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EV Enthusiasts are Getting it Wrong

Discussion in 'News' started by chronopublish, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. chronopublish

    chronopublish 2008 Roadster #VP27

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    http://www.guyinaroom.com/blog/2010/8/5/ev-enthusiasts-are-getting-it-wrong.html

    I wrote this as an indirect response to the FUD that got thrown in my direction when my "LOL OIL" vanity plate made me a pseudo-celebrity for one day while it was the top story on Digg. I was amazed by how many people still don't understand that coal-fired plants are cleaner than gas-burning cars, and also that it was generally assumed that my particular car was powered by coal, since here in California almost all of my energy comes from natural gas and nuclear sources.

    I read hundreds of comments that were written in response to my car's plate, and not a single one of them (aside from one I made myself) said anything about energy independence - the only debate in play was how green the car really was.

    I think we (the EV community at large) have made a big blunder in making the environment our primary talking point when we discuss the big picture with EVs. Why do we ignore the much less divisive issue of energy independence?
     
  2. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    You're right, but it's easy enough to counter the "coal" argument. I usually pull out the "energy independence" card as the final blow :biggrin:
     
  3. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    I usually end the environment debate at http://teslamotorsclub.com/calc/mptecalc.htm but you're right, I think that the independence debate has a lot more bite than the environmental argument but there are people that think independence before environment, they're out there; us enviro's will just have to pick up where they leave off. By that I mean I'm concerned that the end game of the other camp is US sourced fossil fuels but I need to go to the next level, renewable sources. Or am I mistaken, is the goal of the independence camp to get to renewable sources?
     
  4. chronopublish

    chronopublish 2008 Roadster #VP27

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    MPT,

    I don't feel like there are 2 distinct camps. I feel that the energy independence idea is pretty much universally appealing, and the environmental one is not.

    Those of us in the know realize both benefits are absolutely linked. Every EV helps the environment even before you make improvements to the grid.
     
  5. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #5 ChadS, Aug 5, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
    I pretty much agree, chronopublish. I consider the main benefits of EVs to fall in the areas of carbon emissions, pollution, energy independence, and economy. The first two are world issues, the second two are U.S. issues. Carbon emissions is usually the one that people argue about, although sometimes pollution gets questioned as well. I can usually quickly change minds on pollution; not so on carbon emissions.

    I used to lead with carbon emissions because I thought it was the most urgent problem. But after a lot of arguments, and the realization that most people concerned about carbon emissions already realize that EVs help, now it's usually the one that just quickly I throw out at the end. Depends on the audience, but I usually lead with a related combo of energy independence and economy--imagine how much better we would be if we were spending less money to buy local fuel, rather than sending much of $1B/day to the Middle East. I don't recall anybody ever arguing with that. Then I might throw in a bit about pollution-related deaths, and just mention carbon emissions.

    That's how I handle random consumers, anyway. If I'm talking to anybody in government or the industry, carbon emissions is usually a very important issue and they have usually spent some time looking at the science (as opposed to listening to lay arguments in the media--which, incidentally, is not controversial in most of the world. For some reason the U.S. and Turkey seem to be hotbeds of deniers. Science ain't perfect, but it's the best thing we've got--the extraordinary claims of climate change have been backed by extraordinary evidence, most of it gathered in the 90's, which is why most adults were not exposed to it when they went to school).
     
  6. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Remember you are very often not dealing with rational people in these arguments. Anyone who can't grasp the concept of protecting the environment that supports our existence has a real disconnect from reality. Many are simply afraid of anything different than what they are accustomed to. They may even counter the energy independence argument with dependence on foreign batteries/lithium/etc. It's a constant battle and you have to be prepared to bring out all your weapons.
     
  7. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    I think that sums it up.
     
  8. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    #8 Jaff, Aug 23, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
    For the Americans who use the argument that "you're still getting your batteries charged off of the grid" (powered by dirty or clean (fossil fuel) coal), you can also remind them that Tesla is selling world wide and other countries may not be using coal to power their grids to the same extent that the USA does...for example, Ontario will shut down it's last coal fired generating station in 2014...



    "
     
  9. Kevin Sharpe

    Kevin Sharpe Active Member

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    In the UK we have the option of charging from 100% renewable (http://www.goodenergy.co.uk/)... this is a powerful message given the underlying distrust of the governments preferred nuclear option.
     
  10. PaulM

    PaulM Member

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    #10 PaulM, Aug 23, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
    To clarify, he means the province of Ontario, Canada... and I'll believe it when I see it. Even today though the energy mix in Ontario isn't so bad with less than 20% coming from Coal. That's about our national average which is much better than the United States at closer to 50% coal. Our most important source of electricity is Hydro @ 58%. (A few provinces get up to 96% of their electricity from hydro)
     
  11. dwegmull

    dwegmull 2013 Model S 85

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    In my American city (Palo Alto, California), the municipal utility has a similar program called Palo Alto Green. 97% of my electricity is from wind power and 3% solar. They also give away license plate frames that read "Palo Alto Green / 100% renewable energy".
     
  12. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    I suggest EV enthusiasts should list the benefits in this order.

    1) Cleaner air; driving an electric car cuts down on smog. An electric car puts out less smog even if the long tailpipe is attached to a coal burning power plant.
    2) Oil independence, not energy independence. We generate almost no electricity by burning oil, and relatively few people burn oil for heating.
    3) Less volatile transportation costs. The price of electricity changes less than the price of gasoline.
    4) If you must mention AGW leave it as an afterthought. Too many people think AGW is a hoax. You're trying to electrify transportation, not make billions for Wall Street trading carbon credits.
     
  13. shark2k

    shark2k Member

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    I would have to disagree with 3 only because if we do get oil independence and start using a lot more electricity, the electricity prices will definitely start to increase. Also, there is the fact that, at least in America, electricity is a lot cheaper than it should actually cost, so it has the possibility to increase a lot as consumption increases. That would be the only disagreement I would have with what you wrote, though it could take a while for what I said to happen, or it could happen relatively quickly (doubt that though).

    -Shark2k
     
  14. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    Define "should."

    Electric cars will charge mostly off-peak. Any rate increase would reflect increased demand for fuel and increased equipment wear-and-tear. There isn't any shortage of electricity, particularly at night.
     
  15. DrTaras

    DrTaras R254->R725->S1364-->X769

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    I could not agree with you more. "Green" has been co-opted or adopted by the Left & in this increasingly partisan political atmosphere, people on the Right are hesitant to adopt Green simply out of political anti-motivation. Sad, but true. That's why I say we adopt a new campaign of "Green is the new Red, White & Blue." That is that the Right has co-opted or adopted patriotism so they are happy when they see Red, White & Blue where as the Left is happy when they see Green. Energy dependence on foreign oil is in essence a patriotism issue (I'm way over simplifying, I know). With an EV you can satisfy both sides of the Aisle. Another campaign (care of VFX) would be "CONSERVE-ative"
     
  16. shark2k

    shark2k Member

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    As I have said, electricity in the US is very heavily subsidized (http://commontragedies.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/energy-subsidies-in-the-us/). If, for whatever reason, those subisidaries start to decrease the price of electricity will start to go up. Also, with more electricity being used at night, you don't think electric companies will start charging a little more at night? Also, if electricity does become a more prominent fuel source, I would not be surprised if the price of electricity starts to see more frequent or bigger increases.

    -Shark2k
     
  17. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    Name one thing in this country that is not heavily subsidized.

    As off-peak demand grows, that grows the baseline demand. Utilities will be more likely to invest in the more efficient power plants, knowing they'll operate 24/7.
     
  18. DrTaras

    DrTaras R254->R725->S1364-->X769

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    Ice Arenas in LA
     
  19. howabout2

    howabout2 Member

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    My perspective on this conversation

    I appreciate the frustration that Chronopublish describes in his blog post. This conversation is fascinating to me, and I'd like to share a different perspective.

    I'm not in a financial position to own a Roadster, but my wife and I each have a reservation in for the Model S. In the meantime, I drive an electric MINI E and absolutely love it.

    Living in Los Angeles, driving an electric car, odds are I would be an environmentally-conscious member of the political left. Instead, I am an avidly free-market libertarian. I'm what you would call an AGW "denier." I'd say “skeptic,” of course, and I'm fairly convinced the popular consensus on AGW is the result of incestuous and disingenuous behavior among the scientific sect that stands to reap generous research grants by towing the "company" (oh the irony) line.

    Chronopublish is precisely correct that if you want to evangelize electric vehicles using tactics from the playbook of social responsibility, you are best served to play energy independence. It appeals to just about everyone. It appeals to me because I firmly believe in capitalism and the righteousness of earning income via hard work. Whether right or wrong, when imagining those wealthy oil tycoons in the Middle East reaping fantastic wealth from the circumstances of birth it stokes a mild resentment in those of us who work hard for our money.

    Our political preferences are as much emotional as anything else. I freely admit that my politics are rooted in selfishness: looking out for myself. Several in this thread such as Bobw have offered great lists of points to make to interested strangers unfamiliar with electric vehicles. When someone asks me about my MINI E and I begin the “EVangelism,” my talking points are selfish matters:

    1) Driving an electric car is absolutely amazing. There is no internal combustion engine vehicle that can match the immediate response to driver input an electric car offers. The shocking precision of accelerator-pedal input is something every driver will immediately love. Even the MINI E has what feels like a mountain of torque available on demand at scarcely a moment’s notice. I’ve only test-driven the Roadster and I know it has all of that and so much more.

    2) Electric cars are mechanically simple. In the coming next-generation of electric vehicles that are not retrofits like the MINI E, mechanical complexity will plummet, meaning maintenance costs drop. Hate your mechanic? Yeah.

    3) Charging my car has had absolutely no observable impact my electric bill. People don’t really know what to make of kilowatt hours or the cost per thereof. What they simply want to know is, “how much does it cost to run?” They love hearing that it’s so little that I can’t even perceive the impact when looking at the bills side-by-side.

    4) You can completely laugh at gas stations. You’d be surprised how many people harbor a hidden but deep-seated hatred for gas stations. People chuckle when you point out that you can drive by gas stations, point at the poor suckers filling up their cars, and like Nelson from the Simpsons, let loose a robust “HA-HA!”

    5) You can take sick pleasure in one-upping the snobbishness of Prius drivers. Here in Los Angeles, where the Prius outnumbers the BMW 3-Series (and that’s saying something!), those of us who love cars grow weary of seeing those Dustbusters at every stoplight. It’s crass, but you can’t dismiss the appeal of one-upping the snobs. If you deny it, you are kidding yourself, especially those of you driving Roadsters. You love having the coolest ride out there, with its awesome combination of performance and cleanliness. Hell, I envy you!

    I drive the MINI E because I think electric-drive is a natural fit for automobiles. It makes internal combustion seem so decidedly low-tech. It makes hybrid drive seem like a pathetic misguided effort to eke out some measure of further utility from internal combustion. Simply put: I love technology and ICE is old news. As a side effect of driving an electric vehicle, I can laugh at that hybrid in the lane next to me and the self-righteous environmentalist I imagine is behind the wheel (I know, the stereotype is wrong, but don’t be a killjoy!).

    I hope you all realize this is all very light-hearted jabbing at environmentalism. You would have to be a fool to not also appreciate the fact that electric vehicles emit less crud into the air. I absolutely love the cleanliness and silence of the MINI E. It has conditioned me to be disgusted by loud engines that emit clouds of nasty debris.

    And who doesn't shed a tear to that new Nissan Leaf commercial with the polar bear?

    But I don’t drive an electric vehicle because of that. That’s icing on the cake. The real reason I drive an electric vehicle is simple: it’s so damn cool.
     
  20. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    This argument is quite puzzling to me. The established manufacturing power base in this country, and the world, has a vested interest in keeping the status quo and denying AGW. They are the power brokers, they have the financial and political power to influence policy. Seems to me any dishonest researcher looking to line his pockets by fudging data would make much more by being a denier. Oil companies, auto makers, all of industry would beat a path to their door and fill their bank accounts. Yet we are supposed to believe these unscrupulous researchers are being funded by ? to mess with their data to make AGW look real, which by the way is available to anyone willing to take the time to look at it. Are climate researchers getting rich at a faster rate than other research groups?
    I don't know if AGW is real or not but I don't find it impossible that the activities of billions of humans for over 100 years might be able to accelerate a trend in the climate in way that might be harmful to our existence. My take is we are running a giant experiment on our climate that we have no idea of the outcome, so maybe we should try to stop before it's too late. Fact is reducing our carbon output has many other positive effects even if you don't care about the potential effects on the climate.
     

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