Two Things You Can’t Use

  • January 15, 2024

An interesting thing about EVs is that the two things they do better – in general – than cars that rely on engines rather than electricity are things that make EVs much worse, in a practical sense, than cars that rely on engines to make them go.

The first thing is accelerate very quickly, which EVs do really well for two main reasons. One is that electric motors can make a lot of torque, very quickly. Anyone who has an 18v cordless drill knows all about it – and that’s just a drill. It has torque enough to break your wrist. Scale that up times a lot and that’s why EVs jump when you floor what’s no longer the gas pedal.

Two, the power transfer is immediate. The motor(s) typically turn the wheels directly, without the intermediary of a transmission – and without shifting through gears.

But – the catch! – is that using the power (more finely, powering the motors) consumes a lot of electricity, rapidly – when you floor what’s no longer the gas pedal. This very quickly depletes the EV’s ability to accelerate rapidly, or even at all. It’s like having a bullet in your gun without more bullets in your magazine.

Better make that first shot count.

It’s a similar problem as regards the one other momentary functional advantage that cars powered by electricity have over cars powered by engines (more finely, engines powered by gasoline or diesel).

That being near-instantaneous cabin heat.

Electric cars have electric heaters – most of them similar to the electric space heaters most people are familiar with. These produce heat almost as soon as you turn up the dial, via hot-glowing wire grid that glows cherry orange as the electricity flows through it. The EVs interior begins to warm without having to wait for an engine to warm up, as in a car that isn’t powered by electricity. This takes a couple of minutes. The engine must first get warm – and transfer that warmth to the coolant (which keeps the engine from overheating).This warmed-up coolant flows through hoses and into a thing called the heater core that’s usually buried in the ductwork behind the dashboard, in the firewall area.

But once the engine is warmed up, it does not cost you range to stay warm.

The heat produced by the engine is a waste product of combustion. The car doesn’t go less far because you’ve got the heater cranked up to 80 and the fan set to max. And you can keep it cranked, without it affecting how far you can go.

In an electrically powered car, the heater burns up a lot of electricity. In addition to the electricity burned up powering the electric defroster, the fan, the headlights and everything else. Including the separate/additional heating system for the battery – which must be maintained within a range of not-too-cold (and not-too-hot) to avoid damaging it and so as to be able to charge it. This uses up energy even when the EV isn’t moving, as when it is parked. It’s why if you don’t keep the EV plugged in while it’s parked, there will be less charge (and so, driving range) when you get in next morning to drive it.

You may find you can’t drive as far as you thought you’d be able to.

EV owners are thus presented with something like having a cake and not being able to eat it, too. In which case, the question arises: Why buy such a cake?

It seems people are deciding en masse not to – now that at least some of the truths about these battery powered devices has begun to leak out. New EV sales are declining precipitously and sales of used EVs are practically flat-lined, the latter even more understandably so given that awareness has percolated that a used EV will come with a used battery – and that will likely mean a tired battery. The only way the purchase of a used EV makes any economic sense is if the device, itself is free – to make up for the cost of replacing the battery it is useless without.

And it may come to just that.

Hertz just dumped 20,000 or so used EVs (with tired batteries) on the used car market; other rental car fleets that bought into EV Mania will likely do the same, now that EV fever is abating. As EV reality dawns, as it did with regard to the reality about the “beautiful” drugs that were never vaccines that they also hyped (and lied) about.

The narrative fallout that will be spreading over the next few days in the wake of the record cold snap being experienced by broad swaths of the country ought to be interesting to behold.

Nothing quite like being afraid to turn on the cabin heat (and defroster) in your device when it’s -4 outside, you’ve only got 35 percent charge remaining – and 40 percent of your drive left to go.

. . .

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