"The Dirt on Clean Electric Cars"

Discussion in 'General' started by Rothgarr, Oct 16, 2018.

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  1. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member


    I read this last night and was wondering what your thoughts were on this.

    I'm considering getting a PHEV because we have solar panels on our roof and we overproduce, so I'm looking to use that excess for charging a car. So i know my power is coming from a "clean" source.

    But at the same time, the article makes me wonder about everyone else. And I wonder where the batteries for each manufacturer are made (aside from Tesla whose batteries are manufactured in the USA using renewable energy at their gigafactory in Nevada).

    While one reason I want to get the PHEV is because I CAN (from the solar on my roof), the close second reason is because I want to do my part to reduce our carbon footprint. Now I'm wondering if i SHOULD?

    What do you think?
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  3. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    That article is aimed a Germans. Where do you live city or state, we can share your regional data.

    Bob Wilson
  4. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    Hi Bob, I live in New Milford, Connecticut.
  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Let's start with: https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-data-show-electric-vehicles-continue-to-get-cleaner

    This map makes it easy to see how clean the USA grid has become. But there is another source: https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=CT

    Category                     |Connecticut Trillion Btu
    Natural Gas                  |254.7
    Nuclear Electric Power       |173.4
    Motor Gasoline excl. Ethanol |168.3
    Distillate Fuel Oil          |94.9
    Biomass                      |38.1
    Other Petroleum              |14.4
    HGL                          |10.7
    Jet Fuel                     |9.5
    Other Renewables             |4.2
    Coal                         |2.3
    Hydroelectric Power          |2.1
    Net Electricity Imports      |1.9
    Residual Fuel                |0.8
    Interstate Electricity       |-51.2
    Category                     Connecticut thousand MWh
    Natural Gas-Fired            1653
    Nuclear                      1500
    Nonhydroelectric Renewables    79
    Petroleum-Fired                39
    Hydroelectric                  20
    Bob Wilson
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
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  6. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    Interesting, thanks for the links!
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  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    No problem. A Prius owner since 2005, I've had to deal with similar FUD for ~13 years. After a while, you get a clue about what is going on. <grins>

    Bob Wilson
  9. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Thanks! I was going to link to that same article.

    But in general, we've been seeing the same sort of long discredited anti-EV myths and propaganda for years and years. Ironically, the anti-EV screed linked above starts out "New research shows..." But there's nothing new about that FUD at all. Same ol' same ol'.

    Here's a good short reference for EV advocates; a summary of the most common myths and lies coming from the anti-EV crowd:

    "The EV-Hater's Guide to Hating Electric Cars"

    And note that is dated 2011. The EV revolution has moved on... but the EV haters' arguments have not!

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  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    The Rueters URL shows the head of VW claims EV cars threaten the existence of German auto industry and jobs. This explains why Forbes would publish a German centric, anti-EV, article.

    Bob Wilson
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  11. Thanks for posting about this. I saw the piece this morning and couldn't believe it was on the mobility section of Bloomberg, who seemingly accepted the conclusions without any analysis. I haven't had a chance to see who performed the work or who funded it.

    I did note, though, that Colin Mckerracher, Head of Advanced Transport, Bloomberg NEF, tweeted out today "The best source of clear, peer-reviewed data on emissions of EVs vs. ICEs is still the work done by the team at MIT here: http://carboncounter.com/ The conclusions are clear: EVs have lower lifetime CO2 emissions than comparable ICE vehicles." [​IMG]

    I believe it was in response to this article, but didn't have an exchange with him about it.
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  13. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    That's a really neat interactive. I wish it had the Honda Clarity on there -- but I imagine it would be in the same relative location as the Chevy Volt.
  14. Yeah, Clarity and Volt should be pretty close. Close enough for jazz, at least.
  15. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I went back and re-read the Bloomberg article and noticed they cited a study by Andreas Radics of Berylls Strategy Advisors EV. This is not an academic paper which is subject to peer review. There are consultancy firms who are notorious for grossly misleading reports that are echoed in the press. So my first effort was to ask Google to find the report which apparently is written in German.

    One Goggle result: http://automagazine.info/news/the-dirt-on-clean-electric-cars-is-just-under-the-hood/

    Beneath a hoods of millions of a purify electric cars rolling onto a world’s roads in a subsequent few years will be a unwashed battery.

    Every vital carmaker has skeleton for electric vehicles to cut hothouse gas emissions, nonetheless their manufacturers are, by and large, creation lithium ion batteries in places with some of a many polluting grids in a world.
    . . .

    Now this could be another case of "Bad Lip Reading" or a Google translation of a German article which could be a bad translation of the original Bloomberg article. But digging through the word salad reminded me of: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/22/swedish-ev-battery-study-sucks/

    . . . here’s a short summary of dramatically incorrect and misleading assumptions the SVT TV report and article made:

    1. The study assumes that the engine of the default diesel vehicles, including all the components of its engine, will not produce any CO2 at all. Producing iron, aluminum, and other components does not produce CO2. Yeah, right. See where this is going?
    2. SVT also think that it make sense to compare with “environmental friendly diesel” that has been mixed with 40–50% “carbon-neutral” hydrocarbons. That’s a rather unrealistic assumption to pull out of one’s hat. This is perhaps true for one or a few brands. But in all, it is like assuming all people can play violin, because the best one does.
    3. Probably the worst assumption: gasoline and diesel never produced any additional CO2 during their life before showing up at the pump. Zero emissions during oil drilling, equipment and rig production, transportation, production of tankers, the refinery processes of petrol, and burning the excessive risky natural gas. The assumption is, therefore that diesel suddenly appears from nowhere in the tanks at local petrol stations, like magic. Not sure who’d believe that?
    4. They assume that Tesla batteries have been produced using 50% fossil fuel, which is just incorrect.
    5. They assume electric vehicle drivers are driving their vehicles on 50% fossil fuel in the electricity mix. While this is true for some grids, the normal case for electric vehicle drivers is to purchase clean electricity, or what they believe is to be a clean energy mix, or simply produce their own.
    6. SVT further assumes the fuel economy sticker values on petrol vehicles are true, and simply multiply them to the distances driven. Yeah … that’s not even close to realistic.
    7. They do not highlight the general problem of humans forcing their children to inhale diesel exhaust every time they cross the road or walk on sidewalks. (On that topic, see: “Study: Diesel Exhaust Tied To 38,000 Early Deaths A Year.”)
    There were a number of notorious, anti-Prius articles that year after year were claimed by the ignorant. Examples included the Sudbury nickel mine environmental disaster and the CNW Marketing "Dust-to-Dust" report claiming a Hummer had lower lifetime emissions than a Gen-2 Prius. These were just outright lies and frauds yet they were picked up and repeated years later by the ignorant. My favorite is 'landfills full of Prius batteries' to which I always reply, 'Where? I have a shovel and those things are full of nickel.'

    The Swedish battery study joins that long list of lies. Like a bad penny, it shows up time and time again as in the Bloomberg article.

    Bob Wilson
  16. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    It really is amazing to see just how far the anti-EV propagandists go in creating fake "studies" which pretend to "prove" that EVs are more polluting than gasmobiles, or at least are no better from an environmental perspective. The lengths they have to go, the absolutely ridiculous assumptions they have to make to get their fake "study" to produce the results they want... well, it goes waaaaaaay beyond mere incompetence. You don't get studies with premise after premise after premise, and figure after figure after figure, all lined up to skew the results that far in one direction by accident. These are extreme cases of "Figures don't lie, but liars do figure."

    I agree with the truism known as Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. But the false premises and fallacious conclusions in these fake studies are very far from being adequately explained by stupidity or incompetence; malice against the EV revolution certainly is at work!

    * * * * *

    An older, similarly faked study, widely quoted in articles claiming that EVs are "not really clean", is from the NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Robert Llewellyn, of "Fully Charged" fame, wrote a blog debunking the fake "study". Quoting a relevant section of Mr. Llewellyn's blog:

    The gist of the Norwegian report was on the total Life Cycle Assessment or LCA of an electric car when compared to a petrol/diesel vehicle.

    It seems they might have made one or two teeny weeny error-ettes.

    When they calculated the materials that went into making electric motors for cars, they accidentally used a static electric motor (the sort of thing you’d use to drive a large milling machine or industrial lathe) instead of a small, compact motor that would be found in a Nissan Leaf or similar car. Their calculations were for a *1,000 kg* motor, the motor in the Nissan Leaf weighs *53kg.*

    As you can imagine, an error of this magnitude could skew the figures rather badly.

    So why does it matter?

    Well, their entire prognosis rests on the amounts of materials used and the ability to re-cycle those materials efficiently and economically at the end of the car’s life.

    A 1,000 kg motor contains 91 kg of copper, copper is expensive and it’s mining and production has, without question, a negative environmental impact. All cars use a lot of copper, the wiring loom, the starter motor etc. Electric cars use a little bit more, that phrase is accurate, they use a little bit more. Not 90kg more.

    The report also ‘casually misjudges’ the size, weight and copper content of the frequency inverter, the bit of an electric car that transforms the AC current fed in from the electricity supply, into the DC current stored in the battery.

    These units do indeed contain copper but the report happened to measure a large, industrial scale frequency inverter you’d find in a factory tool shop. The factory one contains 36kg of copper, the one in the Nissan Leaf is 6.2 kg, total weight, most of which is the steel box it's housed in.

    They then analysed battery chemistry which no EV maker uses, battery capacity that no plug in car uses, then skewed the figures of how much coal is burned to generate the power to charge the non existent batteries in the mythical car.

    Essentially, the report is trash from start to finish.
    Mr. Llewellyn never gives the name of this fake study, perhaps to avoid giving it more exposure, but I think we should name it so we'll know when we see it cited in anti-EV propaganda. The title is "Comparative Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Electric Vehicles", by Troy R. Hawkins, Bhawna Singh, Guillaume Majeau‐Bettez, and Anders Hammer Strømman; first published 04 October 2012.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  17. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    One other curiosity is they only mention CO{2} whereas there are other gasses. Diesels have both particulate and NOx issues that are not always addressed. On the battery side, there are sulfur gasses that have to be captured.

    I think they believe CO{2}-phobia is what drives us to go EV. Yet I find quiet, high torque, and low operating costs to be my main drivers. Low CO{2} is nice but compared to what?

    Bob Wilson
  18. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    One thing these articles fail to mention is the location where CO2 is emitted. I can put a battery plant in an area there is wide swatches of area for the CO2 to be absorbed by say trees so that the impact is reduced, but I cannot restrict where ICE's are used unless I am willing to curtail the ability to drive. Many cars are driven on city roads (sub-optimal driving conditions) and in stop and go traffic. If I am sitting in traffic, my ICE is still polluting, my EV may not be. The other day I was stuck behind a truck that was trying to turn around and had blocked the entire road and it took almost 6 minutes before I could start moving again. For the complete time, my engine was running as I had no idea how long it would take to clear the obstruction. When we just miss the traffic light and have to wait a couple of minutes for it turn green again, do we turn off our ICE. I have noticed it in some other countries, where my host or cab driver would turn the engine off. Do the studies take into account the impact when there is a high pollution advisory as we have in many cities. Do the studies account for smog? @bwilson4web mention some advantages, but there are others. For example we have days in Phoenix when we are advised not to drive to work. If we had more EV's we may not need such warnings. There are health benefits when smog caused by emissions are reduced as an asthmatic will tell you.

    A British politician was supposed to have said this a long time back "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." You can cherry pick and prove what you want.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  19. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    My wife's 2017 Honda Pilot shuts its engine off when you come to a stop and if you press the brake hard enough. The moment your foot even comes the slightest bit off the brake it immediately turns back on before you even have a chance to move your foot over to the accelerator. It's actually pretty cool.

    But the starter on her Pilot is specifically designed for that. Not sure I'd do that with my 2009 Suzuki as it creates wear on a normal starter. Also, the auto-shutoff only saves gas overall if the engine is off for more than 7 seconds (I believe, based on a video I saw that did all the math)
  20. Kailani

    Kailani Member

    I was in Scotland this summer and rented a Volvo V40 that would turn off its engine every time the car came to a stop. It took getting used to but worked seamlessly, even with a manual transmission. The car rental attendant said all cars in the EU are required to have the auto-off system (probably for emissions or climate change advocacy). I don’t know if that’s true EU-wide but I thought it was interesting. I’m curious how much it adds to the cost of a vehicle.

    Sent from my iPhone using Inside EVs
  21. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    I honestly don't think it adds anything to the cost of the car. My wife's 2017 Honda Pilot has that feature. You can turn it off, but we leave the feature active. It's more of a passive feature as you need to press the brake pedal down harder than normal when at a stop to tell the engine to shut off. It took us getting used to as well. It's amazing how quickly the engine comes back on and rolls forward when you lift off the brake.

    A few months ago I was curious how much it saves gas (idling versus starting the motor) and how much additional wear it put on the starter and engine. I had found this EXCELLENT that answers those exact questions:

    It turns out that the engine shut off saves gas if the motor is off for at least seven seconds (if I recall correctly from the video) and there's really no additional wear on the starter/engine since they are designed specifically for that purpose. Worth a watch.
  22. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    I came across this excellent video. Lots of good info here:

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