The electric vehicle hoax

Features Australia

Who dares speak the truth?

Judith Sloan

Getty Images

Judith Sloan

28 January 2023

9:00 AM

Let’s face it, most motoring journalists are a low form of plant life, but it’s still depressing to witness how they have been captured by the various interests associated with electric vehicles. Of course, the investor/government relations departments of EV manufacturers have been working flat out for the past several years and motoring journalists are a very easy target.

But the fact that a major blooper could make its way into Australia’s mainstream media is telling. The headline screamed that Tesla is now Australia’s largest-selling car. OK, it’s Australia’s largest-selling car within the category of mid-size sedans which no one really buys these days. It even outsold Toyota’s shunned Camry, although Toyota is the largest-selling car maker overall.

Just take a look at the figures. Tesla sold just under 11,000 vehicles in 2022 out of 1.1 million in total. That’s right, Tesla accounted for 1 per cent of all sales. (Electric vehicles in total accounted for only 2 per cent of all sales.) It didn’t rank in the top 10, 20 or 30 of the top-selling cars but, hey, when the PR urgers push a line, does it really surprise anyone that this line about Tesla being the highest-selling car is regurgitated by the press?

Offsetting this piece of editorial chicanery was the news that the summer holidays saw very long queues at EV charging stations across the country, with some car owners having to wait up to 90 minutes simply to access a device. Needless to say, tensions were running high at these locations.

But fear not, the Guardian could see through the wasted time, the frustration – just think about a hot day with toddlers in the back seat – and report the good news about the queueing. Important information was being gleaned so government money could be directed to installing more charging stations where they are needed. Depressingly, the Perrottet government has announced funding for 1,000 more charging stations.

From time to time, a story mysteriously appears about the struggles faced by EV drivers getting from A to B, particularly when there is a fair distance between them. Charging devices that are out of order, charging devices that don’t meet the specified charging times and now surge pricing are common complaints.

One story that appeared in the US press described the nightmare return trip between New Orleans and Chicago, with the author renting an electric vehicle and taking along a buddy. (Could be an ex-buddy now.) With military precision, the author had mapped out her route on the basis of the need to charge and the availability of charging outlets. (Does anyone do this for a normal car trip leaving aside filling up the tank, which takes five minutes, tops?)

One charging disaster after another, including multiple stops, multiple cups of coffee and snacks, and they returned to New Orleans without sleeping because of the need to get back by a certain date. The really amazing part was that this well-written and amusing story was ever published.

It has been estimated that in California, the home of EVs with its disproportionate number of wealthy, virtue-signalling residents, around one-third of the public fast-charging devices are out of order at any one time. Most EV owners, who also often have a petrol/diesel car as well, charge at home. But recently, the state government instructed EV owners to refrain from charging their vehicles at home because of problems with the electricity grid. So much for the message: electrify everything to combat climate change.

In the UK, EV drivers are now being hit with peak-time prices for charging at certain times of the day. Rather than the standard 45 pence per kilowatt hour, drivers are now being charged 75 pence between 4pm and 7pm. Can you imagine the ballyhoo were petrol stations to increase prices by 75 per cent at certain times of the day? At this higher electricity price, it’s now much cheaper to run a petrol/diesel car on a day-to-day basis.

The evidence is also clear that EVs are only of environmental benefit after they have been driven for some time – perhaps as much as 100,000 kilometers. This is because the manufacture of EVs is much more emissions-intensive than normal cars. Indeed, it has been estimated that EVs require six times more mining than other vehicles.

One secret that the EV manufacturers are keeping very close to their chests is the expected life of the batteries and the cost of replacing them. It well known that the efficiency of batteries declines over time – think here of your mobile phone battery. But if replacement batteries cost several tens of thousands of dollars, it significantly alters the economic case for buying an EV in the first place.

None of this information appears to make the least impression on the thinking of progressive politicians and their determination to push EVs onto the roads. This involves a range of subsidies, including cash handouts, tax exemptions, access to restricted lanes, exemptions from tolls and the like. In the US, for instance, there are both state and federal subsidies for the purchase of EVs, although they are largely confined to ones made in the US by unionised workers. (A bit of protection, anyone?)

You don’t need an economics degree to understand that if you subsidise something you get more of it. But there are limits. It’s why a number of governments have foreshadowed the banning of petrol/diesel cars at some point in the future.

The trouble is that EVs are just so damn inconvenient for many drivers and this will have to be taken into account when the politicians eventually press the nuclear-equivalent button of banning the sale of petrol/diesel cars. Sure, EVs are fine for those who tootle around cities and can make sense for short-haul delivery services and taxis/Ubers. But for people living in rural and regional settings, even outer suburbs – and they vote, by the way – they make very little sense. EVs are particularly hopeless for towing.

It’s interesting to watch the current president of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda, express reservations about EVs even as his company seeks to be sensitive to climate considerations. (Toyota has gone long on hybrid cars which the EV lobbyists detest.) Using understated language, he is essentially posing the question: will most customers really want to buy an EV? As most of the large car companies go hell for leather replacing the manufacture of all petrol/diesel cars with EVs, it’s a question worth answering.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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