Ignorance can be cured by information. There is no cure for stupidity. In America, Faux News is the temple to the high priests of stupid. In the UK, the Daily Mail fills that role. Last December, the Daily Mail ran a story with this scary headline: “Weight of electric vehicles could cause ‘catastrophic’ damage and ‘lead to car parks collapsing’ — Engineers warn Britain’s parking facilities were not designed for hulking battery cars.”
Oh, dear. How can that be? The answer, for those with the brain function of a kumquat, goes something like this. A 1976 Ford Cortina Mk. III weighed 1.4 tons. A Tesla Model 2 weighs 2.2 tons. The UK has over 6000 parking garages, some of which were built in 1976, and were designed to support the weight of cars like the Ford Cortina Mk. III. Concrete structures deteriorate over time. Therefore, those old garages are weaker than they were when new. Add in the fact that electric cars are heavier than cars were in 1976 and — Bob’s your uncle — parking garages might be falling! We must run and tell the king!
Well, a precious two-year-old could spot the fallacy in that argument. It’s known as a false equivalency and an example would be something like this: Grass is a green. Grass is a plant. Therefore all plants are green. If the Daily Mail thinks its readers don’t have the brain power to know when they are being spoon-fed a lorry load of bollocks, it obviously doesn’t think much of its subscribers.
The Daily Mail story is based on a statement by Chris Whapples, a structural engineer who is a member of the British Parking Association, which represents parking garage owners. He said, “If a vehicle is heavier than the car park was originally designed for, the effects could be catastrophic. We’ve not had an incident yet, but I suspect it is only a matter of time. We have recommended that a loading check is performed on all older car parks and the industry is responding.”
Fair enough. If the weight supported by any structure exceeds the load it was designed to support, that’s a problem. But let’s look at what Whapples actually said. Do you see the words “electric” or “EV” in his statement? No? Then clearly what the Daily Mail has done is put words in the mouth of its source. Is this journalism? No, it is not. It’s a media outlet twisting information to suit its own editorial agenda. In other words, it isn’t publishing information, it’s publishing propaganda. Its readers deserve better.
Batteries & Electric Cars
We won’t pretend that the batteries in electric cars aren’t heavy. They are. But let’s not suggest that cars in general haven’t gotten heavier in the past 40 years. Here are some typical cars sold in the UK and what they weigh. The Ford Fiesta, which may be the closest modern day equivalent to that 1976 C0rtina, weighs up to 2,720 pounds — 1,300 more than the Cortina. An Audi A5 weighs up to 3,990 pounds — just a few shy of that Tesla Model 3 the Daily Mail used to scare people into thinking that electric cars are somehow far heavier than a conventional car.
Let’s look at a few more examples. Mercedes S Class — 4,775 pounds; BMW X5 — 4,863 pounds, Toyota Corolla — up to 3,150 pounds, more than double the weight of that 1976 Cortina. Want more? Here’s one to choke on. The Bentley Continental GT — 5,370 pounds.
And The Beat Goes On
You might think the kerfluffle over those scary electric cars might have died down after a few months, but just this week, the Telegraph decided it needed to resurrect the story and spread some more Grade A horse puckey around. The only thing it added was that some parking garages have deteriorated since they were built, without specifying which ones might be affected. Why would it do that? Could it be that anti-EV forces are alive and well and doing their best to be sure people continue to fear electric cars?
We have no idea, but since they decided to jump back into the fray, Business Insider and MSN have now decided they too should join the scare campaign by repeating what the Telegraph reported without doing one iota of extra digging to uncover the inaccuracies and distortions in the original Daily Mail story. What a sad commentary on the state of journalism — or lack of journalism, as the case may be.
These sorts of lies and distortions are commonplace today. Auto industry flacks like to scream about how expensive cars are today and blame the high prices on safety and emissions regulations. They fail to add that cars today are quite a bit more than an engine, a transmission, a few seats, and a steering wheel (which pretty much describes a 1976 Ford Cortina Mk. III).
Very few leave the factory without air conditioning, ABS, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, stability control, a sunroof, a 15-speaker sound system, and an infotainment screen. They add in 11-way power seats that are heated and cooled and may even have a massage function built in.
But to hear the anti-regulation crowd tell it, higher prices for new cars and trucks have nothing to do with any of that stuff. The nanny state government is solely responsible. Perhaps those people would prefer to ride in a 1976 Ford Cortina when it gets in a collision with modern car. Check out this video of a crash test between a 1959 and a 2009 Chevrolet and then ask yourself just how stupid are these people who whinge about oppressive government regulations.
The Power Of FUD
We here at CleanTechnica have been touting the advantages of electric cars for more than a decade and we have seen hundreds of examples of anti-EV scare campaigns. We have heard that people just drive them into rivers and lakes when the batteries die and that they are wearing grooves into highways because of their weight. Today, the story is that mining materials for electric cars will destroy the environment — this from people who don’t bat an eye when oil, gas, and coal companies desecrate pristine areas of the world like the Arctic in search of their climate killing fuels.
It’s time to stop believing every half-assed tweet or Fakebook post you see. The fact that you saw it on the internet doesn’t make something true. We don’t dispute that electric cars are heavy, but they aren’t THAT heavy. And we don’t dispute that failing structures like parking garages shouldn’t be reinforced or torn down. But let’s stop the madness, people, and demand some accountability from those who purport to be automotive journalists.
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