The EPA since the beginning of time, when I was born maybe, has provided city and highway mileage ratings for light vehicles. Who among us users of the antiquated medieval English unit system of measurement doesn’t understand miles per gallon? Who doesn’t know exactly what a mile is and exactly what a gallon is? I would challenge you to rods, chains, cubits and ells. My father used to estimate lengths in rods in the farm field. All I figured out is that a rod x a half mile is an acre. Very logical.
EPA to the rescue, again. They are floating the idea of a precise letter grading system to replace the outdated and incomprehensible mileage rating system. If they succeed with this upgrade, we dolts won’t have to understand complicated numbers and metrics such as miles and gallons. It will be color coded too so for those of us without a four-year degree in English who have trouble with the complicated alphabet can participate too. When reciting the alphabet, if I can just get past D, I can typically go the distance. Once I get momentum, say around H I can usually rattle off all 54 letters – but the colors will take the pressure off my alphabet skills.
These letter/color coded flashcards are supposed to level the playing field so electric vehicles can be rolled into the rating mix, of course to account for completely different fuel mix than petroleum-based fuel and operating cost. But the truth is, this is absurd and I’ll get to that in a moment, but it is also a political bone for the makers of “electric” vehicles. Process, objectivity and simple mathematics are out the window. Subjectivity and political pandering are unwelcome aboard.
Most people who are major electric vehicle advocates probably think they are emission free. It is true if you draw your box around the vehicle, but the electrons need to come through the box from somewhere. Indeed, according to a local dealer of electric all-terrain vehicles, they are emission free. An electric ATV is probably the most ludicrous application for an electric vehicle I’ve seen yet. Show me an environmentalist shopping for a camouflaged electric ATV to drag his lifeless victim of senseless violence out of the woods and I’ll show you Ted Nugent gobbling down “mmm mmm good!” tofurkey in a PETA ad.
I veered off-road there a little – cheesy pun alert. Electric vehicles do reduce carbon emissions, barely in some cases, depending on the electricity generating fuel source. With Wisconsin’s mix, an efficient hybrid or even diesel is most likely to have lower carbon emissions than an electric alternate would have.
So let’s examine the examples in the Autopia piece. Apparently, if the vehicle is electric, it automatically gets an A+.
They indicate 100 mpg equivalent based on 34 kWh to move the vehicle 100 miles. The 100 mpg equivalent is completely bogus because it does not account for electric generation efficiency, which is typically 30-40% on average depending on generation sources. It is therefore more like 30 mpg, which is not surprisingly about the same as a decent conventional car – which is why the net emissions are about the same per our earlier analysis: Electric Vehicles – Clean & Efficient. Oh no, the carbon emissions for this teacher’s pet are zero.
The other thing is that the driving range of the gasoline-vehicle is conspicuously missing from the second set of stickers. The range of the electric vehicle is 99 miles, which of course looks like it is maxed out, all the way to the right, as high as it can go. For the gasoline report card? – nothing. It seems to me the range on the gasoline model should be about 700 miles, and that is generously low because it is set by the limits of the frail driver. The machine could go for at least 7,000 miles maybe with periodic 5 minute refueling stops, until the owners manual says it’s time to rotate the tires.
The other perverse irony in this is that the cheap cost of operating the electric vehicle is largely due to the cheap fuel cost: of FOSSIL fuel and uranium.
In summary, take the benefits of inexpensive coal but not the carbon baggage that comes with it. None of it! Zero emissions.
As my JV basketball coach used to say, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a wonderful world it would be.” Ice cream would have no calories. Three quarter pound Penn State burgers from Sloopy’s, and fries with mayonnaise would give you six pack abs, bulging biceps and a year-round tan. Dogs would always poop in the weeds where there would be no deer ticks and they wouldn’t shed or puke on the carpet, eat your favorite sandles, or scratch up the hardwood floor. We wouldn’t need deodorant. Teenagers would teach their parents how to maintain financial solvency and control every wild urge their former hormone-saturated bodies have. Favre would retire.
written by Jeffrey L. Ihnen, P.E., LEED AP