German Environmentalists Conclude That Gains From Lithium-Ion-Based Electric Cars Are Marginal

by Jack Lifton on May 4, 2009

in Batteries, Hybrids & EVs, News Analysis

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In a surprising turn events, the environmental benefits of electric vehicles are being questioned in Germany, by none other than the green movement!

Working with their blinders on, the activist environmentalist movement has managed to get politicians to waste vast amounts of capital, and even vaster resources of time and human endeavor, on the development of electrified cars using untested battery systems. Using current and reasonably predictable technology electric cars add almost nothing, nothing, to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and cost much more to produce than equivalent internal combustion engine ICE)- powered vehicles intended for the same use!

In a debt burdened world it is a tragic misapplication of brainpower and labor to continue to invest billions of dollars for marginal increases, if any, in movement towards the goal of an electrified global fleet.

Emotion, not logic, is the response of Americans, to the logic of German environmentalists who use science, engineering, and rationalism, to determine that there is little to be gained from continuing to try and find a lithium-ion battery solution to a problem that isn’t a problem.

Lithium-ion battery advocates dream of an electric vehicle (EV) that has the same or superior performance and range as an ICE hydrocarbon-fueled vehicle of the same size, weight, and cargo and passenger capacity.

This is not ever going to happen for a price that makes it commercially attractive.

The solution is to change the problem. In fact if we want to reduce our use of fossil fuels for powering vehicles directly, the answer is to manufacture short range city cars using lead-acid, or lead-carbon-acid, storage batteries, then augment them with long range and good performance vehicles using hybrid, battery-driven electric motors and ICEs, such as the Prius and the Ford Fusion Hybrid. We could finally have a few high performance rich-people’s toys, such as the Tesla, for those who can afford the bouquet of taxes that should surround such vehicles.

Remember that EVs are not suitable for long range hauling of freight or passengers. These functions are best performed by hybrid power plants called diesel electric “trains.” It is, however, far too late in our society to dream of building the connecting infrastructure to allow the trains to deliver freight other than to principal destinations. Perhaps a system consisting of overhead “trolley-type” power lines can be developed so that electric-powered passenger and freight buses can be used to distribute freight to minor destinations. EVs will take people from the trolley or the train to their home without continuous connection to the grid.

What does the above plan portend? It portends a change of attitude on the part of the American people. Expensive, high-powered cars have always been the positional goods of choice in America. It was not uncommon in Detroit, at one time in the not-so-distant past, to see a man driving a car that cost more than his housing.

No matter what, we have to stop wasting money on dead ends and marginally valuable endeavors, although that may be hard for the politicians to do.

The only other option is to lower our standard of living and lower the quality of life for all but the most privileged. That is what is happening now, and that is a recipe for disaster.

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