Electric cars – Betamax or VHS?

Our ‘silver fox’ readers will remember the battle in the 1970’s and 1980’s to be the dominant video format. Despite being a better product with better visual quality, Betamax lost the battle to VHS and the rest is history.

I believe this story is analogous to finding the likely winners and losers in the race to develop vehicles, technology and fuels that can reduce the reliance upon fossil fuel and the resulting CO2 emissions. My feeling is that the unintended consequence of the messianic cry for electricity will be that the internal combustion engine actually increases in popularity due to the development of game changing technologies that assure their role on our roads for centuries to come.

100% electric cars will prove to be the Betamax of automotive. Notice here I reference passenger cars. Electric Vehicles (EV’s) are nothing new, they’ve been with us for decades – anybody remember the milk bottle delivery vehicles used in the 1960’s and 1970’s – full electric even then! And here’s the rub, I’m not against EV’s per se where they make sense and I’m a card carrying believer in the harm greenhouse gases create for our environment. 

This is no Trump style rant claiming the 2016 Paris Accord is much ado about nothing. I’m simply not convinced that electric cars offer even a scintilla of sense for most every day motorists.  

My prediction is that full EV’s will move to obsolescence well before the deadlines installed by Governments prohibit the sale of pure petrol or diesel cars (Norway 2025, UK, Germany, India & Sweden in 2030)

So, I guess I better account for myself now! Let’s get into my top 13 reasons explaining why I believe electric cars are dead before they’ve even got fully charged: 

1. To suggest that the current electric cars reduce Co2 emissions is patently madness. Polestar, a leading EV manufacturer states that one of its products (The Polestar 2) would need to run for 78,000 km before it’s total carbon footprint is smaller than a Volvo XC40 diesel. Plus, the manufacture of electric vehicles creates over 60% more Co2 than petrol or diesel equivalents.  

2. The cost of R&D & ‘emperor’s new clothes’ profiteering ensures that the price of EV’s is far too high for most average household pockets even after government subsidies – try this one for size; one of the UK’s most popular 5 door family SUV cars, a Nissan Quashqai can be had for £23k whereas even the smallest Renault Zoe 3 door hatchback EV is £27k+ & if you want a bit of performance from a prestige marque you will be asked for over £84k for a Porsche Taycan    

3. Oh and when you need your batteries to be replaced because they’ve stopped accepting charge – get ready for taking a new mortgage out to pay for the new ones  

4. Most city based or apartment dwellers don’t have access to an electric connection for their car so overnight charging isn’t possible which means even a short journey becomes a problem & a need to plan every journey becomes an unwelcome necessity      

5. The infrastructure of charging points on Europe’s road networks would need tens of billions invested every year to stand a chance of solving the issue facing many middle aged men right now….range anxiety. Given the state of the world after 2020, where is that money going to come from?    

6. It currently takes between 45 minutes to over 4 hours to recharge your electric car depending upon which type of roadside charger you have access to & can take 12-17 hours at home – and only 2% of charging points on European roads right now are of the super-fast variety – oh and even 45mins to sit in a cold dark car park and charge my car – are you kidding me! 

7. And you still pay to fill up your car – which when using roadside electricity is pretty much as expensive as petrol 

8. Synthetic fuels are developing just as fast as battery powered technology & whilst they may never quite manage zero Co2 at the tail pipe will certainly offer zero Co2 manufacturing processes   

9. Synthetic fuels can be pumped into your car in a couple of minutes using the same gas station infrastructure that already exists for petrol and diesel 

10. The weight of a vehicle carrying batteries – at last 300kg extra, makes for generally much heavier cars than their combustion engine brethren. Heavy means more power needed to propel which means faster to run out of charge which means we need more charge and so the costs mount up 

11. What happens to the batteries when they’re spent – will this be emission compliant? 

12. Emissions standards have already evolved enormously & will continue to do so making the need for EV’s obsolete      

13. How is electricity created in the first place….and the manufacturing of batteries and cars is emission free is it? You get the idea…  

So what might we have in place of EV passenger cars. I see a twin market – hybrids and internal combustion cars using synthetic fuels with minimal emissions. Around the edge of that may be some full EVs as mules to develop technologies for hybrids.       

And what will happen to the Teslamillionaires created this year – well, if there was ever an entrepreneur who can pivot a business – it’s Mr Musk – but even he has the mother of jobs on his hands to move an EV only platform to a hybrid and synthetic fuel offering. That said, don’t write him off because what he’s created is the Apple of automotive & that affords him a lot of space to innovate and plenty of Tesla fanboys & girls who will buy any old product coming out of Palo Alto.   

Last but not least, I better come clean, I’m a petrolhead and so it would be a tragedy to lose the sound, the emotion, the smell, the ease & the history of the internal combustion engine. For those of you not convinced, go to YouTube – search to listen to Fernando Alonso testing a Renault V10 a few weeks ago and tell me that isn’t as sweet music as Mozart ever created.     

By the way what do you think? If something I wrote resonates with you, please like & share, it really does help me and encourages the creation of more content just like this. 

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