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Snailish
Engineer

EV Math, Help Me out?

If an EV takes 19.2 Kw to charge overnight (Globe & Mail)

 

and there is 115 million commuter cars and trucks on the road in USA every day (Brookings)

 

And USA grid capacity is 4116 Billion Kwh (eai.gov)

 

Noting that some say the "USA grid can support 24 million EV until 2028 as-is" (inside EVs)

 

But my math is just under 22 million [but hey, I may be bad at math or using incorrect numbers]

 

However, no matter how you math it 115 million subtract 24 million still leaves 91 million ICE commuter vehicles on the road in 2028 when grid capacity is reached.

 

 

What am I missing? I'm tired of politicized articles shy on practical facts. I don't care if my commuter vehicle is powered by litter-box emissions, recaptured body heat or elastic bands. (I actually care that it is decently built, attainably priced, and preferably isn't hideous --but all that is another topic).

 

Just with jurisdictions starting to say they are banning things by 2025, 2030, 2035, etc. I don't quite see how this all works or can work without a rather fast increase in the grid and is that play really in motion to the required scale?

30 REPLIES 30
Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

I interviewed representatives of two local electricity suppliers three years ago for a story that I wrote for a certain British social media site (but I trashed it due to pressure I was receiving from a community manager that was crazy about EV's).

One representative worked for a massive corporate giant, the other a co-operative, and the question I asked them was concerning whether or not we had enough infrastructure for the charging of battery-powered automobiles and trucks.

Both replied with practically the same answer: No. We don't have the electrical infrastructure for everyone to switch to EV's. 

Both also pointed out why it wouldn't work, but the Co-Op guy explained why it wouldn't work in detail:
"A Tesla requires a 75 amp battery charger. You can safely run a few chargers at a time in an entire neighborhood, but if you had a Tesla charging in every house, or even half the houses in a typical neighborhood, you'd crash the grid."

We don't even have the minerals to construct the batteries (I seem to recall that you have to dig up around 500,000 pounds of earth to extract enough lithium for a single EV battery), and cobalt extraction itself is a monumental disaster. 

Need I go on?

DUB6
Racer

If every Service Station installed a gasoline powered turbine generator, and replaced the pumps with charging stations, 90% of the problem would be solved!  Oh, wait, I guess not...🙄

CitationMan
Gearhead

I nominate @DUB6 to be the next EPA secretary!

MustangJim
Technician

Simply put,,,, it does not work.  Politicians are only pandering for votes and nobody is questioning how it can work. The pandering to extremes ( one side or the other) in politics is what will destroy us, not ice. 

CitationMan
Gearhead

Germany already throttles overnight charging due to power grid concerns.

I think hybrids are the future, proven technology with no range anxiety, but inexplicably hybrids are not acceptable to the pure EV crowd, who are nothing but a cult at this point, as evidenced by your simple math.

One of society’s biggest problems is fixing most of a problem, but then spending the same amount or more in an impossible quest to try to fix the last few percent. See air pollution in the US, where the goalposts have been moved for decades.

Economist Bjorn Lomborg has shown that we are better off trying to fix known problems with the limited worldwide funds there are to allocate, than to keep spending huge sums of cash on a quest to fix problems with no present solution. It makes no sense to spend a trillion dollars now to attempt to fix a problem that can be fixed for only billions in the future when there is better technology.

The EV cult keeps saying better, cheaper EV technology is just around the corner, but we never get to that corner. Who in their right mind thinks EVs will ever be affordable to the average American? Lots of “have faith” in their religion, when it’s really the limits of the physical world that they are up against.

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

"...but then spending the same amount or more in an impossible quest to try to fix the last few percent."

I think it was Martin Winterkorn in 2018, at the annual shareholder or celebration or whatever it was concerning VAG's annual meeting (Volkswagen Auto Group, geeze, you people with dirty minds), who uncharacteristically opened up up his annual rah-rah speech with some cold facts, primary among them that something had to change with the whole vehicle emissions regulation thing, as VAG was spending around $100,000,000 per gram of CO2 to make their cars insanely clean.

Naturally, Martin Winterkorn was shown the door and now VAG is on their way to a brighter battery-powered tomorrow.

CitationMan
Gearhead

SLP, when I was a youngster in the 1960’s, my Dad and uncles were all working in the steel mills of South Chicago. People today cannot imagine the amount of pollution that was present. The area stunk, and it looked like hell on earth with visible flames and smoke coming out of the stacks, especially at night. When I visited my relative’s houses, you knew not to touch the outside bannisters which were gritty from the airborne soot deposits. The sidewalks in the neighborhoods were orange tinged from the mix of rain and iron soot. Cars parked at the steel mill used to oxidize or rust on the hood, roof, and trunk lid from the iron deposits.

Did all of these need to be cleaning up by federal laws? Absolutely.

Do clean ICE vehicles need to be legislated out of existence to the point where the average American loses their mobility and freedom?Absolutely not. Today’s air is clean enough. 
The zealots pushing these insane regulations are utopians. The Greek root for utopia is literally “no place”. The utopians will never arrive at the destination they seek.

 

Snailish
Engineer

Many things are better, yes.

 

We moved a lot of the dirty stuff out of North America though. 

 

British real estate shows make this really obvious when they talk about areas that were unlivable during the industrial revolution but are great now (but there is no industry in those areas now).

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

"...but there is no industry in those areas now"

Yes, it was simply transported, out-of-sight-and-mind, to other areas. It's still there, still polluting, but it sure looks cleaner around the house.

hyperv6
Collector

A lot of things are added and left out due to lack of info or ignorance. 

Some areas will have issues in the future some not with more capacity.

 

Also we are not replacing all vehicle for years in the future. 

Also not all ICE will be gone as hybrids and larger trucks will still use it. Also expect time extensions. 

 

 

Snailish
Engineer

I agree with all your points.

 

They aren't really part of the discussion in the media that I have seen which is part of what bothers me.

 

I also have issues with political promises that no one intends to actually keep but "hey it sounds good right now".

 

At the same time, I am open to seeing better facts/math than my simple original post.

NITRO450EXP
Technician

Should we even discuss the footprint of Battery manufacturing, and the Not so Green EV manufacturing supply chain ( Lithium mining and other not so Green rare earth materials ).

Or the lack of Battery recycling and other not so green raw materials used in Automotive manufacture. 

Or, Or, Or .....................

 

Nitro

Snailish
Engineer

Fair points.

 

I concede that if the goal is local tailpipe emissions (only) then a vehicle without a tailpipe wins.

 

To me that is a very narrow view though, makes me think of medieval nobles feasting while the peasants around are all starving "things are great here".

 

DUB6
Racer

Yeah, like "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" - or even "now if you will kindly direct your attention to my lovely assistant".  Narrow goals are definitely not going to win the game.  We must see the entire picture before we can understand the problems, and possible solutions.  Playing shell games is what got us here to begin with!

CitationMan
Gearhead

Here’s the definitive study comparing the same Volvo in EV and ICE versions. Because the EV has 70% greater carbon emissions in production than the ICE vehicle, the carbon break even point is much higher than anyone would think. You might think you’re saving the planet, but it will be years down the road. 
I applaud Volvo on their honesty. The silence from every other manufacturer is telling.

https://www.volvocars.com/images/v/-/media/applications/pdpspecificationpage/xc40-electric/specifica...

Snailish
Engineer

That Volvo study is interesting. I do applaud them for publishing it.

 

End of life cycle stands out to me as they use 200 000km.

 

I believe most outlets now report the average North American vehicle to be around 12 years 200 000 miles which is 322 000 km.

 

I know lots of people driving vehicles over 200 000 km... (and you need some much higher to get that 322 000 km average)

 

Are current EV making it that long? Google Nissan Leaf and it doesn't sound like it (without needing battery pack replacement worth more than the car). This matters because it totally changes the math if the high point of EV carbon producing (the making of it) is happening more frequently.*

 

*the cost to consumers is higher as well if the average fleet age goes down considerably, unless vehicle prices drastically drop...

DUB6
Racer

   Some years ago, our youngest son and his wife (who are really trying to be greenies, but in a restrained manner), bought a new Prius.  They were pretty excited, and couldn't wait to give us a ride to show how the mileage and brake-charging, etc. showed on the little dash display.  They even drove it 400+ miles (each way) to visit us so they could brag about the cheap trips they could make.

   Fast forward some years, and the car began to lose performance and range.  Things started to go all wonky.  They were told the battery pack was going bad and would have to be replaced.  The cost?  About half of what they had paid for the car in the first place.  So, all of the gas savings they'd realized were now paid back out just to keep the car on the road.  Now, except for that initial 800-mile round trip, and a couple of weekend vacation jaunts of 100 miles or so, this car had been an inner-city commuter and grocery-getter vehicle.  I do not know how many miles it had on it, but it certainly was WELL short of 200,000.  Very likely not even 100,000.

   When they got it back from the dealer with the new batteries, they promptly took it and traded it in on an ICE Volvo.  Now they just compost their grocery waste.  🙄

   I'm sorry - I truly am - that EV's aren't the answer (and yes, I know that the Prius wasn't a total EV, but the point is the same).  And maybe someday they will be, but I certainly can't see far enough ahead to have it make sense.  Surely not in my lifetime.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Oh no, not the dealership!  Never go back there, unless you know the management and they cut you a discount on parts and service.

 

They made the mistake of going back to the dealer when the warranty on the battery pack expired. I'd like to think that any shop can buy an aftermarket pack and install it for thousands less, but maybe the world isn't as connected as I think it is.

 

One day I will buy a Prius with a bad battery pack and do this: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3RCdrh666w 

CitationMan
Gearhead

Great video. I wonder if it’s this easy on other electric vehicles.

DUB6
Racer

Yeah, good video - made in 2018.  This car was bought in 2001 and the battery went out in 2008 or 2009.  My point is that while acquiring and changing a battery pack in a Prius is apparently no big deal nowadays, a couple living in an apartment in downtown Portland, Oregon (with street parking only) didn't have many options back then!

Sajeev
Community Manager

That's unfortunate, and yeah the aftermarket battery packs didn't pick up steam until the 2010s. Such is the problem of owning a vehicle on the bleeding edge of technology, which is something I both love and hate about my classics! 

CitationMan
Gearhead

I believe Tesla won’t change anything but the whole battery array for $$$ but there are guys who will change individual failed cells for less money (but still not cheap).

Sajeev
Community Manager

EVs will likely be a bit harder, since they have much larger packs that are under the vehicles. Hybrids are likely a lot easier to service because the underside is still filled up with an exhaust system that forces the battery higher up! 

DUB6
Racer

When the Prius was a new release in the U.S. (this one was withing a year of when they first became available), there were - in my understanding, admittedly limited - NO aftermarket packs to be bought.  The dealers were the only place you could get them.  At least, that's what I was told.  And this was not in a major metro area like Houston, L.A., or New York, so there were more mechanics that would scratch their heads and laugh at you than know a darned thing about them around here in those days.  YouTube video?  Hah - we barely had internet service here in the northwest in those days.  Doubt there was even a video on that procedure in existence back then.

CitationMan
Gearhead

The other issue will be the value of an EV when the warranty is nearing its end or has run out. For example, the batteries on a BMW X5 PHEV are only warrantied by BMW for 8 years and a new battery pack costs $30,000. Who would buy it as a 5-8 year old used car, unless the price was very cheap? The first owner who leased it is fine, the second owner who buys it as CPO is fine, but then, where is the buyer who wants to take on the risk of a diminished battery or its replacement? It’s disposable at that point, and not a very environmentally friendly vehicle if it ends up in a junkyard, unlike an ICE vehicle that is sustainable for many years.

The EV proponents need to look at the multifaceted big picture, starting with the deficiencies of the national power grid, but they never do. All the hard stuff is glossed over, which will lead to an ugly reckoning.

TG
Gearhead

I work in the power industry and it's not so much the capacity issue as much as it is that everyone is going to come home and plug them all in at around the same time

I half expect that the idea behind the big EV push is to prove that the EV doesn't work

Snailish
Engineer

Well that's another thing I have been mulling... is the "grid capacity in 2028 allows for 24 million EV" assuming the normal use load on the grid as well or is it just saying what the grid support if it was just charging EV (and not running everything else like your lights and A/C)?

 

Those are two very different situations. Not clear in the things I was reading.

DUB6
Racer

   Great question, @Snailish.  We (as a society) are constantly adding electricity-demanding products to our daily lives.  Shoot, I just got a warning that my natural gas range is poisoning me and I should trade it out for an electric one (they forgot to mention my gas water heater, but I suppose it's killing me in smaller doses that the 4 burners on the stovetop).  The homes being built in my area are 2-3 times as big as the ones I've ever needed to live in (and they all seem to have tall-bay RV garages) - and at night they're lit up like they're advertising light fixtures and every one of them has the A/C units out there humming away (lots of them have TWO units!).

   @TG: Capacity "may not be the (main) issue) at present, but it's certainly gonna be, innit?  It isn't going to just be EVs that are going to be straining the generating plants and the grid in general.  We've become electricity junkies - always looking for our next fix.  When I was a kid, you lit your camp with a Coleman lantern and told stories around the campfire.  Today, unless you can plug in your all-electric RV and run your big-screen TV, you feel like you are being put upon.  Heck, darned near every dwelling has several electronic devices charging at any given moment.  Yes, not much individual draw, but add up the demand of 300 million of them all at once!

   Now in the West, where hydro power is king, droughts are looking to take over that throne.  Where's the power gonna come from?  Can we afford it?  I can easily imagine a scenario where there just flat won't be enough juice to do it all.

CitationMan
Gearhead

The response from the powers that be when it becomes obvious that the grid is insufficient will be to reduce the power and range capacity of all EVs, and throttle charging speeds. Sorry, no charge for you!
We will back to riding horses at some point.

TG
Gearhead

Our gasoline engines these days are likely more than sufficient to meet reasonable carbon goals if we weren't loading cars with 500 pounds of copper, 500 pounds of 'safety systems' so you can keep facebooking without touching the steering wheel or brakes and huge flat screen displays to help us facebook. My sister was shocked to find out that her 3 Series beemer weighs more than my 65 Impala. We are doing the same absurd things with the EVs by making them massive, 1000 horsepower $100k machines which will no doubt eat up any efficiency gains in no time flat. We like solutions that look and sound good, not ones that actually involve any real lifestyle changes