Electric Vehicles — Thinking People’s Cars
What’s the ROI (return on investment) for filling a gas car? None, zero! You pay from the moment you sign on the dotted line — engine repairs, routine maintenance, gas, gas, and gas. Did I mention gas? Automakers love you, auto dealers love you, repair shops love you, and the fossil fuel industry loves you. Why not? You’re constantly at their doors with your wallet open.
Many studies showing the cost of owning an electric vehicle (EV) as opposed to a fossil fuel vehicle (FFV) are distorted and biased toward FFVs, as we’ve simply been programmed to think from a FFV perspective. This is by design, just like the skillful manipulation that has people pulling up to the pump without thinking about what’s going on and how devastating it is to them and the environment. The technological advantages and power of EVs when combined with renewables should not be underestimated or overlooked when we compare different propulsion systems.
You can never drive a gas car for the cost of driving an EV. You will always be tethered to the pump, but you will always have the option of paying very little to nothing for the energy to drive an EV. An unfair comparison? When we list the benefits of driving both cars, automakers are quick to point out how fast a gas car can be refilled, so if that’s a benefit of gas cars then surely being able to charge an EV from your own power is a benefit of electric cars. Combining EVs and renewables forms a bond that gas cars can not compete with and as technology improves, as it has done and will keep on doing, this will only get better. As charging rates continue to go up, the line between filling a gas car and charging an EV will vanish, and we are already starting to seeing this.
The Hidden Costs of Owning Fossil Fuel Vehicles
I’ve written at length about the crippling pollution and cost of the ICE (internal combustion engine): “The Massive Cost & Burden To Society & The Environment Of The Internal Combustion Engine (ICE).”
Every study comparing EVs and ICE-powered vehicles should include these costs, as merely comparing cost per mile from the perspective of gas cost to electrical fees is skewed in the favor of ICEs.
EVs linked to a world powered by renewables is now emerging as the 21st century’s power. Gone are the days when the FF industry scoffed at renewables being 1% of the grid’s power.
“The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
“In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic.” — The Guardian
When I said years ago that any industrial nation that hopes to compete on the world stage in the 21st century must aggressively adopt renewable energy, I was laughed at. No one is laughing now, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
EVs combined with renewables paint a different picture from the over simplification of gas miles versus electrical miles. EVs have the option of utilizing renewables that FF just can’t compete with. No one is putting oil extraction and refining equipment in their backyards, it would be silly. Solar panels on your roof? That’s another story, and when you do that, you shut off the pump and that’s your goal, you want to cut off every corporation that you open your wallet to on a continuing basis. When we invest in renewables on a personal level, or when communities invest in renewables on a group level, we are capable of reaching a point that closes the door on groups supplying us something we can’t refuse, whether it is gas and routine maintenance for our car or the electricity for lighting our homes. It’s time to develop new models for the 21st century, time to rethink how we save money and invest it. The momentum of this thinking is already happening as communities move to renewables from group buys.
When we think about EVs, this is how we should think about them. EVs have a technological richness that goes beyond the ICE. Take my situation, for example. About 12 or 13 years ago, while I still owned a gas car, I started building my PV (photovoltaic) system and continued to add modules as I could afford them. I kept building over the years and also searched out a grant to supplement my original system with and intertie system. Once I got to the point that I was making enough power, and EVs started coming out with ranges over 200 miles, I dumped the gas car for an EV. What I have today is a house and a car that both are powered from renewables.
We can talk about ROI, but there’s no ICE to compare my ROI to, there is no ROI on filling your car with gas. After 9 or 10 years, the PV was paid off and now I’m sitting in my office, the sun is out, and I’m making money with my car fully charged. The FF monkey is off my back, repair shops, routine maintenance, brake jobs, engine check lights — all gone forever. It’s cost me a whopping $60 or $70 to power, drive, and maintain my EV for the last couple of years, that’s everything, including charging, inspections, repairs, etc., plus the time, pollution, and energy going and coming from gas stations — gone. If you subtract from that my negative electric bill, I’m actually making money and my house is powered for free to boot.
Everyday, what I did becomes easier for everyone, and as the world goes to renewables it becomes easier for communities, coops, etc. to do what I did and it makes it easier and a better choice to buy an EV.
The Long Distance Myth
How many people drive over 200 miles a day, everyday? Not many, according to a survey by AAA:
“First-year data, collected from May 2013 through May 2014 from 3,319 drivers, reveals that Americans drive, on average, 29.2 miles per day, making two trips that total 46 minutes. It totals 10,658 miles per year.”
Personally, 95% or more of my charging is at home from my own PV array. Let’s say you live in a condo. If the board puts in charging and your EV goes 3.5 miles per kilowatt, you’ll use 29.2/3.5 or about 8.34 kW. With just the charging voltage of 110 and the current of 15 amps — power you can extract from a basic wall outlet (1.65 kWh), you can charge your car in 8.34/1.65 or about 5 hours. You could hang an extension cord out your window and do it! In fact for the first few months I owned my EV I charged from a 110 outlet.
The number of times I go over 300 miles in a day is very few to none. Okay, we’re older and we don’t travel as much as some people, but the myth that people drive extended distances everyday is FF fodder, along with the nonsense about burning out the grid with all the EVs charging.
The Future of Energy and What it Means to Drive an EV
“What if an investment advisor told you that he could get you $119 back for every $1 you gave him? That’s a 11,900% rate of return. Even Bernie Madoff only promised 10.5%. Obviously a scam, right?
“Clearly this is a scam, but if you’re the oil, gas and coal industry, it’s legal and business as usual in Washington. For every $1 the industry spends on campaign contributions and lobbying in DC, it gets back $119 in subsidies.”
“TOTAL amount spent by Big Oil, Gas, and Coal in 113th Congress: $350,587,282 ($350 million and change)
That FF money hurts everyone, as governments in democratic countries are supposed to work for the benefit of the people, not the benefit of the corporations. The cost of owning that gas car just went up, you support that lobby money and it directly hurts you, your family, and the environment immeasurably.
When we evaluate the cost of owning vehicles we have to level the playing field, and that means all the hidden costs. The cost of ocean acidification, the cost of higher cancer rates especially in high traffic areas, oil spills, and wars to protect corporate interests too. What, you thought the Iraq war was about 9/11?