I’m not so sure I believe this one:

Carmakers will increasingly find themselves in a race to shut, switch or sell factories producing vehicles with internal combustion engines to avoid being left with “stranded assets”, as regulators set a course for a decade of electrification to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.


The year 2020 will be seen as key for electric cars because of new EU regulations that mandated a limit on average carbon dioxide emissions of 95g/km across all cars sold.
The UK has committed to carrying on its emissions regime at an equivalent or stronger level after the Brexit transition period ends on 1 January 2021.

I am really curious about this, because the Grauniad  article strangely seems to omit any actual numbers of carmakers reducing their regular engine production.  Instead, all sorts of “analysts” are quoted as saying stuff like:

Philippe Houchois, an analyst at Jefferies, an investment bank, said carmakers’ share prices will be in large part dependent on their ability to avoid losses on fossil fuel assets. “If you want to be a better valued carmaker you need to find a way to shrink your assets faster than a gradual transition to electric vehicles would suggest,” he said.

And yet:

Volkswagen has already conceded that it will miss its 2020 target, incurring a fine estimated at around €270m (£248m).

Given VW’s size, that’s not such a big deal, especially as it can be written off against taxes.  And one of the other big guys seems strangely un-panicked:

BMW announced on Sunday it would build 250,000 more electric cars than it had previously planned between now and 2023. Oliver Zipse, the company’s chief executive, said he wanted roughly 20% of cars it sells to be electric by 2023, up from 8% this year.

For the mathematically-challenged, that means that regular cars will still account for 80% of BMW’s sales.

And all that activity is in Europe and the U.K., where distances are not vast and there’s always a public transport option as a last, albeit expensive and inconvenient resort.

How about Over Here?  Forget about it.  As much as the Biden / AOC Greens would like to do what the Eurotrash are doing, that shit isn’t going to fly in North America, because

  • we Murkins loves us our gasoline-driven cars because freedom;
  • setting up an infrastructure to deliver the amounts of electricity needed to power the jillions of proposed American electric cars is so big, nobody has yet actually dared to state its cost — especially when we have abundant supplies of oil (which the Euros do not) to fall back on;
  • we don’t actually have the power generation capacity to deliver the juice even supposing we had the above infrastructure, as California is going to realize very soon;
  • battery manufacture is worse for the environment than using gasoline-powered cars (when you look at the total amount of energy and resources needed to make the infernal things), and at some point even the addle-headed Greens may come to realize it;
  • the U.S. automobile market is so big, most car manufacturers would be happy to “settle” for just producing their regular cars for our market and their electric wagons in Europe.

And now, let’s talk about the Third World, because for yet another strange reason the Grauniad  article doesn’t.

In places like Asia (India, China and South-East Asia specifically) and Africa, not only is there insufficient power generation capacity — they can barely power their light bulbs let alone millions of cars — but there is no industrial capacity capable of putting in the electric automotive infrastructure.  Just the geography alone is daunting — Africa because of the distances and fragility of the countries’ ability to prevent sustained vandalism (I won’t even talk about the endemic African corruption as a brake to progress), South-East Asia because jungles, and China doesn’t have the cash.  As for India and Pakistan… oy.  Even the Russians would have a better chance of success than the Indians, and nobody’s talking about them either.

The only countries in the Eastern Hemisphere which would have anything like a chance of setting up a European-style automotive electrification infrastructure are Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan (small size and islands), and South Korea might have an outside shot at success.  Australia?  Tiny market and vast distances.  Ain’t gonna happen.  (I note in passing that Japan’s Honda has quit supplying engines to the F1 market, giving as a reason that they want to concentrate their resources on electric automotive technology, but it’s also true that their F1 engines are markedly inferior to those of Mercedes, Renault and possibly even Ferrari;  and even Honda might think that chasing success in Formula 1 — i.e. increasing the existing $100 million annual spend — isn’t worth it.)

So while the Guardian’s breathless headline (“Race is on as carmakers shut, switch or sell combustion engine factories“) may make one nervous — which I think is its purpose — a little reflection shows that in this case anyway, Europe and the U.K. are quite possibly going to be the outliers for the foreseeable future of automotive production, large a market as they are.

And unless the Euro (and even Japanese) carmakers can sell their electric cars at the same rate as they sell their regular cars in the U.S. (don’t hold your breath), they’ll face even harsher financial consequences than just paying taxpayer-subsidized fines.

Think about it:  what if Toyota suddenly announced that they were only going to be selling Prius models in the U.S., and not Corollas, Camrys, RAV4s, Tundras, Venzas, Land Cruisers, Tacomas, and all the others?  Think Prius could pick up the slack?  (That’s a rhetorical question, of course.)  Now repeat that scenario for BMW’s I3 and all the other manufacturers’ electric offerings.

Ain’t gonna happen.  Not now, not soon, and quite probably, not ever.  Despite what the Guardian wants to believe, and us to believe.


  1. I think that there will long be a need for petrol-engined vehicles here in the UK. Vehicles like the Land Rover. Tractors. Industrial vehicles. There will be places that electric cars simply can’t go. Or can’t stay. Range and recharge times are also big limiters. Refilling a petrol car takes a minute or two; recharging an EV takes much longer. That in itself isn’t so bad – hey, it’s time for a cup of tea and you’re supposed to take a break when driving – but what if there’s a queue? Waiting 5 – 10 minutes isn’t so bad if you’re in the queue at a petroil station, but at an EV recharge point you might be waiting an hour or more.

    However, I do see the demise of the ordinary consumer car thanks not to electricity (though they will likely be electric) but AI. Many, many cars spend most of their lives not in use but silently depreciating while parked. When self-driving cars become reliable and safe and readily available then the point of having a car will be much diminished. If I can call up a hire car in 5 minutes then do I really need a car of my own?

    I think we might start to see it here in the late 2030s. As for America? I think you’ll continue with a mix. America’s too big for EVs right now, but once EVs get a range of 1000 miles or so then I think you’ll see a change.

    1. I don’t agree here — at first I thought, yes, this is a possibility a couple years ago.

      However, just think — would you want to ride in a taxi cab the rest of your life?

      Senior citizens will eat this up, but not the middle age middle class. We want our own space.

      I do see the value of these systems when traveling — but in those cases I have rental cars anyway, which are typically some sort of penalty box.

      1. 1,000 miles is too much. 500 to 600 is a full days drive for most people, so that’s a more reasonable target.

        A 5 minute response cycle may work in a densely populated area or a resort area where you might still need some local temporary transport, but for the rest of us here in “fly over country”, it’s not a workable solution.

        …. and just stop renting penalty box cars. You can rent a e-class Mercedes or a Mustang / Camaro or reasonable SUV for a little more $ .

        1. >1,000 miles is too much. 500 to 600 is a full days drive for most people, so that’s a more reasonable target.

          I just got back from a 4500+-mile (round-trip) visit to my parents (and a few others on the way out). Today’s drive was a leisurely 850 miles from Amarillo to Las Vegas, with gas stops in Albuquerque and Williams and a lunch stop in Holbrook. 12 hours at ~80 mph.

          That’s getting close to as much as I can handle in a day’s driving. I’d guess the current crop of electric cars would need at least 2-3 hours more time to recharge along the way, assuming that suitable infrastructure even exists. You’re almost forced into shorter hops, as with a 15-hour driving day you’re behind the wheel almost from wakeup to bedtime.

          Even if you could get an EV with (for instance) 800-mile range, where would you charge it? They’ll probably still need 2-3 hours to charge, and even if your hotel is suitably equipped, you’d most likely need to somehow coordinate charging time with other drivers rather than just leave your car in the same space long after it’s done.

          Banning the internal-combustion engine can only make sense for the sort of people who think 100 miles is a long distance. Europeans, IOW.

    2. “If I can call up a hire car in 5 minutes then do I really need a car of my own?”

      I think you’ll still run into issues. Most of us travel in the morning to work, and then in the evening back home again. Traffic is bumper to bumper during the rush hour, but the rest of the day pretty light. So what sort of electric rental fleet would be needed to meet that demand? An electric AI car may be 5 minutes away at 10 am, but an hour long wait at 6 am when most of us will actually need it.

      I know the commie answer is mass transit, but here in flyover country the people density is so low that it doesn’t work very well, if at all.

      Also, if the pandemic is the, cough cough, “new normal”, who wants to ride in a car full of other people’s cooties?

    3. With an automated hire car, when does the vomit, semen, and worse left by previous customers get cleaned up? With a taxi or Uber, there’s no guarantee the driver does the required cleaning, but at least there _was_ a human present to note the need for it. Or they could program the car to return to the garage after each ride – but I think they’d have to charge more than non-monopoly taxis, and in the long run owning my own car costs less than two taxi rides every working day. _And_ while an electric could handle my 14 miles and back daily commute, my fossil-fueled car can run up to my cabin in the woods 200 miles north and back with no concerns about running out of charge in high-speed driving with the heat or AC on full.

      A partial solution to the problem of running out of cars at rush hour could be shared rides, with the computer working out pickup and dropoff routes so 2 to 4 parties could share one car or van with only a little extra time required. But unless you can exclude anyone but calm, tolerant, and well-housebroken customers, you’re going to need a “driver” (at the customers’ cost) to keep the peace even if no driving is needed.

  2. Ford has the new ” Mustang ” electric Crossover /SUV and announced electric F150 , Volkswagen’s similar ID4 , Electric Harleys, Pre-production running vehicles from new guys Rivian and Lucent all suggest that the electric vehicle market is about to go main stream.

    But, there are still large problems to overcome, They are all at the expensive end of the car market. Not a one of them is less than $ 60k most are $80 to $100K and way up from there. You can easily spend $150 K on a new Taycan. ( and worth every penny ) .

    But it all misses the most important point. Electric / Battery power is NOT a power source, it is only a means of transporting energy. You still need some sort of fuel to generate the energy. Gasoline not only stores and transports the energy easily , it is a source of energy that can reasonably efficiently converted and consumed. Granted, Solar energy can be converted into electricity with increasingly better efficiency but it’s hardly as “Free” as some people would have you believe.

    In theory, here in New England, I have enough roof square footage pointing in the right direction to generate enough KWhrs of electricity to power an electric vehicle for most of my use for maybe 75% of the year. However to do so, I will need to invest $ 60,000 into a Tesla Solar Tile roof with 3 Tesla PowerWalls @ $8,000 each for energy storage – all to power an additional $ 80.000 for the car. Do- able for some of us but not that many. ( and the ROI is not within my remaining remaining lifetime – unless some academic figures a way to convert virtue signals into lifespans )

    Until the EU and Congress come up with a way to legislate new laws of Physics and Economics the ICE vehicles are going to be around for a long time to come.

  3. I work at a big auto parts wholesaler. A couple of years ago, we bought a bunch of Priuses for delivery vehicles. Why? Mostly tax breaks, but they are the right size for small, local deliveries around town, and they’re not plug-ins, but they do get pretty decent mileage. We didn’t get rid of any of the big trucks, though, because when you’re moving 16 pallets of heavy stuff, you don’t want a Prius, you want a big diesel truck. Same for the 3/4 ton diesel pickup with the snow plow on it.

    And I drive around 30 miles to and from work, so I’m not going to trust something I can’t stop and fill up along the way, particularly in winter. Oh yeah, if my car’s covered with ice in the morning, it’s going to be running in my driveway for 20 minutes, warming up. Try that with a Nissan Leaf. I just wish I had a remote starter, like my wife does. (She also has heated seats and a guy who scrapes the ice off her windows when needed.)

    Every winter I think about retiring to Texas. (I’m from Indiana, not California, don’t shoot!)

  4. Aren’t you describing a diesel-electric train engine?

    I remember reading about the design you just mentioned years ago when the Prius was just announced. I also remember, as an engineer, thinking that concept would be a great design and had way more potential.

  5. I have nothing against electric cars but it’s not practical for a large swath of the population, at least in the vast expanses of the US. It’s not so much range as it is recharge time. My motorcycle has a “range” of only 150 – 170 miles per tank, which is smaller than many electric cars. But unlike an E-car, I can “recharge” the bike in less than 5 minutes at a gas pump.

    Power infrastructure is another big factor. Right now in my suburban Denver neighborhood I think there are maybe 2 – 3 E-cars, which the current power grid can easily handle. But once those numbers start creeping up to 25% or more, our electric bills are going to skyrocket because the power company is going to need to upgrade their capacity significantly (and right at a time when they are shutting down coal mines and the power stations adjacent to them…)

    We’ve seen the power outages and “rolling brownouts” that happen in CA when hot weather has everybody running their AC systems at full blast in Summer, imagine the same thing happening every night as commuters come home and plug their E-cars in to recharge.

    In the end I think hybrid technology has more of a future at least within our lifetimes. Seems to me manufacturers could start looking into making a full electric car but with a fuel-powered generator, akin to a diesel-electric locomotive. Even better, there would be no need for a transmission, driveshaft or differential if you put an electric motor on each wheel that was powered by the battery, which in turn was charged by the ICE generator.

    Imagine a pickup truck with no transmission, transfer case, front or rear differential (4×4) with motors at each wheel controlling speed and torque. No need for a locking or limited slip differential since each wheel motor could be controlled by the computer running the vehicle. Ground clearance would be significant because there would be no need for a shaft-driven axle or wheels. Even better, under the hood is a 5 – 10 KW ICE generator which not only charges the batteries, but once you get to either the camp site or the job site, you now have a generator you can use to power whatever you want. You could also make the generator itself modular (since it is only connected to the battery by wires anyway) so that you could have a smaller (lighter) generator for city commuting duties and a bigger, heavier generator for long extended trips or towing.

  6. An R&T article from 30-40 years ago proposed a diesel-electric hybrid with a 750cc 3/cyl turbo/supercharged diesel power unit used to maintain the battery bank.

    Widespread EV usage is problematic now for the same reason that widespread ICE vehicle usage was problematic prior to WW1 – there is not a “refueling” infrastructure in place across the country. Plus, we would need unknown numbers of generating stations to power a grid that doesn’t exist to keep all those EV’s charged 24/7.

  7. I think these articles about electric cars are nothing more than propaganda to get us used to the idea of an inferior vehicle that will be pushed onto us whether we want the electric car or not.

    Gasoline takes a few minutes to fill back up while electric cars take a long time to recharge.

    Making and running an electric car has a larger carbon footprint than a Chevy Suburban when you figure the expenditure to get specific metals needed for the batteries.

    Electric cars don’t have the range of gasoline cars but for some folks, range might not be necessary.

    The infrastructure for refueling stations for electric cars is not there, hasn’t been built and is going to be very expensive. This will include recharging stations as well as greatly expanded power plants. At the same time the environmental fascists are insisting on less efficient methods of electricity production be put in place before the polar bears drown

  8. When the Gummint, in all it’s generosity, decides to replace my 14 year-old Taurusasaurus with a brand new, fine electric car, or convert my current ride into a world saving environmental miracle, I believe I’ll keep what I’ve got. See you at the gas station!

  9. Californians use a lot of vehicles.

    Californians might recall last summer, and all the summers in the past half-century.
    The electricity distributors ran out of juice, so they reduced juice (aka ‘rolling Brown©-outs’) to certain areas.
    The folks in those certain areas lacked the power/will-power to induce TheRulingElites to fix the problem so they could live comfortably in a north Afrika climate with modern conveniences such as a functioning fridge.
    Then, after worse running out of juice, the electricity distributors introduced the concept of ‘Black©-outs’ so nobody gets any juice.

    And memory-blanked Californians might recall the bankruptcy of their major electricity distributor Pacific Gas And Electric.
    The stockholders of PG&E will not be investing trillions with a ‘T’ in maintaining infrastructure or expanding infrastructure or discovering new sources of juice.
    Not ‘not in the foreseeable future’ or not ‘not until legislation provides’, ‘not be investing’ as in ‘never’.
    The numbers do not ‘pencil out’.
    Spending on a declining liability makes zero-zero-zero sense.

    Before James M Dakin went dark and shut down his excellent BisonPrepper, he made a valid point:
    * as TheRulingElites run out of resources to extract from a region, they invest less in maintaining the illusion of caring.
    One indication — they abandon the infrastructure:
    * Roads decompose into a series of patched pot-holes.
    * Utilities such as water and sewage degrade until they are indistinguishable.
    * LawEnforcementOfficials shift their attention from crime-prevention and apprehending crooks to ‘revenue enhancement’.
    At some point in the devaluation of resources, TheRulingElites reach their profit/loss tip-point.
    They abandon the region.
    They move to another region to continue their locust behavior.

    The electric vehicle is a great concept.
    I explored it in the 1960s.
    Unfortunately, until a non-petroleum energy source is available, electric vehicles are non-feasible… except to delusional MARXISTS [some overlap].
    Until hand-held nuclear fission or hydrogen extraction from air or photovoltaic cells capable of harvesting indirect solar from reflected moonbeams or or or.

    Their puppets in the legislations can legislate all they are told, but TheRulingElites cannot change reality.
    They can ignore reality (aka ‘TheMainStreamMedia’), but cannot change it.

    1. “* LawEnforcementOfficials shift their attention from crime-prevention and apprehending crooks to ‘revenue enhancement’.”

      Absolutely. Almost all the so-called anti-drunk driving initiatives I’ve seen have been nothing more than this. As well as typical traffic tickets becoming super-expensive. I can remember getting pulled over for doing over 100 in a 55 zone 30+ years back, cost me $45. Today getting caught making a right on red without a full stop at a red light camera is something like $500 or more. The war on drugs has been a godsend for this also, with small personal use marijuana possession costing thousands. None of this is helpful to the common citizen, nor even attempts to make the community a better place.

  10. Propaganda? Absolutely. Lithium ion batteries (as well as wind turbines, solar panels, etc.) cost far more to dispose of than to make, not to mention the toxic aftermath. Besides, it has never been proven that ANY rise in CO2 emissions led to ANYTHING. Fucking assholes. As a REAL scientist, they just continually piss me off. Need range NOW. And if anyone ever says in my presence again “The science is settled”, they may have a lead poisoning problem. As Insty says: SHEESH.

  11. >I keep wondering why no one has developed a real, true, honest-to-God hybrid: Electric drive motors, moderate battery capacity, and a very high efficiency single-speed small turbo diesel.

    The Chevy Volt was almost that sort of vehicle (but gas, not diesel). It’ll go a limited distance on battery power before firing up the engine to provide power for recharging (and indirectly for traction). In preproduction testing, however, they found it more efficient to power the wheels directly from the engine at speeds above 70 mph or so.

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