There seems to be a renewed rush of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) being spread about electric vehicles these days. And it’s either by “environmental groups” or other groups pushing environmental groups to “lead the charge” against EVs. In Germany, you have some not-in-my-backyard “environmental groups” that seem to be solely focused on stopping Tesla from starting up Giga Berlin.
Tesla sells more EVs than any other company on this planet and it would make sense that environmental groups would want more clean electric vehicles on the roads instead of toxic gas and diesel guzzlers that spew greenhouse gases and air pollution. Yet some minor, niche organizations that claim to be focused on environmental matters have been attacking EVs lately.
In June, a conservative nonprofit organization, CFACT, which claims to focus on protecting the earth, published an article filled with long-debunked misinformation and false claims about EVs. Some of these claims included that EVs can never be produced in the numbers the government wants (think “at scale”), that there will never be enough charging stations, that it takes too long to charge an EV and you’ll have to cancel any road trips you think you can make, that the average consumer will never be able to afford an EV, and so much more. Wild stuff in the year 2021.
A new article — an opinion piece published by The Hill — is suggesting that environmentalists should lead the charge against electric vehicles. The article claims that if you really care about human rights and want to protect the environment, then you should stop investing in plug-in electric vehicles. It cited Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyoda, who spoke of “brutal realities of PEVs.” Oddly, it was written by a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board, who also serves on the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission. Well, appointments aside, the writer is a senior fellow at a conservative think tank.
The article also stated that EVs are not more efficient than gasoline vehicles, which is a shocking claim. Steve Hanley wrote about this matter in 2018. Here’s part of that article:
“According to the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, ‘EVs convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.’”
So, yeah, no — gas and diesel cars are not more efficient.
Oddly, the write of the piece in The Hill cited that CleanTechnica article while claiming “All-electric vehicles are not more efficient than gasoline vehicles.”
The author also left out the part where Steve added:
“An electric motor typically is between 85% and 90% efficient. That means it converts that percentage of the electricity provided to it into useful work. The difference between the efficiency of the motor and the overall efficiency of an electric car is accounted for losses attributed to charging and discharging the battery and, for some charging (for some cars), converting AC to DC current and back again.”
Twisting Steve’s words, the author of that opinion piece continued:
“They are natural resource-intensive, exacerbate social injustices, and make little sense unless blue-state governors stop strangling the supply of natural gas into the United States. Investing in PEVs makes zero sense under ESG ‘green’ principles.”
The author brings up human rights, and I believe this is important. Human rights are critical and every company in any industry needs to do its part in making sure there are no violations of any rights. However, the author doesn’t mention the actual problem with cobalt or responses in the EV industry to that problem. He vaguely brings up cobalt, nickel, and lithium and the fact that countries don’t observe the same environmental restrictions as we do. Although he is right, he is ignoring the fact that Tesla has a human rights protocol that it observes rigorously (I bring up Tesla because it is the best selling EV producer and the leader of the industry) and other automakers have similar approaches to the problem. The author brought up the horrors of the Democratic Republic of Congo but doesn’t mention the progress that Tesla, Panasonic, and others have made reducing the amount of cobalt used in their batteries, and not getting cobalt from there.
Panasonic’s Shoichiro Watanabe, Head of Energy Technology and Manufacturing at Panasonic, shared a presentation this year that I recently wrote about. He spoke of how the Panasonic research and development (R&D) lab found that cobalt-free cathodes achieved the same level of cycle life as Panasonic’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery cells.
Although there is a global problem where not every country believes that human rights should be protected, there is a lot of progress by companies such as Tesla to use only ethically sourced materials. The message Tesla is sending is clear. If you want Tesla as a customer, don’t use child slaves or unethically mined materials. A quick look at Tesla’s Conflict Minerals Report will show that it only sources responsibly produced materials. In its SEC filing, Tesla stated:
“This means having safe and humane working conditions in our supply chain and ensuring that workers are treated with respect and dignity.”
The author pointed out that much electricity generation in this country comes from natural gas, and this is true. However, wind and solar power are now cheaper and dominate new power capacity in the USA. According to investment bank Lazards’ Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis for 2021, utility-scale solar has the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in the U.S. compared with all the other sources. In any case, even if powered by natural gas power plants, electric vehicles are much greener than gas/diesel cars.
The author also made the claim that poor people will never be able to afford an electric vehicle. The idea that the poor can’t afford an EV is silly. If you can afford a car, then you can afford a car. If you can’t afford one, you can’t afford one. If you can afford a car, the total cost of ownership of an EV can be competitive with mass-market cars like the Honda CRV and Toyota Corolla.
Using poor people and poverty to spread FUD is something I am more than happy to speak out on. Saying, “oh the poor won’t be able to pay their electric bill if we switch to clean energy” is silly. The poor also won’t be able to afford their hospital bills for cancer. There is evidence to that right here in Louisiana.
The fossil fuel industry is killing people and this planet, and to pretend it’s not or to intentionally not include this while pushing against EVs (which are more environmentally friendly than any ICE vehicle) is an outright lie. So, don’t come at us with that “poor people will be punished if we switch to clean energy” mess.
There’s much more in that article that’s misleading and even odd, but we won’t even waste time on that.
The question I have is this:
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