40 Percent to Not Move the Thing

  • December 6, 2023

While test driving an EV recently, I came upon an interesting display (inside the EV) that tells us a lot about EVs. It tells how much power is used to move the EV and how much power is used up to power other things, such as the EV’s accessories – including its thermal management system, which is a kind of AC/heater for the battery. An EV’s battery needs to be maintained within certain temperature parameters in order to keep it “healthy” – and able to receive a charge. Too cold – or too hot – being unhealthy.

But the take-home point is an EV has – effectively – two AC and heating systems and one of them is always on. Even when the vehicle is off.

According to the display, this accounted for 9 percent of the draw on the battery. Another 9 percent went to power accessories such as the lights, the stereo and the heated seats. And 18 percent went to power the AC and heater – for the people inside the EV. Add them up and you get a 40 percent loss. Put another way, only about 60 percent of the battery’s charge went to move the EV.

And this is one of the several reasons why EVs don’t have much range – and need to be recharged so often for just that reason. A compounding factor is that current technology lithium-ion battery packs can only hold the energy equivalent of about half a tank of gas. They could hypothetically hold more but then the battery would be as big as the EV and weigh so much the EV would need more power to move . . . which would require an even bigger battery . . .

You see the problem.

None of this is a problem with the vehicles the government is using its regulatory python to strangle off the market.

It is true that gas-burning engines only convert about 60 percent of the energy in gasoline into productive work; i.e., moving the vehicle. This sounds bad but – relative to battery-powered vehicles – it is very good. Not because there is also a 40 percent loss. But because the 60 percent is functionally more – in terms of how far you can go. Keep in mind that a gas-powered car can carry enough gas to offset the energy losses. A typical car has a 15 gallon tank that stores enough energy to propel it more than 400 miles (assuming 30 MPG) and all of this stored energy only weighs about 100 pounds (a gallon of gas weighing about 6 pounds and a gas tank weighing next-to-nothing). So it isn’t weighed down by the liquid energy it carries. And the weight gets less as the energy is used. A battery weighs the same whether it is “empty” or “full.”

And it is very heavy – 800-1,000 pounds being typical for a small EV.

It’s pretty wasteful, lugging all that around.

It also costs no additional energy to heat the cabin of a gas-powered car as the heat is a waste byproduct of moving the car. And there is no separate heater (and AC system) to heat the battery, because there isn’t one – other than the 12V battery that starts the engine and it doesn’t need to be heated.

A gas-powered vehicle does not burn energy just sitting, parked. You can leave it parked for weeks – and when you go back to driving it, you have exactly the same amount of energy remaining as you did when you left it parked. In this scenario, the gas-powered vehicle is a true zero emissions vehicle – but the electric vehicle isn’t, because it is continuously burning power and in order to avoid not having any (or enough) when you go back to driving it after leaving it sitting overnight (or longer) it is necessary to feed it power, as by keeping it plugged in.

This power doesn’t come from the outlet. It comes from a utility plant – which probably burns hydrocarbon fuel to generate it. This generates the dread gas carbon dioxide, which we’re told it’s absolutely necessary to “emit” zero of in order to prevent the climate from “changing” (a neatly unscientific term that be literally anything, which is exactly why that term is used rather than global warming, which can be challenged using facts that it’s not happening).

Yet the EV gets a pass, even though it “emits” – or causes to be emitted – the gas that force-feeding us EVs is supposed to staunch the “emitting” of. Even when it’s not in use.

Spectacular, isn’t it?

. . .

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