Saving the planet, one electron at a time
About six weeks ago now, we got rid of our very low mileage (kilometrage?) Honda Civic with only 16,500km on the clock after four years driving in exchange for a spiffy all-electric cross-over Hyundai Kona. We get 460km out of a battery full of electrons – doubtless rather fewer when winter arrives. More than enough for over 95% of our daily use … and those electrons are almost “free” given that Quebec electricity is the greenest and cheapest on the continent. The decision was greatly aided by the government subsidizing the price of the vehicle very significantly – $13,000 is not to be sniffed at.
This was going to be a mini-review by a recent convert to electric driving but coincidentally I came across an article in the National Geographic that sets out most of the points I wanted to make so that I don’t have to. Extracts follow:
[Quote]: In general we’re never far from a place where, in exchange for five minutes and $45, we can acquire the power to move a few tons of metal, plastic, and family members about 300 or 400 miles. That miracle is what the makers of electric vehicles (EVs) are up against—which is why there’s a tremendous amount of research going into building better batteries.
The current state-of-the-art EV batteries can take an 80 percent charge from a super-fast charger in 30 minutes, without succumbing to the dread scourge of “lithium plating” (which can cause them to short-circuit and catch fire). But batteries that can charge in 20 minutes are coming soon. (Comment: Realistically, unless you drive a Tesla and can use one of their chargers you will mostly charge overnight at home using a lower power charger which wants 8 hours or so to do the job … most roadside chargers at the moment are of this type although there are some super-chargers around outside the Tesla network.)
There’s no question the planet needs an EV revolution: The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere set another record last week. That might seem surprising—didn’t we drive and fly a lot less last year?—until you remember that the atmosphere is like a giant bathtub, with CO2 constantly gushing from myriad faucets. The level in the tub keeps rising even when we turn the flow down a bit; it will keep rising until we turn all the faucets all the way off. And in the U.S., the most important faucets are our tailpipes.
Most people won’t switch to EVs just to save the planet, of course. They’ll do it when EVs become cooler or less of a pain or both—which is why battery performance is so important. But it’s not the only thing.
Landlines made for much better phone conversations, for instance, but we still traded them in, because cellphones let us call anywhere from everywhere, listen to any song any time, and watch TikTok videos. Similarly, (our car is) an EV, even if the battery is slowish-charging, because EVs are cleaner and quieter and require much less maintenance. Also, they have pick-up that lets you “dust a Porsche” with a sensible sedan, at least until Porsches go electric, too.
Even now EVs already have another key advantage over fast-flowing, ubiquitous gasoline: Most of the time you charge them at home, while you sleep. That means you’re usually not worried about charging speed. Sounds to me like a good cure for gas pump rage.
Given that selling petrol/gas cars is going to be forbidden between 2030 and 2035 in most jurisdictions going this way simply makes sense. If nothing else the trade in value of ICE cars will fall long before that deadline and a tipping point will come when running a gas station is no longer profitable.
Anyway, we like it. Quietest and smoothest and fastest car we have ever owned.