Electric cars are not the answer

Russel was in the Herald (off line) this morning saying that Labour and National were both looking at electric cars as some “sort of magic solution to the issues of climate change and depleting oil supplies.”

Although they might be worth considering over time, he said the priority was to invest in the better use of more basic modes of transport for greater numbers of people facing a  financial squeeze.

“A big investment in walking and cycling is a completely no regrets policy,” Dr Norman said.

Although the Greens agreed investment in infrastructure is a good response to the global financial crisis, he said more motorways were the wrong priority.

“Maybe later on when your road use hasn’t gone down, and suddenly you’ve found your magic energy supply.

But right now the no regrets investment in public transport in the smart investment.”

Meanwhile Jeanette was also in the Herald highlighting the fact that National’s plan to remove road user charges for electric cars was effectively a subsidy for the wealthy:

She said some climate change measures proposed by National such as subsidies for electric cars were so long-term they would take more than a decade to have an effect.

The Government had investigated how quickly it could get electric cars in New Zealand and the best case estimates were 5 per cent of the fleet by 2020.

“They will be new cars, they will be expensive cars and will only be afforded by those on high incomes.

“So what National is saying is they are going to take away the basic needs of low and middle income people and subsidise electric cars for those that can afford them.”

What is especially ironic about all of this is that National wants to build more coal power stations.  So their $100,000 tesla cars, carrying a solitary person about and subsidised by others, will be effectively be powered by climate changing coal. Meanwhile we’ll still have congestion, dangerous roads and poorly designed towns that isolate people from their environment.

12 Comments Posted

  1. It is economically silly to pour scarce resources into electric trains when those scarce resources could do so much more if used differently.

    That solution is as out of date as motorways. We should be concentrating our resources on modernising buses to break their addiction to oil. Modern electronics means we can get combine the best features of trams and buses – the electric propulsion of trams and the go anyway route flexibility of buses. Buses powered by trolley wires on the arterials and batteries in the suburbs. The reduction in noise and PM emissions would be the icing on the cake.

    Audi’s starter motor/alternator micro-hybrid system, electric fluid pumps, high pressure fuel injection and a host of other engine inmprovements are better use of auto engineering resources if only because they can be economicly retrofitted to the existing vehicle fleet at the fuel prices that are likely within five years.

    Developing facebook style communities for ridesharer’s is probably the most cost effective way of drasticly improving vehicle fuel efficiency in real world driving.

    Walking and cycling initiatives should be aimed at intra-suburb recreational travel where fuel used by cars is extremely high for the distance involved because the engines are operating in cold-start mode most of the time. The great majority of people will consider walking or cycling short distances rather than driving if the local road network is oriented towards those modes. It is much easier to implement changes to the character and speed limits on local roads than to do the same things on arterial roads. The cost in increased travel time for commuters is a few seconds when Velo40 zones are implemented whereas reducing arterial road space to accomodate bus lanes has such a big negative impact on car commuters that it increases the aggregate travel times and fuel consumed by all commuters. It then takes a 100% increase in fuel prices to reduce SOV car commuting sufficiently to retrun the the pre-buslane efficiency of arterial roads.

  2. Why are you assuming it needs to be used “differently”? Sounds to me you’ve already arrived at the answer.

    I’m putting alt-powered cars on the table, along side everything else.

    You guys are taking them off the table.

  3. >>that alt-powered vehicles are a bad idea

    Russel comes pretty close to doing just that…

    >> could do so much more if used differently

    Let me guess – trains!

  4. I take issue with this religious anti-car stance.

    There is no such stance. Most greens own cars (I do not but I do hire cars quite frequently)

    Nobody is saying that alt-powered vehicles are a bad idea, just that it is economically silly to pour scarce resources into electric cars when those scarce resources could do so much more if used differently.


  5. >>replacing the cars with electrics here means someone building or importing a LOT of cars.

    Spread over time.

    I’m not saying that other modes aren’t valid. I take issue with this religious anti-car stance. Whilst smarter greens overseas see the enormous potential in alt-powered vehicles, Greens here are doing their level best to pretend that the technology doesn’t exist.

    Well, it exists and it is feasible.

    You’re looking increasingly luddite.

  6. Frog… this is incoherent…

    “But right now the now regrets investment in public transport in the smart investment.”

    That wasn’t the argument BP….

    Nobody in the Greens says there will be “no” cars. The green argument is that there will not be a lot more of them any time soon. The economy tanks, so I buy a new car? Well no. So the need for new roads is not so prominent.

    The point to electrified rail is that it is a mass transit system that can carry a heap of people and goods on a very narrow strip of ground with great efficiency. The downside is that it isn’t good at carrying a couple of people or a couple of boxes of stuff anywhere other than where the rail goes. Not that flexible.

    The elimination of non-electrified rail allows us to save diesel for ships which, the last I looked, can’t be run off an wire run out to them … weird ideas happen when I do this… thinking about the ferry run. No… never mind 🙂 … it also saves it for use in diesel trucks and cars as are needed in the places where there is no rail.

    So electrification is in the easy-cheap/low-risk box. It is pretty easy and pretty cheap (compared to buying a LOT of electric cars into the country) and it puts a lot of people on a cleaner transport option that CAN be renewable if the three working brain cells that belong to the present government can be gotten together in the same room.

    The idea that we can use if for everything is silly. Nor is that what we got to discussing.

    The idea that we will ALL always walk and cycle is also a nonsense… and that wasn’t what Russell offered either.

    Doing MORE of it will help a lot faster than any other change we can make and it is endurable, and more healthy (unless you get hit by a car because nobody bothered to invest in separate cycle paths). If you have a family trip and want to take the dog, that’s when you get the car out. Likely not something people will do more than once or twice a week. I can always find a condition that requires some OTHER form of transportation from the one I am talking about and so can you and it proves nothing except that we’re clever d!cks and have nothing better to do than yank on chains 🙂

    I am lucky to do it once a month (driving somewhere with family).

    The point is that what has been offered is more of the same old sh!t. Subsidies for electric cars is not the model that gets us all electrified… replacing the cars with electrics here means someone building or importing a LOT of cars.

    That doesn’t change with any model BTW. That electric business-model of Agazzi’s is in the difficult-expensive boxes. It eventually wins big but it takes away a lot of choices too.

    This problem is not solved by one mode of transport. Right now we DO rely on one mode almost exclusively. Maybe that is a mistake?


  7. “Meanwhile Jeanette was also in the Herald highlighting the fact that National’s plan to remove road user charges for electric cars was effectively a subsidy for the wealthy”

    I’m sorry but this is the kind of cheap political BS shot that I honestly thought Jeanette was above. Of course new cars are pricey, they also soon become 2nd hand cars and the Hyundai getz will cost nowhere near $100k frog. Surely anything done to get a better figure than 5% of the fleet by 2020 and lessening our oil dependence is a good thing? Not if its the Nats pushing the ideas it seems.

    So the Greens seemingly sell out one of thier values in the name of politics, they just went a long way down on my scale.

  8. One quarter of the American workforce now works from home either full or part time, or telecommutes, or is self employed and works from home.

    Already in US cities and in Auckland non work related vehicle trips are the majority.
    So the majority of trips are now “unfocussed” on a CBD and of course public transport and especially rail has huge problems catering for such dispersed travel destinations.
    We are not addicted to oil in the way people are addicted to heroine or cigarettes.
    We will switch to alternatives as soon as they become more attractive.
    Remember when typists were addicted to typewriters and to Gestetner machines?

  9. Ah, the anti-car agenda shines through.

    >>Although they might be worth considering over time

    Might? By whom? The Greens? What a predictably pompous attitude.

    We don’t know what the future brings, there will be many innovations, and most will fall by the wayside. However, apparently Russel can pick the winners and losers already. It’s pretty hard to walk or cycle a family, and dog, across Wellington.

    As far as energy goes, we don’t all buy into your “wind/wave power only” vision.

    >>they will be new cars, they will be expensive cars

    No more expensive than any other car, and some business models involve giving the car away.

    Think the mobile phone subscriber model and apply it to cars.

    >>they are going to take away the basic needs of low and middle income people

    They are not.

    There will be plenty of oil powered cars around. We’re not running out of oil tomorrow, Jeanette….

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