There is an astonishing piece in today’s FT which more or less says the unsayable: that electric cars are not now and never will be viable.
As most people are aware, the EU countries have all agreed to ban petrol and diesel cars; from 2030 in France’s case and from 2040 in the Uk’s case. Before those dates they are expected to phase out and phase in and to introduce less polluting versions of Hybrid vehicles. That is a very short summary of the current situation.
Nissan are introducing a new version of the Leaf with a much enhanced range between refuelling stops, later this year. The present Leaf has been a failure. No-one knows how many millions they have lost but they had expected sales in excess of a million by now and they haven’t even hit half of that. Which means that the expected economies of scale haven’t manifested themselves.
Tesla in the US have orders for their latest model in excess of 400000 from their Californian factory but have absolutely no idea how they are going to fulfil those reservations. At present, they are geared up for an annual volume of c.100000 vehicles. So, if you have just signed up, you might get a car in time before the law to kicks in in 2040. Also, Panasonic who manufacture the batteries for them are losing money on each battery. Maybe not the end of the world across a hundred thousand batteries but across four-hundred thousand? Tesla themselves are anticipating a loss in third quarter 2017 of US$500 million. Don’t know if they can shrug that off but it is in addition to massive losses since they started down this road. Also, they have 16000 of the previous old model still unsold. How are they going to shift these? And even supposing they find a way to make them, they are not motor car manufacturers. Whereas not only do BMW, Mercedes and Audi between them manufacture 6-million cars per annum, they have built the infrastructure [Sales/Service] to support these volumes. Neither Tesla or Nissan or Toyota have an infrastructure for electric cars. When the Germans switch, at the right time and of their choosing, not some Euro bureaucratic Diktat, they will be ready.
According to the FT Tesla have lost Billions and will have to return to the US Stock Market for yet more equity funding before the end of this year.
Then there are the running costs. Electricity is not cheap. It may get cheaper as Solar and enhanced Solar come down the line but 2040 is much too early to talk about large volumes of electric cars plugging in to your household supply. The FT supplies some figures for the UK.
Bear with me.
It takes at present, all night to recharge a car [9.5 hours technically]. If say ten percent of all cars were electric and that ten percent or even ten percent of the ten percent wanted to recharge at a Motorway Service Station, it couldn’t be done. The FT says each Motorway Service Station would need a 400KW power plant of its own just to service the 10% but either way, nothing adds up.
The grid couldn’t stand cars recharging at home and never will, regardless of the cost of Gas/Wind power generation. We can’t cope now never mind with 6-Million electric cars, plus trucks and tractors, on the road. Even if everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel: governments and manufacturers: more generation; more charging points, even at Supermarkets and Service Stations; does anyone think that Exxon, Shell and the rest of them will simply shut the shop? No, they will reduce the price of diesel and undercut recharging.
And as several people in the Comments section have noted, diesel cars are much, much cleaner now. So what exactly is the point?