Green is Old

  • July 8, 2023

We are told the “green” thing to do is to buy a new EV. But the problem with buying an EV is you’ll inevitably need a new one, sooner. This is because an EV’s battery pack – its single most expensive component – is very unlikely to not require replacement years before it would be necessary to replace a non-electric car.

Or truck, as in my case.

My 2002 Nissan Frontier is very “green” – in the environmental rather than the political sense – because it was made 21 years ago and so hasn’t “emitted” any “carbon” manufacturing a new one since then. How much “carbon” – the new verbiage being used to associate dirty things with the “emissions” of carbon dioxide, a colorless, odorless and non-reactive gas that plants must have enough of in order to live – is “emitted” in the course of obtaining the raw materials needed for one 1,800 pound electric truck battery?

How about two of them?

How many of them will an electric truck such as the Ford Lightning or the soon-to-be-available 2024 Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 REV (to make it sound exciting, so as to make you forget how functionally gimped it is) need over the course of 22 years? Or even ten?

The good news is they probably won’t need more than just the one. The bad news – for the environment – is the owner will need a new EV, because buying a new 1,800-plus pound battery pack for an old electric truck will cost almost as much (maybe more) than the truck is worth by the time it needs a new 1,800-plus pound battery pack.

How much, exactly?

About $35,960 – excluding the labor to install it.

The latter figure amounts to a sum equivalent to about twice what it took to buy one brand-new example of my truck back in 2002. Meaning one could have purchased two of them, brand new, for the cost of one electric truck replacement battery. Not counting the cost of the battery that came the electric truck when it was new. Not counting the cost of the rest of the truck (which is about another $30,000 on top of that).

But back to the costs  . . . to the environment.

At least one and probably two 1,800 pound-plus battery packs over ten years – and probably sooner-than-that, if the electric truck is regularly used and its 1,800 pound-plus battery pack regularly and heavily discharged and then “fast” charged – means probably several times four tons of materials will have to be extracted from the Earth, then refined and manufactured – accompanied by great gaseous oceans of “carbon” being “emitted” in the process.

Those two battery packs together constituting more weight – in materials – than the weight of my truck, itself.

It is probable that less “carbon” was “emitted” 21 years ago in the course of manufacturing my truck, itself, than is “emitted” in the course of manufacturing just one two-ton electric truck battery pack – and a near certainty that more more is “emitted” in the course of manufacturing two of them – for one electric truck. Plus whatever was “emitted” in addition in the course of manufacturing the electric truck, itself.

Not adding in the “carbon” that will be “emitted” in the course of powering these things – which all specifically tout how powerful they are. Not that they are efficient – because they aren’t. There is nothing “efficient” about a three-ton half-ton truck that requires a ton of batteries in order to be able to go less than half as far as a non-electric half-ton truck can go on a full tank of gas. It is the apotheosis of inefficiency to increase the weight of a vehicle by a ton – and for that reason be obliged to burn through the additional energy required to move all of that weight.

But it’s even worse than that – because it is made even more inefficient by designing the thing to be capable of moving all that weight at super-speedy speeds, which inefficiency is doubled-down on when the people who drive these things use all of that gratuitously wasteful-because-unnecessary power to make them feel better about how much they just paid for it all.

Which, of course, is exactly why the few who can afford this buy into it. If these things were modest – in order to be efficient – they would not be appealing to people who have money to burn.

Which isn’t most of us.

Rather, it is some of us. The ones telling us that it is “green” to drive a three-ton half ton rather than “cling” to a 21-year-old truck like my ’02 Frontier.

There is something very red about electric trucks. As in politically. In the sense that red has always been historically associated with a particular political philosophy.

It is interesting that, electorally, a decision was quietly taken to change red to blue – so that blue could tout green without the tincture of red.

. . .

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