Last updated on June 2, 2022
True confession: I used to watch the hell out of The Price is Right. It was one of my favorite shows growing up. Right up there with The Six Million Dollar Man.
Funny how both show’s titles involved money. I never thought about that before this very moment. Well…it was the early eighties, after all. One of the prime directives was to go out there and spend, spend, spend before we got nuked by the Russkies.
If you’ve ever watched The Price is Right you know it’s a pretty big deal when the big door slides away to reveal “a brand-new car!” If you trust the show’s editing, “a brand-new car!” is the prize that gets contestants the most wound up. They’ll jump up and down and clap like seals and hoot and holler, right up there on stage in front of the whole studio audience. I remember I saw a woman cry one time when she saw a car revealed as her possible prize. She clutched onto old Bob Barker’s plaid jacket real tight with her eagle claws and wept tears of pure joy, just for getting the chance to maybe win that thing. She played her heart out on Hole in One and lost. Maybe she would have done better at Lucky $even.
Anyway, there was a funny thing that would happen every so often when “a brand-new car!” was revealed as the up-for-grabs prize. Every once in a while, the big door would slide away to reveal an electric car.
Oh, the poor contestants. Their faces would get all screwed up. They wanted to be so happy. “A brand-new car!” was supposed to be the Big Kahuna of prizes. This was supposed to be their shining moment. But The Price is Right had screwed them over.
You see, back in the early eighties, electric cars were embarrassing little shit wagons.
Song and Dance
Fast-forward to 2022, and it may be that electric cars are still embarrassing little shit wagons. It’s just that they’ve disguised themselves upstream in the market with quasi-luxury branding. Sadly, people seem to have swallowed this particular stink bait – hook, line, and sinker.
Nowadays, if a contestant on The Price is Right sees the big door slide away to reveal “a brand-new car!” and it turns out to be an electric car, they’ll look just as happy and excited as they would otherwise. They’ll clap and hoot and holler just as loud. Their face won’t get all screwed up. They won’t feel like The Price is Right is shafting them.
That’s because a brand-new electric car nowadays is a beautiful thing. It doesn’t look embarrassing. It looks like a friggin’ Maserati!
So, what’s changed? Why have electric cars gone from zero to hero over the last couple of decades? Is the auto industry finally getting off its lazy butt and finally building the cars that people want and need?
The auto industry is doing what they’re being told to do by the crusty old Elites. They’re being told to electrify all cars, asap.
Why Electric? (the narrative)
The current story being pushed upon us to justify and promote electric cars is something like this:
Citizens that drive electric cars are good because electric cars are good. Electric cars are good because they do not burn fossil fuels like the cars to which we’ve all become accustomed. You see, the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels for over a century has pushed our planet into a crisis, a climate crisis. Burning carbon-based fuels creates carbon dioxide, a dangerous gas that harms our planet by trapping heat in our atmosphere. If enough heat builds up in our atmosphere, natural weather patterns will be disturbed – resulting in more weird storms, and glaciers and polar ice caps will melt – releasing so much water that coastal cities around the world will get flooded. Electric cars are expensive because they are ultra-high-tech, but buying them and driving them is just one small thing each of us can do for the greater good. Many celebrities already drive electric cars. Let us learn from their example.
I’m not making this up. Look closely at the front license plate on that brand-new electric car up above and you’ll see that it says Zero Emissions. It might as well say Gotcha!
This new narrative is nothing like the electric car story they were telling us back in the early eighties. The story back then was that OPEC might shut down our supply of gasoline again, so maybe it would be worth thinking about having cars than ran on something other than gasoline. But back then, The Man knew damn well that He had OPEC under His thumb, He really had no interest in electrifying anything just yet. So there was zero incentive to subsidize the creation of electric cars. Or to make them look sexy.
Why Electric? (the truth)
Here’s the thing: Almost everything in the above narrative is false. Let’s unpack it, sentence by sentence:
- Citizens that drive electric cars are good because electric cars are good.
Good citizenship has nothing to do with electric cars. Nor does it have to do with the consumption of any other technologies. So what makes a good citizen? Thomas Jefferson said it like this: “Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.” That sounds about right.
- Electric cars are good because they do not burn fossil fuels like the cars to which we’ve all become accustomed.
Electric cars actually do burn fossil fuels. Lots and lots of fossil fuels. In order to clarify this, we should probably start calling electric cars by their proper name: We should call them Coal Cars. I think it has a nice ring to it. I love the alliteration.
The tricky thing is this: Coal Cars don’t burn their fuel in the same spot where the cars are being driven. There’s no smokestack or tailpipe on a Coal Car. There’s no need for that. The electric motor(s) gets it’s go-juice from a battery pack. But … the electricity that’s used to charge up that battery packs comes from somewhere else. And that somewhere else is an electric power plant, which is likely burning coal or natural gas. Fossil fuels!
- You see, the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels for over a century has pushed our planet into a crisis, a climate crisis. Burning carbon-based fuels creates carbon dioxide, a dangerous gas that harms our planet by trapping heat in our atmosphere. If enough heat builds up in our atmosphere, natural weather patterns will be disturbed – resulting in more weird storms, and glaciers and polar ice caps will melt – releasing so much water that coastal cities around the world will get flooded.
There are three big lies being told here.
The first lie is that carbon dioxide is causing a climate crisis on our planet. Ask some 6th grade science students how much carbon dioxide is in our atmosphere right now, and I bet you’ll get pretty good answers. Ask some adults and I bet you’ll get a bunch of wacko answers out of the Al Gore Playbook. Just so you won’t have to go around asking a bunch of random people, here’s the answer (This is according to NASA – not my favorite reference, but hey, I’ll go with them on this one): Carbon dioxide makes up less than 0.03% of our atmosphere. And this is the percentage now, today, after we’ve spent the last century burning fossil fuels, willy-nilly, like there’s no tomorrow. It doesn’t really have the feel of a planet-threatening number, does it? [Oh yeah: Those same 6th grade science students would have told you this, too, had I let you ask them: Plants love carbon dioxide. They need it to breathe. That’s a funny one if you think about it. There sure are a lot of plants in the world, and there’s not a helluva lot of carbon dioxide. Hmmm.]
The second lie is to do with all the threats of environmental catastrophes. Those are just religious-fanatic doom and gloom tactics, pure and simple. It’s no different than scaring the plebes with plagues of locusts and rivers turning to blood and whatnot. Nothing scares ‘em like a good old Act of God. [Although, it doesn’t escape me that there may be a little twist to this: If the same psychopaths that are making up the climate crisis campfire stories are tinkering around with weather modification technologies – which they undoubtedly are – then these same natural disaster threats sure would provide a nice scapegoat when their shit goes wrong. “That latest hurricane? Well, that didn’t have anything to do with chem-trails, no, no. The data says that was caused by … man-made climate change! If only everyone would start buying electric cars, God would be pleased and this wouldn’t happen anymore!”]
The third lie is implied rather than blurted out explicitly. The third lie is that an electric car somehow produces less carbon dioxide than a gasoline-powered car, that it has a smaller carbon footprint. Setting aside for a moment the ridiculousness of 0.03% carbon dioxide in the atmosphere being “dangerous,” I’ve wondered about this for a while. Do electric cars actually have a lower carbon footprint? So, I went ahead and did the math. If you’re interested, I stuck the details down below my sign-off so as not to clutter my ranting up here. If you just want to cut the chase, then here’s the deal:
If you drive 25 miles in a traditional, gasoline-powered car, you’ll burn 1 gallon of gasoline, and burning that gasoline will add 20 pounds of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. If you drive those same 25 miles in an electric car, you’ll burn 24 pounds of coal (which was needed to make the electricity that charged your battery pack), and burning that coal will add 57 pounds of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere.
That means that sexy new “electric car” (really a Coal Car!) pumps almost 3 times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the old gas-guzzler. Uh oh, Spaghetti-Os!
- Electric cars are expensive because they are ultra-high-tech, but buying them and driving them is just one small thing each of us can do for the greater good.
Electric cars are not that high-tech. They’ve actually been around longer than gasoline-powered cars. Rechargeable batteries that were suitable for cars came into being in 1859, and by the 1870s electric cars were putzing around all over the place. Crazy, right? It’s also worth noting that electric vehicles are likely much less expensive to manufacture – even when considering the batteries. For example, the drive-train of a traditional, gasoline-powered car contains more than 2,000 moving parts typically, whereas the drive-train in an electric car contains about 20. The auto manufacturers aren’t paying more … you are! As is so often the case, the “greater good” might mean something different than what we assume.
- Many celebrities already drive electric cars. Let us learn from their example.
When it comes to paid celebrity endorsements, I feel compelled to steal a phrase from our beloved, current POTUS, Joe Biden, who likes to say, “C’mon, man!”
So here I am, beginning and closing the tear-down of the electric car narrative with quotes from Great American Presidents. (Does this read like sarcasm, I wonder? I sure hope so.)
So if electric cars are not going to help save our planet from getting smothered in carbon dioxide, then why all the fuss about them? Why the big push for them all of a sudden?
As is the case with solving most riddles of this nature, it helps to ask Who benefits and how? I’m pretty sure the “who” is The Man, my collective moniker for the Elites that sit around at the top of the pyramid, toasting themselves, scowling down upon us, gaming us all the time. As to the “how,” there are probably multiple answers.
There’s the money thing that we touched upon briefly up above – i.e., there are huge profit margins on electric cars because they are cheaper to manufacture and you can trick people into actually paying more for them. And there’s huge money to be made in reworking all the infrastructure surrounding electric cars – from charging stations and power grid up-fits, to communication and technology integrations, to highway modifications, to … you name it. But it’s my suspicion that all this money movement is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s my suspicion that The Man will benefit from this technology primarily by amassing even more control over the proletariat.
The end game may be something like what’s pictured above. This clever scene is meant to depict the joy of being transported around town in an “autonomous vehicle,” a car that can drive itself. You and your well-dressed, visually diverse friends can sit back and relax. You can chat and smile, while the car does all the hard work for you. The mundane task of driving and dealing with traffic jams and whatnot is but a distant memory from a bygone age. You’ve got it made in the shade! Soon you will arrive!
I smell a rat. I think electric cars are the technological gateway drug to this autonomous car nonsense, and that’s the main reason I want no part of ‘em. You really can’t dominate the scene with autonomous cars unless you have already introduced electric cars. Electric cars are simply the way to go if you’re object is controlling them from a Centralized Traffic Authority.
I’ve gotta be honest: The above scene does not fill my heart with the hope of a better tomorrow. Instead, it fills me with dread. I don’t want to be trapped inside a moving object with these lunatics. Sure, they may be attractive and visually diverse, but I’m gonna bet their thoughts are homogenized. Who gives a rat’s ass about what people look like if they all think and act the same? Gross. And here’s the kicker: That autonomous vehicle that they’re all enjoying so much has destroyed their autonomy. They are no longer free to stop and go as they please. They are no longer able to swing by and pick up another friend at the last minute. They are no longer able to take the exit ramp to the lake on a whim. They are no longer able to pick up snacks and take a piss at the quickie mart. They are no longer in a safe place where they can bad-mouth the POTUS if they want to. They are no longer able to go outside the approved travel zone.
A possible conversation from the not-so-distant future:
“Hey Sam. Are you gonna be able to meet me for lunch today?”
“Sorry, Dave, no. The travel grid over here is at Orange-2 until Thursday.”
“That’s a shame. Have you put in your Request for Travel anyway?”
“Yep, for sure. But the system is screwing me over. They gave me a number, but it’s like two thousand something.”
“Is it because of the thing with your Citizen Points?
“Naa…I don’t think so. They’re just backed up or something.”
“Bummer. I guess I’ll see you whenever.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Spaghetti-Os strike again!
Phil’s Two Cents
As I wrap this up, I realize that I could have – and maybe should have – taken a different approach to pointing out the scam that is electric cars. Maybe a different approach would be more convincing.
I could have written about the nasty lithium battery packs – how China holds all the cards on the global lithium supply, how truly devastating to the environment these chemical throw-aways will be if electric cars become prolific. I could have written a friendly reminder piece about how friggin’ fun cars are to drive and begged everyone not to let that particular joy (the joy of extended, individual mobility) vanish forever. I could have tried to appeal to everyone’s practical side – described how you’re probably going to have to learn to live without “luxuries” like heat and air conditioning inside electric cars because such things nibble away too quickly at batteries. I could have conveyed a story a friend of mine shared me recently: He’s an EMT, and he said if you get in a bad car wreck in an electric car, you’re pretty much up shit creek. That’s because EMT’s will not use the Jaws of Life to help get you extracted from a wreck due to the risk of them getting zapped by the electrical lines that run all through the structure of the car. I could have written about … oh well, there’s a bunch of things, I guess.
Electric cars are coming on like gangbusters. There’s no stopping the wave. I think writing about them here is my way of trying to do something about it. But it feels like a really, really insignificant something.
But at the end of the day, I really don’t want to convince you of anything. Really, I don’t. If you love electric cars, I think you should go ahead and get yourself one. They are very, very torque-y, quick off the line – I’ll give ’em that much. They’re not complete and total kill-joys. Not yet, anyway.
So, if I’m not trying to convince you of something, what exactly am I trying to do in writing all this up and putting it in front of you? That’s a valid question. I think what I’m trying to do is pretty much what I always try to do here at This Perfect Day. I think what I’m trying to do is pull back the velveteen propaganda curtain a little, so when you make a decision about something that effects your life it has a better chance of actually being your decision.
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Electric vs. Gasoline car calculations (for the brave of heart) . . .
Fossil fuels are burned at power plants, where the heat from burning them is used to boil water into steam, which is then encouraged to squeeze through big turbines, causing them to spin, ‘round and ‘round. The turbines are connected to big AC electric generators that feed our electric power grid. 65% of the electricity generated in the United States comes from burning coal and natural gas (fossil fuels); 80% of the remaining 35% comes from carefully controlled nuclear reactions and from controlling how water escapes from dammed-up lakes. Funny how water is so crucial to our electricity generation, eh?
Anyway… One might ask how efficient it is to burn your fossil fuel inside your own car (a traditional, gasoline-powered car) as compared to burning your fossil fuel somewhere else (as you would in an electric car)? It’s a good question. Efficiency is just a measure of what comes out, compared to what goes in. The two are never the same, because losses always occur along the way. In our case, what goes in is some quantity of fuel. We’ll use gasoline as fuel for the traditional car and coal for the electric car. That’ll be the input. (Note that both cars are consuming fossil fuels – It’s just that one is doing it right in front our face, and the other is doing it remotely.) The output, the thing we want to come out of this fuel input, is having our cars being propelled down the road for some distance – let’s say it’s 25 miles, just to give it a number.
Let’s start with the traditional, gasoline-powered car that gets 25 miles per gallon. That’s about average fuel economy for a car these days. So we’ll burn one gallon of gasoline in order to hit our mark. If we burn one gallon of gasoline in a laboratory, we can extract 33.7 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of energy from it. But in real world conditions, only a measly 20% of that energy (6.7 kWh) gets turned into vehicle motion. (Where does the lost 80% of the energy go, you may ask? Conservatively, 20% is lost to the engine making its rotary motion, meaning the other 60% is lost to friction, heat, and such – things related to getting a bunch of stuff moving.). Worth remembering: All this is happening right in front of us, all the time, because our car is really its own mini power plant that’s converting fossil fuel into motion for us. We’re keeping it local.
With the electric car, let’s go through this exercise backwards so we can match the output, the thing we want to achieve – which, in our case, is having our car go 25 miles. Let’s go from this desired vehicle movement back to the fuel source (coal) so we can see what it takes to get us there with an electric car. Up above we figured out that we can use a car to convert 6.7 kWh of energy into a travel distance of 25 miles. Let’s say that our electric car is about the same shape, size, and weight as a gasoline-powered car and that it rolls down the road on regular rubber tires – basically, let’s say that our electric car could also move itself 25 miles down the road if it had 6.7 kWh of energy made available to it. (Note that it’s wildly conservative to say that an electric car weighs the same as gasoline-powered car. Electric cars are way heavier due to the battery pack and the structure required to house it. For instance, The electric Ford F-150 Lightning is a real porker compared to its gasoline-powered F-150 counterpart, weighing about 1,600 pounds more.)
So, we’ll need 6.7 kWh that can be turned into vehicle motion for our electric car, just like we did for our gasoline-powered car. No problem. We’ll provide this energy using a battery pack. It’s claimed that modern electric car batteries convert about 60% of their stored electrical energy into vehicle movement. That means we’ll need to extract 11.2 kWh from the car’s battery pack. The battery pack itself has, of course, been charged by plugging it in somewhere. Depending on the age of the battery pack, and assuming it’s Lithium-based technology (the latest and greatest), it will be anywhere between 70% to 99% efficient in converting energy from a charging source to stored battery energy that’s available for us to use. Let’s say it’s an average-performing battery, so it’s 85% efficient. That means we’ll need to extract 13.2 kWh from the electric supply used to charge the battery pack if we hope to get our 11.2 kWh out of the battery. I know this is starting to look grim. It gets worse.
That 13.2 kWh has to be made available at the plug-in location for the electric car. Presumably, this is a residential or business location that’s not conveniently located right next door to an electric power plant – which means we’ll have to consider energy production, transmission, and distribution losses that collectively amount to about 45%. So, to get 13.2 kWh at our plug-in location for our electric car, we’ll need to extract 24 kWh from burning some coal back at the power plant. That should be no problem. But how much coal is that? Well, it takes about 1 pound of coal to produce 1 kWh of electrical energy, so we’re talking about burning 24 pounds of coal to get our 24 kWh at the power plant.
In summary, if we want to power a car such that it moves 25 miles down the road, we’ll need either 1 gallon of gasoline for a traditional car or 24 pounds of coal for an electric car. Is that good? Is that bad? How do we compare what it means to burn 1 gallon of gasoline to 24 pounds of coal? It’s apples and oranges. One way to compare the two is to figure out how much carbon dioxide is produced by each burn.
The citations for figuring out how much carbon dioxide is produced from both fuel options is up above in the main article. It turns out the electric car doesn’t fare too well.
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