2021-12-31 05:52:41 UTC
Six Problems With Electric Cars That Nobody Talks About
While the electric vehicle is over a century old in concept, the modern
electric car is far from it, because the technology is in development as we
speak. Sure, there are a few models on the market that you can buy today, and
some have been around for more than a few years.
Unlike internal combustion engines, which have surpassed electrics back in the
day because of deficient battery technology at the time (slightly ironic, you
must admit) there is a long way to go concerning electric vehicle power-train
Electric engines are smaller, more compact, and more efficient than existing
and even theoretical internal combustion units, while the batteries are getting
better and better.
The problem today is that people do not like waiting, and it takes awhile to
charge an electric car, not to mention planning trips. People want electric
cars today, and they want them to be at least as great as conventional
To be fair, these requirements are entirely reasonable from someone that is
asked to pay installments for a few years for an asset that might have a sharp
In other words, unless automakers will commit to updating the existing electric
vehicles they have sold, within reasonable limits - evidently, the EVs found on
the market today will be obsolete in less than ten years.
The level of obsolescence will far exceed that of a conventional vehicle,
because batteries should become exquisite in 2026, while charging times should
also be drastically reduced.
The resale value of such an automobile could become a significant burden for
those that own them, if anyone will want to buy a 10-year-old electric vehicle.
Imagine buying a "Palm Treo" phone from 2006 (Go ahead, Google that), which was
considered a "smartphone" at the time.
It will probably be awful, battery life will be disastrous if the original unit
is used, and features and functionality will be unimproved since 2006, thus
obsolete like an 8-track system in the year 2000. Alternatively, today, for
Considering the rapid advancement of electric car technology, we decided to
look away from the bright side of things and think about the worst parts of
We agree that a vehicle that brings no tailpipe emissions is good for the
environment, but this article focuses on the other aspects of this technology -
the hidden and unadvertised bits.
Manufacturing on multiple continents - complicated shipping requirements
Most conventional cars tend to be built with parts sourced close to the
factories that make them. Many automakers opened facilities in other continents
to cater to the needs of different markets at lower costs.
It was and still is cheaper to build cars on one continent and sell them
exclusively in the respective markets than to use a single facility. The
situation changes only for exclusive brands, which do not care that much about
final costs, but also for automakers that have access to significant shipping
When the first hybrid cars came to market, they were criticized for using Ni-Mh
batteries. Those used metals sourced from mines found in isolated places in the
world, and the rare substances had to be shipped across the world to be turned
into batteries, and then they would be sent again to the factory that made
Things have not changed dramatically for electric vehicles, except for the fact
that automakers have begun making batteries in-house. However, that does not
mean that the shipping chain does not lead back to a country that is far away
from the factory, and that expensive metals have to be transported great
distances to build batteries for electric cars.
Lithium and other rare metals - where do they come from and at what cost?
As we wrote above, electric vehicles need precious metals for their batteries.
At first, hybrids used Ni-Mh batteries, but competitive electric vehicles rely
on the Li-Ion technology. The expensive part is called Lithium, and it is
getting more expensive these days. However, where does it come from?
According to a 2015 US Geological Survey, Australia is the world's biggest
supplier of lithium. It is followed by Chile, Argentina, China, and Zimbabwe in
the top five.
Just like oil, lithium is a finite resource, and it is becoming more expensive
because of the demands made by automakers. Until something better comes along,
lithium could become extremely costly. At the same time, electric cars will
also have a bigger price because of the cost of lithium.
The problem with electric vehicles is that lithium is not the only rare
material used in their construction. Other "rare earth minerals" like
"dysprosium," "lanthanum," "neodymium," and "praseodymium" are used.
For exemplification purposes, the electric motor needs neodymium and
praseodymium, and "a touch of" dysprosium. The old batteries in Ni-Mh hybrid
cars required lanthanum, but the new ones still need some of these precious
rare earth minerals. They are mined in conditions that are not optimal, and
their demand hurts the environment.
Battery recycling - is everybody ready for it?
The first Prius is almost 20 years old. Its batteries have surely not been in
service for that long, and they must have been replaced. If the advent of
electric cars will follow the predictions announced by automakers, we will have
a lot of Lithium Ion batteries to recycle in 2045.
The year 2045 is not a typo, because it comes 20 years after the predicted boom
of electric vehicles, which is expected to happen by 2025.
While Lithium-Ion batteries can be recycled, and so can Ni-Mh ones, we do not
have a massive market for those that recycle Lithium-based batteries. A few
companies exist in the field, but there is nobody that stepped out and said:
"hey, we will take care of those batteries, we are good for it."
While we find the fact that Lithium recycling facilities do not exist at the
scale required when all of those electric cars will be parted out and meet the
crusher, we do understand why. The world does not have a big market for
electric cars yet, and the conventional ones do not get recycled properly in
the first place. So do not throw that stone just yet.
Toyota has a collection program for its old batteries, which involves giving a
new life for the units that used to sit in Prius models. The cycle can still be
improved to make these vehicles truly eco-friendly.
Goodbye easy fixes and jump-starts
Electric vehicles will not bring any easy fixes for their owners. Except for a
flat tire or a burnt light bulb, your DIY days are over with electric cars.
People do not work on modern cars because they have become too complicated
nevertheless, but offering someone a jump-start will not happen with electric
While this means that those vehicles will have to be more reliable than
conventional ones, one does wonder what will happen to an unlucky owner of an
electric vehicle that is out of a warranty and has a significant powertrain
malfunction. With a conventional car, things can be fixed in most workshops at
reasonable rates, depending on how bad the damage was.
No self-governing service unit knows how to fix electric motors of automotive
grade, and most do not have the tools needed to work on those cars. So, instead
of getting your car fixed at a workshop, they will politely send you off to the
dealer. If the said dealer were to overcharge you, tough luck.
No adventures into remote areas for you
Remember the Land Rover Camel Trophy? The pictures and video footage of those
adventures have brought a profound respect for that brand from many people,
myself included. Those Land Rovers could handle everything that was thrown at
them, and big jerry cans solved the problem of fuel.
While some people have managed to drive electric vehicles from one point to
another, embarking on thrilling adventures in some cases, none of the trips has
targeted remote areas.
We do not expect that to happen too soon, if ever, because it will take many
years for electric cars to attain a "comfortable" range on a single charge. It
would have to give someone the level of trust in the machine's ability to cross
difficult terrain, across vast distances, without becoming a very expensive
forest decoration. Pun intended.
In other words, electric cars will not bring the complete death of the
conventional vehicle. Not in remote areas, and possibly not in places where the
climate is unfriendly. The same applies to Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, which
also require a complex fueling system and procedure.
Renewable electricity and hydrogen, please?
Roses are wonderful flowers, but they have thorns. They can be removed, but you
must be careful. The same goes for electric cars and even hydrogen fuel cell
vehicles. No tailpipe emissions from these two categories of vehicles, but
electric power usually comes from non-renewable sources.
Governments in most countries are focusing on obtaining "green energy," but
progress is rather slow. If you live in a house instead of an apartment
building, you can get solar panels to power it, and an electric vehicle can be
charged from them. However, solar panels are not cheap, and those needed to
power a car are not on the lower side of the price scale.
At this point, you probably think that hydrogen is the best way forward, right?
Well, not exactly, because large scale manufacturing of hydrogen extracts the
gas from methane, and it generates carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
A tad ironic, right? Fortunately, both of these problems have theoretic fixes,
but they need a significant volume of potential customers to be implemented,
along with government subsidies and support.
The Global Average Temperature Dropped 0.29C Last Month - Now Sits At Just
0.08C Above The 30-Year Baseline
School Cancelled In Yakutia, Russia As Temperatures Plunge To -50C (-58F)
Record-Breaking Cold Continues To Grip Western Canada
"Red Alerts" Issued In India As Cold Wave Intensifies
Amid Freezing Lows & Energy Shortages, Europe Struggles To Keep The Lights On
Bhopal, India Suffers Lowest Temp In 55 Years
"Hazardous" Freeze To Hit The Prairies
Rare Polar Stratospheric Clouds Spotted
Europe Forecast A Bitterly Cold and Snowy Christmas
Colder Winter Headed For U.S. With Incoming 'Polar Vortex'
"Unprecedented" Cold Wave Is Hitting Scandinavia
Alaska Suffers "Persistent Record-Shattering Cold"
A Freezing Start To Winter Is "Rapidly Depleting" Europe's Gas Reserves
St. Petersburg's "Deep Freeze" Breaks 1893 Record
Sweden Busts All-Time December Low (-46.8F)
Bethel, Alaska Suffered Its Coldest November in 82 Years
Australia Suffered Coldest Nov Since 1999
Monthly Lows (And Rare Snows) Fall in Hawaii
Record Cold Grips Siberia (-68.3F)
Canada Sees Lowest November Temp Since 2004 (-45.6F)
Low Temperature Records Continue to Fall Across Europe
Australia's NSW Suffers Coldest November On Record
Record Lows Grip Europe
Sweden Registers -37.4C (-35.3F)
UK Schools Forced To Shut, + Bigger Freeze Inbound
Nordic Power Prices Surge On Sub-Zero Temps And Low Winds
Danger To Life' Warning Issued In Scotland
Spain Issues 'Cold Weather Alerts' - Restarts Old Coal Power Plant To Cope
In 2021 (To Date), A Total of 222 All-Time Low Temperature Records Have Been
Broken In The United States, Versus Just The 7 For All-Time High