The Dirty Little Secret about All-Electric Vehicles

As Elon Musk doubles down with the debut of new and more affordable models of his Tesla all-electric vehicles at the Geneva Auto Show, there is a dirty little secret that once exposed, will burst the mythology of the all-electric car. There is a myth that the all-electric vehicle is more efficient than conventional vehicles and that big oil hates the all-electric niche carved out by Musk and others. The reality is that the all-electric vehicle is less efficient, and has a larger carbon footprint than a Ford F-150.

  • Gary

    They are also much like the solar panel at the end of their life cycle or damaged beyond repair.
    It’s a toxic mess that needs a huge carbon footprint to break then down for what might be able recycle.
    Electric cars are now a problem for Early responders during an accidents as the energy cell splits open . The fire dept wants the Government to force companies to put a very over decal in the rear window to warn of a toxic battery when it’s crushed beyond a visual ID as hybrid or electric car because they inhale the fumes or get the air born chemicals on their skin while not knowing it’s electric.

  • Alain

    It boggles the mind that anyone would seriously believe that electric cars are “green”, unless they are stupid. They require electricity to function and there is not enough “green” (solar/wind) electricity, so they are using electricity produced by means that all the greenies go hysterical over. I won’t bother pointing out what was required to produce the same cars.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      I live in Manitoba.
      How effective does anyone think an electric car is going to be when it is thirty below?

      • Clink9

        I’ll take a Honda Civic. Go from Toronto to Orlando in 20 hours.

        Or maybe an electric airplane?

        • dance…dancetotheradio

          I’ve driven from Saskatoon to Winnipeg and vice versa.
          The first time was great.
          I’m leaving every asshole I’ve ever known behind.
          Four years later we came back.
          Haven’t met any of those assholes since I returned.
          I don’t get out much these days.
          Even a cellphone is more than I can bear unless I’m on standby.

  • There are always naysayers who are reluctant to change. They look for non-existent issues to avoid the inevitable.

    Battery powered cars will replace internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. There are simply too many long term advantages. When battery capacity is doubled and the battery price is cut down 75% the transition will happen at rocket ship speed.

    When looking at the problems today with battery cars, remember they are in an infancy state. ICE cars have been here for over 100 years. And, admit it or not, they all spew exhaust virtually every place they travel. Just because you dilute the pollution does not mean it is not there. And to make matters worse because the pollution is dispersed, it is almost impossible to clean up or deal with.

    Battery powered car obviously have to plug in somewhere. So what. At least the pollution caused by the electrical plants is concentrated and can be dealt with before it is spread all over the place. And with, new, less polluting power plants on the drawing board the problem is much easier to deal with.

    We live in the era of toxins. I do not believe in “global warming”. But I do believe in “global pollution”. Only fools overlook hydrocarbon pollution. You can’t even eat fish without worrying about hydrocarbon pollution mercury contamination.

    Stand on any busy downtown street corner while watching a fleet of diesel busses, and commercial trucks go by.

    Tell me; is the noise is pleasant and the breathing is easy? If the same vehicles were electric, the answer would be different.

    Battery powered cars are part of a bigger picture long term plan to wean ourselves from hydrocarbon toxins.

    When research finally produces the next generation truly green energy sources, ICE cars will die. And we all will breath and live better.

    Don’t fight the change.

    • Clink9

      Pry my gasoline powered vehicle from my cold dead hands!

      • Do you have an exhaust leak?

        • Clink9

          Yes, that and I’ve found it very difficult to finish the Cannonball Run in a Tesla.

          • Hope you live long enough for the new battery tech.

    • Xavier

      You’re full of shit, Bob. “Change” needs to be accomplished through the free market, not through mandates and regulation. No one has any problem with cars that run on unicorn farts, as long as unicorn farts aren’t prohibitively expensive.

      If these environmental wackos really wanted “change”, they’d be saying drill baby drill to use up fossil fuels as quickly as possible which would force us to develop new energy technologies.

      • Green wackos make me puke too.

        I’m a solution guy and a car nut.

        That said, hydrocarbon use is a major source of pollution. Ask an Alaskan fisherman or a Florida resort owner. And don’t even breath inner-city air if you have bad asthma.

        Tesla has proven electric cars can be highly desirable. The battery life, capacity and cost issues will be taken care of now that money is flowing. And a car engine/transmission with as little as two parts will be a lot cheaper to build than thousand of parts in the typical ICE vehicle.

        Economics will win out. Almost no maintenance, long life, lower priced cars will win in the long run.

        The age of the ICE will come to an end. And when it does, we will all breath easier.

    • canminuteman

      You could be right, battery powered electric cars have been around for a century, and the batteries aren’t much better now than they were a hundred years ago.

      • There has never been a big push for battery tech improvement before. That has changed.

        The money is flowing into Tesla, at rates high enough to get everyone’s attention. (100,000 cars a year X $100,000 each = 10 billion).

        Battery engineers are all working hard to get a piece of the action. They all know, a quantum change will make them filthy rich.

        The change will come. Aint free enterprise great?

        • canminuteman

          I hope you are right, and it is worth studying, but the basic chemistry has been understood for 200 years. For two hundred years we have been trying to make better batteries. there have been evolutionary changes but nothing major. If there is a battery technology that is on the horizon that will be revolutionary I am not aware of it

          • Here is a possible paradigm shift in the thinking of battery design. (Even Intel has invested in this startup.)


            The dramatic mechanical differences between today’s “conventional” batteries is significant. So is the use of only non-toxics in production.

            Initial numbers on power density, useful life, cost, weight are all significant.

            With literally hundreds of billions (if not trillions) at stake, changes will come.

            We will all breathe easier when it happens.

    • mauser 98

      the practical electric car has been 2 years away for the past 100 years

      • We got rid of polluting horses in the cities.

        We will get rid of polluting cars, busses and trucks too.

        • mauser 98

          yes ..for now we are stuck with the reciprocating piston engine

          • “Stuck” is the right word. And I am a car guy.

            Looking to buy a new Tesla soon.

    • mauser 98

      “When battery capacity is doubled and the battery price is cut down 75%”??
      there are liars , really big liars , then there are battery engineers

      practical electric car is a few Nobel prizes away

      • Xavier

        It will work as soon as Obama repeals the laws of physics.

        • mauser 98

          he has the Federal Reserve to print money for him

        • Obama is a fool.

          That said.

          Free enterprise will do the job.

      • Says he with no imagination.

        Stay out of the way of those working on the solution.

        • Clausewitz

          You mean the future paid almost solely by the taxpayers? Not too many green energy companies that would exist if it wasn’t for government subsidies.

          • No hydrocarbon companies would exist if they had to pay the true cost of (clean up of) the pollution spewed all over the place. We allow them to exist because of a short sided view that our grandchildren won’t care.

        • mauser 98

          it’s my wallet i am worried about
          Elon Musk i a genius at robbing taxpayers

      • You said “practical electric car is a few Nobel prizes away”. That may be the case.

        But it will happen, with or without the Nobel prize.

      • There are always people who have no vision.

        Progress will happen.

        Do you use a cell phone?

        • mauser 98

          yes i use a cellphone
          got my first cell about 10 years after every one else
          cheaper , smaller more reliable
          i refuse to be a guinea pig for the tax scammer fraud Elon Musk… without gubmint bribes he would be bankrupt

          there is no practical everyday electric car.. it is a myth, like global warming

          • When you get your electric car, it too will be cheaper, and more reliable.

            The future will come. ICE cars will die.

          • mauser 98

            when? of course the future will come… tax fraud battery cars or not

    • Xavier

      Bob do you understand this post is about the fact that batteries cause more pollution?

    • El Martyachi

      If the money blown on solar and wind generation was instead poured into nuclear, grid and storage development.. sure.

      • How did Fukushima work out?

        • El Martyachi

          I swear veganism causes brain damage.

          • So what did you like about Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. How many more do you want. All three were supposed to be green.

            What the hell does that have to do with veganism?

          • El Martyachi

            I like that those disasters were relatively well contained and minor in terms of human suffering when compared to.. well.. a lot of natural and man made situations. That said, nuclear accidents suck and in Canada we can do it better and safer. And sorry Bob, I was just being mean.. you’re a vegan IIRC.

            Thing is.. the power for all these electric cars has gotta come from somewhere. Paving the countryside in solar panels and bird choppers is evidently a recipe for serfdom-like disaster. Excluding nuclear (a bad idea).. only hydrocarbons can efficiently fill that gap.

          • I believe in using hydrocarbons as a “gap” filler. It should be done in the greenest method possible.

            But we need to phase out hydrocarbons before we all suffer from the obvious spread of the toxic byproducts of hydrocarbons.

            Solar cells presently work at only about 20% efficiency.

            I am a believer in science, technology, and research. With the proper incentive, the free market will find a solution to improving the efficiency of solar energy conversion. When solar cells drop in price 90% and increase in efficiency to 80% the problem will be over.

            These types of improvements may sound like fantasy. But in my lifetime I have gone from no TV, to 24 hour a day unlimited channels. My grandmother’s phone hang on a wall with a pivoting mouthpiece and a corded earpiece. And I carry a $79 phone that can call anyplace on earth for pennies, and surf the internet at the same time.

            Technological change will come. The only question is; will we leave toxic waste dumps for our children?

  • BillyHW

    Environmentalists make a negative contribution to humanity.

    • People with no imagination should not hold back those who work for a cleaner more healthy future.

      • Alain

        While I cannot speak for others I am sure I am not alone in saying I do not seek to hold back those who work for a cleaner, more healthy future. However I am opposed to governments throwing my tax dollars at those who claim they need assistance to create/produce “green” energy. Anything worthwhile would be able to stand on its own. Furthermore to date every thing that has been tooted as “green” energy (solar and wind) do more harm to the environment than good and simply are not sustainable without our tax dollars and state enforcement.

        • If you factor in the long term cost of pollution clean up, hydrocarbon is not cheep. You just pass the real cost to the next generation.

      • BillyHW

        Every environmentalist should be executed for banning DDT and condemning millions of African children to death.

  • Ron MacDonald

    What better way would there be to sell high tech green energy products than to have your lobbyists convince politicians earth is suffering from fake global warming.

    • Brett_McS


    • I agree, “global warming” is a crock. But “global pollution” is a problem if you live next to a toxic dump or like to breath while walking in one of the inner cities.

      • Clink9

        Cars are way cleaner than they used to be. Getting harder for those wanting to kill themselves in the garage.

      • Alain

        Perhaps it is time to put a limit on the size and population of cities.

      • Clausewitz

        Are you old enough to remember the pollution of the 70’s? Today’s pollution is mild compared to back then. Funny how the actual clean up of our environment over the past 40 years is never discussed.

        • andycanuck

          Just like Lake Erie today and its commercial fishery.

        • Clink9

          Just drive behind a 60’s vintage muscle car. It will gag anyone.

          • mauser 98

            luv it

          • mauser 98

            …..luv it

        • I am old enough to remember the pollution in the 50’s. I went to Disneyland the second year it was opened. I remember learning the word “smog” and my eyes hurting so bad I did not want to go outside.

          (Yes cars have gotten cleaner. Thank God.) But the problem still exists.

          I’ve been to Beijing when you cannot breath outside without a mask.

          Hydrocarbon pollution is an unfortunate secondary problem of human advancement.

          I do not blame anyone.

          But we all need to breath and be free of environmental toxins. Solutions to spewing toxins are coming. And they cannot be soon enough.

          It will not happen without

  • mauser 98

    China: mining rare Earth minerals for green energy technology causes environmental disaster

  • felis gracilis

    The guy writing the article may be able to make a case against electric cars on performance for sure and maybe even on energy efficiency if he were to look at the life cycle energy use of electric versus gasoline powered engines. But he really needs to first get some basic facts straight. Electric losses from generator to final customer are nowhere close to the 66% he cites. For 2011 the overall figure for the USA was only 6% and even allowing that this includes industrial users at high voltage, the losses to the small customer at the end of the distribution line is probably more in the range of 10 to 15%.

    • In addition, energy losses in ICE vehicles is greater than 50%.

      • felis gracilis

        Actually, the low efficiency of ICE vehicles was one fact that was recognized by the author:

        “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the efficiency of a typical car is 14% under city driving condition and close to 26% for ideal highway conditions”.