The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) is not against EVs per se, but we are concerned that they are far from a 100% replacement for ICE/hybrid cars in terms of their ability to move heavy loads or to power heavy vehicles, which impose a further restriction on range and practicality. The ABD is against EV special privileges and subsidies for well-off EV drivers.
An arbitrary target phase out date for petrol/diesel/hybrid car/vans is economically dangerous and wrong – market forces and the free-market should determine when and if the sale of petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars and vans are ended. Setting a target date in the hope that technology will have advanced sufficiently by the time a ban comes into force is a risky gamble.
Ending the sale of hybrids is particularly ill-considered as research has shown that hybrids are 14 times better than battery EVs at reducing ‘real world’ CO2 emissions:
Euro 6 diesel and petrol car tailpipe emissions are now so low that many times more particulate matter (PM) is emitted from tyres than exhausts:
Grigoratos, T, Gustafsson, M, Eriksson, O, Martini, G. Experimental investigation of tread wear and particle emission from tyres with different treadwear marking. Atmos Environ 2018; 182: 200–212.
IJER editorial: The future of the internal combustion engine (ICE):
The Green Car Congress has highlighted an open access paper published by 37 globally recognised scientists stressing the continued importance of the internal combustion engine, including hybrids, and how it can be developed for increased efficiency and near zero emissions. The UK government has set an arbitrary target of 2035/2040 for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the hope that technology we don’t yet have will be available. This is a huge challenge for tow vehicles and heavy motorhomes compared to passenger cars because the extra weight significantly impacts range of a vehicle already made much heavier by the batteries.
Green Car Congress – International automotive researchers emphasize the importance of continued development of the internal combustion engine:
The caravan and motorhome industry contributes around £6 billion to the UK economy each year and relies on mainly on diesel power due to the weight that has to be moved. Hybrids can be useful towcars too.
The Tesla Model X can tow a fairly hefty 2250kg, but when tested with a small, lightweight 680kg caravan it spent 3 out of 5 hours charging and the range was reduced by half:
Practical Caravan Blog – Towing with electric cars:
A typical family 4-berth caravan would have a laden weight of around 1500kg and larger caravans can weigh considerably more. Evaluated in the 2020 Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year Awards, the Jaguar i-Pace EV has a towing limit of only 750kg, managing 108 miles with around a 50 mile range remaining for solo use. Not particularly impressive or practical given its £76,530 price tag:
Winners of Towcar of the Year Awards 2020:
The equally expensive Audi e-tron and the Mercedes-Benz ECQ can both tow a maximum of 1800kg. There are some small all-electric campervans, but no motorhomes, which in diesel form usually weigh 3500kg or more.
Given the current driving licence restrictions for vehicles over 3500kg, this will be an increasing problem for heavy EV tow cars that will push more car-caravan-trailer combinations over the 3500kg limit. The government has started to address this problem for EV or alternatively fuelled vans by increasing the limit to 4250kg for a ‘B’ licence. I suggest the same should be done for tow cars and motorhomes.
Electric vehicles could be termed ‘Emissions Elsewhere Vehicles’ EEVs as they are not zero emissions either in use or manufacture, plus they use finite non-renewable resources such as Cobalt, Neodymium, Lithium and Copper. The level of emissions from battery manufacture is dependent on how the country of origin generates electricity – the likes of China, Germany and Poland are heavily reliant on coal. The same is true for battery charging. The tyres and brakes of both EVs and ICE vehicles also produce particulate matter in larger quantities than in modern exhaust emissions. Whilst EVs are a good or the best option for many drivers, they have obvious limitations in both usefulness and sustainability. The rush to ban petrol and diesel vehicles may yet prove to be premature.
Leading scientists in the UK have calculated the resources required to replace all cars in the UK with electric vehicles: 200% the current total annual Cobalt production, 100% of Neodymium, 75% of Lithium and at least 50% of copper. A 20% increase in UK electricity generation would also be required:
Natural History Museum – Leading scientists set out resource challenge of meeting zero emissions in UK by 2050:
Below is an extract from an article in the FT: ‘Going head to head over electric vehicles,’ which explains the problems created by EVs of lost tax revenues, battery disposal/recycling and the damage to energy security:
“The same policymakers who see EVs as a panacea for climate change may soon be facing environmental, commodity security and tax revenue issues. Take one often overlooked environmental problem for EVs: battery disposal. Policymakers must decide how best to dispose of old batteries and figure out who will pay the bill. Existing disposal options — from finding an environmentally friendly way to recycle the batteries to dumping them in a Yucca Mountain-like site — all have problems. Any partial recycling or inappropriate disposal of batteries would mean water and soil contamination, with significant health implications for humans and animals. And many countries do not have the appropriate legal framework to govern the disposal or the recycling of electric-vehicle batteries. Currently, companies are postponing the inevitable by repurposing old batteries: using them as stationary storage in homes or businesses as a back-up during outages or to power items like street lights. But repurposing does not solve the problem: The life of these batteries will come to an end one day. For now, just expect tens of millions of tons of batteries to pile up, with no easy environmental solution to hand. Another issue is sourcing the materials for batteries.”
“Moving to EVs has led many to argue that it will improve energy security in developed economies, as they will no longer be dependent on oil supplies from often volatile regions. But the shift to electric vehicles brings with it a new dependence — to supplies of lithium and cobalt, the key materials in the batteries that power electric vehicles. And lithium and cobalt are not produced in as many places as oil, concentrating risk in a handful of countries. In the era of electric vehicles, will US policymakers let their country’s transportation system be held hostage to even fewer players? Only a handful of countries produce lithium and cobalt, with US production of the materials next to nil. More than 99 per cent of lithium reserves are located in only four countries: Chile, China, Argentina and Australia. And more than 80 per cent of cobalt reserves are in five countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia, Cuba, the Philippines and Zambia. In contrast, the top four oil producers hold only 52 per cent of global reserves.”
“The comparisons are also stark when it comes to output: The top four countries produce about 95 per cent of global lithium, while, in oil, the top four produce about 44 per cent. In cobalt production, US adversaries China, Russia and Cuba are among the world’s top producers.”
Motorhomes are currently based on diesel vans. A possible hybrid EV chassis solution for motorhomes has been developed by Huber Automotive and Al-Ko:
ICE power is used outside of low/zero emission zones, which is switched to electric power only in low/zero emission zones with battery options of 50km or 100km range. However, there seems little point in developing this further in view of the intended ban on hybrid vans.
The concept Dethleffs Solar e-(motor)home has 3kW of solar panels, but these do not charge the electric motor, which only has a range of up to 100 miles:
The author’s own Euro 6 2.3 diesel 3850kg motorhome has a potential range of over 500 miles – a 90 litre fuel tank at 28mpg equals 554 miles. If it was electrified it would be much heavier and have an impractical short range. At 8.11 metres long it would require a suitably sized and extensive charging infrastructure.
An impending ban date of 2025, 2030, 2035 or 2040 will inevitably seriously impact the trade-in and resale values of existing ICE vehicles, or make them worthless, years before the actual ban comes into force. Owning a vehicle made much less valuable or worthless due to the proposed ban will make it much more difficult to purchase a new EV – a very important reason why free market forces should dictate when and if a ban takes place. Targeting existing and new ICE/hybrid vehicles with extra taxes and restrictions damages the sales and profits that manufacturers need to fund, develop and manufacture EVs. No ‘scrappage scheme’ will come close to compensating for the lost values of petrol/diesel and hybrid cars. I believe that EVs are currently sold at a loss.
Furthermore, although there is good evidence that the actual sensitivity of climate to CO2 is low (https://judithcurry.com/2020/01/10/climate-sensitivity-in-light-of-the-latest-energy-imbalance-evidence/), if a computer modelled high climate sensitivity to CO2 is correct, the UK’s policy of Net Zero CO2 by the arbitrary date of 2050 is climatically irrelevant unless the entire world has the same simultaneous policy, including the big emitters like the China, USA and India. Both national and local government have indicated that private car ownership and use is not compatible with Net Zero CO2. This begs the question why bother with the expense of the extra load on national and local grids, plus an extensive national charging infrastructure, if the intention is ban private cars including EVs more or less coincides with the petrol and diesel ban?
Ditch cars to meet climate change targets, say MPs:
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Green paper:
“…it’s impractical on electricity supply grounds to convert all cars to EVs to deliver net zero by 2041 (the WMCA target). Therefore “by the time we reach 2041, a majority of people will not own cars, with most car use taken up on an ad hoc basis through electric car clubs. All other journeys are completed by walking, cycling, scooters, and the use of buses, Metro and trains.”
“…in five to fifteen years a regional vehicle scrappage scheme “wherein it is more advantageous to swap a petrol-powered car for a travel pass or CAZ-compliant second-hand car than it is to trade it for a new vehicle”. So they don’t want people buying new vehicles!
There is also the possibility that EVs could be made obsolete the hydrogen or ammonia fuel cell powered vehicles sooner rather than later. So, again, why pick an early EV loser when fuel cells might well be the winner? Making everything from transport to home heating electric is a classic case of putting all the eggs in one basket and hoping they don’t get broken, particularly when the UK is increasing reliant on unreliable, intermittent ‘renewables’ that require expensive ‘grid balancing’ due to their weather-dependent intermittency.
Prof Michael Kelly’s paper ‘Decarbonisation Plans Fail Engineering Reality Check’ is here:
Prof Kelly defended his analysis in Local Transport Today (26th June 2020), pointing out that electrifying heat is an even greater challenge to the grid than electrifying transport and both have to be undertaken simultaneously for Net Zero :
In conclusion, EVs are not zero emissions, they are not a 100% replacement for diesel/petrol/hydrids, they could mean the end of the UK Caravan and Motorhome industry, current local and national grids could not cope with mass electrification of vehicles and home heating, global production of lithium, cobalt, neodymium, and copper will have to massively increase along with the potential for increased prices due to demand, energy security will be harmed, and working to arbitrary targets against free market forces is a very bad idea that is likely to pick losers over winners. It also seems that Battery EVs are just bridge technology to a ban on private car ownership and use.