Monday, December 20, 2021

Electric Car Hysteria

 I can see from the topic’s recurrence in Facebook memes that the conservative Powers That Be don’t want their minions getting cozy with the idea of electric cars anytime soon. You can also tell by the weakness of the arguments that they’re counting on them taking things at face value and not digging too deeply into the subject. This one is typical:

You’d think that the right-wing bearers of toxic masculinity would love to have the heaviest battery around. If the fossil fuel industry wasn’t trying so hard to kill them, the car companies would be touting them right now.

Don’t mess around with those pencil-neck batteries! Get’cher 2022 Ford F-350 with the heaviest battery on the planet! You’ll never get stuck in mud or snow again! [Spoken quickly in disclaimer-speak] “EPA rating 2.5 miles/gallon. Mileage may vary.”

The thing is, since I harvested that meme, battery sizes have already come down considerably (IF they were ever truly 1000 lbs) and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to downsize. That’s how tech works… over time everything eventually becomes smaller, lighter, and cheaper.

And do you want to talk about displacing raw materials? How much earth do you think has been moved in search of coal and oil? Please. If they were worried about natural resources they would have demanded limitations on drilling and fracking years ago. They use this argument because they know that liberals care about natural resources and they recognize a good scare tactic when they see one.

But this is another method of the right: the “All or Nothing” ploy. If driving an electric car won’t fix everything, then forget it and do nothing. Notice how there is never an alternative plan to fight climate change, just an endless list of things they claim won’t work, (electric cars, wind farms, solar energy) which just so happens to be things they don’t want to do. The only plan is to remain status quo, which coincidentally, is exactly what the coal and oil companies want to do.

And then there’s just the plain old deception and misinformation.

The grand assumption is that the battery will drain away and leave you stranded and freezing. However it is a false assumption, and one the authors know their intended audience will grasp onto nonetheless. Here’s the valid information:

Not only will the battery not die out on you, (assuming you didn’t get into the jam with the battery on “E”), it will likely last longer than a gas-powered car. You can get stranded with your gas tank on E as well as your electric car battery.

When I first saw this meme, someone chimed in with a comment about someone charging their car with a gas-powered generator. (Har har, stoopid libs...)

This is a call back to another meme that purported to show someone doing just that. Of course, they never mention that the picture isn’t even from the US, it’s from somewhere in eastern Europe or something, probably from one of those places where you see the pictures of people precariously stacking one ladder on top of another, or riding around on a bicycle with a sheep on the handlebars. Suffice to say, it has nothing to do with the contemporary argument for which it’s being used. Yet there it is.

Deep down, the fossil fuel industries know that a day of reckoning will come when their products will no longer be acceptable. What they’re doing now is trying to make That Day as far down the road as they can push it, so as to continue to reap the waterfall of profits they currently enjoy. So they put out misinformation like this to sway the minds of those who cling to rose-colored memories of how life used to be.

Now, all that said, I have issues with electric car-hood myself. In my job, I manage a fleet of cars for our company. I’m keenly aware of the pros and cons of going electric. In order for a company like mine to adopt such technology, there’s some more work to be done in the field.

There are two things that the e-car industry will have to tackle before they see wider corporate adoption.

1)      There must be far more charging stations available. I see a smattering around town now, including in one of my office building’s parking garages. But they’re set up in the swank part of town. (As if any part of Baltimore can really be considered “swank.”) When people are on a multi-day business trip to visit various company locations, they won’t be able to use their home station. These people are going to have to count on being able to get a charge when they need one.

I can see our people whose turf is contained within a metro area being able to go electric. But for our other folks out in places like Montana and the Great Plains, whose locations can be hundreds of miles away from each other, finding a charge may be a prohibitive issue. At least for now.

2)      Charging time will need to come way down. People who work on the road cannot wait around for an hour or more to charge up their cars. They need to get it close to the time it takes to fill up a car with gas, or at least in the same ballpark.

I should also mention that the purchase price needs to come down too. Maybe individuals can make their money back in gasoline savings, but that takes time. Companies like mine usually replace their leased cars every 3 years or so, which limits the time available to lower the lifecycle costs. We’ll have to run the numbers when the time comes.

Until these changes take place, I don’t see wide-scale adoption on the corporate level. Although the use of hybrids may be an effective bridge. When I see the cost of hybrids come down, then it may be time for me to broach the subject with management.

More “Dad” Stories

Back in 2013, I wrote a post about getting splinters and shots, the banes of kid existence. Here’s a bit from it that featured “Doctor Dad”:

I quickly learned to rue the moment I got a splinter because I knew my Dad would have to take it out.  And he didn't consider it “extrication” as much as “exploratory surgery,” with nothing but a straight pin.

First, he had to run the end of the pin through the flame from a match, to “disinfect” it.  I think it was really to make sure I was properly terrified.  Then he’d use it to start digging around in my finger until he couldn't hold my hand down securely, from all my wiggling and howling.  After much crying and moaning and swearing and straining, he’d come up with the splinter on the end of the pin.  (Although a few times, I think he just pushed it down far enough so I couldn't see it anymore.)  Afterward, he’d apply some alcohol… not to me, to himself, in the form of Jack Daniels.

I remember one evening, when I was 5 or 6, I got a splinter from playing around near this rough railroad tie-looking plank that bordered our garden.  I came in and we did the whole Splinter Removal Dance, which took about 20 minutes.  (Not including the Jack.)  I went back outside to continue what I was doing and immediately got another splinter.

That one didn't go over very well.  I think there was considerably less delicacy used in the second extraction than there was with the first.  He might have even used an old corkscrew, I’m not sure.  I can’t say I blame him, but on the bright side, it was an early lesson wherein the little Bluzdude learned about the insanity of repeating the same action and expecting a different result.

Eventually, we managed to procure a pair of tweezers, so Dad could retire the straight-pin.  I’m not sure that was better, though, because often the splinter still had to be dug out, and the dullish edges of the tweezers were ineffective unless the nub was exposed.

Before long, I stopped telling anyone I had a splinter, and just went for the tweezers myself.  At least I could regulate how hard to push, and therefore the pain.  It’s hard to properly judge a kid’s actual pain when they scream before you even stick it in.

Of course, Dad had to get the last word in, in Comments:




Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Ah the electric car. I am driving a 13 yr old Toyota that runs like a charm. But I'd buy an electric if I could afford. Traffic be damned. (that's a joke now that I live south of you)
As for splinter "surgery" It is obvious your father and mine went to the same medical school. I too had the straight pin until the day of tweezers. I think I preferred the pin, but not by much!

Bohemian said...

The only reason I haven't considered an Electric Car is not enough Charging Stations exist, the Cost of the Vehicle is still prohibitive and I don't have an Hour to wait for a full charge either while 'filling' up. Once they overcome those barriers and the Tech improves, I'm sure most would ditch their Gas Vehicles who realize not only harm for the Planet, but how much the Gas and Oil Companies are gouging us all... look at prices now and we're not nearly as gouged as those in Europe always have been. Most Average folks care about their bottom line for necessary items... most Affluent only care about how much MORE money they can make at any cost to whoever. So long as Gas and Oil have bought and paid for those with Political Influence, we're not likely to see a push to move beyond their product and towards refining what will replace them.

jono said...

Would love to try a hybrid, but the price...
I work in a lumber yard and the best tweezers we have found are Uncle Bill's Tweezers. Long ago I used to buy them from Uncle Bill's niece somewhere near Denver. You can get them on line now. Everyone should have one.

bluzdude said...

I'd also consider a hybrid, but as it happened, I just bought a new Chevy Equinox in March of 2019. I didn't drive much in the first place but with the COVID precautions of the last couple years, it only has just over 7000 miles on it. And it's paid off. So I'm not in a rush to buy another car.

bluzdude said...

Wow, designer tweezers. What a country. What is it about them that makes them remarkable?

bluzdude said...

The fossil fuel industry is doing everything in their power to put a damper on the expansion of electric cars. They know it's the road to their obsolescence.

RO said...

I have to laugh at the splinter story, because it's clear your dad was old school, and this sounds suspiciously like what my mom used to do to us minus the Jack Daniels. What makes it even worse, is that I used to do the same thing to my son when he was a kid, and like you, he dreaded telling me about any kind of splinter issues.(lol) Wow, this sure brings back memories. Luckily my son has a daughter who is super girly, so there's a very slim chance of him having to repeat. Merry, Merry Christmas to you and Sweet Pea! Hugs, RO

Lady M said...

When I evacuated for Hurricane Rita back in 2009, my prius drove for 14 hours in a horrific traffic jam and I arrived in Dallas with a 1/4 tank because my electric battery did most of the driving. I past untold numbers of vehicles pulled off the road that were out of gas.

bluzdude said...

And there's the kind of real world experience the fossil fuel industry doesn't want people to know about.