How Far You Won’t Go

  • June 27, 2023

While test driving the new Mercedes GLE 450 (you can read about that, here) I glanced down at the instrument cluster and noticed something you might be interested in.

The Benz is not an EV but it has something every EV has – a range remaining indicator. The difference is that the range remaining – in the Benz and in every vehicle that isn’t an EV – stays the same for longer.

We have all heard the term, “gas hog” and also that, in the “hoggiest” of them, you could watch the fuel gauge needle move as you pushed down on the accelerator pedal.

This is, however, only true of EVs.

And you don’t even have to push down on the accelerator to see the “needle” – that is, the range remaining – tick down literally as you drive.

It occurred to me, while driving the Mercedes, to make a point of this by showing how little gas the GLE used while driving the roughly five mile stretch from where I began recording until I reached my house. When I began rolling tape – as they used to say – the Benz had 286 miles of range remaining. Which, I must add, is more range than almost every EV currently on the market comes standard with – to begin with.

And I had been driving the Benz for several days already. It still had 286 miles of range left. For this reason, I hadn’t had to stop even once – for fuel – nor wait even one minute to get some. With 286 miles left to go, I could have driven the GLE another two or three days before having to stop – for less than five minutes – to refuel.

Because it hardly used any fuel to get me the five miles home.

It’s kind of like compound interest – in your favor.

As opposed to what you get with an EV – which is compounding problems.

Also, misrepresentations about them – in order to trick you into buying one.

The government rates these EVs as having “x” range but – as the Toothless Man in that great romance movie, Deliverance put it:

Why don’t you try it and see?

When I drive an EV the five miles from where I began rolling tape to my driveway it has always been the case that whatever the range was when I began rolling tape, by the time I arrived home, it was reduced by more than five miles. Often, by as much as 10 – over the course of five.

This is to be expected.

It takes a great deal of additional energy to move the additional weight of 1,000-plus pounds of battery pack the typical EV must lug around everywhere it goes. For the same reason it takes more energy (more gas) to pull a 1,000-plus pound trailer behind whatever you’re driving. But most of us do not pull a 1,000-plus pound trailer or carry that much extra weight in the trunk.

Neither did the Benz, which – despite being a mid-sized, three-row SUV – only weighs about 4,500 lbs., which isn’t much heavier than the typical compact-sized EV such as a Tesla Model 3. It weighs substantially less than a smaller EV SUV – such as the new Genesis GV60 (you can read my review of it here) which weighs almost 5,000 lbs. and for that reason has a range of less than 250 miles fully charged. Less range remaining than the GLE had remaining after I had been driving it for nearly a week.

But it’s actually less than that – in the EV.

Because they are are so very heavy – which they (paradoxically) have to be, in order to have any range to speak of. EVs are stuck in a negative feedback loop. In order for them to be even plausibly practical for most people, they need to be able to go at least half as far on a full charge as a typical non-EV – even a “gas hog” – can travel on a full tank of fuel. But the only way to achieve this is by installing a huge – and heavy – battery pack, to store sufficient energy to allow them to go half as far as the typical gas hog does on a full tank (viz, in that regard, the 462 mile highway range of the current Dodge Charger R/T, equipped with a 5.7 liter V8 engine).

In order for the EV to go as far – on one charge – it would take an even larger and much heavier battery pack that would (cue the feedback loop) take even more energy to get the EV moving and keep you going.

There is no fix for this, either – absent the “breakthrough”in battery technology we’ve been hearing was just around the corner for the past 30-something years. So, we have energy hog EVs in which you can actually watch the “needle” dip as you drive. And it’s much more unsettling – in the EV – because (unlike in the “gas hog”) it is no easy or speedy thing to get the “needle” back to full and get back on your way.

It is absolutely fascinating – Mr. Spock voice – that the government is spreading misinformation about EVs. The government would be having a hissy fit if Toyota, let us say, had sold people a car advertising 40 miles-per-gallon that actually delivered 10 percent less than that.

How about 20 percent less?

This is common with energy hog EVs. But it is a fact passed over by the government, because the government does not really care about “hogs” – whether of gas or of electricity.

It cares about excuses – to serve as justifications.

The sooner more understand this, the sooner everything makes sense.

. . .

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