hand hydrogen will be a separate economic production proposition just like oil/petrol/diesel.

Interesting times. If the govt can get onshore and offshore wind to produce many more gWs then in 20 yrs time we will have great choices. In the meantime incentives for cleaner vehicles sits well with me - it worked well with solar and that stands on its own feet now.

- - - Updated - - -

Also, I strongly agree with the OP position on diesel particulates in cities etc. My local primary school has a minibus that sits there spewing out fumes keeping itself warm waiting for school to finish!
Userlevel 7
Badge +10
Contact the school and ask them to ask the minibus company politely to desist (unless it's sub zero where there may be a case for keeping it warm) and point THIS out.
Brunel;21558:
....

- - - Updated - - -

Also, I strongly agree with the OP position on diesel particulates in cities etc. My local primary school has a minibus that sits there spewing out fumes keeping itself warm waiting for school to finish!
Badge
I think a mixture of technologies are going to battle for the holy grail of providing eco friendly transport, interesting times.
Going from that Rac article the fuel cell cars are very very expensive and one comment suggested it takes 55kwh to produce 1kg of hydrogen via electrolysis. That will power one of the cars 60 miles ish. This doesn’t compare terribly well with my leaf which would do 200-250miles on that same amount of energy.
Hydrogen will work for some but very few at the moment, just as Bevs don’t work for lots of people with no easy home charging access. Costs and infrastructure need to improve for both but right now Bev are a practical solution for lots of folk.
Badge
A lot of people have houses that would not lend kindly to at home charging - most terraced houses with no front gardens and all those blocks of flats to name 2 types immediately. So for a lot of people to be really serious about having an EV, there needs to be other default ways to charge.

Surely it would be far better to have infrastructure that allows for charging AS YOU DRIVE. Not quite Scalextric style, but there is technology out there that allows cars to charge as you drive along the road. It would seem to make sense to have this technology implemented in motorways or major A roads as that would then also take range anxiety out of the equation.

Most car journeys made in the UK don't actually need the range touted by the latest EVs, people are just too tied to the thought of "oh but what if I need to jump in the car and drive over 200 miles...."
Brunel;21500:


There is very little comparison with laptop and mobile phones. EVs have very sophisticated BMS (battery management software). This is why rapid charging slows down as battery charge fills up to perfectly balance the cells. They tend to get most degradation in year 1 and basically flatline thereafter. I reckon you will have batteries surviving well beyond the mechanical and computer elements of cars and they will be repurposed for energy storage.


Based on this weekends TopGear episode which concentrated on Electric Cars, the bog standard Nissan Leaf driven by Paddy McGuinness had a terrible battery life reflecting my concern over EV car batteries dying well within the normal expected lifespan of a car. Either this would mean the owner would have to scrap the entire car to get a new one with normal mileage or to swap out at great expense the entire battery module.

Note: Even 'normal' EV mileage is still poor.
Userlevel 7
Badge +10
Battery life or mileage?
How did TG run it for long enought to assess life? Shouldn't it be in years not months?
There are companies springing up who refurbish the batteries.
jelockwood;31939:
Based on this weekends TopGear episode which concentrated on Electric Cars, the bog standard Nissan Leaf driven by Paddy McGuinness had a terrible battery life reflecting my concern over EV car batteries dying well within the normal expected lifespan of a car. Either this would mean the owner would have to scrap the entire car to get a new one with normal mileage or to swap out at great expense the entire battery module.

Note: Even 'normal' EV mileage is still poor.
@woz
You can view the episode on BBC iPlayer.

It was an old Nissan Leaf from several years ago, the usual silly TopGear test was against two DIY electric vehicles 'built' by the other two presenters. One used batteries from a Tesla fitted in a Subaru pickup, the other batteries from a BMW i3 in a Triumph Spitfire. In both these cases one can assume the batteries were fairly new unlike the Leaf.

The comparison was mileage but my point is that batteries have a shortish lifespan compared to that of a car.
Userlevel 7
Badge +8
Jenam93;22092:


Most car journeys made in the UK don't actually need the range touted by the latest EVs, people are just too tied to the thought of "oh but what if I need to jump in the car and drive over 200 miles...."


While I don't usually do 200 mile journeys, I recently had to take my son to the venue in the Lake District where he will be holding his wedding. After picking him up from Manchester I then drove to the venue, had the meeting and was on the move again approx 2 hours later. Returning I called at a service station where there were a few occupied charging points, coming out again about 3/4 hour later those same cars were in the bays
After dropping my son in Manchester I returned home, a total of 348 miles. It would not be possible in an EV, and I have to do it again in a few weeks for the event.
An EV in this situation is clearly not suitable.
Badge
jelockwood;31939:
Based on this weekends TopGear episode which concentrated on Electric Cars, the bog standard Nissan Leaf driven by Paddy McGuinness had a terrible battery life reflecting my concern over EV car batteries dying well within the normal expected lifespan of a car. Either this would mean the owner would have to scrap the entire car to get a new one with normal mileage or to swap out at great expense the entire battery module.

Note: Even 'normal' EV mileage is still poor.


It is an entertainment program. They bought a knackered EV and drove it in crazy races. The EV specialists mentioned on Twitter that they did the 2 conversions and recommended a newer Nissan Leaf, but TopGear had a very small budget. That said it is common knowledge that the Nissan Leaf from 2011 had basic batteries compared to today. No heat pump, poor cooling and the range remaining gauge is known as a guessometer that would tend to give many more miles than it suggested.

Fear is fed by these programs, but my 2011 Leaf has lost 20% of its battery range only.

I look forward to when you feel comfortable getting an EV, but would hate you to miss out on too many years enjoyment. Best bit for me is that I bought my Leaf for £9k in 2014 and even WBAC are offering over £5k for it now. With the dirt cheap electric it has been a great business case.
Userlevel 7
Badge +10
ahhh ok thanks, never jeopardise a good program with the facts then..
jelockwood;31945:
@woz
You can view the episode on BBC iPlayer.

It was an old Nissan Leaf from several years ago, the usual silly TopGear test was against two DIY electric vehicles 'built' by the other two presenters. One used batteries from a Tesla fitted in a Subaru pickup, the other batteries from a BMW i3 in a Triumph Spitfire. In both these cases one can assume the batteries were fairly new unlike the Leaf.

The comparison was mileage but my point is that batteries have a shortish lifespan compared to that of a car.
Userlevel 7
Badge +9
Thats weird. I actually saw TG last night and i have to say i have not seen a show so biased against EVs. Crazy cheap cars botched together for next to no money, i dont recall hearing how much they spent. You cant convert a car to an EV cheaply its simply not possible, the scooby still had the petrol engine in it so im guesding so did the triumph.that will help the range fail miserably.
Then they tested the tesla model 3 and just as i was thinking praise for it would be upcoming they stick it on s track to do things 99.999999% of cars will never do and proceed to criticise how its not as good ss a high end petrol on cornering,grip etc.etc.
I have been reminded why TG show is no longer a relavent show.
Yes I agree they are clearly biased although I got the impression even though it was a knackered Leaf it still overall beat their DIY ones - other than for range.

My biggest problem with EV is that in London at least home charging for most people is an impossibility due to the lack of off-street parking.

I would have otherwise considered buying a Tesla 3 and already intend to get a Tesla Powerwall and Solar roof tiles.

With the inability to charge outside my house EV are as far as I am concerned a complete dead-end and Hydrogen is the logical solution.

PS. I have not heard of any changes yet but as the government recently scrapped the solar panel incentives they might equally foolishly also scrap the EV incentives. 😞
Badge
Interesting fact about the generation 1 Leaf is that the inefficiency is compounded by a motor that was more powerful than needed. They dipped their toe in and learned, so future UK built Leafs are actually slower 0-60 than the Japanese built 2011 ones! Fast acceleration has a massive impact in battery usage because physics! Still amazes me that my Tesla will pull >350kW full throttle but will happily cruise at 20kW or less.
Userlevel 7
Badge +9
Yes i agree on the hydrogen front and in the long term it may match or even replace electric as the main transport source. Myself i think a small range of cars will go hydrogen but buses,lorries,vans will be mainly hydrogen once the petrol stations start to give a serious rollout nationwide of hydrogen pumps.
I think the government should also be pushing technology to convert legacy diesel cars to harmless exhaust fumes. AdBlue is already being used but people don't know about it.

A lot of people in this country do not lease their car and do not change their car every 3/4 years. There will still be these diesel cars on the road for a number of years to come. Wouldn't it be great to encourage the technology to stop the dangerous nitrogen dioxide being chugged out until the natural "death" of the diesel car.
Userlevel 7
Badge +8
I’ve just watched an article on the first electric ice cream van 👍😂🍦🍦🍦. From Nissan. Looked pretty cool and instead of that hideous Greensleeves alert or whatever tune it plays, it’s now a silent tweet to parents showing its exact location 👍👍👍👍👏👏👏👏😂
Userlevel 7
Badge +8
Hi Ange
The technology does exist, I have no idea if cost but I don't think it would be cheap
https://www.greencarcongress.com/2017/08/20170830-amminex.html
Userlevel 7
Badge +9
Lots of those vans selling coldish gunk, sadly not ice cream. Thats my moan over for an hour or 2.
Userlevel 7
Badge +8
Oh this one was working with a top ice cream manufacturer, and they looked gorgeous ice creams. I’m not a fan of 🍦🍦🍦anyway but good to see moving to electric.

Liking these pink shaded headers at top of each thread to show most FAQ 👍👍👍👍👍btw.
Userlevel 7
Badge +10
What a shame, I'll so miss that hideous distorted 100 decibel rendition of the Match of the Day theme tune
So much so that I've decided to share it with you all
https://youtu.be/9fqnEhSEjHc?list=PLao1hfNDIPnpR8aPeYDiCuDmvZe-KkaD3&t=2
Bev;32097:
I’ve just watched an article on the first electric ice cream van ����������������
Hydrogren-powered vehicles output water vapour, which is actually a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and would be discharged in vast quantities in urban centres if these vehicles gained a critical mass uptake. Clouds over cities tend to mean rain too through precipitation. Perhaps the water vapour can be condensed, captured and re-purposed in the home between journeys. Who knows. Anyway, another issue is that a lot of is energy required to separate water into its constituent parts of hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis. That said, a lot of rare earth minerals are required to be mined and thus a lot of energy is required to manufacture the batteries required for EVs so neither option is perfect.
@Duppy Putting cost aside, as new EVs although more affordable for some are still out of budget for others, 348 miles does not pose an issue for the current crop of EVs. I got mine a year ago with motors and battery tech from 2017, I could not afford the bigger battery last year (could do if I were to buy this year) but 348 miles is easily possible the way you describe. For the current crop of EVs this is no more than one charge (a few could get close to doing this with no charge) Charging time could be a lunch break, or 2 hours while you had your meeting, a couple of toilet stops instead (assuming fast enough chargers). Admittedly it takes a little more planning than just stopping a fuel station but all easily done. On recent road trip in EV did that kind of mileage several days in a row.

Reply