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.

  1. LibertyLover says:

    I was reading through there and though, “WTF are they talking about?”

    Then I got it.


  2. LibertyLover says:

    #101, That was for #98.

  3. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    LL–I’m glad you cleared that up as I thought you were complementing several people as you used a plural pronoun, but I see you meant to compliment only one person.

    Yes, shouldn’t be too generous with our compliments. Might turn us into slaves.

  4. it's_the_oil_stupid says:

    People don’t get it. Cars are like Barbie dolls – the doll itself is only the means by which you have to buy tons of doll clothes and accessories, which is where the real money is at. With cars, the same principle applies – the cars are the …er…vehicle, to create consumption for OIL. OIL is the real reason our auto industry and highway structure even exist. That’s why we won’t be able to develop a car that runs on anything other than oil – the oil companies will kill it – because the consumption of OIL is the ultimate real reason for the existence of the whole system. It’s always about making rich people richer – it’s never about providing goods and services people need (unless that coincides with the real goal of making rich people richer).

    • Look at the situation 2 years after) The situation is being changed – there are more and more EV on the roads and their number is increasing!
      I wish I could have a Tesla car)

  5. MikeN says:

    Bobbo, watch My Cousin Vinny.

  6. noname says:

    Electric cars are proof positive that intelligent extraterrestrial beings (They called themselves FORD) have visited Earth in prehistory (just before the EV1, then the government ordered the EV1 demise to deny extraterrestrial intelligence). Our alien astronauts gave us advance battery technology that the BIG OIL companies have destroyed!

    We need to realign our Inertial confinement lasers to signal our fellow intergalactic brethren to return and save us from our dumb self’s!!!

  7. LibertyLover says:

    Here’s your solution!

  8. gmknobl says:

    I have no issue with electric cars being just as bad for the environment as gas cars, if not worse. Ride a bike instead.

    The problem is the intransigence of big corporations and their willingness to kill anyone and anything that gets in the way of their profits. Which is why the bigger the corporation, the more regulations and restrictions should be placed on them. They killed the first electric cars and many other things that could have hurt their profits last century until they could get a handle on how to make a profit from it. And there’s still a nice little deal they made with the petro industry that making success difficult.

    What we really need are higher fuel standards and promotion of infrastructure built around walking and biking rather than the car. Efficient mass transit like trains needs to be emphasized over trucking. Goods can be shipped around much cheaper and at less cost to the environment than they are now but several lobby groups fight that since they know it will hurt their profits, not for any other reason (it’s good for America and local communities but corporations don’t care about that).

  9. LibertyLover says:

    #108, I know I like the train system in Europe. I don’t think it would work here, though, as everything is more spread out. You get off a train in Scotland and the store is right there by the station. It doesn’t work like that here (except perhaps in the really large cities).

  10. noname says:

    # 107 LibertyLover

    “Here’s your solution!”

    I like the cut of your Jib!

    Except, my friend in Area 51 was able to sneak out a DVD showing a foreign scientist named GRU and his minions working on this TOP SECRET MOON shrink ray to steal the MOON!

    What then, Mr Smarty Pants?

  11. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    Interesting pics here of a polar bear scaling snow free peaks to eat eggs because it has no ice to hunt seals on.

    Proof of AGW? No. Just like so much of what is going on now: predicted by and consistent with AGW, but not proof of.

    Sorry Mickey. Not in the bible or your talking points for this week.

  12. noname says:

    # 111 bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? said,

    Having pictures of a polar bear mauling a Prius driver trapped in the muddy arctic tundra would indeed convince millions and confirm global warming is real and happening.

    If that trapped Prius driver was Al Gore, well; that would be priceless.

    Penguins are just polar bear snack-food.

  13. Speter says:

    we revolve around a giant hot thingmajig, cyclically.. with differing cycles. amazing

    sometimes its hot sometimes not.

    these lost polar bears are agents of propaganda.
    apparently we are being told that polar bears cant swim, and the kids are lapping it up. fining parents for taking hot showers but ignoring the fluoride in the water.

  14. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    By coincidence, I came across this video describing the air car:

  15. rick says:

    If we’re so obsessed with efficiency, let’s go back to horses. You can go hundreds of miles on just a bale of hay, which costs next to nothing. It would also employ horse shit cleanup crews and spur the economy.

  16. Jonas says:

    I agree with your post. Fundamental weakness in the all electric vehicle scheme when the battery is used to recover and reuse braking energy that would otherwise be wasted, a single kWh of capacity can store up to 107 gallons of fuel per year. We have pandas choose a quality battery for electric vehicles because the battery is a replacement fuel our vehicles.