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Don't Fall For It (EVs)
Karl Denninger

Even Fox News is in the tank for the crazy these days…

When asked about the top concerns preventing them from making the jump from gas to electric, 61% cited charging logistics, followed by 55% saying the number of miles the vehicle can go per charge and 52% saying the costs of buying and maintaining an electric-only vehicle.

The  “jump” eh?

Yeah, about that jump…. its likely to be off a pier.

Let’s start with home charging.  You know, where you park most of the time.  If you own a house then you’re in for an electrician to come by. If you’re lucky your electrical panel is in the garage in a reasonable and convenient location to where the car is parked most of the time and you have a spare double-breaker slot in the panel.  If either is not true then the cost of installing a 240V outlet where you can charge said car is wildly expensive; if the panel is full, for example, you will need a subpanel to be installed which is going to run a couple thousand for the electrician to do so and, if the existing panel is in finished space the wall has to be ripped up as well.

Ditto on ripping up walls if the location is inconvenient; properly securing the wiring requires accessing the studs. If there’s drywall in the way then it has to be ripped out and then replaced.

Incidentally if you live in an apartment, or anywhere without actual owned garage space — not deeded, owned — forget it.

Second, all of the alleged range figures are utter garbage.  All of them.  They’re all predicated on a “model” drive-cycle test that the manufacturers and governments cling to like Linus’ blanket yet they, like earlier versions of the so-called “window sticker mpg” on gas vehicles, are pure fancy.  Today’s window stickers are reasonably accurate for gas and diesel vehicles because the screaming of consumers finally overcame the desire to present “good” numbers on the window.

The problems with EVs in this regard are many.  Chief among them is wind resistance; it goes up at the square of speed, so using realistic highway speeds is utterly essential.  Second is that while around town an EV can and does get a fair bit of the energy use for acceleration back when you brake as it uses the motor “in reverse” (putting the power back into the battery) on the highway you don’t use the brakes much and as a result the effective regenerative braking contribution to range is zero.

Finally, and much worse, unlike a fuel-powered vehicle there is no “free” contribution to cabin comfort as there is when it comes to cabin heat from a engine.  No matter how cold it is outside the fuel cost of cabin heat is zero because the engine produces waste heat which would otherwise be disposed of via the radiator; no matter how much of that you divert to the cabin to keep you comfortable it costs nothing in terms of fuel mileage.  The A/C compressor on a modern vehicle draws about 5HP; this may not seem like much and for a truck or other vehicle with terrible aerodynamics it isn’t but in hot weather in lower-speed driving where you could likely actually move the car at 30mph on a city street using 10HP you just cut the range by 30% if the A/C is on and actively cooling the cabin.

In cold weather an EV loses massively because battery capacity drops as temperature goes down and there is no “free” cabin heat either, so as soon as you turn the heat on you’re consuming power that could otherwise move the car.  There is no way around this and what’s worse is that lithium batteries cannot be safely charged below freezing so the vehicle will use energy to keep the pack warm enough to allow you to plug it in, a nasty double-whammy.

Then there's the outright ridiculous -- like an EV truck.  People buy trucks for all sorts of reasons, but one of them is to tow or haul things.  So a few dudes put this to the test; they stuck a dual-axle trailer behind both it and a comparable gas-powered truck.  I found this particular test especially interesting as I own an older 1500 Suburban that I bought 20 years ago specifically to be able to both tow and haul things (boats, specifically) when I lived in Florida and just about a month ago used it to haul my now-an-RV trailer of almost identical size and mass to the ones they tested across the country -- literally across the country, all the way to Wyoming and back.

They were not even able to make 100 miles, and things got seriously nasty at about 50-60 miles forcing them to get off the highway and dramatically reduce speed (thus reducing windage), so at 70 miles they were basically forced to creep another 15 -- turning around -- to find a charger.  Further, it was close to an hour to get a reasonable state of charge back into the truck in an attempt to return to the start.

The gas truck's consumption was basically the same as mine on my trip despite being close to 20 years newer so there's no benefit to being newer in terms of fuel consumption.  Zero.  This is what I've noted several times; despite the claims of "better" from all the manufacturers when it comes to fuel burn and "improvement" we now have hard evidence that's false; all they've done is made the truck more complex and thus more difficult and expensive to maintain and fix if it breaks; in return for that complexity which is also reflected in up-front cost you get..... nothing when there's a load behind or in the vehicle.  It is what it is when it comes to hauling a trailer; I got around 10mpg on that trip and having used that trailer to move my entire house in 2020 over multiple trips that's about what I expected, and what I got.  I have a solid and safe 250 miles of range and can refill it in under five minutes.  The electric truck attempting the same trip to Wyoming would never make it as there were multiple parts of that trip during which there is no charging station for the next 100 miles, making it impossible, even assuming you were willing to spend a third of your time plugged in and charging which nobody in their right mind is or would be.  Drive across Nebraska in one of these things and after you are repeatedly towed because you ran out of charge get back to me.

In other words if you buy a truck to use it as a truck -- that is, to tow and/or haul things the EV is a bad and ridiculously-expensive joke.

Folks, these problems can't be solved with today's technology.

You can't do anything about the fact that the battery has to carry its oxidizer in the case while the fuel-powered vehicle gets it out of the atmosphere.  In addition there is nothing free, particularly in the winter where the fuel-powered vehicle spends nothing on cabin heat yet the EV directly takes energy from range to keep you warm while driving.

Physics and chemistry are facts whether people like it or not, never mind the wildly higher cost of the EV to buy in the first place and the cost of a battery replacement when, not if, it is required.

If you want to buy one because you like it, have at it.  People buy vehicles that make no economic sense for that reason all the time; there is nowhere on public highways, for example, you can actually use the capability of a Porsche or a Corvette without risking time in jail.  Never confuse an uneconomic decision based on vanity with one that makes sense -- and EVs do not now, and will not in the foreseeable future, make sense.



Mr. Denninger, recent author of the book Leverage: How Cheap Money Will Destroy the World, is the former CEO of MCSNet, a regional Chicago area networking and Internet company that operated from 1987 to 1998. MCSNet was proud to offer several "firsts" in the Internet Service space, including integral customer-specified spam filtering for all customers and the first virtual web server available to the general public. Mr. Denninger's other accomplishments include the design and construction of regional and national IP-based networks and development of electronic conferencing software reaching back to the 1980s.

He has been a full-time trader since 1998, author of The Market Ticker, a daily market commentary, and operator of TickerForum, an online trading community, both since 2007.

Mr. Denninger received the 2008 Reed Irvine Accuracy In Media Award for Grassroots Journalism for his coverage of the 2008 market meltdown.

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