Should America’s Future Rely on BEVs? Part 1

Should America’s Future Rely on BEVs? Part 1

A recent article, Norway an EV role model? published by EnergyPostEU, highlighted information that caught my attention, because it showed that battery powered vehicles (BEVs) may not be the best choice for Americans.

After all, Americans are being asked to invest trillions of dollars in the charging infrastructure and green grid that BEVs require.

Are we making a good investment?

This chart, from the referenced article, compares three vehicles representing three energy strategies for the automotive industry. The first vehicle is the Volkswagen ID4, representing BEVs. The second vehicle is the Toyota Prime, representing plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and the third is the Toyota RAV4, representing hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

The article then said, “If you look at these stats from a technology-neutral perspective, the RAV4 is the clear winner.”

The next graphic from the article compared CO2 emissions.

Chart from EnergyPostEU, based on IEA 2020 EV Outlook.
The small text is included because it describes the conditions under which the data was obtained for each type of vehicle.

Focussing on the dark and light orange areas, we can compare the CO2 emissions from fuel cycles, while excluding the CO2 emissions from the production of Lithium-ion batteries.

  • Dark Orange reflects CO2 emissions from the well to tank, fuel cycle. 
  • Light Orange reflects CO2 emissions form the tank to wheel, fuel cycle.

This graphic shows that the HEV and BEV-80 both emit approximately the same total amount of CO2.

Note that the CO2 from the fuel used by the BEV-80, i.e., electricity, was derived mostly from fossil fuels. 

BEVs must use electricity that is100% green, before BEVs emit less CO2 than HEVs. And 100% green electricity comes at a huge cost.

The cost to the United States will be around $7.5 trillion. But this investment must be repeated every 20 years, based on the life of wind turbines and PV solar panels. 

This is equivalent to paying one-third of the United States current national debt every 20 years to eliminate fossil fuels. For cost details, see Special Report, Green Nightmare for America 

Another report, by the Jefferies Financial Group, “Are EVs as ‘Green’ as They Appear?”, concluded: 

“BEVs had to be driven 124,000 miles before their ‘whole of life’ CO2 emissions equaled that from an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.”

The Jefferies report found that CO2 emissions from building Lithium-ion batteries, using fossil fuels for mining, etc., were greater than was assumed by the EnergyPostEU article. The EnergyPostEU article estimates of CO2 emissions may have assumed using green energy rather than fossil fuels for the mining and manufacture of Lithium-ion batteries.

What can we conclude from these two reports?

  • The Jefferies analysis established there were few reductions in CO2 emissions when using BEVs instead of ICE light vehicles.
  • The EnergyPostEU article showed that HEVs were the better investment, when BEVs used electricity from the existing grid.

While these two studies arrive at slightly different conclusions, it’s clear that ICE light vehicles, which suit the everyday needs of families, are the better choice for America.

If CO2 is not an existential threat, as many scientists now agree, HEVs, and ICEs in general, are the best strategy for America.

There is another factor to consider when evaluating whether BEVs or ICE vehicles are the best strategy for the United States:

  • With ICE  vehicles, using fossil fuels, the United States is energy independent.
  • With BEVs, the United States is dependent on other countries for materials used to make the batteries, especially China.

. . . 



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6 Replies to “Should America’s Future Rely on BEVs? Part 1”

  1. It’s clear that until we decarbonize the electricity supply, there’s not much benefit from electric vehicles.

    The only significant decarbonization of the electricity supply was from replacing coal burning with natural gas burning. Now we increase natural gas burning by closing nuclear power plants.

    Wind and solar are intermittent; even future batteries are an order of magnitude too expensive. We need cheap, clean 24×7 power from reliable nuclear power plants.

    Ending CO2 emissions from the light vehicle sector would stop the largest source of global warming. Just now EVs are a waste of money and precious technical metals. First things first.

    • Nuclear power in the US has become a pariah in the minds of far too many Americans. Environmentalists have done great harm to the nuclear power industry. They champion wind and solar, probably among the the worst ways to try to generate electricity.
      Nuclear has two problems in the US. Fear of radiation among the public, and high construction costs. For nuclear to become a viable alternative in the US, these two problems must be solved. The cost to build a nuclear power plant remains above $6,000 per KW, while a new natural gas combined cycle power plant costs $1,000 per KW.
      I hope the nuclear power industry addresses these issues as nuclear could be a safe method for generating electricity. Closing existing nuclear power plants is insane. They are safe and generate among the lowest cost electricity.
      As for CO2? It really doesn’t cause an increase in temperatures and isn’t a threat to mankind. That’s where I disagree with your comments.

  2. Will ‘moral superiority’ justifications win over honest science and fiscal responsibility? You are helping to make the answer ‘no’.