EV Dreamin'

Tom Finnerty07 Sep, 2021 2 Min Read
Back to the future.

Michael Lynch has a good, unbiased piece at Forbes which tries to cut through the disinformation about Electric Vehicles and discern what their prospects over the next several years actually are. Spoiler alert: he's not overly optimistic.

Of course, the data necessary to make that kind of a projection is fairly hard to come by, in part because of the still-evolving technology and in part because the number of EVs actually on the road is so small, skewing sample sizes. But Lynch points out that the sample sizes are actually smaller than we previously thought -- he mentions a recent paper which concludes that right now EVs are principally being used as secondary vehicles for people who also own internal combustion cars. The EVs on the road are averaging about 6000 miles per year, less than half of the overall vehicle average, suggesting that they are mainly used for commuting, rather than longer drives.

This, Lynch says, must be factored into how we discuss the cost of these cars --

[It] means that the cost per mile is much higher for EVs than most estimates, because most of the costs are for the vehicles, not the fuel, and applying it over 40% as many the miles as a conventional vehicle more than doubles the cost per mile.

He also points to two recent papers which analyze the tendency of EV drivers to switch back to internal combustion vehicles. It turns out that roughly half of them do so eventually, complaining most often of their limited range and the dearth of charging stations. For Lynch, this could be grounds for hope for the industry -- the former problem might be corrected by technological advances and the latter by government investment. But problems like the cost of battery replacement and resale value are just over the horizon for EVs, as few owners have had them long enough for either to become an issue. If those issues begin piling up before the still-theoretical range bolstering battery tech breakthroughs, it's easy to imagine the bottom falling out on Electric Cars.

Another reason for skepticism -- the studies which found that about 50 percent of EV owners eventually switch back to traditional engines showed that that number was actually somewhat depressed by data from California, where the figure is closer to 20 percent. Why so low in the Golden State? The theory is that it is at least in part because Left Coasters are more environmentally conscious, though it might have something to do with the fact that, though Californians spend a lot of time in the car coming to and from work every day, that has more to do with traffic than distance. In Middle America, where things are more spread out and commutes are longer, the range of EVs is likely a bigger issue. Which means its probably a bad idea to bet big on Ford's new electric pick-up truck.

With all that in mind, Lynch's verdict is that Electric Vehicles will remain a niche product rather than a market-dominant one.

Does that mean that our elites, who are so certain of their success that they're constantly announcing absurd plans to phase out internal combustion engines before the next full moon, will have to change course? Well, they're not known for admitting mistakes. But even so, their mandates can't alter reality.

Tom Finnerty writes from New England and Ontario.

MORE ARTICLES

See All

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twitterfacebook-official