So much for electric vehicles


Despite all the hype about electric vehicles, including President Biden’s decision to “electrify” the US government fleet of over half a million vehicles, nobody seems to be talking much about the challenges of switching from gasoline or diesel to electric power.  Toyota has gone on record often in the past, pouring cold water on such heated claims.  It did so again a few months ago.

This week, Toyota reiterated an opinion it has offered before. That opinion is straightforward: The world is not yet ready to support a fully electric auto fleet.

Toyota’s head of energy and environmental research Robert Wimmer testified before the Senate this week, and said: “If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance, and affordability.”

Wimmer’s remarks come on the heels of GM’s announcement that it will phase out all gas internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2035. Other manufacturers, including Mini, have followed suit with similar announcements.

Tellingly, both Toyota and Honda have so far declined to make any such promises. Honda is the world’s largest engine manufacturer when you take its boat, motorcycle, lawnmower, and other engines it makes outside the auto market into account. Honda competes in those markets with Briggs & Stratton and the increased electrification of lawnmowers, weed trimmers, and the like.

Wimmer noted that while manufactures have announced ambitious goals, just 2% of the world’s cars are electric at this point. For price, range, infrastructure, affordability, and other reasons, buyers continue to choose ICE over electric, and that’s even when electric engines are often subsidized with tax breaks to bring pricetags down.

The scale of the switch hasn’t even been introduced into the conversation in any systematic way yet. According to FinancesOnline, there are 289.5 million cars just on U.S. roads as of 2021. About 98 percent of them are gas-powered.

. . .

Toyota warns that the grid and infrastructure simply aren’t there to support the electrification of the private car fleet. A 2017 U.S. government study found that we would need about 8,500 strategically-placed charge stations to support a fleet of just 7 million electric cars. That’s about six times the current number of electric cars but no one is talking about supporting just 7 million cars. We should be talking about powering about 300 million within the next 20 years, if all manufacturers follow GM and stop making ICE cars.

Simply put, we’re gonna need a bigger energy boat to deal with connecting all those cars to the power grids. A LOT bigger.

But instead of building a bigger boat, we may be shrinking the boat we have now. The power outages in California and Texas — the largest U.S. states by population and by car ownership — exposed issues with powering needs even at current usage levels. Increasing usage of wind and solar, neither of which can be throttled to meet demand, and both of which prove unreliable in crisis, has driven some coal and natural gas generators offline. Wind simply runs counter to needs — it generates too much power when we tend not to need it, and generates too little when we need more. The storage capacity to account for this doesn’t exist yet.

We will need much more generation capacity to power about 300 million cars if we’re all going to be forced to drive electric cars. Whether we’re charging them at home or charging them on the road, we will be charging them frequently. Every gas station you see on the roadside today will have to be wired to charge electric cars, and charge speeds will have to be greatly increased.

. . .

Half an hour is an unacceptably long time to spend at an electron pump. It’s about 5 to 10 times longer than a current trip to the gas pump tends to take when pumps can push 4 to 5 gallons into your tank per minute. That’s for consumer cars, not big rigs that have much larger tanks. Imagine the lines that would form at the pump, every day, all the time, if a single charge time isn’t reduced by 70 to 80 percent.

There’s more at the link.

The biggest single problem I foresee with electric vehicles is that they depend on a stable power grid to be able to recharge their batteries.  Mother Nature isn’t all that good at providing such stability, and nor are less than reliable electrical utility companies, as demonstrated in Texas during recent months.  Hurricanes can disrupt electricity supplies over a wide area for weeks on end – precisely the situation where emergency repair crews need power for their transportation, chainsaws and other gear, but won’t be able to recharge their batteries.  What’s more, when power is restored after such an outage, people are going to be desperate to warm or cool their homes, power appliances, etc. – not compete with auto recharge stations for the limited power that’s available.

I’m seeing an awful lot of hype about this, but not much hard-headed reality.  Until the latter becomes more prevalent, I’ll stick with gasoline engines, thank you very much . . . at least, until the government decides it knows better (again) and restricts gasoline supplies!

(Oh, yes – on that point, what about those folks who rely on portable generators to power their homes and businesses during a power outage?  If you replace fossil fuels for vehicle use, what about small engines such as those in generators?  I’ve never heard of an electrically powered electric generator – have you?)



  1. That, and the fact that going electric would require all world resources to create the 300 million vhicle batteries, all of which would need to be replaced when they die forever every ten years or LESS.

    And getting used to taking eight to twelve days to drive across country, 400 miles at a time, and then spending a full day recharging the battery for the next 400 mile leg, at which point the car is dead for hours of recharging.

    Might as well make cars sail-powered if you're going to smoke that much hopeium.

    Toyota and Honda aren't insane.
    GM, OTOH, has lost it's tiny corporate mind.

    Call me when someone invents an electric 747 with a 10,000 mile range.

    Until then, the idea of replacing ICE with electric is what happens when you put functional morons in charge of energy policy.

  2. The Colorado Front Range is getting many charging stations. As I drive by, I have seen one vehicle using them in the past month.

  3. You act like these are *problems*. To the powers that be, they are *features* that will force a huge percentage of current automobile owners to give up driving themselves and rely on mass transit. Think of the trickle down effect. It reverses the push to suburbs, makes small town/rural life much harder, and so forth. All are net *positives* in the mind of the current admin…

    Interesting times indeed…

    1. Yep, the push to electric is just a first step in the control of individual transportation. There will not be enough juice to charge them resulting in massive electricity price hikes and rationing. Probably you will get a allotted charge window every night or other night for a few hours if you're lucky and connected. The masses will have to charge at remote chargers for their allotted power rations. They are already limiting natural gas to many neighborhoods and new construction. The powers that be want to control you through electric power and they will in the not too distant future

  4. The infrastructure is not ready for electric vehicles by any stretch. As most of the equipment is above ground it is vulnerable to solar flares and any EMP events other countries would like us to sample. Harden the equipment first before even starting to talk about EV's.

  5. They "unveil" these charging stations with great fanfare and idiotic statements like "This is the wave of the future". Yet who pays for that electricity? And who will pay for all that power generation when 2% of ownership increases to 10%, let alone 50%? Nothing is free.

  6. Using COVID to limit travel will make electric work. It is all part of the plan these idiots concocted back in 1973 during the Arab oil embargo. The took us form an oil exporter to someone on the government teat.

  7. If CA is the wave of the future, expect your electric bill to become your biggest expense. Due to their "mismanagement", they are now billing afternoon-evenings at an exorbitant amount, just to start.
    Get home from work, and want to turn on your A/C, and do some laundry, maybe fire up your gaming system? Gotcha!

  8. @will, unless you have the money to afford a large battery system to let you charge at the cheap overnight rates and discharge at the peak times.

    As usual for leftist policies, if you have enough money they don't really affect you.

  9. Real life example of California commercial daytime rates, my well guy told me about back around 2005:

    He'd redone the irrigation system (deep well and pressure pumps) for a local golf course. Warned 'em NOT to test it until after the rates changed at 5pm (they normally watered at night). But management was in a hurry, so they test-ran the system during the afternoon.

    For 15 minutes.

    The bill for those 15 minutes was $15,000.

  10. There isn't the infrastructure at any level for a huge electric fleet, with many substations overburdened currently…but even more important, the US is actually losing power generation capability as nuclear plants are retired, coal plants are shut down, and if the current western drought continues we will lose significant amounts of hydropower…And if the anti-carbon fanatics have their way, there will nothing to replace them…..Electric cars are a total scam…

  11. Agree with the insanity of an all electric fleet.

    Small generators can usually be adapted to run off a two or three fuel sources – Gas, Propane, or Natural Gas. Good idea to have the parts on hand and ready to go. Some are being sold as "Dual Fuel" right out of the box.

    Any power outage lasting more than a day or two starts using a lot of gas. Storing and rotating gas to keep it "fresh" can be a pain.

  12. As CDH notes, these are features, not bugs. Expect that gasoline and IC cars will be increasingly taxed. Call it a 'climate tax', they probably will. At the same time, electric cars will become even more expensive, as lithium is a rare element and it will be in high demand.

    No more comfortable suburbs with middle class lifestyle private vehicles, it will be cities and mass transit for us. Cars will be for the government or the rich. No moving long distances for better jobs or nicer climate. Stay where you are, peasant! Work from your government approved apartment.

    Electricity will be rationed, except for government and the rich. We will need to cook at odd hours, as the 'prime times' will cost too much or just be shut off entirely. There will be a miserly top wattage available, of course.

    This is the future these people envision. As long as we acquiesce, it will come closer to being true.

  13. Actually, lithium is rather common, nickle is more of a limit. For more detail than you ever wanted to know, lookup the youtube channel 'the limiting factor', the guy there has spent months analyzing everything Tesla has said about batteries and done a lot of research to learn the state of the art (and decipher how Tesla is extending it)

    long story short, for places where weight is less of a factor, lithium-iron batteries are going to be far more common and lithium nickle are going to end up reserved for where the weight is critical (so even lower-end cars may end up with lithium-iron)

  14. I've said it before and I'll say it again. This electric vehicle thing is a red herring. The powers that be don't want you to have an electric car. They don't want you to have a car at all. The hate the personal freedom that cars represent.

  15. Daimler, BP, Samsung, and TDK have invested in StoreDot. The Israel company has raised $130m and was named a Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneer in 2020.
    Whether all that amounts to a hill of beans remains to be seen.

    StoreDot, a maker of LI batteries has publicly stated that they can produce (in conjunction with Eve Energy in China) a car battery which takes five minutes to charge for one hundred miles. Apparently StoreDot has demonstrated that the same technology used for laptop and phone batteries can be scaled for passenger vehicles.

    My understanding is quick charging LI batteries present problems on the molecular level which involve fire hazards and turning expensive batteries into worthless lumps not to mention ruining whole systems. Perhaps StoreDot has figured out how not to use graphite in LI batteries.

  16. I have noticed that the same people who want everything to be electric are NIMBY and are against building new power plants, power lines, etc. And they WILL be needed – to show one example: charging a single electric semi overnight (not a fast charge) requires 2 megawatts of power, as much as a suburban subdivision can pull at Max charge. The existing infrastructure can't handle Liberals dreams, and they aren't even suggesting plans to handle a fraction of the need…

  17. Addendum:
    StoreDot has targeted year 2025 for the above. And they say they can do so using existing infrastructure. My opinion is it seems incongruous to say they can use what currently exists but will not be able to do so until 2025. Perhaps I misinterpreted that; perhaps they mean they predict the infrastructure will grow enough that by year 2025 they will be able to use what exists then (not now).

  18. I can't see electric cars happening on any real scale. Hybrids of the non-plugin variety, however, I see expanding greatly. And depending on how GM/.gov tortures the definition of ICE they could make that claim.

  19. @Risk, the number of announcements that I've seen from companies announcing that they can manufacture some breakthrough battery technology is staggering. It's one thing to build such a battery in the lab, and another to do so at any significant scale.

    Even Tesla is having problem (and the problems are not scientific, they are engineering, making rolling machines that can roll out a thin electrode film consistently at high volumes)

    @tweell, when I worked at Google in the Bay area (one of the worst traffic areas in the country), there were people seriously arguing against expanding freeways because the volume of traffic would just expand to the new freeway capacity ("it encourages more people to drive"), not acknowledging that if you expand a scarce resource, but still leave it's supply below the demand, you will not have excess supply (supply in this case being freeway lanes)

    @hightecrebel, for urban areas, I could see electrics working well, but the range/load problem is going to prevent LOT of people from moving to them. So they will be a significant scale, but not the 100% the left is pushing for.

  20. I'll consider an electric car when I have a home thorium-fission reactor or a fusion reactor. I have a whole host of applications I can use the waste heat for before I send the remainder to the heatsink-roof to melt the snow or evaporate the rain or just radiate to space.

    Until then, I prefer a nice reliable internal combustion engine with a well-establish petrochemical supply chain with cheap plastics as a by-product.

  21. I think it was Orson Scott Card who envisioned opening gas stations with pre charged battery sections. You pulled in and they swapped out the battery for a fee.

  22. As Skyler says – a swappable battery pack is the obvious solution to the recharging time. If only the pesky manufacturers had decided upfront to standardize their battery packs and mount them on the underside, this system would be used everywhere by now. Instead we have the usual 'tower of babel' incompatibility, resulting from their selfishness & greed.

  23. The Progressive establishment hates the internal combustion engine and the mobility and freedom it gives the peasants. The electric car is not, and never has been, practical; it is simply a pretext for taking away peoples’ cars.

  24. @skyler, who pays for the labor, space, charging facilities, etc?

    @Ed, so you wish that we were locked in to the voltage/capacity/form factor of the batteries in the earliest cars and there was no ability to innovate?

    @CSP, electric cars are fantastic fro commuting from higher-end suburbs (where almost all cars can live in garages where people have good chargers), especially second cars. They also appear to work pretty well for taxi type services in dense urban areas (where lots of time is spent at low speeds)

    I seriously question how well they will work for medium duty trucks, but if you have a charger at home, something like the cybertruck (with a 600 mile range, at least before you load it down or tow with it) could still be viable.

    It is rather unusual for someone to driver more than 4 hours a day on a regular basis, and if you can charge at home at the end of a day (or at work during the day), the new generation of electric cars have enough range for the daily commute.

    long trips are an interesting discussion, many people are ok with stopping for an hour or so every 4-6 hours of driving, and so if they can charge during that time it's not too bad (it does limit the routes you can take)

    Big Rigs that return to their home location every day (with a charger) also appear to be candidates. Depending on charge times, it may or may not be possible to get two shifts of drivers running them (although if the rules change, self-driving trucks that have a driver on board for final maneuvering could be a game-changer for the trucking industry)

    Where electrics won't work is where the owner doesn't have a fixed location that they park every day that has a charger, and so can't count on charging it easily.

  25. So what is extreme cold going to do to the range of these EVs? Not to mention running some sort of a heater to keep the passengers ALIVE. I didn't say comfortable, the cold where I live can kill you if your not careful. And suppose you run out of 'power' in the middle of nowhere, are they going to bring you a 'can' of electricity. I'm sure the problems will be solved but for now let's stick with what works until such time as this technology is sufficiently advanced to replace the system we do have. The feds seem to have had great success with forcing the automakers to adopt certain safety features and to decrease the greenhouse gasses that cars emit. I'm not so certain it's gonna work this time.

  26. @mark, early EVs use resistive heaters, which has a huge impact on range. Teslas use a heat pump, with can easily be 5 more efficient, so some impact, but more on the order of running the AC in hotter areas.

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