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My wife is beating me over the head with Ozzie Zehner

I remember an article before just like this that turned out to be funded with oil money. wouldn't be surprised here as well.
also, most of these articles only assume the cost for gasoline starts after the pump. forgetting the production of gasoline requires vasts amount of power. I read a stat the the number 1 user of electricity in the state of California are the oil refineries producing the gasoline for ICE cars. this is never in the assumptions of these articles. and also, you need to transport the gasoline to the gas stations, and it takes electricity to run the pumps to get the gas in the car. Also, what do you do with the wasted oil that you have to dispose of every 3000-10000 miles? never factored in. and 25-35% efficiency of an ICE? recycling of Tesla batteries ( or any EV) is not factored in.
basically, Ive learned we are always going to have to defend Ev's and Tesla from the ignorant who do not want to do the complete research on it. My wife says she can see me get frustrated every time someone brings this topic up.

probably not an educated response, but i am sure others will chime in.


Il Sessanta Caricato
Sep 20, 2011
For one, the Tesla Model S doesn't use rare earths in its motor.

"When the National Academies researchers projected technology advancements and improvement to the U.S. electrical grid out to 2030, they still found no benefit to driving an electric vehicle."

Their electrical grid "projection" is likely based on more coal and natural gas plants. Assume green energy instead and the picture changes.

"Do electric cars simply move pollution from upper-middle-class communities in Beverly Hills and Virginia Beach to poor communities in the backwaters of West Virginia and the nation’s industrial exurbs?"

That is just a false equivalency, with no data to back it up. Centralizing power conversion makes sense. Cities are better off without smog, cars are better off for not having controlled explosions, and backwater WVA is a single point where emissions can be scrubbed and carbon captured, etc.

"Perhaps we should look beyond the shiny gadgets now being offered and revisit some less sexy but potent options—smog reduction, bike lanes, energy taxes, and land-use changes to start."

So, first he discounts any improvements to the grid and the efficiencies that EVs could bring. No mention how EVs can actually improve grid efficiency by balancing demand between peak and off-peak hours. Then he heavily weights other "potent options" like lifestyle changes that are largely orthogonal to what type of car you drive.

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Asia Pacific
Apr 10, 2011
Hong Kong
Yes, this one keeps coming back (usually because of that biased Norwegian study). Here is my standard response;

EV Myths: #3 EVs are not environmental in the long-run

The truth is that no vehicle today is truly zero emissions - both to run and manufacture. But, EVs have the capability to get closer to that goal, especially when combined with changes to the power generation grid. Petrol/Diesel vehicles quite simply can't.

Another interesting link is:

Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero! | Video on TED.com

If we're going to 'innovate to zero', battery EVs offer the best hope today.


Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
Redmond, WA
When Sherry Boschert was with Plug In America, she did a meta-study of a few dozen reports. She had a quick look at this; here is her take:

SherryBoschert said:
This is not a "report." It's an opinion piece. He did no original research to report on. He read widely and cherry-picked his references to others' research and opinions to form an opinion that he pitches in this article.Here are some of the most obvious problems that I see with his article:

1) He claims that "it's very difficult to find researchers who are looking at the environmental merits of electric cars with a disinterested eye." Not really. He conveniently ignores research by Argonne National Laboratory and the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Rocky Mountain Institute, among others. Why not talk to our public scientists about this?

2) His first two examples of studies that he says are critical of EVs give very short-term scenarios that would not be expected to make a huge difference. Richard Pike of the Royal Society of Chemistry says EVs would reduce UK carbon dioxide by just 2% given current electricity sources. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office says EV subsidies will provide little or no decrease in total gas use and greenhouse gas emissions over the next several years. Well, duh. Cleaning up the power grid amplifies the benefits of EVs but takes time, as does penetration of EVs in the marketplace.

3) He says, "The experts writing about them [EVs] all seem to be unquestioning car enthusiasts." Not. See #1.

4) He tries at one point to make renewable power sound dirtier than fossil-fuel power. Taking that preposterous statement at face value, is he proposing that we don't move away from fossil fuels to renewable power? Or that we use no power at all? Absurd.

5) One of the main studies he cites to make his argument is the National Academies study "Hidden Costs of Energy." But he omits a key sentence in that study's summary of its transportation section, where it says, "However, further legislative and economic initiatives to reduce emissions from the electricity grid could be expected to improve the relative damages from EVs substantially." Notice that it doesn't say technical initiative, it says legislative and economic initiatives. Translation: If our politicians act, EVs will be even cleaner.

6) Another key study he cites is the Norwegian study, but this too uses a short-range scenario, and he ignores the fact that they mainly looked at greenhouse gas emissions, and declared EVs beneficial. From the abstract: On the present European electricity mix, EVs result in a 10%-24% decrease in global warming potential with a car lifetime of 150,000 km (even better if the car is in use longer).

So, the studies he uses to support his argument can just as easily be used to argue against his point of view. The problem is, few people will take the time to read the original studies and form their own opinions.

As she notes, most people don't READ the studies; and even if they do they don't have enough context to evaluate them. This is why somebody with an agenda attacks the most complicated angle - the "greenness" of EVs - even though it doesn't influence many buying decisions. It's easy to say something that sounds smart and can influence some of the millions of people that are not experts, but doesn't stand up under the scrutiny of the few people that have studied the issue in depth. As jeff_adams notes, Ozzie definitely has an agenda.

The DOE, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists and other groups have been going over the real studies for many years, and they firmly back the environmental benefits of EVs. But we'll see lots more rehashing "studies" like this one for the simple reason that they work, as Jointguy's post makes clear.
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Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2013
Phoenix, AZ
I'm supposed to believe that it's more polluting to power my electric vehicle using the 14 kWh solar array on my roof than it is to fuel my car with gasoline and change its motor oil every 3,500 miles? Oh right, because building EVs creates pollution… Well the last time I checked, building ICE vehicles was also a polluting endeavor. Nobody will ever convince me that the construction of a lithium ion battery pack and powering it with green and sustainable energy is more polluting and harmful to the environment than the construction of an ICE vehicle's gas tank plus the many years of gasoline and resulting emissions that go along with said gas tank.
Yes, the entire piece is based on cherry picked data that relies on the idea that we'll continue to burn coal. Once you convert your grid to clean energy sources, most of these issues go away.

If the materials needed to build the car are more energy intensive (like aluminum), that matters only to the extent that grid power generates CO2. If you have a clean grid, it has relatively little impact, even though heating up ores can still release gasses. If that's our main emissions source we are in pretty good shape. At worst, this pushes our main environmental problems into the extraction category, but those tend to be micro-problems instead of macro-problems.

And something completely ignored so far are the economic benefits of a switchover to EV's. Regardless of what you think about air quality, the U.S. actually does have the capacity to generate ALL of it's electricity needs from local sources. We are on track to import over $400 billion worth of oil this year (and this is a good year for us, because we have dramatically increased production with fracking). Every dollar that we spend on imports reduces the size of our economy (in the simplest GDP accounting on a 1/1 basis).

If not for the past few decades of oil imports draining away our wealth (to countries like Saudi Arabia), our economy would likely be dramatically larger. Think about it. $400 billion dollars is equal to ~2.6% of our GDP for 2013. Compound those savings over decades and we are much poorer than we should be. And because the middle class pays a disproportionate share of that burden we are all getting reamed by our reliance on oil.

In addition, the U.S. Military has generally devoted an average of $200bln/year to operations in the Middle East, which are primarily related to securing the supply lines for oil. In fact, a huge portion of the Reagan buildup was because of a decision he made to build up our military capacity in the Middle East. We hardly increased our NATO commitments at all (which was Cold War spending). Instead a huge chunk of the money was used to build our military capacity in the Middle East to prevent the Soviets (or Iranians) from seizing the oil fields.

Our military spending doesn't make us directly poorer like purchasing foreign oil does, but there are probably more productive investments we could be making. Especially when you consider the human cost of the wars and supporting our veterans.
Another thread related to the article: More FUD:

My response there:


All around good guy
Jun 10, 2013
United States
Any educated response to this stuff

Unclean at Any Speed - IEEE Spectrum

A rebuttal of sufficient credibility is required to improve my quality of life at home

I think the real question is what specific rejection she has to the Tesla?

If the objection is "greenness", then get a solar setup. That should take any wind out of her sails re: green of electricity generation.

BTW, the argument that there will not be enough change for the next few years just smacks of someone arguing that we shouldn't do anything unless everyone does something.

It's time for each of us to take some personal responsibility to take care of our planet. I'm just glad we have the wherewithal to do it with style...

Or it could be time you lavish a little more attention on her? Perhaps it's time to take her on a road trip (or maybe go on one yourself and leave her stewing with the article)?
What about even going back further than making the gasoline - the oil wells and drilling to get the crude out of the ground or ocean, the energy and CO2 from making the equipment to do the mining. Even the energy/CO2 to manufacture tankers to haul oil from the foreign countries to get it here.
The number of gas stations (121,000 in US) - the energy/CO2 for gas pumps and huge underground tanks at each of those stations. There were over 200,000 stations in 1994. How much time/money/CO2 to dig those old tanks up. In addition, the clean up and maintenance from the leaking tanks.

That all is 'part' of the gas that ends up in the tank of an ICE...


All around good guy
Jun 10, 2013
United States
What about even going back further than making the gasoline - the oil wells and drilling to get the crude out of the ground or ocean, the energy and CO2 from making the equipment to do the mining. Even the energy/CO2 to manufacture tankers to haul oil from the foreign countries to get it here.
The number of gas stations (121,000 in US) - the energy/CO2 for gas pumps and huge underground tanks at each of those stations. There were over 200,000 stations in 1994. How much time/money/CO2 to dig those old tanks up. In addition, the clean up and maintenance from the leaking tanks.

That all is 'part' of the gas that ends up in the tank of an ICE...

While we're at it, what about all the transportation costs to get those workers to the gas stations, refineries, etc.!

And the poor dinosaurs. No one ever cares about those poor dinosaurs...

Okay. All done.

Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk 4 Beta


P100DL, 2021 M3, 4 CT reservations and counting
Supporting Member
Dec 25, 2011
My mountain
Attacking EVs: New Book Says Electric Cars Aren't Clean | PluginCars.com

It took me a while to find verification of his association with the auto or petroleum industry, but it's now known that Mr. Zehner spent 5 years GM's European Opel division. Hmmm

Author Claims Electric Vehicles Are a Green Illusion | Autopia | Wired.com

Although an academic, Zehner has deep Detroit-area automotive roots. He attended Kettering University (née General Motors Institute) in Flint and then worked for GM for five years, along with a stint in advanced vehicle development at the company’s Opel division in Europe for three years.
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