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Guest Editorial

Electric vehicle ‘report card’ needs better results

As Guest Editorial has been asked of me, I am addressing one of the previous Guest Editorials by Denis Tegg. My understanding is he is clearly living in some sort of green time warp with his glorification of electric vehicles (EVs).
 |  Alastair Brickell  |  ,

He seems blissfully unaware of the growing problems they now face around the world. There is absolutely no way they will “dominate global sales within five years” as he claims.

Even Toyota predicts they will never ever be more than 30% of sales and we are already probably close to peak EV sales given the collapse of demand overseas and in New Zealand. They may well have been popular here last year, but that was only because the government gave potential buyers an $8000 bribe.

Lawyers like Mr. Tegg may well have been able to afford $80,000 for their new Teslas but less wealthy farmers were taxed $2500 if they just needed a new ute to continue to produce the food we all need.

As the Informer’s motoring columnist, Jack Biddle notes (Feb. 20), full EVs “only managed to secure a rather sad looking 2% market share” last month now that the bribe has gone. Mr. Tegg’s great green dream is over as global sales of EVs and especially second hand EVs are collapsing apart from small niche markets.

Who would risk buying a second-hand EV when the future life of the battery is unknown and it could well have been damaged by the use of rapid charging stations? EVs cost about twice as much as normal cars to repair and batteries can be up to $30,000 to replace.

In the USA, Hertz has announced that it will sell off all 20,000 of its EVs due to these high repair costs and lack of demand, and will instead use the funds to buy conventional cars that people actually want.

Also, in the USA, Ford has just halved production of its much-hyped new electric F150 pickup while in Europe Volvo is abandoning its flagship Polestar EV and Renault has given up any hope of selling off its Ampere EV subsidiary as investors don’t want a bar of it.

EVs involved in even a minor accident where there is just the slightest chance of damage to the battery compartment are virtually unsaleable in the second-hand marketplace.

Dealers don’t want them as trade-ins, and they are rapidly becoming almost uninsurable as the risk of a potential battery fire at some stage from undetected battery damage is just too great.

EV fires are incredibly toxic and produce not only copious amounts of toxic black smoke but also a lethal ground hugging blanket of almost invisible smoke.

Conventional extinguishers and water are of limited use as the burning battery produces its own oxygen ensuring the extremely hot fire continues to rapidly grow and spread, often to electric vehicles or buses parked nearby as shown in the recent image from China.

They are so hard to extinguish that the Netherlands has water filled shipping containers on standby in the main cities into which blazing EVs are dumped to extinguish them.

Several car carrier ships have recently had serious fires and even been lost with EVs and their batteries implicated in many of them.

Charging EVs can be a big problem especially if the owners have to park them on the street as is common overseas and in some of our cities. It’s a bit easier for apartment dwellers but I doubt even Mr. Tegg would want to live in a multi-storey apartment building with a basement full of charging EVs each night.

New EV owners will proudly tell you of all the places they have found to get free charging such as Auckland Hospital and various shopping malls. Some even happily run cables out the windows of accommodation providers or charge up while visiting friends. There is no such thing as a free lunch and what they are actually doing is effectively stealing petrol from these places. Someone has to pay and it will usually be the rest of us who cannot afford an expensive EV.

The freeloading does not stop there. EVs are much heavier than their petrol equivalents due to the immense batteries they have to lug around everywhere which, unlike petrol tanks, weigh just the same if they are empty or full.

This extra weight has the effect of producing greatly increased tyre and brake wear which just washes off our roads to eventually end up as ever more microplastics in our oceans.

In the past, EV owners also paid no road-user charges but thankfully the new government is going to change this. Hopefully the charges will be retroactive so these users can finally contribute to the road damage they have already caused. Heavy trucks have to pay for their road damage, so why not heavy EVs?

EVs also require the mining of much greater tonnages of valuable metals for each car, something Mr. Tegg as a strident anti-miner used to vocally oppose.

However, I would like to be helpful so would strongly suggest to him that he seriously considers disposing of his wonderful Tesla soon while it still has some resale value.

About Alastair. His name is usually associated with the weekly Stargazers Column on page 2 as the Author. He is also a great advocate for a Dark Sky community to be established in Kuaotunu, plus Chair of The Historical Society. Alastair is a geologist and astronomer and with Harriett, they run the StarGazers BnB at Kuaotunu offering astronomy tours.