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By Robert Rapier on Jul 29, 2016 with 263 responses

Why I Am Skeptical Of Electric Vehicles


Before you start furiously typing out a retort, hear me out. First, I want to make it clear what I am not skeptical about. I am not skeptical about electric vehicles (EVs) continuing to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future. Indeed, I believe that will happen — although growth has slowed in the U.S. in recent years.

I am also not skeptical over the fact that EVs make sense for many people. Indeed, I would buy one myself if I could justify it economically. I have only put about 5,000 miles on my car in the past 2 years, so it’s hard to justify any sort of premium that could be paid off by fuel savings.

I am also not skeptical that EVs will get cheaper, and that improvements in batteries will extend their range. I believe tomorrow’s EV will be much better than today’s.

So far, so good. On these three points, I am on the same page with the most rabid EV enthusiast. But I am extremely skeptical about one thing.

I am skeptical that EVs are going to make any dent in our oil consumption in the foreseeable future.

Let me explain why by first examining global crude oil demand growth over the past three decades. In the 32 years since 1984, global crude oil demand has increased by 36 million barrels per day (bpd) – an average annual increase of 1.1 million bpd per year:

Global Crude Demand

Year-over-year crude oil demand declined in only 3 of those 32 years, and in each case bounced back to the historical growth rate very quickly. Further, the average annual increase since 2010 has been well above the historical average at more than 1.5 million bpd per year.

Of course that’s history, which merely gives us an indication that the long-term trends for oil consumption have been up for a long time. The reason they continue to grow is that growth is being driven by developing countries. Demand in developed countries has been falling (although U.S. gasoline demand is at a record high this year). But that graph admittedly doesn’t necessarily tell us about the future. So we have to look for examples that may give some insight into the future.

I first give you Norway. Following years of very generous subsidies for EVs, Norway has the largest fleet of plug-in EVs per capita in the world. Norway’s growth rate for EVs has been higher than that of any other country, averaging an amazing 110% per year for the past seven years:


One would expect a decline in Norway’s oil consumption given those trends. After all, Norway is surrounded by members of the European Union (EU), where demand for oil since 2008 is down 14% (primarily in response to much higher oil prices). Nearby countries like Denmark (-14%), Sweden (-16%), and Finland (-21%) all had big declines.

But not Norway. Norway’s consumption has trended slightly higher while all the countries around it experienced double-digit declines in petroleum demand since 2008.


Some may immediately note that Norway’s consumption has been relatively flat for several years, but keep in mind that demand was declining across the developed world in response to $100/bbl oil. So what happened in Norway? Shouldn’t demand there have declined at least as much as in countries that didn’t have explosive EV growth?

The reason the huge growth in electric vehicles didn’t translate into a reduction in demand in Norway is because it is set against a backdrop of a rising population and a growing fleet of vehicles on the roads (as is the case worldwide). The problem is that the conventional car fleet is adding cars faster than EVs are adding cars:


Also important to note that Norway is adding a lot of diesel engines to the fleet, another factor that helps explain the flattening in their oil demand. But, as the graph shows since 2008 they added about 300,000 diesel and gasoline cars to the roads, but despite the explosive growth in EVs the total over the same time period is only about 80,000 cars. And Norway’s explosive EV growth rate is starting to slow as the country scales back its generous subsidies.

Consider that in the U.S., from 2014 to 2015, new car sales of conventional internal combustion vehicles increased from 16.5 million to 17.5 million. Yet EV sales in the U.S. actually decreased from 122,438 to 116,099. In other words, they have a very long way to go to even dent the growth in conventional new car sales, much less make an actual reduction in the fleet.

This is essentially the problem with most projections that assume that EVs will soon take a big bite out of oil consumption. The world currently consumes over 90 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil. That number is growing by more than 1 million bpd each year, yet most projections fail to account for this growth that is due to growing population, more people driving, etc. Like what happened in Norway. A recent Bloomberg article made this very mistake by assuming that fantastic growth rates in EVs could globally displace 2 million bpd by 2023, and that could crash oil prices. The only problem is that even in the unlikely event that EVs displaced 2 million bpd of petroleum demand by 2023, then global crude oil demand may only be 5 million bpd higher than it is today instead of 7. They assumed it would be 2 million bpd lower than today, again ignoring growth (and the reasons for that growth).

In any case, according to data at Inside EVs, in the U.S. 2016 EV sales year-to-date (YTD) are only about 16% higher than YTD sales a year ago. That would project to maybe an additional 20,000 EVs sold in the U.S. to reach nearly 140,000 for the year. Again, that’s against the backdrop of 2015 sales of 17.5 million conventional cars, which was up a million cars from the previous year.

Globally, EV sales are running 43% ahead of last year’s pace. That’s far behind Norway’s blistering pace that failed to reduce oil consumption, and well behind the 60% growth rate assumed by the Bloomberg article to cause a 2 million bpd drop in demand by 2023. If they assumed a lower growth rate of 45% — still unreasonably high in my view — they don’t impact 2 million bpd of demand until 2028. That’s another 5 years of demand growth for oil, but also importantly another 5 years of depletion of existing fields. Oil demand won’t continue to grow forever, because ultimately depletion will catch up and force prices much higher. In that case, what will happen isn’t the price crash that Bloomberg predicted, it’s the exact opposite.

We certainly need EVs, but I haven’t seen anyone put together a credible mathematical case that they will even arrest the growth in oil demand over the next decade. Inevitably, they rely on faulty assumptions of fantastic EV growth rates and zero growth for oil — which is contrary to our observations. That’s why I am skeptical. If you project out far enough then indeed you can see EVs making a dent, but that’s far further into the future than proponents like to admit, and oil prices are likely to be much higher — not lower — when that happens.

Link to Original Article: Why I Am Skeptical Of Electric Vehicles

Follow Robert Rapier on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or at Forbes.

  1. By S Morris on July 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Clever but the issue is not if EVs (I don’t own one, not planning to) curb global oil demand, but if the millions of drivers adopting EVs over gas vehicles will significantly lessen oil consumption than if those millions of drivers had all purchased a gas vehicle instead.

    • By Tikaro on July 29, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      But that is exactly how EV’s would have to curb global oil demand – by replacing fuel consumers with electricity consumers.

      The article simply makes the case that the RATE of replacement will remain less than the increase in the number of cars and drivers due to demographics.

      • By GregS on July 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm

        My gut feeling is that sales of EVs, PHEVs and just plain old hybrids will increase at a much faster rate than many will believe possible. However as Robert pointed out, it will take a huge amount to make a meaningful difference

      • By S Morris on July 29, 2016 at 5:33 pm

        These EV consumers will still be reducing the total amount of oil needed by their choice of EVs vs gas cars. I agree that the total amount now, and in the near future, is a drop in the bucket, but technology tends to accelerate faster than we can predict. Factor in the lack of a transmission and dramatically lower maintenance costs, cheaper batteries, extended storage, etc., the EV 5-10 years from now will be a lot more compelling case.

      • By Dude Dude on July 29, 2016 at 8:57 pm

        The author should have considered gasoline consumption now vs as EV’s are added. That would have made sense. Of course people will continue to buy fossil fuels, if demand goes down because of fewer gasoline vehicles, other people will pick up the slack due to cheaper oil prices. It’s a no brainer and one of the fundamental laws of economics, supply and demand.

        • By Robert Rapier on July 30, 2016 at 12:51 am

          I put a link in showing that U.S. gasoline consumption this year is at an all-time record high.

    • By Robert Rapier on July 29, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      “but if the millions of drivers adopting EVs over gas vehicles will significantly lessen oil consumption”

      That was the whole point. It requires astronomical growth rates to even materially cut into the growth rate for oil consumption, much less actually reduce it.

      • By Dude Dude on July 29, 2016 at 8:56 pm

        Not in the USA. Our oil consumption isn’t really going up that fast. We can’t control how fast India/China/southeast Asia are growing. This particular author throws in information about the world at large instead of just considering the USA, which would make his charts look really bad on oil consumption growth if EV vehicles continue an exponential growth rate.

        • By Robert Rapier on July 30, 2016 at 12:50 am

          U.S. gasoline consumption this year is at an all time record high. This despite EVs, biofuels, and higher fuel standards.

  2. By jxxx mxxx on July 29, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    The optimism for EVs dramatically increasing range in the future is emotional not science-based.

    The new, not-yet-for-sale Tesla deliver’s a slight increase in range over a design over 5 years older… and how much of that is due to weight reductions.

    Better batteries are a lot like fusion which as we know is 50 years away and always has been since the 1960s. Every science web-site is filled with new battery discoveries that theoretically could increase range… yet these discoveries never seem to make it into production. The iphone inspired optimism that we live in a continuously improvable technical world is wrong and due to our ability to forge and shrink silicon-based devices – batteries are not silicon. At least not yet.

    The battery we have today is basically the battery we will have 10 years from now

    • By Tikaro on July 29, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      To take the other side of the argument, Tesla claims that the economies of scale of the GigaFactory will reduce battery costs substantially in the next 10 years.

      • By jxxx mxxx on July 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

        I don’t disagree with you all. But cheaper price is not the same as greater range. A gold cart is cheaper than a Camry. Which one would you commute in. My Mazda get 450 miles between 3 minute fill-ups and cost 15k in 2008. Why would I pay 30K for a Tesla Model 3 that gets 215 miles and takes 6 hours to charge? Hint: I wouldn’t.

        • By GregS on July 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm

          Yeah but the Tesla doesn’t take 6 hours to charge.
          Also many with access to charging will start off each day with a full tank.

          • By Ernie Musicman on July 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm

            That may be true, but I’ll race any Tesla on the road to Orlando from Atlanta for pink slips, and I’ll drive a ’68 Beetle…

            • By CMCNestT . on July 29, 2016 at 6:31 pm

              That is important since millions of Americans race from Orlando to Atlanta everyday.

        • By Michael O on July 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

          Enjoy driving your Mazda. You must be driving three or four hundred miles a day to make it necessary to have a car with that kind of range. It generally takes zero extra time to charge an EV since it sits in the driveway overnight anyway. Oh, I lied. It takes about 6 seconds to plug it in and other 5 seconds to unplug it. So, 11 seconds extra. Wow, that’ll ruin your day.

          • By getitright on July 29, 2016 at 11:40 pm

            It generally takes zero extra time to charge an EV since it sits in the driveway overnight anyway
            So lets see you plug it in your driveway when you are out on the freeway away from home, goofus.
            What you are suggesting is that you Tesla is great sitting in the driveway.

            • By Michael O on July 30, 2016 at 1:47 am

              Who you calling goofus, goofus? Sound like you’re the troll on this thread, not me. If you need to drive 450 miles a day then obviously don’t get an EV. Even in rural areas 95% of trips are less than 50 miles. My EV gets about 120 miles on a charge and I’ve needed to use a gas car exactly once in the last year. Once. Sounds like you might forget to charge an EV and would get stuck on the highway with it, so don’t get one. I don’t forget to plug mine in.

            • By flagcollector on July 30, 2016 at 9:18 am

              Yes and in few years, when you need to make that one long trip, a rented self-driving gas car will show up by itself to take you on the long haul legs, to a rental depot where you will jump back into a self driving EV for the weeks vacation.

          • By jxxx mxxx on July 30, 2016 at 8:50 am

            I travel that distance/day once per quarter and don’t want to rent-a-car or overnight just to charge a battery.

            My sons friend has a Leaf, they got in late, he plugged it in, the woke up, the fuse had blown, their day’s plans were ruined. Which car do you have (and tell the truth!)

            btw: research shows most people (75%) who trade in an electric trade it for a gas car. That tells me there is a lot of range anxiety out there

            • By GregS on July 30, 2016 at 10:04 am

              That tells me as lot of people were disappointed with 80 mile range and went back to gas. When they have access to 200+ mile range they will probably come back

          • By delphi23 on August 14, 2016 at 10:36 am

            That’s great, as long as the Tesla owner has a house. Most apartments and condos are currently not setup to charge a vehicle in one’s parking space.

    • By Robert Rapier on July 29, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      “The optimism for EVs dramatically increasing range in the future is emotional not science-based.”

      I don’t think it will be dramatic. I think it will be incremental. Batteries have been around a long time. We probably have some improvement based on a wide-scale deployment of EVs, but physics is physics.

      • By jxxx mxxx on July 29, 2016 at 3:39 pm

        physics is physics is exactly my point as in “The author’s range optimism is not grounded in physics”

        • By Robert Rapier on July 29, 2016 at 9:44 pm

          Well I am not saying there will be tremendous breakthroughs in range. Had I called for enormous range increases your criticism would be accurate. I think they will be better, but incrementally better.

    • By mulp on July 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      Are the batteries you use today basically the same batteries you used 10 years ago?

      Lithium batteries 10 years ago are basically the same lithium batteries today.

      Just cheaper and more reliable and more powerful.

      No breakthroughs in the past 10 years, so basically nothing has changed in lithium battery technology in the products you hold in your hand today from what you could have held 10 years ago..

      • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 7:21 am

        The assumption that battery tech is limitless is stupid.

        • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 7:43 am

          Ya, battery tech is slowly improving and research is far off and questionable value. The Giga factory will not be a transforming cost either, just marginal. EV enthusiast falsely think batteries cost impacted is akin to Silicone Valley mass production of the microprocessor. They are not comparable.

          The lithium battery has many environmental shortfalls. It demands strict control of discharge and recharge cycles, temperature control, is extremely heavy for the power potential, and most damming the anemic energy storage. Also, the environmental choice is not that impressive and fails miserably when compared to hybrid vehicle powered on mid level ethanol fuel. Nothing can touch a vehicle operating of E85 fuel or double that if cellulosic ethanol fuel. So, all in all to my thinking the BEV will gain some market share, but I would classify as niche metro 2rd car status . Overall not that important or impressive. The hyperbola is extravagant as compared to the value.

      • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

        mulp, don’t be silly. “Just cheaper”?
        Not only do batteries cost less than 20% of what they cost 10 years they are also twice as power dense. Those are huge improvements.
        Your argument is like saying todays computers are no improvement over the computers we had 10 years ago. Of course todays computers are much better, faster, cheaper than computers made 10 years ago.
        Unless I missed a sarc tag on you post…

    • By JP White on July 29, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      “The new, not-yet-for-sale Tesla deliver’s a slight increase in range over a design over 5 years older… and how much of that is due to weight reductions.”

      The size of the battery may not be much bigger, but the vehcile it will be attached to will be less than half the price of a Model S.

      200 Miles is fine for many. Making those 200 mile cars accessible to the masses is where things change, not the underlying technology.

      • By delphi23 on August 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

        The average person drives 37 miles a day. 200 miles should be fine for a significant majority of people.

        • By jjhman on August 14, 2016 at 1:10 pm

          The cheap EV is here. I leased a Chevy Volt in May. $1500 down and $182/mo for 3 yrs. That’s equivalent to an under $25,000 purchase price. After 1900 miles I have yet to purchase any gas and still have about 3-1/2 gallons in the under 10 gallon tank. I estimate that my gasoline bill has dropped $100/mo. ( We have another car) and my electric bill will increase by less than $50. I routinely get 60 miles out of a charge and the complete charge can be done at off-peak utility rates.

          So maybe I’m not saving the world but I have certainly lowered my carbon foot print, even from the Mini-Cooper I was driving previously.

        • By Jason Szakacs on August 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm

          I don’t disagree that 200 miles will be fine for a lot of people. I do disagree that average daily mileage is the right number on which people will assess their range anxiety. Something like longest trip every 3 months seems more realistic.

    • By Dude Dude on July 29, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      If you need to drive more than 200 miles a day then, yeah an EV probably isn’t for you. But for the rest of us a cheap Tesla, Ford, whatever, under 30k would be awesome, and we would use it. I drive about 20-30 miles a day to work, depending on my work duties that day. Yeah a Tesla would be great and I’ll be happy to buy one when they are price competitive or cheaper than a standard car. No oil changes, no air filters, etc etc. It will be a good day. So while current trends are making up for this, when the EV curve goes exponential in adoption, yeah your charts won’t mean a thing.

      • By jimb82 on July 30, 2016 at 6:03 am

        Right around the corner.

    • By Michael Kirby on July 30, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Perhaps we shouldn’t look at this as a complete replacement for oil.

      It’s simply a supplement. Like a hybrid.

      I used to own a Dodge Durango (16MPG), then I got a toyota Prius (45 MPG), now I own a chevy volt (176 mpg so far)

      In all three cases, I use oil, but it just got a lot more efficient.

      Totally electric cars may be in the future somewhere, but even people who will buy a chevy bolt, or nissan leaf, probably have a gas car also for when they need it.

      I think either the 50 mile range-extender technology (volt), or the 200 mile electric + alternative car (bolt) are both reasonable options for parts of our society.

      Over time costs will come down, greater parts of society will be able to purchase.

      Significant increases in capability are not required


      • By Forrest on July 31, 2016 at 5:42 am

        The problem with your scenario, after the Durango 16 mpg vehicle your gallons of fuel saved with the Prius 45 MPG was major. Past this mileage not much. The extremely high vs high mileage really not impressive fuel savings. The higher mileage has diminishing returns of investment. Meaning the fuel dollars saved is weaker and weaker and can’t justify much expenditure. So, with fuel savings, you could justify much money going to a Prius. Not so much with Volt. Problem is for consumers shopping for best value the Volt costs much more. This is the natural zone for mid and high level blend ethanol fuel to come to the rescue. If plain gasoline becomes less carbon and pollution intensive that would impact all of your transportation choices and do so with cheaper fuel. If you have a high mileage Prius, you could accomplish much more with ethanol blended fuel and do so easily. Europe has a certification for ethanol in which efficient processors must prove the fuel is 60% less carbon intensive as compared to gasoline. Our U.S. ethanol is approaching that benchmark, especially with cellulosic coming on board.

        • By jjhman on August 14, 2016 at 1:12 pm

          At least in California you can buy a Volt for a price equal to or less than a Prius and use a lot less gasoline.

    • By delphi23 on August 14, 2016 at 10:30 am

      I think the majority of households have two cars. The average driver goes 37 miles a day. If a battery only has 60 miles capacity, that would still meet most needs for the second care. I wonder how much range really has to do with further EV adoption. It might just take more choices.

      At this point, anyone in a condo or apartment will have where to plug in their vehicle as the major sticking point.

      • By jjhman on August 14, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        I think government incentives to provide more charging sites would go a long way towards making EVs viable

  3. By Marty Weirick on July 29, 2016 at 1:54 pm


    I’d like to add some builds to your review.

    I agree that plug-in car (EV+ EVER + PHEV) sales to date have not made any real dent in gasoline sales. The total plug-in car parq (active inventory) in the US is now about 450,000 vehicles, less than 1/2 % of the total vechicle inventory.

    I do want to make a couple points.

    First, there a signs the total plug-in sales in the US are going to accelerate quickly, beginning as soon as this year with the introduction new product like the 200 (or more) mile range Chevy Bolt and the small-SUV-sized Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The plug-in vehicle market has been hampered since the introduction of the Chevy Volt in late 2010 by lack of additional, compelling, moderately priced, product. That draught may come to an end by 4th quarter. Some analysts have predicted 2016 plug-in sales may exceed 200,000, predicting a large increase at the end of this year.

    Second, assuming that the many announcements of new Plug-in EVs coming from Tesla, VW, Volvo and many others is at all accurate, the inventory of existing fossil fuel vehicles will still take many years to work off, given the 10 year or more average age of the cars on the road these days.

    On a final note, I think your rational for buying (or not buying) a plug-in vehicle is too narrow. Did you buy you last car based solely on predicted economics? Assuming your car is not a Yugo, then other features probably played a big part of your purchase. Plug-ins have several characteristics that should be considered beyond a marginal cost analysis. In general plug-ins are smoother, quieter, more powerful with instant torque, than similar fossil fuel cars. They can also consume domestic energy while emitting few primary pollutents (even counting for grid losses and power plant emissions.)

    Thanks for the chance to reply. And may I say I miss the Oil Drum?

    Marty Weirick
    South Charleston, WV

    • By AChemPhD on July 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      The Misubishi Outlander PHEV will be interesting. Where I drive, cold and snow are devastating to EVs, in general, and during fierce winter storms they disproportionately represent the stuck vehicles because of low ground clearance and weak batteries.

      • By getitright on July 29, 2016 at 11:57 pm

        Not to mention devastatingly reduced battery range due to excess battery load for heating and defrosting. FF vehicles provide essentially free heat using heat transfer from the power plant, just the heater motor electrical load, but that is a draw because the EV needs that drain as well.

    • By Robert Rapier on July 29, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      There isn’t an EV that can compete with what I paid for my car, unless it’s a golf cart. And I typically only drive 8 miles a day.

      Regarding the rest of the post, if you apply actual numbers to these projections, it will become readily apparent how high the growth rate has to be to make a dent within 10 years. It is unrealistically high.

      • By Michael Michael on July 30, 2016 at 3:35 am

        If you only drive around within a radius of 10 miles from home, it’s going to be easy to charge the vehicle just by plugging in. My Prius Plug-In does just that and gets the equivalent of gasoline for $1.60 per gallon. In this part of the country, gasoline is a lot more expensive than that. Toyota had 300 Priuses drive around a closed course at the former Alameda Naval Air Station last April, and they announced that Fall 2016 (approx. Nov.) the Prius Prime will be on the market with an even larger battery range.

      • By Russ Finley on July 30, 2016 at 11:07 am

        Good point. Extreme heat and cold are a serious weak link with EVs today. Air conditioning on hot days and cold temperatures kill range. I live where temperature is rarely a problem but on especially hot or cold days, I have had to hit the occasional fast charger to do trips that are normally not a problem. I probably would not own an EV if I lived in the Midwest.

  4. By VikingExplorer on July 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Who cares? The goal is not to reduce oil consumption. The goal is economic. My transportation costs have gone down.

    • By Michael H on July 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      By how much per month?

      • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 6:29 am

        My previous monthly budget for gasoline ranged between $200 (@$2/gallon) and $400 (@$4/gallon).

        My Spark payment is only $139/month. gas budget = 0.

    • By Robert Rapier on July 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      That’s not the case for the average commuter, given the average miles traveled. It works in certain cases, but it has to work broadly if it’s going to really take a bite out of conventional car sales.

      • By on July 29, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        With the price of gasoline going down it is the case for the average commuter.

        • By Robert Rapier on July 29, 2016 at 9:42 pm

          That doesn’t make sense. He is saying EVs save him money. They savings will be lower if gasoline prices are lower.

          • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 6:25 am

            Robert, you’re right. With gasoline down to ~$2, the difference is less, but it’s still there. For example, a very efficient Toyota Camry hybrid is equivalent to about 40 cents / kWH. This is typical of ChargePoint and nrg EVgo prices. At home, I’m only paying 11 cents/kWH. IOW, even when my trips are longer, and I have to charge on the go, cash flow wise same as efficient ICE car.

            Now, time is a different factor. It takes about 20 minutes to charge my Chevy Spark. It’s workable.

      • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 6:18 am

        Who cares about taking “a bite out conventional car sales”? If I’m a gourmet cook with a flair for management, should I not start a restaurant because it probably won’t make a dent in McDonalds revenue? You have some sort of weird statist premise that doesn’t make any sense.

        As for “average miles travelled”, EVs generally cost less to drive per mile. That will save money regardless of how far you drive. Longer commutes doesn’t change the savings, it changes the viability and convenience.

        For example, I can’t drive into the central part of PA with my EV. So, the ideal situation is to have both an ICE or hybrid and an EV for shorter trips.

        • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 7:28 pm

          I don’t think Robert has relied on any weird statist premise other than the observation that people live in states, which have policies.

          • By VikingExplorer on August 4, 2016 at 8:45 pm

            Jonathan, you question if there is a statist premise, yet you reference governments… Governments have, and should have absolutely NOTHING to do with the development of, buying and selling electric cars.

            Specifically “Who cares about taking “a bite out conventional car sales”?”. The question stands. Who cares? Society in general, and government in particular do NOT and SHOULD NOT choose which technologies are developed, which products are sold, and which are bought.

            Who would have the goal of “taking “a bite out conventional car sales”? Only a STATIST who believes in pseudo scientific political theories which have no support in either theory or empirical science.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 9:23 pm

              Let’s leave the moral question of “should have” out of it. I do not hope or intend to change your mind.

              Governments, as a simple matter of fact, DO have plenty to do with all manner of things, including provision of roads, regulation of automobile safety and pollution standards, and promotion of industry.

              That’s just a fact. Thank you for your time.

    • By Bullfrog on July 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Your goals, my goals and society’s goals are probably all different.

      • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 6:11 am

        Society doesn’t have a goal. Society is not a sentient being.

        • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 8:03 am

          Look up the terms ‘government,’ ‘law,’ ‘public policy,’ ‘religion,’ ‘defense’ for starters, dummy.

          • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 9:22 am

            idiot ape, we live in, and should live in, a free enterprise economy. No one can claim that company’s don’t have the right to sell, and people don’t have the right to buy whatever car they want. No one can speak for “society”. Government distortions of free markets are wrong and should be discontinued. Any reference to hoax pseudo science which are not backed up by the scientific method is a fraud. There is no scientific, moral, or business reason to reduce consumption of hydrocarbons.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 7:26 pm

              You are factually wrong on nine out of ten claims in this particular comment. Just thought I’d throw that in.

            • By VikingExplorer on August 4, 2016 at 8:38 pm

              Jonathan, Like what?

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 9:21 pm

              I miscounted. Let’s list and number your assertions here.

              1. We live in a free enterprise economy.

              2. We should live in a free enterprise economy.

              3. No-one can claim that companies don’t have the right to sell whatever car they want.

              4. No-one can claim that the people don’t have the right to buy whatever car they want.

              5. No-one can speak for society.

              6. Government distortions of free markets are wrong (I assume you mean *morally* wrong).

              7. Government distortions of free markets should be discontinued.

              8. Reference to “hoax pseudo science” which are not backed up by the scientific method is fraud.

              9. There is no scientific reason to reduce consumption of hydrocarbons.

              10. There is no moral reason to reduce consumption of hydrocarbons.

              11. There is no business reason to reduce consumption of hydrocarbons.

              On point 8, I agree with you entirely. On the other ten, I disagree with you entirely.

              Three of these (2, 6 and 7) are matters of morality or subjective opinion, so we can simply agree to disagree.

              The remaining seven assertions out of your eleven are indeed factually incorrect.

              1. We do not live in a “free enterprise economy”. We live in economies whose history and present are the product of states and enterprises whose track record of coercion, discrimination, violence and fraud makes them quite a long way away from any idea “free enterprise economy”. Where something akin to free enterprise does exist, it is possible because states have decided to pursue and protect that idea with interventions to protect private people from one another. This includes protection for domestic industries; promotion of beneficial trades and suppression of those considered harmful; public investment in common infrastructure; public services including education; environmental and antitrust regulation; not just criminal law, policing, and courts for settlement of private disputes. It even includes the very provision of currency as a means of exchange, not just taxation to pay for public policy.

              3. Anyone can claim whatever they like, including claiming that car companies don’t have the right to sell whatever cars they want. Specifically, car companies *don’t* in fact have the right to sell, with impunity, cars which are dangerous (according to criteria of hazardousness which are tightened from time to time) to their passengers and fellow road users. They *don’t* have the right to sell cars which poison the air, at least not above mandated permitted thresholds which are also tightened from time to time.

              4. Anyone can claim whatever they like, including claiming that people don’t have the right to buy whatever [car] they want. Sometimes they’re actually correct — certain products are simply illegal in certain jurisdictions. In the USA, Kinder Surprise is banned.

              5. People speak for society all the time. Some of them are actual elected representatives whose job it is to speak for society.

              7. Government distortions of free markets, if discontinued, would permit concentration of capital to the point where the rich *were* the government, due to their appropriation of the monopoly of force into private security and defence arrangements, and would continue to impose, now with complete impunity, all the sorts of market distortions which they already do, and worse, through fraud, discrimination and coercion.

              9. Seriously? Regardless of scarcity and any localised pollution concerns, consumption of hydrocarbons (at least, when burned) globally pollutes the atmosphere and oceans with increasing levels of carbon dioxide. This threatens the very foundations of the ecosystem on which humanity relies for our existence. The common resource of the carbon sink is scarcer than the global supply of hydrocarbons.

              11. The business case for reducing consumption of hydrocarbons is that you can do more with less. There’s always a business case for efficiency. You can sell the tools for doing more with less. Take the lead, and you can profit from other people’s realisation that they can and should do more with less. Lobby for subsidised tools to do more with less, and/or regulation to require everyone to do more with less, and you can profit even more from taking the lead.

    • By Ernie Musicman on July 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Have they, or did you forget to build in the premium you paid and all of the subsidies that go into it? That front loads the transportation costs, like pre-paying for gas.

    • By VikingExplorer on July 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      1) I created a comprehensive spread sheet that evaluates all aspects. Several EVs are more economical than many ICE cars.

      2) they are economical even without the federal subsidy
      3) Subsidies are very complicated distortions to the market. The federal EV subsidy is raising prices. ICE cars are also heavily subsidized.

      • By getitright on July 30, 2016 at 12:16 am

        they are economical even without the federal subsidy

        Great I wait with baited breath to see the subsidy go and have them compete o a level playing field.

        • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 6:10 am

          Basic knowledge of supply-and-demand would tell you that the subsidies are complicated distortions. Just like food stamps drive up the cost of food, EV subsidy drives up the cost of EVs. Also, ICE cars also get significant subsidies.

  5. By JungleCogs on July 29, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Just remember to yell, “CLEAR!!” before you touch the battery.

    • By Dude Dude on July 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Haha yeah. Don’t try to replace the batteries in your Tesla yourself. There’s enough power there to not only take you 200 miles, but enough to take you to meet your maker. Better leave that one up to the xperts.

  6. By Hammarabi on July 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Having EVs that can replace ICE at cost parity will make it politically easier to raise the cost of using ICE vehicles to incorporate the negative externalities including urban air pollution. When all costs are considered, I suspect that EVs will easily win out in most applications.

    • By Matthew P Speed on July 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      I read that the CO2 output cost of creating the batteries in a Tesla P65 is the equivalent of 68,000 car miles. Is that going to be factored into your penalties? I realize the Gigafactory is supposed to be solar powered but I guarantee the earth movers used to get the materials for the batteries out of the ground are not going to be electric powered.

      • By thutmosis86 on July 29, 2016 at 6:08 pm

        I’m going to take the chance of being accused of sacrilege, by taking notice of what it takes to generate the electricity needed to charge all those EV batteries — burning something (e.g., oil, coal, natural gas). So much for the CO2 emission, green energy, air pollution arguments. Unless and until the powering of the electrical grids goes green, we’re just whistling Dixie.

        • By maodeedee on July 29, 2016 at 7:13 pm

          You are 100% correct. it takes a huge amount of uninterrupted constant power to generate electricity in large amounts. “Green” power can supplement that but not replace it.We need to put the horse before the cart before we go to all electric vehicles or we’re just exchanging one form of pollution for another.

          In the mean time hybrids make a lot more sense, electric vehicles that can power themselves and use significantly less fuel than a standard internal combustion vehicle.

        • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 4:45 am

          It *is* going green though, faster at the moment than EV adoption.

      • By leadingedgeboomer on July 29, 2016 at 7:20 pm

        Link to what you read about and referred to in your first sentence?

      • By getitright on July 29, 2016 at 11:51 pm

        Remember that solar generation requires FF backup to guarantee 100% reliability. I can assure you that no one is going to run a high tech lithium battery factory using intermittent power sources.
        This FF backup has to be on standby for fast start, the most inefficient use of FF ever. So solar generation will in effect use more FF energy than a direct FF installation alone.

        • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 4:50 am

          Nothing is 100% reliable, and your assumptions are incorrect.

          Spinning reserve is already required across conventional power systems in case of instantaneous transmission line and/or generator failures. Adding intermittent generation sources does not increase this requirement.

          “Standby for fast start” for reacting in advance to increases in demand and/or decreases in generation from intermittent sources is not the same thing at all. Many backup/peaker power plants consume no fuel at all for 7000 hours out of 8760 each year, despite being on standby 24/7.

          • By Forrest on August 4, 2016 at 7:17 am

            You have to admit if the grid is powered by maximum wind or solar the ready state backup would indeed need to be massive. That is the current experience with a cloud bank suddenly shading the solar panels or an unforeseeable calm wind. Factor in the seasonal variance and what California had experienced the annual seasonal variance. We expect to experience long term trends as well, that no one can predict.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 5, 2016 at 12:08 am

              Clouds and calm are no less predictable or more sudden than surges in demand (which are often similarly due to weather changes). Nothing is less predictable or more abrupt than a trip on a major transmission line, a mechanical fault in a 500MW generator, or a scram of a nuclear reactor. That’s what spinning reserve is needed for. It’s needed regardless of intermittent generation.

              “Ready” backup is not at all the same thing as spinning reserve, and it doesn’t need to be burning fuel inefficiently in order to be ready for changes in demand or in intermittent supply — predicted or otherwise.

              Most of the same frequency and voltage regulation services as powered-up spinning reserve can already be provided using electrical energy alone: disused fossil-fuelled generators can be converted almost overnight to rotating condensers (the same physical mass and coils operating effectively as a flywheel); and modern power electronics and batteries can also increasingly provide the same services currently offered by spinning reserve and peaking generators. Check out the work of Younicos, for instance:


            • By Forrest on August 5, 2016 at 7:33 pm

              My nuclear power has a diesel backup. A massive engine that is regulated and tested to meet outages of the plant. So, during the 40-50 year history of Cook Nuclear the backup was never needed. So, in my book that makes the power plant extremely reliable and predictable power source. If ever the regulators focused on real need, they should demand backup power for every wind turbine or wind turbine array. This is the critical need. I’ve sailed the Great Lakes and fully aware of unpredictability of top rated wind sources. Same for predicting cloud cover. It’s a crap shoot and the reason wherein those that control and engineer the grid claim alternative power penetration will never be, but a small percentage. Our current technology and ability has limitations to control the monster. It is close to requiring all power production to be at the ready as previously experienced by the controllers. They say wind and solar will not displace current reserves, just save some fuel at optimum times. That is a very poor cost curtailment condition. I do think the wind and solar advocates are aware of this and believe the only high penetration of the power source would occur if they solved the hydrogen generation efficiently problem.

            • By Forrest on August 6, 2016 at 6:22 am

              I better qualify the massive diesel engine is for emergency backup. Meaning a sudden unexpected loss of nuclear power. It is not used for scheduled maintenance and I do not know the comparisons of energy output. Also, I’ve sailed in three of the Great lakes, not all as my post reads like I’m some kind of expert sailor of the Great Lakes, ha.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 10, 2016 at 12:35 am

              It’s for emergency backup when neither the grid nor the electric power from the steam turbines is available. This is a rare scenario but not entirely unheard of. It was very close on 14th August 2003, for instance, when the grid of most of the North-East US and Ontario went down, necessitating the emergency shutdown of several nuclear power stations. Cook was not far outside the affected region.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 10, 2016 at 12:30 am

              The diesel backup generators at a nuclear power plant are there to power essential services (such as cooling) at the nuclear power plant itself. They are not rated at the same power as the steam turbines.


              Outages of the nuclear reactors, planned or otherwise, are compensated by reserve power elsewhere on the power grid, not by diesel power on site. Cook Nuclear has had to be shut down on several occasions. The grid was able to cope adequately each time because of the availability of backup power from other power stations. Indeed, Cook itself was able to use grid power for its emergency services during these incidents, which is why the backup diesel generators were not required.


              While no rapid power scram has ever happened at Cook, it certainly has happened at many other reactors. Other events, even more sudden, are more common, such as the “tripping” of a switch at a major transmission line or generation connection point. These must be compensated near-instantly by spinning reserve (or modern equivalent).

      • By Hammarabi on July 30, 2016 at 6:10 am

        Firstly, as noted above, pollution from power plants is a lot easier to measure/control that emissions from thousands/millions of automobiles.
        Secondly, the pollution from power plants is not concentrated in urban areas. Electricfying the transportation grid would have the immediate benefit of removing ozone, NO2 and associated photochemical smog from city centers. Regardless of one’s belief in the reality/severity of global warming caused by human activity in burning fossil fuels, there is even wider consensus that urban air pollution causes premature deaths due to causing/aggravating respiratory conditions.
        Thirdly, the EV is the only vehicle that can become more “green” over time. While converting to EVs, we need to also continue to green the electrical grid.
        Solar and wind can easily penetrate to 30-40% without supply disruption. Add to that demand response and nuclear and most grids can go 80% fossil fuel free in generation.

        • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 7:22 am

          That’s how I see it, too. Battery car very useful in metro areas, especially with autonomous Uber type of mass transit that will decrease need for car ownership.

          Battery technology is at a slow pace of innovation and improvement. Not much breakthrough for exponential improvement or cost reduction. This is the status per the experts. Headlines offer much hope, but far from being put to production.

          I do think the electric drive will keep on replacing conventional auto parts per the ease of control, lower cost, and reliability. Hybrid is a very attractive technology with cost effective mild hybrids to be choice of cost effective vehicles. Hydrogen is the optimal battery even as compared to fossil fuel. This technology should displace the competition. The CHP fuel cell may replace most of the grid per extremely high efficiency. Also, it is cheaper and easier to hook up our power generation and users with pipelines.

          Robert is employing the “trick” wherein if the EV can’t quickly solve increase in oil consumption the technology is unworthy. The same logic utilized for biofuel, wherein they write off the choice per inability to power the entire transportation fleet after a few years of experience. The international community has yet to exploit the benefits of low cost biofuel and renewable power. We should work to maximize this market to generate more momentum of offsetting increased oil consumption.

    • By maodeedee on July 29, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      But where do you think that the electricity comes from to power the electric vehicles? It comes from powerplants that have to burn fuel or use Nuclear power of hydroelectric to produce electricity. the more people that drive electric vehicles the greater demand on our power grid will be.

      We could do it that way, but don’t think that you’re “Saving the Planet” by getting everyone to drive an electric car. It’s hard to believe that so many are this ignorant on the subject. There is no free lunch.

      • By leadingedgeboomer on July 29, 2016 at 7:19 pm

        It is far easier to control pollution from a powerplant than from thousands of automobiles.

        • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 4:44 am

          For instance, by replacing much of its output with fuel-free generation sources such as solar and wind.

          • By Forrest on August 4, 2016 at 7:09 am

            True, but the cost analyses will always be the limiting or controlling factor. Remember the Picken’s plan to power the U.S. with “free” wind energy from the Midwest wind corridor? When crunching the real data to accomplish such a task the effort was rated as prohibitively expensive. Few understand the cost of power line construction. It is the most costly method to distribute power. To control, manage, upkeep, protect, and store energy. In war, the opposition will first destroy the grid per the easy task. I do think wind and solar advocates understand the problem. They know hydrogen production will solve most of it. Pipelines are cheaper and more efficient for distribution and energy storage.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 5, 2016 at 12:26 am

              Pickens is a *gas* magnate, is he not? One who didn’t anticipate the scale or timing of the fracking boom. In the absence of large amounts of cheap gas, his plan wasn’t so bad as a project to continue to push coal out of the electricity market.

              Many of the gas companies which did anticipate the fracking boom and invested heavily in it, also failed to profit because they overstretched and undercut themselves. It’s no wonder that gas is one of the most volatile commodity prices. Hedging with capital-intensive, fuel-free generation is pretty sane.

              Gas in pipelines and pressurised chambers is certainly a cheaper and more convenient way to transport and store energy than copper wires — providing you have the energy in the form of cheap gas in the first place and there are no penalties for greenhouse pollution (and the other externalities associated with drilling and fracking in the first place). It’s cheaper to pipe gas close to demand and burn it nearby, than to burn it remotely and transmit power long distance.

              If, however, gas is expensive and you have cheap energy in the form of a stiff breeze or bright sunshine, and you’re collecting it with turbines and PV panels, I think the cost of converting that electric energy to gas before transmission, the energy losses inherent in that conversion and in the conversion back to electricity at the far end, make transmission lines the more competitive option.

              Power-to-gas is a fascinating idea which may eventually see some large-scale adoption, but its value proposition is strongest in its utility for seasonal energy storage (vastly longer duty cycles than batteries, at much lower capital cost per unit energy stored, despite heavy round-trip losses) rather than as an alternative to power transmission.

            • By Forrest on August 5, 2016 at 7:17 pm

              Picken’s didn’t get waylaid by fracking. He was an early adapter of the technology and knew the tsunami of cheap NG headed our way. This was at a time when GW Bush was blamed per politics of expensive gasoline and foreign oil dependence. Picken’s promoted natural gas for our semi tractor fleet and wind energy for power. He invested in wind and promoted the idea on Sixty Minutes. Not bad for a 70 year old businessmen to assist the future of U.S. I don’t think profit at that age was a motive. He explained the financials to those whom signed up to his plan. It was prohibitively expensive. Grid power lines are extremely expensive.

      • By Dude Dude on July 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        You do realize that electric motors are far more efficient at converting battery energy to mechanical energy aren’t you ? much more so than IC engines are gasoline to ME. You are aware that natural gas puts out less than half the pollutants of coal don’t you? You are aware that nuclear is almost zero carbon emissions compared to coal don’t you? You do realize these things don’t you?

        • By Neil on July 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

          You do realize that an electric motor is the ONLY thing that can convert battery energy to mechanical energy, don’t you???

        • By getitright on July 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm

          You have to consider the total inefficiencies. 90% at generation, 30% loss on any power grid. 30% loss on battery charging, 30% loss on battery discharging. So with the total electrical energy system efficiencies taken into account the inefficiencies are not insignificant. Physics are physics regardless of the eco fantasy mind set.

          • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 4:44 am

            Every one of your figures for losses is grossly exaggerated.

            Realistic figures for losses, assuming thermal generation (losses in wind, hydro and/or solar electric generation are immaterial) would be

            65% in thermal generation
            8% on the grid of a developed country (higher in places like India)
            15% on charging
            0% on discharging (battery charge is reckoned in terms of deliverable energy at discharge, so losses in both directions are accounted at charge time)
            4% in electronic power control, conversion and thermal management
            2% in the motor itself

            You still have over 70% of the electrical energy you started with at the power station, or about one third of the thermal energy you got from burning the fuel in the first place.

            Distinctly better than the crude-to-wheels energy losses of a traditional ICE vehicle:

            15% refinery energy losses
            1% fuel distribution
            65% thermal losses in an ICE engine (actually typically much worse, that’s for a well-tuned diesel engine running at a steady highway cruising speed)
            10% loss through idling (varies with use, of course, shows up as additional thermal loss)

            Add to that, the fact that an electric drivetrain reclaims braking energy (which can be up to 40% of energy delivered to the wheels, in city driving), and electric cars are very much a winning proposition against traditional ICE cars.

            • By Forrest on August 4, 2016 at 6:57 am

              Your numbers look good, except the hybrid has been rated very close (or better) to the EV for carbon emissions at the majority (regional areas) of the grid. The western high hydro areas being the exception. This is impressive as the grid is made up of diverse power production equipment including wind, solar, nuclear, coal, etc.. Carbon emission is another benchmark of efficiency. The Toronto study had natural gas hybrid the best value for the job. They argued the car with the best value and lowest emissions will make the biggest impact. I would offer that an optimized E85 engine running upon a plug in hybrid platform with cellulosic fuel would be the ultimate solution with lowest possible carbon footprint, best consumer value, and easiest to attain with minimal disruption of costly infrastructure. Not so bad that the consumer need little change in operator habits either. Nonetheless, I would guess the mass transit within metro zone with light duty EV will become the standard for convenience given the Uber style technology and autonomous drop off and pick up convenience.

            • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 10:00 pm

              I wasn’t talking about emissions specifically, just pointing out that the numbers for electricity system losses presented by ‘getitright’ were way too high.

              ICE-electric hybrids share many of the advantages of pure battery-electric vehicles. One of the exceptions, however, is the sheer flexibility of possible sources for generation. You can’t run a GHEV on hydro, wind, solar or geothermal energy — nor on coal, for that matter. Liquid fuel is your only choice.

              The grid is not especially “green” right now, but the trends across the globe are for it to get greener, not browner. Strong adoption of battery-electric vehicles may well help the transition along by providing dispatchable load, by stimulating the supply chain for storage batteries, and even (though I suspect this will be quite rare, rather than universal) direct vehicle-to-grid discharging.

        • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 7:48 am

          You are taking into account the entire scheme of energy consumption regarding EVs. You do realize that each source you recommend brings it’s own associated problems and costs, don’t you?

    • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 7:46 am

      Cost is certainly a big consideration, but it’s not the only one and is NOT one to be concerned about. As you state (the obvious) when EV is cheaper, people will convert.

  7. By Michael Slay on July 29, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    The inside EV report linked in the article shows 240,441 EVs sold worldwide year-to-date (through May) in 2016. From the 2015 table, I get 167,588 sold worldwide in 2015 through May. That’s a 43.5% increase, year over year.

    That growth rate doubles sales every 23 months. If that continues, in 5 years there will be over 6 times as many EVs worldwide. In 10 years there will be 36 times as many.

    Surely that growth rate will slow but the change will still be striking.

    • By Robert Rapier on July 30, 2016 at 12:52 am

      Yes, and the Bloomberg analysis assumed 60% growth rates. If they assumed 45%, there wasn’t a 2 million bpd impact until 2028. Meanwhile, oil consumption is a moving target, increasing 1 million bpd every year.

      • By Michael Slay on July 30, 2016 at 1:18 am

        Hey, thanks for replying — and you’re right on the numbers. I just keep thinking that they’ll soon be enough EVs on the road that people like me (who’ve never even considered an EV) will change their thinking. My wife and I only need one long range vehicle anyway.

  8. By mulp on July 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I have the luxury of living and working since the 60s, so in know the way gas guzzling was worshipped in the 60s, the dislocation of the 70s, and the many responses made by industry with government policy keeping the playing field level. It took until the mid-80s for the gas guzzlers generation of vehicles to be replaced, so the rate of growth in oil use slowed from what it was in the 50s and 60s.

    Even after oil prices fell in the mid 90s to real prices lower than the $3 of the 50s and 60s, the growth in oil consumption did not rise.

    The policy changes that like those of the 70s to drive lower oil will not have effects that can be seen for another 5-10 years. Switching from refined oil to methane is just now being implemented in the freight hauling sector, a place where investment direction take a decade and then dictate the direction for two decades more. Globally, the time to change direction is much longer.

    As for EVs the barrier to entry is building the large number of large factories and their supply chains. GM is building the supply chain for its Volt and Bolt along with the required factories for cells and batteries. Once built, it’s cheaper to keep building cars and selling at lower prices even if the return on already built capital is negative, ie, product sales aren’t paying back the cash already invested. To stop production will not merely throw away all the cash invested, but also require spending money to shutdown everything.

    The same is true for several other large automakers, like Honda and especially for Tata.

    And for Tesla, not going forward with expanded production and sales with constant growth requires writing off tens of billions in cash investment already spent on production, but also destroy hundreds of billions in “wealth”. Tata and China automakers are committed to building millions of EVs simply due to the prohibition of oil fueled vehicles from cities to fight pollution. But simply manufacturing 500,000 or a million EVs each year will not be enough to deliver the return on investment expected for the tens of billions spent building the entire value chain from mine to vehicles on the road, the value chain from wind and solar harvesting to filling up the millions of EVs on the roads.

    The task is bigger than Amazon which took a decade before the naysayers stopped predicting it’s collapse for no profits – return on investment – and then almost another decade before reporting profits, profits that’s all funneled into new investment to get bigger.

  9. By rlhailssrpe on July 29, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    An EV is an irrational decision; it can not be justified on the basis of economics (dollars per mile), energy density (mass and volume) or climate change. At a very high price, it simply transfers mobile pollution sources to stationary sources, unless the grid is converted to nuclear supply. The green generation technologies cost too much, now and for the foreseeable future.

    The EV market can not survive without heavy subsidies and heavy regulatory penalties on its competition, the carbon combustion ICE. These unqualified and undisclosed cost decisions have not been made in free societies. We live in an era of phony science and phony political leadership. An EV can be nothing more than a toy for a small set of rich people.

    No society can survive this nonsense.

    • By Michael O on July 29, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      It’s pretty easy to come calculate lower dollars/mile for an EV. Since I get 3.4 miles/kWh and pay 11 cents/kW, it’s about 3.3 cents/mile. I’m not aware of any small SUVs on the road that match that. And yes, it’s a small set of rich people driving them, but that’s probably as much because of ignorance of EVs more than their cost.

      What is a “free society”? I’m not sure I’m following that. The amount of tax breaks that the automobile industry gets across the board distorts the price of all cars, not just EVs. I’m happy to live in the society we live in. Do you have another to recommend?

      • By CrazyHungarian on July 30, 2016 at 8:54 am

        I agree that electricity costs per mile are less. A 30 MPG at $2.15 per gallon is about 7 cent per mile. What you are excluding from your calculation is the replacement cost for the batteries. A set of batteries last 80-100,000 miles and costs about $10,000 to replace, or add another 10 cents per mile if you don’t throw your car away at 100,000 miles. You also don’t pay road tax of about 40 cents per gallon on the electricity that petroleum fuels pay. I don’t expect that to last very long. Several states are already talking about taxing per mile instead of taxing per gallon.

        • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 9:05 am

          Also, the investment cost penalty (time value of money) makes the EV choice undesirable. I read the economics and analysis of auto sector experts that claim the mild hybrid with very cost effective technology will make a sizable dent in conventional vehicles sales, but even at that payback most will still chose the old reliable lower cost vehicle. Consumers want the bright shiny vehicle at lowest cost period. This is why I tout the ethanol fuel solution per the ease to adapt to environment friendly fuel. The consumer can achieve this at no cost penalty and should save fuel costs. It doesn’t get better than an automatic no hassle option.

        • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:23 am

          Crazy, no one knows how long the packs are going to last. There are Chevy Volts with 300,000+ miles on them, and they show no signs of battery degradation.
          And Volt packs cost less than $3000 to replace if you go to your Chevy dealer and trade in your damaged pack.
          Bolt packs will cost around $7000 to replace if you trade in your damaged pack. But they look like they are going to last 12-15 years at least, if you drive less than 20,000 miles a year.
          And these are current prices, and so far pack prices have been dropping 8% a year and look to continue to improve.
          It is possible that they packs will be calendar life limited but it doesn’t appear to be the case due to the nature of the LiIon battery chemistry.

    • By Paul Govan on July 30, 2016 at 2:16 am

      Subsidies ?!
      But taxpayers should subsidize trillion dollar wars for oil, right ? Or for wars and foreign policies that are mostly about protecting and bolstering fossil fuel interests .
      Not to mention the fact that oil is the number one root cause of Mid East and N.African Islamic terrorism. The US and world governments(ie. their taxpayers) are again then spending trillions defending themselves against the inevitable blowback.
      It’s about as dumb as it gets.
      Paul G
      Editor Electric Vehicles UK

      • By jimb82 on July 30, 2016 at 6:02 am

        “[O]il is the number one root cause of Mid East and N.African Islamic terrorism.” Yes, the suicide bombers always shout “Oilahu Ahkbar!” before detonating themselves. If they don’t get 72 virgins in heaven from Allah, then what do the national oil companies give them?

        • By DougH2 on July 30, 2016 at 8:14 am

          We wouldn’t care what they shouted and we wouldn’t be involved in their disputes were it not for the oil that their countries, and those nearby, sit on.

          • By jimb82 on August 1, 2016 at 6:13 pm

            The terrorists would still want to kill. It is what they do. Oil has nothing to do with it.

            • By DougH2 on August 1, 2016 at 6:25 pm

              The terrorists who took down the towers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. We pay billions to them every year. When that stops, we will stop funding the terrorists. They want to kill us for being over there. When we aren’t there anymore, we will be able to let the fight it out. Right now we have no choice if we want them to sell us oil.

            • By Hominid on August 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm

              You fatally mistake what’s going on.

            • By DougH2 on August 1, 2016 at 6:34 pm

              Funny. I was thinking the same about you.

            • By jimb82 on August 2, 2016 at 6:41 am

              We did not pay billions to al-Qaeda — they actually want to dethrone the Saudi royal family. They want to kill us because we do not want to live in the 8th Century. You are completely backwards. Failure to admit what motivates these people means that it is impossible to understand your enemy, hence much more difficult to defeat him. The Islamist motivation has nothing, nothing to do with oil or money.

      • By Michael Kirby on July 30, 2016 at 10:33 am

        We subsidize oil and gas exploration for the same reason we subsidize farmers — So we can maintain some kind of price stability. If an oil company goes bankrupt during the bad times, they won’t invest during the good times. Then rather than seeing 4 dollar gas followed by a drop in prices, you will have to bear 6 or 8 dollar gas until companies begin to invest.

        We subsidize electric vehicles the same reason we subsidize many new industries (think airplanes, railroad, etc) To develop potentially revolutionary technologies that will transform our society. Not all of them pay off, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.


      • By rlhailssrpe on July 30, 2016 at 11:41 am

        Your response is representative of several so I point the common philosophy. My back ground is as a retired PE with 45 years of US practice, a score of nukes, two score fossil fueled power plants and decades of assessing advanced technologies, primarily in energy.

        Due to the technical characteristics, electrical propulsion of our mobile fleet is not possible due to competitive market based decision making. They can not survive without never ending government help. EV are only possible with a social reordering considering, as you do, essentially political forces (war, foreign relations, a skewed tax and government give-away policy). The ill defined, and debatable, cost adder is externality costs, which means the added cost between buyer and seller imposed by government authority. That is a politically defined value. It will dominate the energy market if HIllary is elected, or be set to zero if Donald Trump is elected.

        The over aching fact of life is that neither they, or America, can control the global market on carbon fuels and uranium fuels. Since both energy sources are much cheaper than the green energies, and will become much cheaper due to fracking and other robotic applications. The certain result is a loss of economic power in nations which adopt green energies, EV being one, for bulk societal support, relative to those who do not. (EVs will have a market for rich supporters due to ideology motivation.)

        I hope it is resolved peacefully, among prosperous societies.

      • By Misko on August 6, 2016 at 10:33 pm

        There is no war for oil. You completely miscomprehended reasoning behind US foreign policy as well as internal mechanisms that lead to wars. Simple 13-year old article will explain it to you briefly.

    • By twopartysystem1 on July 30, 2016 at 8:09 am


    • By BonzoDog1 on July 30, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Your market solution will only work when the next time ExxonMobil feels that its supply lines are threatened it goes out and rents a fully equipped 500,000-man army from Blackwater and then recovers that cost in the pump price.
      Disinformation campaigns, bribed politicians and credit card military campaigns amount to political solutions to what is in reality a technologal problem, and they don’t work.

    • By lafeber on August 17, 2016 at 6:54 am

      The massive amount of electricity that’s needed to extract, transport and refine oil could also be used directly to move a car forward.

      So no matter the sources of electricity, EV’s will always be more environmentally friendly than ICE’s.

      Within a decade, EV’s will become cheaper to build than ICE’s. (At $100/kWh) No subsidies, just engineering improvements and economies of scale.

      • By rlhailssrpe on August 17, 2016 at 7:52 am

        I have read this all of my engineering career, 45 years. Within a decade ………. will conquer the market. It rarely occurred.

        You are free to invest in any technology and I hope you succeed. My sole demand is that the government not fudge the deal, “.. to be environmentally friendly..” That is a blank check for corruption.

        The ICE will be used a century from now. Carbon will remain the prime fuel for mankind’s survival. Those who choose other paths will not make it.

        • By lafeber on August 17, 2016 at 8:27 am

          I respectfully disagree. Considering the demand for the Tesla Model 3, I’m not the only one.

          • By Forrest on August 17, 2016 at 11:10 am

            I just paid 7 cents per kWh for E85 fuel. Your touting $400/kWh battery storage of energy? I guess the cost of gas tank is analogous to the battery, but very cheap as compared. Modern mild hybrid vehicles with turbo charger is expected far above average grid efficiency. It will take forever for renewable power to make much of a dent in grid power and will never take over the grid, entirely. The energy source is incapable of reliable power production and will quickly become to expensive if ever attempting to do so. Even solar and wind have life cycle emissions. Meaning they are not carbon neutral.

            If your worried of GW, well, miscanthus cellulosic is rated negative carbon emissions per life cycle calculations. The grid could never beat this. With this fuel the more you drive the better the environmental value. All of this with little cost to infrastructure or inconvenience to car owner. But, if you want maximum convenience within metro zone, the battery car should do well. Also, it will work to transfer emissions out of town. The primary car owner will invest in capable ICE technology and leave the battery car per Uber or Lyft light duty transport using cell phone app. It makes no sense to buy a expensive battery car as compared to the convince of driver less technology. No parking hassle, investment, or garage storage. The battery will replace mass transit and hopefully do it soon.

            • By TimC on August 17, 2016 at 6:27 pm

              You can purchase a brand new 15 gallon automotive gasoline tank at your local parts store for $60. That works out to $0.12 per kWhr gasoline storage cost. It will be a long, long time before batteries of any kind can come close to that. Also, the gas tank capacity does not change over its useful lifetime of 20+ years. For onboard energy storage, it is just very tough to beat a tank full of liquid hydrocarbons.

            • By lafeber on August 18, 2016 at 9:07 am

              Look up ‘Clean disruption’ on youtube.

            • By Forrest on August 19, 2016 at 7:51 am

              I’ve seen Tony Seba presentation a while back. It good to make one think on what’s possible. I think his conclusions are to simplistic. Perhaps I’ve an advantage per my Manufacturing Engineer experience of being on this cutting edge he talks about. The disruptive technology is not new, even within old technology. I was particular adept at thinking out of the box for disruptive solutions.

              Base technology improvements have the largest impact. He illustrates of cheap cpu and memory storage devices with the ensuing quick market penetration. This opportunity is really brought about by the manufacturing process improvements/capability of laser, robotics, and silicone wafer manufacturing. These basic technologies have a long improvement and historical path that made it all possible. Same with improving car assembly or other general manufacturing processes for low cost and quality improvement.

              An example of base technology improvement; the replacement of expensive rare earth magnet. GM invented a low cost magnet of the same power. Neodymium magnets invention one of those basic technologies that have far reaching impact on our quality of life. The device make it possible even to have a electric car. Chemistry/metallurgy and biology are on fire right now and appear to be the most disruptive technologies.

              Tony forgets that this technology factor is not an island onto the solar and battery car. ICE has made tremendous strides in improvement. It’s not battery car vs ICE as he simplistically suggests. By the way the electric car is as old as the ICE car. Nothing revolutionary there. The electrification of power train probably will happen quickly. Where the car gets energy from is the question. Battery technology is not on fire. From what I read of expert analysis, the technological wall has been hit and no dramatic improvement expected. They are heavy, suffer temperature degradation, have low energy density for the price and weight. He hasn’t a clue with such graphical extensions of past trends. Meaning the future is not determined and all those who attempt to offer predictions are almost always wrong.

              My instincts on this new technology, for what it’s worth. The grid will lose long term as the device is to expensive, fragile, hard to maintain, hard to control, etc. Natural gas will gain per basic BTU horsepower needs of industry and domestic power needs. Does anyone think it would be efficient to store solar power upon a battery to heat water or space? So, that being the case the marvelous efficiency of CHP dovetailed with heat pump technology should do well per the complimentary coexistence. Drones will be an attractive tool for many applications. Metro mass transit is toast. After the autonomous vehicle, easy to see autonomous personal aircraft. Tony should graph the cost of roadways as they are quickly becoming cost prohibitive in all but metro areas. Food production and farming is just now entering the custom or tailor made era. My guess drones, positioning, and computing power will make it possible for farm in box solutions. Small land parcel gardening/farming. Energy consumption will continue at high rate. Metro zones will gently heat roadways above 32 F for snow removal. Same for household needs to remove snow. Utility service of garbage, sewer, water, and power will undergo major transition. Much of it unneeded.

              Fuel cell has the most disruption capability or potential. We could be upon the hydrogen economy as always predicted. The pipelines of natural gas or hydrogen the new efficient grid.

              Notice Tony’s hype missing for GW concerns. This was the tactic for pushing battery cars. I think that tactic has lost oomph as the biological route of harvesting biomass within reality much more powerful. The miscanthus negative carbon fuel, anaerobic digester such as land fills, or modern farm or forestry practices are more powerful for the concern. Solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear still much needed choices for micro grid, energy parks, and domestic power, but consider the GW calculation that had just a small percentage of old tree growth buried deep could offset our annual man made carbon contribution. Doesn’t that put it into proper perspective.

            • By Forrest on August 19, 2016 at 8:56 am

              Also, of most importance of quality of change for intentional average citizen. This is not a political rant, but of a senior citizen whom has a wide viewpoint of historical change. It’s not Liberal, Progressive, Conservative, but may be Left vs Right as far as central control value. I’m shocked on average citizen education and historical understanding of the nation/’s founding. Stay with me, as I think it would be easy for pre-drawn conclusions.

              My life experience and education has convinced me of the superior choice of open market solutions. That gov’t has a critical need, but to that extent. Meaning to maximize that force with constraints of safety, pollution, standardization, simplification, and maximum opportunity for citizens. The basic premise of Constitution is to empower a government that maximizes citizen enjoyment. It should act to progress liberty and moral character to maximize both freedom, personal responsibility, and life enjoyment. It seems nowadays wealth is created per ability to wade through the complexity maze presented by government. We have an intelligence system, wherein the tax or wealth destruction occurs per IQ. Gottcha, tactics per the fine print.

              We need to understand the enemy within. We have citizens that work to minimize these positive forces. To maximize societal unrest, to destroy wealth ability, and freedoms. They are elites among us that have little religious mooring that falsely think they should be in charge as the general population itself is a threat to the environment/planet. They don’t won’t solutions, they want destruction, and disease. Be on guard for this phenomenon. When politics get nutty, your witnessing the savages of those with wealth playing recklessly with your future. I do believe this is a real phenomenon as we all have a limited lifespan and some will make the easier choice to go along. Our leadership from both aisles usually sell us out. At least the popular go alongs that employ traditional political tactics to keep us from figuring it out. This is the biggest threat to society, but in my opinion the U.S. has the brightest light to fight such international forces. If we fail to turn the corner, away from this troubling trend, not good.

  10. By Doltsbane on July 29, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    All you EV enthusiasts might want to take a look at this article.

    • By Dude Dude on July 29, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      that article is rubbish. A modern Tesla does circles around the distance, speed, and comfort of something made in the early 20th century. If you’re willing to pay more for batteries you can go even farther.

      • By Doltsbane on July 29, 2016 at 9:31 pm

        Based on your reply, I get the impression that you glanced at the headline, saw red, and didn’t actually read the article.

    • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 10:04 am

      dolt, your article was written in 2010, before the Volt, Leaf and Tesla S were built. Your article actually supports the adoption of BEV’s as being achievable because it shows how much has changed for the better in just 6 years.

      • By Doltsbane on July 30, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        You might find that your interactions with other people might go a little better if you learned a few manners. Do you call people dolts when you’re talking with them face to face, or do you courageously save that for when you’re hiding behind an anonymous user name on the internet? Had you bothered to actually read and comprehend the article I pointed you towards you would have, A: learned that electric cars have been around for longer than gasoline cars, and B: the principle thrust of it was that advances in battery technology keep getting cancelled out by the increased demands that all the gear we lard cars with these days impose. That’s why even the best EV in the world at a huge expense that even a sizable government subsidy doesn’t bring within average people’s means still barely exceeds the range of EVs built over a hundred years ago.

        • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm

          D, it is your handle, not mine.
          The fact is that batteries capable of powering the Tesla S 265+ miles and to give it a sub 4 second 0-60 time have only been at a price point allowing them to be used for a couple years.
          That is what is so telling about the article you linked to. A 60 kWh pack cost more than $60,000 when the article was written and it costs less than $12,000 now. So now we have an S with a 265 mile range and longer range BEV’s coming all the time.
          The article is a perfect example of how facts on the ground have shifted in a short time. The average car sold in the US sells for more than $30k. You can get a Volt for that if you bargain hard. The tax credit has started the ball rolling but it isn’t going to kill the electric car industry if it goes away in a couple years.

  11. By seanickson on July 29, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    yeah but norway is very much a growing country at this point, is richer, and is more insulated from changes in oil prices due to already high taxes on oil and a lower rate of car ownership. That said, I agree that electric cars are a long ways away from making a major dent in global oil consumption, but those kind of results wont come quickly, they’re many decades down the road.

  12. By maodeedee on July 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    My main objection as a former electrician and power plant worker to electric vehicles replacing internal combustion vehicles or even hybrids is that electricity is not found in an unlimited supply from the wall outlets in your home or garage. Power plants have to generate that electricity and they do so either by burning fossil fuels, Hydroelectric power, or Nuclear which creates radioactive waste.

    The environ-MENTAL-ists in the Pacific Northwest where I live oppose Hydroelectric power because they want to “Save the Salmon” that are not an endangered species, by the way, and these same environ-MENTAL-ists seem to think that wind or solar can
    provide as much energy as existing power plants which is not true and even if it was, that would not provide enough energy if everyone drove an electric cars which would greatly increase demand thus resulting in little savings in terms of the burning of fossil fuels or “Saving the Salmon”. Wind energy is not without drawbacks as well since it kills millions of birds.

    We as a society need to completely think these things out before we jump to any conclusions about the cost/benefit bottom line of going to all-electric vehicles

    • By Michael Michael on July 30, 2016 at 3:26 am

      The electricity which drives electric motors can also be generated from solar energy and from windmill farms such as the Altamont Pass in Callifornia. In an urban complex with millions of cars and trucks, it is beneficial not to generate gasoline and diesel pollution. Electricity to charge batteries can be generated during off-peak hours. The kilowatt hours to drive my Prius Plug-In cost me about $1.60 per gallon of gasoline equivalent.

    • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 5:58 am

      In a free enterprise system, “We as a society” don’t need to think about these things.

      • By jimb82 on July 30, 2016 at 6:06 am

        Exactly. Which is why EVs should not be subsidized and wind and solar power should not be subsidized. Let the market work.

        • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 7:39 am

          The ‘market’ is usually too cautious to directly undertake experimentation. Basic research, which is not necessarily immediately productive or profitable, depends on tax dollars (indirect market funding) – and, it pays huge dividends.

          • By on July 30, 2016 at 9:48 am

            Yet, oddly enough, the areas of the economy that are least subject to government intrusion are the very areas where the fastest technological progress occurs, whereas the areas, like healthcare and education, which are most subject to government intrusion are the very areas where technological progress is slow.

            • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:55 am

              Sully, I am arguing against myself to some extent, but when you look at what Spacex has done in the past several years I would agree with you. But even there, Spacex was competing for government contracts half the time. So there is a place for government spending to further a good goal.
              Enron, no.
              Spacex and electric cars, yeah, it works.

            • By on July 30, 2016 at 6:03 pm

              Remember that Spacex did in a decade with a tenth (or less) as much annual budget what NASA was unable to do in several decades because most of NASA has become a rice bowl jobs program rather than a space program.

            • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 7:31 pm

              I hear you, but Spacex wouldn’t have grown as large or as fast or as successful if it hadn’t been for government contracts. That isn’t a direct tax credit like the credit for electric cars, but George W Bush had a good reason to encourage and sign into being the Energy Security Act of 2007 and that is that sometimes a technology, like trains in the 19th century, need a governmental helping hand to really transform the market and to grow the US in a huge way. And the land grants in the 1860′s worked well, as have the much smaller tax credits to buyers of electric cars in the past 6 years.
              The tax credits run out in 2 or 3 years for the big players, but they will have achieved their goal. Electric car sales volume will have led to drastically lower prices for electric cars and much wider acceptance.
              W knew what he was doing when he pushed for and then signed the bill into law.

            • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 10:43 am


            • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 5:54 pm

              Nonsense? One would have to be living under a rock to make such conclusions. Yes, mass markets are the ultimate decider of value. Nonetheless, gov’t can simplify and subsidized the risk to reach out beyond normal comfort zones of investors. Gov’t best put to the task to finance costly R&D to achieve a more competitive market and to solve societal non economic problems. Then best to hand off results to the market to make it happen.

              They should hand off improvement of societal ills to private sector, as well. It is a big mistake to institutionalize unemployment, welfare, health care, and retirement savings as politics will pollute the process. Citizens should demand and politician should maximize the power of open market solutions. That is the proven American way to maximize government power. Likewise they should standardize and simplify regulations to increase the joy and benefit to their low income citizens.

          • By jimb82 on August 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm

            I suspect you typed your comment on a PC or smart phone. Too cautious, those markets are.

            That having been said, I agree that basic research is a wonderful thing. But subsidizing EVs for private use is not basic research. It is substitution of a more-expensive solution to a problem (personal transportation) by hiding and socializing the cost.

            Using a more-expensive, rather than a less-expensive, means of accomplishing any task is inherently wasteful. Hiding the cost so that it is overconsumed is even more wasteful. The dollars spent by consumers and taxpayers on transportation have an opportunity cost. That opportunity cost shows up in loss of economic activity elsewhere, which means less growth, fewer jobs, etc.

            • By Hominid on August 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm

              And, only you central command and control freak Leftists can calculate any of those factors. Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!!

        • By Advocatus Diaboli on July 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

          Let the market drive us to an unnecessarily early extinction?
          Ever heard of externalities?

          • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 10:44 am

            You have no evidence to support that nonsense.

            • By Advocatus Diaboli on July 30, 2016 at 2:18 pm

              What is nonsense? Externalities? They exist and they are one good reason why “markets” don’t (cannot and will not) deliver an optimum solution. There are many others.

              Having said that, I agree that electric cars (and cars in general) should not be subsidised. Emissions should be taxed atba high and increasing rate, which will make alternatives more competitive.

            • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 2:36 pm

              Leftist drivel.

            • By Advocatus Diaboli on July 31, 2016 at 4:23 am

              If you consider externalities a leftist myth, then you probably don’t have what it takes to succeed in a true ‘free market’ economy. Which, by the way, never existed and never will.

        • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:36 am

          jim, if the 19th century railroad companies hadn’t been subsidized by grants of land, the USA would have grown at a MUCH slower pace and the Brits may have ended up settling in Oregon before we got there.
          There are some things that the Feds should do that aren’t specifically laid out in the constitution.
          NASA, NIH, Amtrak and subsidizing the early growth of electric cars are all good uses of the Fed dollar.
          National defense shouldn’t be the only thing we spend our tax dollars on.

        • By VikingExplorer on July 31, 2016 at 11:50 am

          I agree, but only as part of a complete separation of all government and commerce. No subsidies for anyone.

    • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

      “Thinking things out” has never happened effectively and doesn’t work anyway. Experimentation is the only path to progress – lotsa mistakes have to be made. Society bumbles forward eventually settling on what seems to work – until it doesn’t, ten tries something new. The discovery of fossil fuel energy & material chemistry was the greatest phenomena to befall mankind – it seems unlikely that anything will ever surpass that phenomenon.

    • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:27 am

      mao, the vast majority of BEV charging is done at night when the cars are at home and plugged in. And as you know, there is a huge surplus of electricity at night, which is why most power companies charge less for the use of electricity at night with their Time Of Use programs.

  13. By noneintelligent on July 29, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    EVs use electricity that is generated by power plants. The generation mix has lots of oil in it.

    Oh, and the IEEE, the world’s largest professional organization, published a study in 2001 that showed that cradle-grave pollution of EVs was ~6 times that of an equivalent gasoline powered car (“Are Hybrid Vehicles Worth It?” IEEE Spectrum, March 2001, pp 47.). Even though EV have doubtless improved, I’d be surprised if that deficit was not still 2X.

    Real science. Who knew.

    • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 5:56 am

      Straw man. Common sense, my BSEE, extensive economic research, and actual experience with my Spark EV tells me clearly that EVs can be very economical.

      Oil is a wonderful thing and is the best way to carry energy with you for long journeys. No need to reduce or replace oil based on some hoax. The scientific method rules science, not politics.

    • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:52 am

      nonintelligent, power plants don’t use oil in any large amount. I think you meant to say that they use coal. But even that is dropping. Coal is down to generating just 35% of the electricity used in the US. Clean American natural gas has jumped up to replace coal and the air we breathe is cleaner because of that fact. Plus if you live near a nuke plant or a hydroelectric dam your electricity is cleaner still.

  14. By johnwerneken on July 29, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Phoeey. Electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. Idiots.

    • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 10:26 am

      So? I drive my Volt because it is fun to drive and is fueled with all American electricity, not Jihadi Juice. Oil is a fungible good, so you are supporting Russia/Saudi Arabia and Venezuela with your gasoline purchases.

    • By Advocatus Diaboli on July 30, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      You seem to assume that energy can only come from fossil fuels. In that case we are cooked.

    • By VikingExplorer on July 31, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Exactly, I’m glad it does. I love EV technology and hydrocarbons.

  15. By Yancey Ward on July 29, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Plugin-EV vehicles will likely never be more than a fraction of gasoline/diesel powered ones unless the oil literally runs out, and even then, it is likely that the fuels for them will eventually be synthesized from other energy inputs. The range and the convenience of refueling are enormous hurdles for EVs to overcome, and I don’t see it happening in the next 50 years at best. Battery technology needs a paradigm shifting breakthrough, and it is hard to see what it could possibly be. Now, electric drive motors might well overtake it all, but those still utilize liquid fuels, but even those need some deep technological advances that aren’t around the corner yet.

    • By jimb82 on July 30, 2016 at 6:09 am

      Biofuels from algae.

      • By Advocatus Diaboli on July 30, 2016 at 9:26 am

        What about them?

      • By on July 30, 2016 at 9:52 am

        Whatever plant is used to grow the raw materials for biofuels, it must use an area of sunlit earth somewhat equivalent to that used by other plants to generate the same amount of biomass. One sees articles all the time which appear to imply that one could grow algae underground, or achieve huge production of algae from a very small area of sunlit space.

        • By Forrest on July 31, 2016 at 6:01 am

          Algae best environment for pure CO2 is right next to ethanol process plant. Also, we need to understand the natural carbon cycle is gigantic compared to man’s fossil fuel contribution. That means nature’s natural decomposition process emissions affecting GW are also huge. All plant matter upon the planet will die and decompose if not harvested. Harvesting a fraction of our woodlands before decay will offset all of man’s carbon emissions. Harvesting a fraction of farm waste another benefit, except much easier.

        • By jimb82 on August 1, 2016 at 6:11 pm

          Sunlit earth or ocean.

    • By Hominid on July 30, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Not to mention torque & power requirements without excessive velocity sacrifice. Electrics just can’t deliver the required payload.

      • By VikingExplorer on July 31, 2016 at 11:55 am

        My little Chevy Spark has impressive torque characteristics. High end sports cars are adding EV to increase acceleration. Every car doesn’t have to pull a boat. Not every restaurant needs to have every cuisine. Your point is non-existent.

        • By Hominid on July 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm

          Your piss-ant needs are all that matter, right, Lib?

          • By VikingExplorer on July 31, 2016 at 2:23 pm

            You’re such an idiotic a-hole to think I’m a Lib. I’m very politically conservative. AGW is a complete laughable hoax. It doesn’t even have a f’n coherent hypothesis.
            Only a completely insane irrational fool would turn against a politically neutral technology to further an ideology that you apparently don’t understand, let alone can be a good spokesman for.
            I love hydrocarbons. Best way to take a whole lot of energy on a long journey. Software I wrote is powering 6000 HP locomotives pulling 2 mile long coal trains out of Wyoming. I LOVE IT. The more energy, the better. But you are so demented and twisted, you’re like trying to power a mobile phone with an internal combustion engine because you think in your puny little hominid mind that it makes you more of a man. It actually makes you devoid of a mind.

            • By Hominid on July 31, 2016 at 3:22 pm

              Now, you’re just ranting. You Libs can’t control your emotions.

            • By VikingExplorer on August 4, 2016 at 8:33 pm

              For the record, I’m conservative and not at all leftist. AGW is a hoax. Hominid is a troll, and gives this response because he has no point whatsoever.

    • By Forest on July 31, 2016 at 6:14 am

      I basically agree, with the caveat that four wheel vehicles, that are very desirable feature for most of the U.S. winter driving may give way to the simple use of motor drive. The simple electric motor is the reason EV boast of their car. Volt has impressive technology, but at such a cost penalty.

      It would appear that all roads lead to EV transportation, just not with the current battery technology. Fuel cell is a better battery. It solves all the problems and out does fossil fuel for energy storage. The Japanese auto manufactures know this and so does those that favor wind energy. Even nuclear and coal are all eyeing hydrogen to solve energy storage problems, improve efficiency, and balance load.

      • By VikingExplorer on July 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

        The Volt is expensive because it has both technologies. The problem is easier solved for a family by having multiple vehicles.

  16. By Robert Morris on July 29, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Norway is a petro state. 100 dollar a barrel oil accelerated the economy and consumption rather than hurting it. The article’s central data point is flawed. Also the graph kind of defeats the whole point as well. Sure exponential growth is nice, but when the final number is still a fraction of a percent of the fleet, obviously the effects will be minimal.

    • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      There is no final number yet. Eventually (no telling exactly when), it will be huge. Probably.

  17. By noneintelligent on July 30, 2016 at 12:23 am

    EV are a scam. Not even ZEV, they are “deferred pollution vehicles:” Pollute someone else’s backyard! And, as those who understand the thermodynamics know, all a hybrid is is a gasoline car trying to be a diesel – that’s the best it can be. So why not just go diesel?

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Not worth the extra cost and loss of fueling choices. They are not quiet engines as compared. They pollute more, especially the micro carbon particles that is proving to be yet another assault upon lung health and attribute to auto immune disease. Just like smoking was found to be. The particles are so small now, invisible, yet the small size does more harm. They travel directly to blood stream.

      • By VikingExplorer on July 31, 2016 at 12:10 pm

        This is the most idiotic, non-sense, agenda based, anti EV technology for some political purpose I’ve ever read.

        I don’t believe any weird hoax-like AGW pseudo science. I’m not trying to reduce any usage of hydro carbons. I’m an EE who used to design electric generators.

        nonintelligent is so NOT-intelligent. He’s the scam. My father was instrumental in designing diesel-electric locomotives which set the standard for efficient ground transportation. A hybrid car is following the same brilliant engineering path using regenerative braking to increase fuel efficiency.

        • By Forrest on August 1, 2016 at 6:53 am

          Oh, electric drive will gain popularity, no doubt. The components are already standardized to supply markets. Meaning auto industry will follow heavy trucks and just do the final assembly and body components.

          Diesel power facing headwinds for popularity. Pollution control equipment is becoming very expensive and emissions bad. Gasoline with ethanol octane boost is expected to attain same efficiency. This with cheaper engine and much less pollution. E85 optimized engines per the Cummings development project has been field test to be a superior alternative to diesel. Their engine proved to produce more torque. The E85 optimized engine needed only half the displacement of the comparative diesel. The engines beat the gasoline comparative engine in MPG and matched diesel per mile with fuel costs. Also, the E85 engine only needed the common catalyst style pollution control.

  18. By Michael Kirby on July 30, 2016 at 12:31 am

    I think you guys are missing the point.

    Today EVs are basically like a BMW or Audi. They are expensive toys for which the cost is not justified in the features and functions that they deliver.

    And just like BMW and Audi, they don’t contribute to a signficiant % of the global oil usage (just not enough of them globally).

    When a 20k Kia or Chevy or a 10k Tata become electrified, then a dent in oil consumption will occur.

    So Norway has 2.5% of cars on the road electrified. Assuming all cars travel equally, you would save about 6000 barrels of oil a day. In the noise of measurement. and since it is highly unlikely that those vehicles that electric cars replaced traveled very far to begin with. So it’s likely more like 3000 barrels of oil a day.

    The purpose of subsidies is to develop the market and the technologies. Whether you believe that the technology will develop or not is irrelevant. Time will tell. Much in the same way wind turbine subsidies helped developed that market, and as the technology matures, they compete with more established technologies.

    You may agree or disagree with the policy, but looking for evidence in oil usage given the penetration rate is ridiculous.

    • By Robert Rapier on July 30, 2016 at 12:49 am

      “You may agree or disagree with the policy, but looking for evidence in oil usage given the penetration rate is ridiculous.”

      But you can do that math and see how challenging it becomes to impact oil consumption within the next decade. Not going to happen, because oil consumption is a moving target and EVs aren’t moving fast enough.

      • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 8:36 am

        Also, what Viking espouses the Norway experience is just to few in numbers to offer up as evidence. They have tremendous growth of EV sales, but still use more oil than before. They don’t need many car sales to impact percentages. Also, the country was once able to generate most of their power by wind once. It was a blip, yet offered up tiredly as positive evidence of wind’s ability.

        • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 4:58 am

          Norway has scarcely any wind. It generates almost all its power by hydro, all year round, every year since 1905.

          • By Forrest on August 4, 2016 at 6:27 am

            Oh, I’ve read the attributes of the Norway experience to easily adapt to renewable energy economy. Hydro power would explain a lot. Hydro is very capable, with attractive energy production and storage. Historically, popular as well. The Western U.S. has the highest hydro power rating available. The Energy department claims the U.S. could double production at very little land use change with modern siting software. Also, so many dams go without power production capability, because low carbon power was not valued.

      • By Michael Kirby on July 30, 2016 at 10:21 am

        Robert — I’ve been reading you for years, and one of the points you have made in the past is that oil consumption is almost always a function of supply. Create more supply, and we’ll figure out some kind of use for it (bigger cars, more plastics, whatever).

        Limit supply, and suddenly we’ll figure out how to reduce demand (maybe through crashing economies, but hey — it’s economics, not social science).

        I think our current growth in oil usage doesn’t have a lot to do with automobiles, as much as it has to do with price.

        The question is, if supply is restricted, is there an option. During the oil shock of the 70′s, supply constraints mean people had to wait in lines at gas pumps, fill up on alternate days, etc.

        The supply restrictions from a few years ago were less impactful (less gas goes farther than it did in 1972).

        In the event of $4.00 gas or higher, I think we now have scalable options. Suddenly I can go get that electric car, where even 5 years ago it wasn’t a possibility.

        I see government subsidies in this space as insurance for the possibility of supply disruption. Rather than tanking the economy, people will buy electric vehicles. There will be some impact (because they are more expensive), but it will be a lot less than cratering the entire economy.

        Oh — and I own a 2016 volt. I’ll tell you it is a hell of a lot more fun to drive than my Prius.


    • By VikingExplorer on July 30, 2016 at 6:07 am

      Ok, Chevy Spark is around 25k. The driving experience is so amazing, the executives at GM have gone “all in” and are going big league with the Chevy Bolt. But don’t expect oil usage to change. No one cares.

      Btw, I was just in Norway last November. There were an extremely large number of Tesla’s. Every gas station has a charging.

  19. By Johnny Le on July 30, 2016 at 12:43 am

    This is why Tesla makes absolutely sure you don’t its car because it’s electric but you buy its car because it’s the safest, coolest, and painless car to own. It takes time but many people have started seeing it that way.

  20. By Peter N. on July 30, 2016 at 5:07 am

    When it starts to make sense to buy an EV the prices will drop dramatically. Then there will be an explosion in sales with even lower prices. We are not just there yet.
    Then we will see even trucks with huge batteries that can compete economically. But I guess the lower demand could make oil even cheaper.

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

      I haven’t read any expert auto industry analysis of this phenomena.

      • By Peter N. on July 30, 2016 at 9:48 am
        • By Forrest on August 1, 2016 at 7:01 am

          That link is just a quick blurb on five year cost reduction, then projects the same rate of change. This analysis is worthless. It would be like the projecting the solar growth rate out some decades and claim the power source will take over power production. Meaning, very easy to have dramatic improvement within startup and worthless to expect that same rate of change.

          • By Peter N. on August 1, 2016 at 7:40 am

            Investors have realized that the new applications of batteries are within reach and that it will become a huge market for many years to come. Therefore there will virtually endless amounts of money available for research and industrialization to get better and cheaper batteries.
            Another driving force is solar and wind power that is getting cheaper for every year. It often produces too much energy that needs to be stored for later use. That is one new application that is within sight, if it happens, such a market will be huge. Same cheap batteries are likely to be used in EVs.

      • By DougH2 on July 30, 2016 at 10:00 am

        You won’t read much in auto magazines or industry journals. They are supported by ads from gas automakers. They know better than to bite the hand that feeds them.

        • By Forrest on July 31, 2016 at 6:25 am

          The industry will not experience large cost reductions per mass production of batteries. Your making the mistake of comparing the industry to silicon valley mirco processor production in which exponential capability was experienced with lower cost. Battery industry better compared to general automotive efficiency and cost control. Also, to the improvement over the years.

          Automotive will adapt the EV immediately if sales indicated a mass market desirability. These international corps spend a lot of money to direct talent to satisfy consumer wants and needs. It appears Japanese are pivoting more resources to fuel cell technology.

    • By GregS on August 16, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      I know Elon said he was working on an EV pickup, but I believe that it might be quite a while before there is a practical one available. I’ve often though that something like the Volt powertrain would be great for a pickup, with 40 miles of EV range and unlimited on gas. This is perfect for the commuter that drives his pickup to work everyday, and then uses the truck on weekends for longer trips

  21. By Steve:O on July 30, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Are you sure you’ve made the economically wisest for your personal transport? Look again at your driving: 2,500 mile per year = 50 miles per week.

    I’m guessing your driving looks something like this: you work from home (writing) and don’t have to commute, but do make several short local trips each week (groceries) and a few long trips each year (grandma).

    I mean, really, think about it. For those short trips: EVs are perfect. you never have to go out of the way to stop at a gas station, you wouldn’t have four $100 oil changes a year, and no more fast rusting muffler system due to partially heated exhaust system failing to vaporize all the exhaust condensate on those short trips.

    About those long trips, well okay, that Tesla is out of reach for most of us. We should all be able to agree, “expensive is not always illogical”, if it was, no one would eat filet mignon, but Teslas are simply out of reach. Nevertheless there are car rentals!

    But wait you say, EVs cost $30k or more. Outrageous! (Funny how no one is outraged at $45k pickups… but ’nuff said.)

    But right now used EVs are a bargain. I was checking prices earlier this week in New Jersey: two year old Smart EVs, minimal miles, less than $9k. Nissan Leafs for $10k. Hello? Can you say cheap?

    Do your personal math over again RR, I’ll bet that for your driving, the scheduled oil changes alone make owning a gasser more expensive than owning an EV (and renting for those few long trips).

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Pickups utility for towing, hauling, and consumer desire is just not comparable to the Leaf. If as you post the depreciation of EV is drastic, well that is an accurate bellwether of consumer satisfaction with the vehicle. They apparently voting with trades. The marketplace is an accurate barometer of the car value. Experts have pegged EVs at marginal growth potential for the foreseeable future. You post as if the public or car owners are just ignorant of EV value. I don’t think so.

  22. By vb on July 30, 2016 at 8:19 am

    What about people who don’t have a garage where they can charge their battery overnight? What is a person who lives in apartment and parks on the street to do? How can you be sure that gangs wouldn’t roam the streets and unplug cars at night just for the fun of it.

    • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:48 am

      BEV’s aren’t for everyone yet. If you can’t fuel at home it will be a couple years before there are reasonably priced BEVs with enough range to make a fast charge every 5 or 6 days work well.
      Pack sizes and charge rates are going up all the time so it is just a matter of time til the people who can’t fuel at home will be able to use a BEV with no compromises.

  23. By DougH2 on July 30, 2016 at 8:34 am

    It takes 4kws of electricity to produce one gallon of gasoline. My EV can travel 14 miles on that electricity alone. So filling an SUV with 15 gallons of gas is using the equivalent amount of electricity that it take me to travel 210 miles.

    So gasoline cars cause pollution in refining and then spew pollution when you drive them. They are also subsidized by the military assets we continue to deploy to the Middle East just so that we can get the oil we need on a daily basis.

    Imagine a day when you have solar panels on your roof and produce enough electricity everyday, from the sun alone, to drive your car. The would be a completely green car. A car the produces no pollution in the creation of electricity and certainly no pollution when you drive it. No need to fight wars over oil because none is needed to drive your car.

    Most electric plants are switching to natural gas these days. Fracking has produced enough natural gas to last the next 200 years. It’s cheap, t’s plentiful, it’s cleaner, and it’s domestic. Moving to electric cars will allow us to take advantage of that.

    And finally, I got my Tesla 3 years ago. I have 142,000+ miles on it. It’s actually been economically justifiable to me. It’s also the best car I’ve ever driven. It drives like the day I bought it. It’s electric motors only has two parts; neither of which touch each other. It has no transmission and straight-line torque from zero to 140. I plan to drive it for another 500,000 miles. I’ve only lost 5% battery capacity life in those 142,000 miles. Most of that happened in the first six months.

    Mark my words, every automobile will eventually be electric. We will tell our grandchildren of the day that we had to pump flammable, explosive liquids into our vehicles to make them go. We will tell them of transmissions and exhaust systems because they will have no concept of either. We will joke about when cars used to run hot. And the 153,000 car fires were year will be almost non-existent.

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Well, it’s hard to argue with fantasy. You did post of NG utilized for power generation. The last analysis I’ve read the NG hybrid vehicle was a better choice to improve the environment as compared to EV. The car is cheaper and offers better value to customer. Oh, and will best the lower pollution of EV powered by the grid. We can do more sooner with NG vehicle. Now, evaluate the midlevel ethanol fueled hybrid and that will beat NG. Even more so with E85 fuel. Double that for cellulosic ethanol fuel. Cummings built an optimized E85 engine for mid duty van service. Field trials proved the engine had better mileage than the gasoline version. The E85 generated more desirable low end torque even when compared with diesel. The fuel cost was equivalent to diesel per mile with an engine half the size. By the way the engine needed no expensive high pressure injection system as compared to diesel, nor the diesel expensive pollution control equipment. Carbon emission was a whopping 90% decrease. BEV would never be able to touch these numbers. Also, ethanol is expected to drop to negative carbon rating with the steady flow of improvement to processing and farming.

      • By DougH2 on July 30, 2016 at 9:56 am

        Ethanol, as you eluded, takes more energy to produce that it generates. An though you get more torque out of these re-designed engines, and that’s impressive, you still need ancillary systems. You still need cooling, exhaust, transmissions, and fuel delivery, to name a few. You need thousands of moving parts to make your car go.

        And I won’t even talk about the absurdity of CNG. How many stations are there today in North American, 900? And besides, now you are driving around with a 3600 psi bomb rather than a zero pressure one.

        I don’t care about the number of charging stations in my city. Because I charge at home 95% of the time. But electricity is EVERYWHERE. Even then, there are tens of thousands of charging stations in America today. And that number if growing rapidly.

        Gas, and especially CNG, is headed for the trash heap of history. It’s just a matter of time.

        • By Forrest on July 31, 2016 at 6:53 am

          Ethanol beats gasoline per energy return, it requires no base stock to start the process. So, fossil fuel will always go negative in energy return. Also, ethanol is basically solar energy. Up to date well to wheels ratio of ethanol sits at 3:1. But, since the process plant takes the vast majority of energy to produce the fuel, improvement in this facility will greatly impact this ratio. These process plants are evaluating equipment for such improvements in cost and carbon efficiency. For, example biomass is expected to replace natural gas for 30% improvement of ethanol’s carbon rating. Wind and solar power the same result. Most of all CHP processing equipment (which appears to especially suited to the continuous processing of ethanol) alone will push that ratio to 427:1. Wow! The coprocess plants such as Poet are extremely efficient when combining cellulosic with starch ethanol processes.

          I agree with the refueling cost of NG vehicles. Don’t see it happening. Over the road tractors, yes. High pressure tanks have an excellent safety record. Think about the lack of oxygen within the tank = no explosion. Leaks will quickly vent off pressure if ruptured with little harm. Compare this with gasoline sloshing around tank surrounded with air.

          If your attempting to make a case of simplicity of EV as compared to ICE, I would counter with the technology, manufacturing processes, and quality control of traditional auto is well established, reliable, and all ready paid for. So, your point would only occur if both technologies started at the same point in development. Besides, the battery environment constraints and the rest do not appear not to be a simple technology. Hybrids, Volts, and even Leaf vehicles have maximum need of operator control and much technology demands. The consumer thinks the plain Jane ICE is simple as compared.

          • By DougH2 on August 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm

            I appreciate your well reasoned response. Very thoughtful.

            But, having grown up in Detroit and worked on cars from the floor to the roof as a bodyman and a mechanic until I completed college. And having owned 6 ICEVs which I drove nearly 3/4 million miles. And having owned my Tesla Model S for 3 years and having driven it over 144,000 miles, I think the ICEV is doomed. For the following reasons ICEVs will go away in the next 20 years:

            1. The EV is three times as efficient. My Model S has a MPGe of 96.
            2. The ICEV generate a bunch of excess heat. Because energy is generated with explosions, the exhaust and heat from those explosions have to be cooled and expelled in exhaust. That requires a robust cooling system. That cooling system requires pumping and heat transfer. All these things take energy and weight and make the ICEV less efficient.
            3. ICEV systems (cooling, exhaust, fuel delivery, pollution mitigation, torque transmission) are too complicated. They are expensive to make and increase the probability that something will go wrong. Thus dealers count on making most of their profit on maintenance. When people like me don’t have maintenance headaches anymore, the ICEV will be abandoned.
            4. EVs have straight-line torque (same torque from zero to max rpm.) For that reason, they need no transmission. Since they have straight-line torque, they are faster than all but the fastest of ICEVs. I can floor my Tesla with no worry that I’m going to exceed the max rpm for the motor. It’s all computer controlled and very exciting to drive.
            5. Larger batteries will soon mean that the EV will have a max range greater than the longest range ICEV.
            6. Charging at home for $30 per month in electricity mean I don’t have to go anywhere but home and work. And I wake every morning with and full tank (or battery as the case my be.)
            7. Once I get solar panels and I generate all the electricity my car uses from sunlight, my EV will have a zero carbon footprint and zero marginal cost per mile once I’ve paid for my solar system. That’s not attainable with a fuel-based system.

            • By Forrest on August 5, 2016 at 7:03 pm

              I am objective and have about your experience with automotive. I really do wish the battery car would perform as you post. The ICE has already best the average grid efficiency. When accompanied with hybrid technology the best of both technologies are empowered. You talk of waste heat of combustion. Well, this is not a waste product for most of seasonal needs of customers. Cold or heat are both horrible condition for battery car. You post of simplicity of EV. It’s not. The vehicle has maximum restraints, control parameters, and environmental needs. If Engineers miss those needs, the thousands of dollars invested within the battery would evaporate. Can you imagine parking a EV for a week in hot Texas summer airport parking lot? The ICE owner has no worry. Same for refueling. Can your imagine a battery car pulling a trailer up the mountain in winter?

              I just read today of a new class of lubricant that migrates to weak or lost lubrication. They claim (Oak Ridge) that typical engine will experience no engine wear. Just today I learned a mid level ethanol fueled car will decrease carbon emissions -30% . That the new efficient engine will generate impressive fuel mileage. Stack that on top of hybrid technology, well, the grid can’t compete. Electricity is really a difficult energy carrier. Electricity as a energy carrier matters not. Meaning the WtW is the measure. Electricity is difficult to produce, control, transport, regulate, and fragile to distribute. If conservationists wish to improve the environment, they best minimize low efficiency grid power and adapt maximum efficient natural gas for home use. This way the green power can penetrate a larger share of electrical needs. It will take forever to make a massive improvement to grid energy that is routinely spouted from BEV enthusiasts. The grid is extremely complex and expensive to change. You would be better to top off your tank with E85 fuel for decades.

            • By Forrest on August 6, 2016 at 6:14 am

              On top of that, automotive is most excited of the mild hybrid technology popularity. This technology will have market penetration as it is easy cost justified. The carbon gel 48v battery has an excellent lifespan and not sensitive to environmental conditions. It has much lower cost. The class of vehicle will have options to plug in for those customers attempting to maximize MPG. The car can operate AC with engine off. The car can manage slow moving traffic and parking with engine off. The technology will magnify the best of ICE engine power allowing for downsized engine. The high efficient class will utilize mid level ethanol for down speeding efficiency gain as well. The turbo will be electric providing battery recharge and quick pressure boost. Up to date review of the automotive technology claim the ICE is capable of meeting CAFE requirements. You stack that benefit with higher ethanol production and that the fuel and that the fuel is steadily gaining a greener footprint. Well, transportation probably losing it’s concern for GW emissions. I do believe the EV will continue to become popular within the short trip metro market. Especially, if like an Google company could control a fleet of them. A massive software program to control the car’s recharge requirements, loading, unloading, efficient logistics, and temperature management. This would be a welcome replacement of stinky public buses and light rail. It would be great to have a nuclear power plant in proximity to do the heavy lifting.

            • By DougH2 on August 17, 2016 at 11:04 am

              Well, I don’t have much more to contribute. I will say this. Take it from a Detroit mechanic, the ICEV is on it’s way out.

              I’m about to take a trip in my MS60 from Atlanta to Los Angeles starting Sunday. The total trip will be well over 6,000 miles. This will all be using Tesla’s Supercharger network on the highway and local charging at destinations. I won’t pay a dime for 95% of the energy.

              I have the smallest battery that Tesla mass produced, the 60kw. Tesla more than likely introduce a 100kw battery before year’s end. It’s only going to get better.

              By next year, I’ll produce the vast majority of the power my car consumes from solar. That will reduce the car’s carbon footprint to nearly zero. That’s impossible to do with ICEVs, even if they added zero carbon to the atmosphere when you drove them.

              Even with the smallest battery, my car can beat 95% of the ICEVs from zero to 60 mph. With a 100kw battery powering the same motor, I’ll make that about 99%. If I used the performance dual motor version of the MS, there would only be a handful of cars that could win; and this massed produced technology is less than 5 years old. We already see performance electric cars with 4 motors that may very well be the fastest production cars ever made. Period.

              The ICEV is headed for the scrapheap of history like the horse and buggy. We will reminisce about the time when we poured flammable liquids into our vehicles to make them go. We will remember a time when a car caught on fire every 20 minutes in America. That will be history.

    • By JonathanMaddox on August 4, 2016 at 4:19 am

      It does *not* take 4 kWh of electricity to refine a gallon of gasoline.

      The energy loss of the refining process is around 4-6 kWh per gallon of liquid fuel product, true. But a large majority of that energy arrives at the refinery in the form of crude oil feedstock, and almost all the remainder is natural gas, in those refineries which use natural gas (some do not). That energy never takes the form of electricity. It leaves the refinery mostly in the form of heat losses and flares, but also as non-liquid and/or non-fuel chemical or waste products like petcoke, olefins (for use in the manufacture of plastics and other synthetic chemicals), sulphuric acid, and so on.

      Refineries do use a considerable amount of electricity, but (depending on the refinery) it varies from about 0.1kWh to 0.5kWh per gallon of liquid fuel product.

      That’s definitely not enough to drive your Tesla the same distance as the gallon of liquid fuel drives an ICE vehicle.

      • By DougH2 on August 5, 2016 at 5:54 pm

        Thanks for the correction. I assume 0.1kWh is the best case. Other refineries use more electric power.

        I wasn’t trying to go from well to wheel. Of course it takes electricity to pump the refined gasoline through pipelines, then on to trucks, then into tanks, then into automobile tanks. That gas has to be transported in tanker trucks on the street, across highways, and eventually to gas stations.

        The same electricity that powers my garage door opener, also powers my car. No extra infrastructure, just installed another plug in my garage so that I could get 220V 50A.

    • By lafeber on August 17, 2016 at 8:38 am

      The amount of energy that it takes to extract one liter of oil will rise (have to drill deeper, oil sands) and the amount of miles you can run an EV on that energy will rise as well (better energy density for batteries, better aerodynamics)

      The future of EV’s look brighter than most commenters here realise.

  24. By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:01 am

    rlh, a sports car/pickup truck is an irrational decision. It can not be justified on the basis of economics, energy density or climate change. But they are fun/practical to drive.

    I love my Volt but I didn’t buy it to save the world, reverse the rise of the seas or any of that rot. I bought it to drive a silent clean electric car that uses all American electricity instead of Jihadi Juice. Oil is a fungible good so even if the US got to be totally independent of oil imports, buying gasoline purchased in the US will still support the international pricing of oil.
    So you can drive your gas guzzler and indirectly support Putin/Chavez’s idiot step child and the House of Saud. I support natural gas frackers and American nuclear power plant operators with my purchase of electricity.

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 9:07 am

      So, I assume your really into E85 for more of the same reasons?

      • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:10 am

        Nah, the EROEI for E85 is still pretty low. It is improving but raising corn for fuel is going to be tough to do intelligently. Maybe miscanthus use will improve the numbers but they aren’t there yet.
        It is worth continuing testing with a small to medium level of funding though.

        • By Forrest on August 1, 2016 at 6:07 am

          Well, since the fuel markets are so saturated with cheap fossil fuel, not much opportunity to increase ethanol production. We should nevertheless continue to follow RFS law as we have been told the price of fuel can easily shoot up. U.S. should maintain biofuel leadership and continue to enjoy capture the economic benefits herein.

          EROEI has maligned ethanol with old data and petrol propaganda. The well to wheels calculation, the modern datum to measure energy worth, has top ratings for ethanol. E85 for example is delivered locally as compared to crude oil shipments around the world. The fuel magnifies gasoline worth per ability to improve engine efficiency, so mid level blends have incredible worth. Corn is used for fuel, feed, food, oil, and a host of other coproducts. Somehow those wishing to denigrate the fuel forget that. The actual valuable portion of feed is increased per the distillery grains health benefits.

  25. By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:06 am

    The author raises good points, but the obvious rejoinder is, we have been building gassers for 100+ years, and electric cars for 5. We are a couple months from the release of the first reasonably priced full utility BEV. Tesla will release another one in a year or two.
    Unfortunately the best reasonably priced electric car released so far, the Volt, is built by GM post bail out. The resentment has tainted the car as has the record Chevy has of building horrible small cars. It may be that Chevy simply can not recover from its self inflicted reputation for poor quality. Which would be too bad because the JD Powers customer satisfaction award for mid-sized cars has been won by the Volt 3 years running. Which is rich because one of the Volts worst shortcomings is the small back seats.
    But the electric car won’t have the chance to change anything for another 2 or 3 years. And then tax credit gets cut in half and eventually runs out.

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 9:14 am

      So, your reply to me reads the quality of gasser is superior due to their long history of production. That auto companies have yet to figure out how to build EVs and it will be years and years to make them equally successful. So, it’s best not to invest in them at this time.

      • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 9:18 am

        That is kind of a silly conclusion. We would be driving improved horse buggies, not ICE vehicles, if they had thought that way a hundred years ago. Gassers are going to be supplemented in the short to medium term, not replaced. But there is room for a lot of BEV’s in today’s market, and BEV’s are improving a LOT faster than ICE vehicles are.
        In the short term, electric cars will be the luxury end of the automotive niche. They don’t stink, you refuel them at home and they can have incredible performance levels. Plus they don’t use the Jihadi Juice we have gotten used to using.

        • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 5:31 pm

          Not so, the internal combustion engine has made tremendous strides in improvement. The best in class is as efficient as the average power plant efficiency in which the EV refuels upon. Auto manufacturers are investing in technology within high sales volumes. That would be the best value to meet their desires and needs of the average consumer. These folks silently put money to the task.

          The EV is currently a drain on manufacturers resources. Auto manufactures do invest in EV technology as the excitement and motivation from folks as yourself may provide a market. If your quite they hype and spending, they will quickly pull the plug on such losses.

          Consider the above and the ease to refuel on mid level ethanol. No sacrifice, no change in behavior required. Just accept the cost savings. An efficient hybrid vehicle running on mid level ethanol will provide maximum environmental benefit and consumer savings. Greatly increase the benefit if the vehicle is flex fuel. Double than if running on E85. And if ever the consumer could purchase an optimized E85 vehicle one would need no other solution for transportation contribution of GW.

          • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 7:06 pm

            The EROEI for ethanol is pretty low, and the amount feed corn required to refine a substantial amount of E85 is immense. Gassers are getting slightly more efficient all the time but electric cars are much more efficient than a gasser will ever be. And electric cars are omnivorous. You can fuel them with coal powered electricity generation if you need to, but the current move to natural gas is making electric cars cleaner every year. And nukes are better yet. And nothing is as quiet and torquey as an electric car. Plus you skip the gas stink and you can fuel at home.
            It is early days for electric cars, the growth of the lithium ion battery industry is just beginning. The cost of batteries is dropping much faster than the gassers efficiency is growing. BEV’s won’t replace all the ICE vehicles, but the majority of luxury cars will be electric within 10 years. Much, but not all, of the rest of the market will follow. For example, I grew up on the Hi-Line in Montana. I doubt that electric cars and trucks will be a huge hit in areas where the temps go below zero for noticeable amounts of time.

            • By Forrest on August 1, 2016 at 5:52 am

              I agree with most of your points except the following:

              1. Modern ethanol have very good energy return as compared to fossil fuel use. The average 3x, but since process plants are the main consumption of energy for the production, any improvement will have a direct result. For example, utilizing more expensive CHP equipment. They also are converting to biomass to replace natural gas when carbon efficiency is of concern, such as California. This will bump the carbon rating to 30% improvement. Otherwise, natural gas is currently hard to beat. The CHP equipment, alone, will make energy return jump to 427:1. Cellulosic ethanol process is improving the ratio as does solar and wind energy for power and fertilizer. Coproducts development continues to that of chemicals utilized for plastics. Some forget the most precious element of the grain stock, protein, is increased after processing. Corn oil production is increasing per the new ethanol processes. Some plants produce food stock if there’re the wet mill processor.

              2. Electric cars are more efficient, but that is false economy as they eliminate the energy production component. Meaning electricity is an energy carrier. So, somewhere, someplace energy is needed to produce power. Now, I will agree the grid is getting cleaner, a good thing. But, the efficiency isn’t that great for the vast majority of the grid and for the foreseeable future it has been calculated that a efficient hybrid will do as much for average citizens. If you live out west with gobs of solar, hydro,and geothermal not so. Or if you have lots of nuclear, or wind not so. So, it’s regional dependent. Modern ICE are breaking into the 40% thermal efficiency range, currently. That’s better than average grid power. If you fuel a hybrid up with higher level ethanol, the car would be top performer for environment. If cellulosic E85 upon optimized engine, the grid could never catch up. The fuel is expected to achieve negative carbon rating.

              3. The production potential of ethanol is immense. Our energy department is working on “Billion Ton” biomass project. The goal is to generate 1.6 billion tons of biomass from all U.S. sources to greatly affect GW. Cellulosic process will easily surpass the 100 gallon per ton bench mark. Some of the poorest countries on the planet sit to gain the most with ethanol. Some say, Africa would become the Saudi Arabia of ethanol.

              4. Lithium battery technology is a big variable. I’ve read most analyst claim the battery is the only technology present and foreseeable. That the technology will steadily be improved, but not at exponential rate. Just at the margins. It will still be heavy, expensive, and lack power density as compared to fuel. The practical or mass produced EV will be very small and lightweight. The vehicle would maintain 2rd car status for short hop metro needs. Uber type transportation with autonomous driver less capability may make personal ownership of this 2rd car unnecessary. Fuel cell technology has the most headroom for improvement and can be classed as EV. The energy density surpasses fuel and the energy easily stored as compared to electricity. It solves the wind and solar energy storage problems as well.

            • By Ziv Bnd on August 1, 2016 at 10:50 am

              I hear you about the potential of ethanol, but I don’t think corn is the crop that it will take to make it really worthwhile. That is why I think we should keep funding ethanol research in a moderate amount. I never believed the artificially low EROEI numbers that Patzek and Pimental trotted out, but 3x or 4x is not that great. I get that localized production helps that range but not that much.
              I disagree with you about the LiIon batteries we have now and especially with what we will see in a few years. The Tesla S is a big car, with great performance and nearly 300 miles of range plus the ability to recharge in 30 minutes and go for another 2 to 3 hours. We are there on performance and now that the Bolt is coming out in 3-4 months, we have a sub-$40k that is nearly there on performance as well. When the Tesla III arrives the BEV will have both the price it needs, the cachet and the performance. And that will happen sooner rather than later using electricity generated by a steadily cleaner mixture of fuels.
              There is a place for ethanol, but until we see widespread use of miscanthus or even poplar trees, I just don’t see it hitting the big league of energy production.
              Just don’t get me started on butanol… LOL! That is one fuel that I really wish we could produce more economically.

            • By Forrest on August 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm

              Did you catch the 427:1 energy balance? As result of more up to date process plants utilizing CHP process equipment. This was a USDA or DOE projection a few months back.

              Also, cellulosic is here today. The processing of cellulosic ethanol hasn’t expanded as ethanol sales are low and the fuel market price, also, to low to invest within. We currently have oversupply.

              Corn, alone, is 15 billion gallons this year. They are building sugar cane process plant in California. Sorghum grain is also utilized currently along with corn. Mexico is investing in agave for ethanol. Waste ethanol continues to solve problems and produce fuel.

              Did you catch the Energy Departments one billion ton biomass project? They developing and studying ways and methods to harvest and grow an expected yield of 1.6 billion tons. If that all could be turned to ethanol were talking of 160 billion gallon per year of low or negative carbon fuel. Can you image what Canada, Africa, Russia, China, and Ukraine could produce?

              I don’t know much about Li batteries other than what auto analysis believe the future sales projections are said to be. Also, what science reporters claim the state and future of the battery. These guys are basically guessing like everyone else. It would be nice if what you expect comes to fruition. I think the electric drive will eventually dominate transportation. That equipment is reliable and easy to control each wheel separately. It still may be powered by ICE device or fuel cell?

              As it stands now, were are within a status to best decrease power from grid. Meaning, to minimize emissions and maximize green power benefit we need to trim our consumption of grid power. Way better to switch to natural gas for all energy needs at the point of use. For example cooking, heating water, and space heating run at +90% efficiency as compared to grid at about 25% to 35% average efficiency at point of use. Also, a real home run if heating with biomass.

            • By Forrest on August 2, 2016 at 5:34 am

              Most people think biomass is cutting down trees and a horrible GW development. Biomass has multiple classifications. Growing or farming biomass for one. That would be a portion of corn or sorghum leaves, stocks, cobs, or cellulose kernel components. Also, the small trees or popple or willow or the grasses of switch and miscanthus. Then their is the foresty biomass that accepts a portion of waste wood resulting in lowering fire danger, removal of insect disease wood, and other general forestry practices to maximize the growth of woodland for healthy and valuable trees. So, you can see a large portion of biomass is really “waste”. Converting waste to fuel is extremely efficient to minimize GW as the wood is prevented from rotting and emitting CO2 and methane or risking forest fire and insect disease. A leader in GW science has calculated just pruning our forest of a small portion of undesirable wood and bury, would offset all our man made GW emissions.

              People forget that trees have a average lifespan in which after achieving maximum growth the tree becomes an emitter of GW gases. A mature forest is carbon neutral, offering no benefit. So, forestry and logging are sorely needed. Actually, a sawmill will lock up carbon from a tree per the construction industry longer than the original tree.

              I post this as I read comments quite often how farmland will minimize forest growth and increase GW. This particularly is a falsehood since the C5 class (grasses) of corn, sorghum, Miscanthus, and switch to name a few are the most efficient in converting CO2 and sunlight to biomass. Not only that the biomass can be easily harvested per efficient farm equipment to prevent decay. Also, our plain states were never forests in their natural state. They looked like this type of grassland. Biologist have studied the wildlife impact on biomass annual plantings and discovered a potential big bump in improvement. Especially if harvesting later after nesting and planting around water retention areas.

            • By Ziv Bnd on August 2, 2016 at 8:05 am

              427 to 1? That is hard to believe. They may claim it but they won’t achieve it. That is basically a perpetual motion device.
              Oil is around 25 to 1 and falling. Anyone that says the EROEI for ethanol is over 8 to 1 is a “I want to believe” type of advocate. Or they are disregarding part of the feed stream.
              “It is a waste product, it doesn’t count.”

            • By Forrest on August 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

              The high ratio first due to the energy required. Most of ethanol’s production energy needs are gobbled up at processing plant. By a large margin. Not the farming of the feed stock. Also, due to the fact ethanol has sunshine or solar as the primary energy supplier.

              The CHP equipment is so efficient (more so than any power generation plant on grid) because of the power and heat generation combination. All power generation from fossil fuel produces a huge amount of heat as a co-product. Most of the time there is no use for it and it merely set aside as a waste product. Not so with ethanol that has heat demands that align up well with waste heat of power generation. Some plants are located next to power plants for this very reason. Most ethanol plants can utilize the popular microturbine CHP systems that are so popular within industry nowadays.

              Also, modern ethanol plants are utilizing recuperation of waste heat to apply to other areas of plant needs. For example one such company provides a product that recaptures the drying of distillery grain heat back to heating process water. I read one California processor has adapted to this. Some recapture the heat used for distillation while other plants are increasing the use of efficient membrane separation of water from alcohol for this process.

              This technology seems to be really creative and ingenious. Poet has a cellulosic design plant that captures the lignan leftovers to power both the energy needs of corn and cellulosic processes. These modern plants also delving into anaerobic bacteria (digester) gas process to finish off the waste stream to lower recycling cost of waste water and provide gas supply to the micro turbine generator. Also, because of the quality of pure CO2 emission, the ethanol plant probably be the first to raise algae as yet another coproduct of feed and fuel. Finally, these process plants are located upon some of the nations best wind energy sources. My guess they would put a wind turbine to work on their premises. But, yes 427:1 energy ratio and that was just with adapting the CHP process equipment, alone.

            • By Forrest on August 2, 2016 at 6:38 pm

              O.k, I did find the ’15 study


              It list three different corn ethanol processes with different configurations for energy return. The 427:1 energy return was the plant powered by corn stover and CHP equipment. Currently, process plants are converting to biomass, especially in the California market. This improves carbon of ethanol an additional 30%. If ever natural gas spiked, all ethanol plants would switch to biomass energy.

            • By Ziv Bnd on August 2, 2016 at 8:57 pm

              Forrest, the money quote in your article is ” The energy balance for the hypothetical case of 100 percent biomass power would be very large, ranging from about 58 to 427.”
              That is the maximum possible in a HYPOTHETICAL range of values with a 100% replacement of outside energy for processing/drying.
              The EROEI may get to 10:1 eventually but it won’t get much beyond that. Oil is still only 25:1 so 10:1 for ethanol isn’t that bad.
              Only if you add outside sources of energy and ignore their sourcing you can get ethanol past 10:1 but I really don’t think even 12:1 is very realistic. 427:1 is a pipe dream.

            • By Robert Rapier on August 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm

              It also isn’t an actual energy balance. It’s a hypothetical ratio of ethanol energy out over fossil energy in.

            • By Forrest on August 3, 2016 at 7:43 am

              Hypothetically, the energy ratio of petrol must always be negative. The energy input (feed stock) is high btu crude oil, so any energy loss upon transportation and processing would detract from the original btu of the feed stock.

              Sure, crude oil is not man made, but neither is solar hydro (rainfall), solar biomass, photovoltaic, or wind. Even the creation energy of nuclear is not man made. So, if you are not counting the btu content of crude oil, then these other inputs should not be counted. So, were back to what is important. The return of energy to displace fossil fuel as fossil fuel has negative consequences to environment and non sustainable.

            • By Robert Rapier on August 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

              No, now you are confusing something else. The process efficiency must always be less than 1. For instance, put 1 barrel of petroleum into a refinery and get 0.9 barrels net of useful products once you account for the energy used for processing. The process efficiency is 90% but the energy return is 9:1 (0.9 barrels net for 0.1 barrel consumed).

              The ratio they are talking about is ethanol energy out to fossil energy in. That’s the 8:1 you see reported for sugarcane ethanol because they use bagasse for process heat. In reality, it isn’t very efficient from a fuel conversion standpoint, but it is free fuel. What that means is that the real energy balance of sugarcane ethanol may be worse than for corn ethanol (not sure of their fertilizer consumption), but the fossil fuel balance is indeed better.

            • By Forrest on August 3, 2016 at 3:15 pm

              The USDA study claims corn ethanol energy balance must be updated every six to eight years. Ethanol started as a energy sink, but continues to improve, year by year. No overall datum or benchmark exists. It’s a moving target, so best to use forward leaning best in class rating as that is where it is headed.

              The study applied all fossil fuel energy input as a negative to the energy return. From farm, processor, to distribution to the pump. If we compare gasoline by the same measure, well the energy return is poor. It will be negative since nothing in the process adds value to the energy process stream of the feed stock. I guess the analogy would be corn seed vs crude oil inputs. Which one has the higher improvement in energy return? The industry could utilize wind, solar, nuclear, or biomass energy to minimize the low rating. I’ve read where hydrogen is or being considered to improve gasoline rating. But, ethanol could do likewise. Their is no solar value addition to gasoline fuel rating. The overall process efficiency, well to pump, of ethanol is efficient as compared. They are actually producing more fuel than consuming.

              The study also stated if ethanol contribution to thermal efficiency gain of the ICE were included the energy return of ethanol would bump up again.

              The energy in vs energy out analysis has been riddled with nonsense of attributing sunshine and rainfall as negative factors. Same for cellulosic where one GW scientist calculated the entire lifespan of living tree as a carbon penalty. Also, some conveniently forget the decomposition emissions chalking that up to nature. Also, often these poor analysis’s conveniently forget ethanol process coproducts value or the root zone carbon sink value of feed stock.

              I’ve read many a post that claim biofuel will never replace gasoline. Well, the best in class processes of ethanol looks very capable to do so. Only one unit of fossil fuel required to produce 427 units of ethanol energy. That is a worthy endeavor if we really do want to replace gasoline. We will be ramping up upon a energy gain process. We needn’t be digging a energy hole to continue the process.

            • By Robert Rapier on August 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm

              “I guess the analogy would be corn seed vs crude oil inputs. Which one has the higher improvement in energy return?”

              You are mixing up some different concepts here. First, a lot of the energy from ethanol can be attributed to the fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. You get a bit of captured solar energy in the process. But here’s the bottom line. If you give me 1 BTU of energy, how can I utilized that to get the largest multiplier? That’s easy. Produce and refine oil. You will have about 10 times as much energy as if you used it to grow corn and make ethanol.

              Of course the downside is that oil is a depleting resource. But, so is our topsoil. Oil may prove to be as sustainable over the decades as corn ethanol.

              “I’ve read many a post that claim biofuel will never replace gasoline. Well, the best in class processes of ethanol looks very capable to do so.”

              It’s just a math problem. One that I have done. Take available arable land, and do the calculations. You will see why I say that biofuels will never scale up to the amount of oil we currently use, unless we find another planet to grow crops on.

            • By Forrest on August 4, 2016 at 7:41 am

              The USDA study accounts for the fossil fuel use at the farming of corn level including fertilizer and the rest. The farm use of fossil fuel is low compared to the ethanol process plant where more opportunity exist to become efficient. Nonetheless, the best farming practices are impressive. Low till or no till, intercropping, secession crops, GMO corn improvement, accurate position technology, satellite imagery for fertilizer placement, and the robust inspection by drone. The study was limited to corn ethanol, but since all accounting of energy input is costed to corn kernel, the cellulosic feed stock is rated very high. Adding cellulosic corn would improve the energy return if they did so.

              The 1 BTU viewpoint is interesting. How to maximize energy to make energy. Oil rates good, because it is already made and stored with no additional production capability. Compare the ease to gain energy from biomass. It’s already produced, readily available, but does replenish naturally. If one harvested waste wood even better, since eliminating the decomposition gases alone worth the effort per the threat of GW.

              The environmental impact to diversity and increase bounty of wildlife per production of biomass is important and studied to accomplish and ensure the endeavor.

              We all know that fossil fuel market is currently artificially low per crude oil politics. I remember not to long ago that biomass pellet fuel was a cheaper alternative to homeowner space heating needs as compared to natural gas. It still is as compared to propane gas. Much more economical option to utilize purchase of plain firewood. And the homeowner that actually produced his own firewood was of tremendous value. Money in the bank earnings. All of the fuel can be rated as waste. No one would cut down prime timber for firewood.

              The math problem of biomass is readily reviewed and studied per such reviews as the “One Billion Ton” report. Just the U.S. alone with no imports can attain probably 1.6 billion tons of valuable biomass feed stock. Conversion to fuel will be the primary market. Efficiency continue to improve to make the process more cost effective.

            • By Forrest on August 3, 2016 at 6:40 am

              The analysis energy return measure, of importance is the return from fossil fuel inputs. As you know our country runs mostly on fossil fuel for energy needs. So, a solar cell power with minimal petrol input is rated high upon energy return even though fuel is required for transportation and manufacture of the product. It is misguided to claim the solar input and low solar efficiency would rate the device per bad energy return. Same for corn per low solar efficiency. Same for claiming irrigation costs per rainwater of corn is negative, given all most all of the corn is irrigated this way. So, in practical terms, if a ethanol plant can utilize biomass for energy input, this should boost their return per decrease in petrol products. Same if they utilized solar or wind power within the process plant. Even hydro or nuclear. What is the energy in to energy out of nuclear? How to rate the energy input of nuclear fuel? It has marvelous carbon efficiency to replace fossil fuel. That is what is important. It’s not renewable, so that isn’t so good to sustain civilization.

            • By Robert Rapier on August 2, 2016 at 9:18 pm

              “If ever natural gas spiked, all ethanol plants would switch to biomass energy.”

              If would have to spike pretty high, because biomass energy is much more capital intensive than natural gas. Running biomass to make power isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are feedstock quality issues, ash issues, tar issues, etc.

            • By Forrest on August 3, 2016 at 6:15 am

              It will be interesting to find out more. A company is offering the conversion product and just recently some gov’t money available for the transition. My guess is they are not producing power, but generating steam process heat. That has a long history. The Calf market is lucrative for ultra low carbon fuel. As you say the midwest is quite happy with propane or natural gas value as it sits. The market for more cellulosic fuel is a better return than burning the high energy lignan for power and heat needs, but they will utilize it either way.

  26. By Doggydogworld on July 30, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Good article, I’ve made the same argument elsewhere. It will take years before EVs ramp to a meaningful percentage of sales, then years more to make a dent in terms of the overall fleet (almost a billion cars worldwide). A couple comments:

    Figure 1 shows Norway’s vehicle fleet growing ~65,000/year since 2008. Plug-is grew almost 40k last year and look to be on pace for ~50k in 2016. If they hit 70k in 2018 the gas/diesel fleet will then be in (terminal) decline. Norway is unique, but it shows how quickly the balance can change from “EVs still not making a dent” to “oil in decline”.

    Also, affordable 200 mile EVs will give governments license to start punishing oilcars. Norway (again) plans to effectively ban them by 2025. European cities are pushing them out of city centers. China is being especially aggressive. Global plug-in sales grew 70% last year despite the US decline. The Bloomberg guy’s 60%/year scenario may pan out, after all. That’s enough to noticeably bend the demand curve starting around 2020.

    • By Forrest on July 30, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Is this breaking news? I’ve read of no analysis of EV market penetration. Far from it, manufactures are investing in all technologist as it is hard to envision the future. Mild hybrid appear to achieve the biggest market penetration in the foreseeable future.

    • By Ziv Bnd on July 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      Doggy, I agree that we aren’t going to see electric cars really impact demand for oil for a couple more years. It will take at least 2 or 3 years of production of more than 1 popular, sub-$40k BEV’s with at least 200 miles of AER. I.e., we need the Bolt, the Leaf 2 and, hopefully, the Tesla III to be selling for at least 2 years. And that may not happen until 2019 or 2020. But when you have a substantial part of the US Light Duty vehicle fleet using electricity instead of gas, there WILL be a reduction in the amount of gasoline used by the US.
      Which will, perversely, make gasoline prices rise slower, or even allow them to drop, thereby making ICE vehicles economically viable for a longer period.

  27. By Patrick on August 1, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Today, EVs represent only a tiny percent of new car sales. That means that they are an even smaller percentage of the total vehicle fleet currently on the roadways. So their impact on fuel sales (or anything else) will, of course, be dwarfed by larger trends. This is just common sense and no reason to be “skeptical”. As EVs sales grow, so will their impact on consumption trends.

  28. By Meh on August 2, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Wait a couple years. If Norway EV sales sustain 30% of new car sales, crude oil demand there will fall — first slowly, then very quickly.

    You could argue that the Norway can’t sustain 30% new EV sales, but with the Model 3 around the corner, I think that would be unwise.

  29. By JonathanMaddox on August 3, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Are you accounting for oil product exports from Norway at all? Norway’s refineries don’t produce just for the domestic market, but their crude oil consumption is accounted to Norway.

    • By Robert Rapier on August 3, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Yes, that is net domestic consumption.

  30. By Larry Lackey on August 8, 2016 at 3:23 am

    More power plants will be needed to supply more power for charging EV’s and that’s not going to happen.

    • By lafeber on August 17, 2016 at 8:46 am

      So the acquisition of Solarcity was a good move then?

  31. By Larry Lackey on August 8, 2016 at 3:31 am

    What everybody seems to be forgetting is that more power plants will have to be built to supply the power for charging thousands of EV’s.But with King Obozo’s rediculous emission standards,power plants are CLOSING.Also,any new plants will most likely use natural gas,which is a product of DRILLING,which Enviro-Nazis hate.Its a Catch-22 situation.

  32. By Larry Lackey on August 8, 2016 at 3:51 am

    What most people are forgetting is that a huge number of EV’s will strain an already limited power grid.More power plants will have to to be built.But right now they are CLOSING thanks to our wonderful President and his ridiculous emission standards.And new power plants would most likely use natural gas,which comes from the very drilling that Eco-Nazis hate.It’s a Catch-22 situation.

  33. By takchess on August 11, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    It’s nice to see the passion and numerous comments, reminds me of when you would write about Ethanol back in the day. When it becomes a no brainer to switch to batteries we will. It’s not a scientific law but we are seeing innovation and cost savings.

  34. By delphi23 on August 15, 2016 at 12:19 am

    The takeaway from the article is not that batteries need to get better. It is that the elephant in the room matters. The elephant being population growth.

    • By Forrest on August 15, 2016 at 6:18 am

      Islam religion is then part of the problem. In our country, at an early time, Catholics. Both are or have promoted high birthrates. Islam is projected to have the highest population due to their birthrate, being about 2x the average.

      • By delphi23 on August 15, 2016 at 9:42 am

        Roman Catholicism is still against any birth control besides abstinence.

  35. By 3DFS Software-Defined Power on August 16, 2016 at 10:34 am

    This is not considering technological advancements in the EV / Electricity space. There are new energy efficiency technologies that are available to day in a small scale, but will be widespread in a short time that completely change the conversation and certainly these dire projections.

  36. By grandonia on August 16, 2016 at 10:43 am

    And… what about renewables? Could they displace oil consumption in the next 5-10 years?

    • By GregS on August 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      What renewable are you talking about? Ethanol?

      • By grandonia on October 28, 2016 at 7:44 am

        Nope, solar, hydro, wind, etc.

      • By grandonia on May 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

        Nope, solar…

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