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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #139: Electric cars ... so hot right now

The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak. He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions-"The Party says the earth is flat" ...
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-139-electric-cars-so-hot-r...
83 REPLIES 83
WAKman
Intermediate Driver

You keep saying that EVs are mandated by the government, Jack, but it isn't true. There is not a single federal regulation that mandates electric cars. Period. Full stop.

So stop saying it--it isn't true, and you are degrading both yourself and Hagerty by continuing to do so.
Solara
Pit Crew

So, one reason gasoline fires are less dangerous than Li fires is because the ~120lbs of gasoline only contains about 6.25% by weight of the energy needed to propel the vehicle its full range. Whereas the 900-2900lbs of battery has to contain 100% of the energy needed.
As an RC pilot, I have seen both types of fires. The Li are definitely more ...intense.
js100
Detailer

"Look upon our King's fine clothing. Wait, isn't he naked? No, just on fire." Well stated compilation of the "convenient untruths" that drive the current political landscape. Look no closer than the back lot of your nearest Chevy dealer, Bolts parked outside, away from each other, awaiting replacement LG packs that don't spontaneously combust. I like the market opportunity of innovative powertrains, but let the market decide if it's to transition at all. Allowing politicians to decide what is "best for us", is to go quietly into the night (guided by the fires of eternal EV flames).
avendlerdp
Pit Crew

Even for J.B. this is beyond the pale. Any organization that gives this misinformation laden $hit post a venue won't get any more of my money. Insuring collection elsewhere starting Monday. Adios Hagerty.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Alternately, you could point out what I got wrong and a correction would be made. That way the misinformation would be removed from the Internet and the healing could begin.
WAKman
Intermediate Driver

I need a visit from a support animal!
Spicey
Pit Crew

What you have wrong is your attiude Jack - snarky and jaded and hateful - as well as your generalizations and stereotypes. You are angry and ranting and all over the map with attacks political and cultural. Clearly electric vehicles are a symptom of many things you hate, like change and science. I hope you can open your mind and find some joy.

The higher the monkey climbs, the more he exposes.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

"What you have wrong is your attiude Jack"

Thank you for being honest. Most people say "misinformation" when they really mean "information I don't like, or that doesn't match what I've already been told."

"Clearly electric vehicles are a symptom of many things you hate, like change and science."

Yes, you're right, I hate change and science so much I joined the Spindetop project at MIT, corresponded and met with Stallman for years, and ran a Debian-based co-op for a decade. /s

Now allow to me to respond forthrightly to what you've said. "Change" and "Science" are inherently amoral. Some changes are to be feared... I believe a lot of people are very frightened of climate change, while others have had their lives destroyed by everything from Facebook, which at one point was cited in one of three divorce cases, to OnlyFans. Other changes, like the Green Revolution or computer-controlled fuel injection, were manifestly helpful. While every fifty-year-old, myself included, is occasionally annoyed by superficial change in society -- AutoTune! -- no reasonable human being views "change" as a monolithic entity and/or treats it as such.

When you write "science", I am going to (perhaps wrongly) assume that you don't mean the tedious process of scientific discovery and refinement, but rather SCIENCE! in the liberal-arts sense. This SCIENCE! is perceived by its adherents as a religion and a dogma, much like astrology or the examination of entrails to determine fate. It's common for people who have no firsthand experience with science to think of SCIENCE! as some kind of magic box that just can't help delivering new and better things.

Allow me to disabuse you of that notion. Science has limits, and in many cases those limits are set by the laws of physics. The process of alchemy attracted many of the world's best minds for the better part of three millennia without producing a single result. Why? Because the natural laws prevent it. While one could arguably change lead into gold via atomic-level manipulation, our experience shows us that Drexler was wrong and nanotech doesn't work that way.

Similarly, you can throw a trillion dollars a year at producing a perfect car battery, but the results so far suggest that it is like alchemy, with the additional caveat of you could blow up a lot of boats while learning just how wrong you are.

Prior to writing anything about EVs here at Hagerty, I spent a lot of time reading source materials about battery tech and speaking to the people who are trying to make it happen firsthand. The most common refrain I hear from the experts is that we are "ten years away" from having a usable gasoline-equivalent car battery. If you're a scientist or engineer, you know what "ten years away" means, but if you aren't I will tell you: it means "there's no path, and a MIRACLE needs to happen here <--".

What we are seeing in the public sphere is the antithesis of scientific thought and behavior. We are seeing POLITICAL thought and behavior, masquerading badly as "trusting the science" or "believing the science". This is why I so commonly quote O'Brien's "float off the floor" quote; it shows how people really think politics can force the hand of science, when in fact such a thing cannot occur and has never occurred.

Furthermore, the very arc of public policy belies your faith, because if EVs were a compelling proposition we wouldn't need legislation or mandates or political pressure to make it happen. If a super-battery existed, you'd have to force the OEMs to keep making any sort of gas car whatsoever, because they'd all be breaking their necks to convert their factories and build the next big thing. As a rude example: the government had to mandate the chemical-explosive airbag, but they sure as heck didn't have to mandate the building of body-on-frame SUVs in 1993, did they?

Thank you for your participation on this article. It won't reassure you, and you won't believe it because it conflicts with your heartfelt beliefs, but I want you to know that I have been in the service of science and change for the better part of thirty-five years now, and do not intend to change. I am simply not in the service of magical thinking, political tyranny, or post-humanist theories of social control

Swamibob
Technician

An excellent reply. Here, here! Whenever I hear a busy-body use the word 'Science' I want to splash them with really cold water and hope that might help them wake up from whatever dream or nightmare they are living in. That is something Doctor's used to tell parents to use on very small children who were having fits of anger etc.
It worked exceptionally well the three times I saw it used. Unfortunately, I don't think it would work, nor do I think I'd stay out of jail for long. 🙂
edozeph
Intermediate Driver

Wow, hit some nerves with this one. The comments are fascinating.
Consider this quote.
"In a report published in 2002 by the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the average total worldwide annual release of petroleum (oils) from all known sources to the sea has been estimated at 1.3 million tonnes."
And that is just the spills, let alone the petroleum burned to make things go.
So, Jack, your solution is to make more efficient gas engines, keep up the oil wars, and business as usual.
I was raised on fast cars, regular cars, antique cars. Love em. So keep them if you want. No one will take them away.
The world is evolving. Electric is happening. Let's move on. The world situation demands that we move on.
I would like to see someone make some cool electric cars, without all the super high tech computer stuff that complicates customization.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

"The world situation demands that we move on."

China's building a thousand coal plants, India is putting every one of their scooter riders into an ICE car, so what's the "world situation" exactly?

"So, Jack, your solution is to make more efficient gas engines, keep up the oil wars, and business as usual."

At least there's some oil left in the United States. Have you checked to see which country owns the VAST majority of rare earth rights in the world? As in ninety percent or more? It isn't the US. We have virtually nothing that's required to build electric cars. All of that will be sourced from dictatorships.

"I was raised on fast cars, regular cars, antique cars. Love em. So keep them if you want. No one will take them away."

The same way they didn't take away the guns in California, right? I'm sure there will still be some rich people permitted to own real cars. That's how they divide the opposition; by stating that a few people will be allowed to retain their pre-ban Class III weapons or whatever, then watching the crabs start pulling eachother back down into the bucket.


WAKman
Intermediate Driver

Holy cow, Jack, that was a quick transition from EVs to gun control. I keep hearing doomsday predictions on both of these, but the facts belie them. Gun sales are at an all-time high, regulations are being eased, not tightened, and there are no, and likely will be no, political mandates that EVs be built or that ICE engine be banned. You're sort of throwing out political buzzwords and emotional hot-button arguments as chum to gain support, but that is doing no service to your arguments.
Tango42
Pit Crew

Jack - have I mentioned that you are my hero?
Egodriver71
Pit Crew

Love your straight to the point commentary
danhise
Advanced Driver

In short, an EV is a toaster and I'm a Pop Tart.
Worldrider
Intermediate Driver

So Jack, are you the canary in the coal mine, or loon on the ledge?
I suspect you’re much closer to the former.
I’m a fan of EVs, but haven’t bought one because a good one is far too expensive vis-à-vis comparable ICE competitors. I wanted to buy a hybrid Pacifica because I love the concept of it, but it’s a Chrysler. And it turns out they catch fire with unfortunate regularity.
Please keep tilting at these e-windmills. Ignore the e-fanboys, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll spark (ha!) some intelligent and much needed dialogue.
It’s still hard to believe how wrong the UK got it with their diesel regulations. Yet they were among the first nations to announce ICE deadlines.
History has a sad way of repeating itself, doesn’t it? And it’s easy to imagine Elon fiddling while LA burns…
danio3834
Intermediate Driver

"The fact that none of this is happening, and that instead we are all being expected to sign off on the consensual delusion of a future mandatory electric-vehicle infrastructure despite the fact that there is no feasible technical path to such an infrastructure, should fill you with profound unease."

I am in this business and it does make me uneasy. Mostly because of the economics, but the points discussed here are valid. I've been talking about it for years, but people prefer the hype. At the end of the day we'll make what we're ordered to make but there were lots of us who told everyone so.
leifp1
New Driver

SMH, Jack is the biggest troll in auto journalism, I dove in without checking the byline and immediately knew the author. Got me again Jack, good onya.
SJacobT
Detailer

It's just, um, unsurprising (predictable?) that JB's interpretation of this incident is as another tinny alarm bell (I imagine it perched on his head and struck with a large wooden spoon full of his teethmarks) to clang on about the mass delusion of automotive electrification and our descent into one world government.
WAKman
Intermediate Driver

Jack is but long, proud tradition of conservative automotive writers railing about the government. Pat Bedard and Brock Yates come to mind.
CitationMan
Gearhead

Knowing that the physical world has its limits is not a political position.
It’s well……you know…….what’s that word……?
Spicey
Pit Crew

You can’t believe in science and think we have a future if we refine and burn all the oil that’s still in the ground. China’s coal plants are a problem, not an excuse to follow a similar deadend path.

Last I looked I can go into dozens of stores here in California and buy a gun. Your paranoia clearly impacts many your perceptions.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

"You can’t believe in science and think we have a future if we refine and burn all the oil that’s still in the ground."

That's going to happen no matter what. Most of what you touch in the world is plastic. In the EV future, we burn all the oil in the ground PLUS we go to war, economic or shooting, over rare earths. You're exchanging one finite resource for another. Kicking the can.

Here's what fixes the future: cold(ish) fusion, space elevators, large-scale solutions to capture and reuse carbon. With enough energy you can make gasoline out of landfills. With proper carbon capture, coupled with sufficient energy and a way to radiate the waste out of the atmosphere, you have the whole thing solved.

Sounds like wacky sci-fi, right? Here's the problem: safe and efficient ICE-equivalent battery tech is, too, and it doesn't solve much.
Spicey
Pit Crew

“Large-scale solutions to capture and reuse carbon” - if we stop putting it in the air we won’t have to pursue that fantasy 

 

wow, I’m out of this thread, 

 

Good luck Jack, I hope you got all the clicks you need, life is too short too pay attention to this whack dribble.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

So you're not really into science, are you? You're into SCIENCE! as an emotional support device that allows you to force policy decisions onto others.

"A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year." - that's from the EPA.

"With current technology, it would cost between USD$100 and $300 to remove one metric tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere." That's from earth.org, and it's on the high end of estimates.

So the cost of making a personal vehicle carbon neutral would likely be between $450 and $1500 a year. Care to make a guess on what the cost delta is to go electric in a mainstream vehicle? Care to make a second guess on what the actual carbon emissions are from coal power? From the production, transport, and installation of wind and/or solar?

Carbon capture infrastructure would be pretty massive, it's true. The EV infrastructure won't be any better, and unlike carbon capture it has to be universally distributed.

No need to comment back, I know you've left the thread.
Swamibob
Technician

Jack:

I had a really vicious, tongue in cheek, Diatribe here with all sorts of things written about you; including terms like Alarmist, Bigot, Racist, Narcissistic, White Supremacist, ICE Supremacist, Global (warming, climate change, cooling, etc) denier et al, but when I read it back to myself, out loud, I was afraid someone might take me seriously and you might get in some sort of Government Agency sponsored trouble. In my opinion it was really funny, but you will have to reassemble it for yourself, because I'm probably going to be too busy being cancelled by all sorts of Tech Giants that I didn't know exist, on platforms I don't even participate in. 🙂 Well such is the life of reading a Jack Baruth column and, to some extent, believing in the sanctity of the Constitution of the United States of America.
As of today, March 1st; I can't find any info regarding the Felicity Ace and whether it's still burning. I found one report, that it was still burning as of four days ago. I peripherally know of one person whose EV started on fire in their attached garage, and it did a LOT of damage. This a poignant article that will likely go mostly unnoticed except by us few.
I like the 1984 reference too. Keep it coming Jack!
AdrianClarke
Instructor

My Mother Dearest lives right by a London pollution hot zone and the air was SO BAD it was like getting punched in the face as you came out the subway AND I SMOKE LIKE DON DRAPER! It should have felt like a nice low tar Luckie to me. It was, and still is, gagging.
AdrianClarke
Instructor

Sink the boat, and it consumes so much ocean to put the fires out, sea levels return to normal……..
CJinSD
Instructor

Except water vapor is a much more powerful 'greenhouse gas' than carbon dioxide.
Lex
Intermediate Driver

I like style. Peter Egan has a style of writing I enjoy and I like Mr. Baruth's style as much. I would like to describe it as 'muscular'.
CJinSD
Instructor

The misanthropic properties of electric vehicles are features for the oligarchs forcing them on us, not bugs.
Snailish
Engineer

If the real goals were reduced emissions:

My understanding is that propane vehicles create 66% of the emissions of gasoline. Propane conversions have been proven in hard-service (taxis, cop cars) for decades.

Almost every ICE vehicle on the road today could have been converted to propane for less than the incentives various jurisdictions have been handing out for EV rebates on (mostly) luxury cars ten years ago.

That would have been ten years of the national fleet converting, and if you rebated used vehicles many of them could have been too.

Even as a stop-gap, this approach if it had been applied over the last 10 years would already have made a much bigger difference.

That's without even talking about what Mr. Toyoda has been saying or the political wisdom in pursuing hydrogen and alternative ICE tech.
Snailish
Engineer

Woke up with this article still on my mind, so credit to Jack for provoking writing.

I don't think it matters if the fuel of the future is baby seal tears or flatulence, what needs to be done is actual cradle-to-grave costs of said alternative.

With ICE we have big numbers and lots of years to create the data set. Things to keep in mind (or I would love seeing clearly answered) with electric:

-not enough in the wild in the hands of average consumers to create a comparable data set

-environmental cost must include all stages of the manufacturing and eventual recycling, factored with the lifespan of the product. It's misleading to only focus on tailpipe emissions --like not counting international air travel in Euro countries carbon footprints.

-early numbers on low-market models like Nissan Leaf are not encouraging as they are not lasting the national fleet average for years of service. In my area you see 8 year old Leafs for sale dirt cheap but needing a new battery pack that is worth more than the purchase price of the used car.

-supposing electric cars burn the same number of times a year in real world use compared to ICE, if they take X amount of time longer to suppress that has multiple associated costs.

-what is the end of life path for EV components? Right now people want the depleted too much for driving packs for a variety of uses, but at what point do insurance companies start penalizing you for having an off-warranty Tesla battery pack in your garage as part of a DIY off the grid power supplement?

And so on...
turquoisetom
Pit Crew

He talks about the great demand for electric vehicles and it fascinates me how, since the whole "global warming" fiasco, it has produced mass hysteria and mass insanity not only in this country, but in the whole world. No one seems to know that electricity does not magically come out of a plug in the wall and the processes for producing batteries and disposing of them combined with the emissions from producing electricity will far out do any pollution our modern combustion engines produce. I just fraction of the money spent on R&D for electric was spent on making combustion engines more efficient, we could probably reduce the emissions to almost nothing, but oh no, that won't buy votes or make scammers rich.