The Electric Car Confidence Trick

by Vernon Coleman

A bloke we know has bought an electric car and is, predictably, unbearably supercilious and sanctimonious. Listening to him talk, you would think that he had single-handedly solved all the world’s environmental problems. Within five minutes of telling us about his new purchase he had told us at least ten times that it runs on electricity and doesn’t use any petrol.

‘Where does the electricity come from?’ I asked him, when he’d finished telling me how diesel vehicles were destroying the planet. In my experience, people who buy electric cars become horribly self-righteous and need to be encouraged to face a little reality.

‘I just plug it in to the mains,’ he said. ‘I’ve got a socket in the garage; just an ordinary electricity socket.’

And so I asked him the same question I always ask these sanctimonious people. ‘And where does the electricity come from?’

He looked puzzled. They always do.

‘To save you looking it up,’ I told him, ‘the electricity which powers your car comes from oil and coal fired power stations. But in the UK, where the power generating capacity is running out because coal plants have been shut down on orders from European Union bureaucrats, the nation obtains much of its essential electricity from hugely polluting diesel engines.’

Britain still gets well over a quarter of its energy from coal and has promised to close all its coal plants within the next decade. Sadly, and worryingly, there are no adequate replacement power plants in the pipeline so, presumably, the country will have to reduce its consumption of electricity by a quarter by 2025. This may seem rather unlikely but it is difficult to see what the alternative is. It is true that the Chinese have plans to construct a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point but even if there are no cost overruns the electricity produced by this power station will cost the equivalent of $150 per barrel of oil. And there are plans to build an electricity producing barrage across Cardiff Bay but this will produce electricity which costs four times the current wholesale price for the stuff. Moreover, the EU continues to introduce new laws, which British governments insist on following and gold-plating , so things are going to get considerably worse.

So the owner of an electric car is actually driving a very inefficient diesel powered vehicle which, because the diesel must first be converted into electricity in a power station, is far more polluting than any car collecting its energy from the garage forecourt.

Plus the use of electricity to power cars means that the nation’s power stations will break down far more often than ever before. The use of electric cars will mean that people won’t be able to light or heat their homes, cook their food or mess around with their computers.

When I’d finished explaining all this, the man with the new electric car stared at me but said nothing.

On top of all this, he will soon realise that he has bought a car which will take him no more than an hour or so from his home. And since there are very few recharging points around, he must then take it home and plug it in for eight hours or so.

Electric cars will only be ‘green’ when they are powered by little windmills or solar panels. And that isn’t ever going to happen.

Meanwhile, the companies which make these silly little vehicles continue to promote them as if they were helping the environment in some way. A company called Telsa, for example, promotes its cars with the tagline ‘No emission’, which seems to me to be absurdly misleading but which no doubt appeals to the sanctimonious and the hypocritical.

How does the manufacturer think the electricity will be created? If electric cars ran only on solar power or wind power the owners would only be able to travel when the sun was shining or the wind blowing.

And, of course, the stuff to make the car (the metal and the plastic) has to be dug out of the ground, with all the usual requirement for energy. Moreover, the batteries used by electric cars need lithium which is in short supply. And in order to find the required lithium a host of new mines will have to be dug. Much earth moving machinery and drilling equipment will be required.

And vast amounts of oil will be required to keep all that machinery running.

Taken from The Return of the Disgruntled Man by Vernon Coleman. This book (the fourth volume in the bestselling series of Vernon Coleman’s diaries) is available as an ebook on Amazon.

Copyright Vernon Coleman