This excerpt is only a small part of a fascinating, hard-hitting analysis of why the current state of batteries and the paucity of some materials needed to make them make replacing gas-powered cars with electric vehicles worldwide an impractical pipe dream at best.
The following comparisons assume that a new car with an internal combustion engine will use 400 gallons of fuel for 12,000 miles of annual driving. For the sake of simplicity, they assume a total of 96 kWh of batteries are available to reduce societal fuel consumption. The numbers are easily scalable.
* 96 kWh of batteries would be enough for a fleet of 64 Prius-class hybrids that will each save 160 gallons of fuel per year and generate a societal fuel savings of 10,240 gallons per year;
* 96 kWh of batteries would be enough for a fleet of six Volt-class plug-in hybrids that will each save 300 gallons of fuel per year and generate a societal fuel savings of 1,800 gallons per year; and
* 96 kWh of batteries would be enough for a fleet of four Leaf class electric vehicles that will each save 400 gallons of fuel per year and generate a societal fuel savings of 1,600 gallons per year.
This example highlights the fundamental flaw in all vehicle electrification schemes. When batteries are used to recover and reuse braking energy that would otherwise be wasted, a single kWh of capacity can save up to 107 gallons of fuel per year. When batteries are used as fuel tank replacements, a single kWh of capacity can only save 19 gallons of fuel per year and most of the fuel savings at the vehicle level will be offset by increased fuel consumption in power plants.
Using batteries to enable energy efficiency technologies like recuperative braking is sensible conservation.
Using batteries as fuel tank replacements is a zero-sum game that consumes huge quantities of metals for the sole purpose of substituting electricity for oil. Since roughly 45% of domestic electric power is from coal fired plants and that percentage will decline very slowly, the only rational conclusion is that electric drive is unconscionable waste and pollution masquerading as conservation.