Electric Vehicle Demagoguery

ev-lemon As he labors to further reduce corporate taxes, Zerobama is asking his own marketing targets fans to petition him!

We petition the Obama administration to:

Create Fast Charging Network for Wide Scale Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Fast charging stations should be installed every 50 miles across the United States Interstate Highway System. These chargers will allow electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Leaf and other vehicles to be recharged to 80% capacity in 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow drivers of electric vehicles the freedom to travel throughout the entire US without fear that they may run out of power.

There are huge societal benefits from switching to electric vehicles including reduced pollution, noise and dependence on foreign oil.

Created: Jul 23, 2013

Love the mention of specific corporate products right there in this oh-so-authentic expression of spontaneous popular democracy! And those “huge” benefits? You mean like a forest of new coal-burning plants to make the electricity for this suicidal (and probably physically impossible) proposed network of “fast” — attention plebeians: “20 to 30 minutes” to partially refuel a car is now fast! — chargers?

Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Super-boondoggles as “solutions.”

Luckily, this “petition” seems to be harvesting only about 10 signatures a day. People aren’t as stupid as the overclass (and a great many would-be greens) presume.

Reality Swap

lemon A few weeks ago, the publicly maintained scam artist Elon Musk promised that, on June 20, he’d announce a way his rolling boondoggles could be refueled in the same time frame as a gasoline-burning automobile. At the time, DbC felt it should post a prediction that Musk was once again weaseling with facts. Alas, DbC chickened out. (This may speak to the power of the culture’s sponsored insistence on cars-first transportation’s underlying mythologies, among which the cornucopian assumption that Earth’s resources are unlimited and infinitely malleable is not the least.)

In any event, yesterday was June 20, and, as always, Musk was indeed lying. Physics continues to dictate that charging batteries will always be far slower than spraying liquids into a holding tank.

What Musk announced was not some breakthrough charging solution. It was robotic battery-swapping for “$60-$80”!

One cheerleading “tech” blogger describes the process:

Once a Model S owner parks the car on a designated spot, a platform raises from the ground to disconnect and grab hold of the depleted battery. The platform then descends back into the ground, dumps the battery, retrieves a fresh one, and rises once more to connect it to the car.

Yeah, nothing could go wrong there, could it?

Frenzied drivers will still have to do some work though — they’ll have to drop off the battery on the return leg of their journey and pay an unspecified “transport fee”, though they can also choose to keep the battery and pony up the difference between the price between of the old and new batteries.

Outfitting each of those stations with the ability to quickly replace batteries and get motorists back on the road presents quite a logistics problem. There’s the cost to consider — Tesla expects each battery swap station to cost about $500,000 to build, to say nothing of the maintenance and infrastructure costs that will come now that someone presumably has stop by each station and replace worn-down batteries.

Rube Goldberg was an amateur.

Fiskernomics

carfire The desperation of the overclass to preserve cars-first transportation, the lifeblood of corporate capitalism, is suggested by the story of Fisker, the recently imploded attempt to produce viable “electric” (meaning coal, nuclear, and natural gas) cars.

According to Automotive News, not only was Fisker “allowed to keep using money from a U.S. Energy Department loan after violating its terms multiple times,” but the Fisker corporation spent $660,000 for each car it managed to produce.

No More Fisker Vapor

nihil Stick a fork in the Fisker boondoggle, despite its quarter-billion-dollars in public gift-money. Per Automotive News, here’s what underlies today’s termination of the entire productive labor force at Fisker:

The embattled automaker has retained crisis communications firm Sitrick and Co., based in Los Angeles. Sitrick issued today’s statement on behalf of Fisker.

Reuters reported last week that Fisker also had retained the law firm Kirkland and Ellis to prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing. Earlier in March, company founder Henrik Fisker resigned citing “several major disagreements with management” over the company’s business strategy.

Fisker has built about 1,800 units of its $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid, but none since battery maker A123 Systems declared bankruptcy last summer, leaving Fisker without a battery supplier.

Meanwhile, the nation’s (pathetic) public transit systems continue shrinking while in budget-crisis mode, as TPTB push for still more public “research” into this stillborn century-old “EV” pipedream.

What a huge cancel-fuck: Just as physics won’t permit a car that isn’t wildly unsustainable, so corporate capitalism won’t permit anything but more efforts to cancel that uncancelable reality.

Museum Proposal

urbee DbC hereby proposes a new National Museum of Late-Capitalist Insanities. The NMLCI will be dedicated to the collection, preservation, and display of items and ideas characteristic of our epoch, with an eye to allowing a) the presently sane, b) future generations, and/or c) future extraterrestrial archaeologists to contemplate just how far out of touch our overclass and our culture have become.

Given the massive irrationality yet absolute political-economic centrality of the effort to perpetuate cars-first transportation in the face of obvious, directly associated impending disasters, there could be no better first NMLCI exhibit than the object at right, the 1,200-pound, “safe as possible,” 3-d “printed” Urbee car.

The rank pipedreams preserved in this pet project of Canadian engineer-capitalist Jim Kor are truly NMCLI-worthy:

For starters, the sales slogan is “Urbee: The Natural Way to Drive.” What could possibly be more un-natural than using immensely intricate and wasteful, 95% idle machines to accomplish mundane intra-village locomotion?

The rest of the proposal is about ecological conservation. Once again, what could possibly be more ecologically idiotic than using immensely intricate and wasteful, 95% idle machines to accomplish mundane intra-village locomotion? Without even mentioning fuel and manufacturing issues, you can get 40 bicycles for 1,200 pounds of final mass, and bicycles are orders of magnitude simpler and easier to repair and preserve.

As for “safe as possible,” who wants to ride in this glorified golf cart with moped wheels on American roads, around all these SUVs and delivery trucks? Hands?

The fact that such elementary realities are missed by an engineer speaks tomes about the prevalence of magical thinking in our doddering profit-driven social order.

Hat-tip.

Musk Rat

ev-lemon The recent New York Times report on the profound defectiveness of Tesla’s $72,400 lemon has provoked Tesla’s “Chairman, Product Architect & CEO” Elon Musk to try to defend his rolling turd.  Among the pathetic excuses is this one:

For his first recharge, he [the NYT reporter] charged the car to 90%. During the second Supercharge, despite almost running out of energy on the prior leg, he deliberately stopped charging at 72%. On the third leg, where he claimed the car ran out of energy, he stopped charging at 28%. Despite narrowly making each leg, he charged less and less each time. Why would anyone do that?

Musk, of course, knows the answer full well: People would do that because, even using his “Supercharger,” he’s talking about spending an hour-and-a-half each time waiting for his lemon to draw its coal-derived fuel. People would stop waiting because they have lives, and means of transportation are supposed to exist in order to facilitate, not devour, those lives.

Musk has the chutzpah to conclude with this line: “[W}hat is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.”

Of course, the electric car is to sustainable transport what the potato peeler is to ditch digging.

Electric Lemon Update

ev-lemon A couple recent items on the non-progress of the stillborn idea of reviving the 120-year-old technology known as the “electric” automobile:

First, ex-GM bigwig and blabbermouth Bob Lutz admits in his most recent book that the “EV” is indeed a loss-leader designed to burnish the image of the car corporations and thereby delay media attention to the extreme danger and outdatedness of their product. In Lutz’ words, in the GM boardroom, the whole thing was understood to be “an opportunity to change the public’s perception of GM as a reckless producer of gas guzzlers.”

Had he been CEO of GM, Lutz says that “I would have accelerated the creation of hybrid vehicles as well as all-electric prototypes and auto show concept cars. It’s not that there was, or is today, a huge market for the things. lt’s just that the media praise those who make them and smother them in superlatives for their environmental correctness.”

Admissions don’t get much clearer than that.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Nissan is admitting that deterioration of “EV” batteries is normal, rather than a defect. According to Automotive News:

Nissan Motor Co. has agreed to buy back two of the seven Leaf electric cars whose owners in Arizona have publicly raised concerns about aging batteries. The gesture could help mollify a small group of Leaf owners and green-car enthusiasts who have been raising questions about whether the electric car’s battery is too quickly losing its ability to hold an adequate charge.

The small group of Phoenix customers believes that their Leafs are not holding a charge as long as they should be after only a year or two of use. The seven Phoenix owners claim that their batteries are losing capacity after only a couple of years, and have questioned whether the product is flawed.

In response, Nissan took all seven Leafs to undergo tests at its Arizona proving grounds. Engineers found that the cars in question simply had higher-than-normal mileage, Bailo said in her public letter. She said Nissan concluded that the battery performance was in line with the wear and tear on the specific cars. In estimating the Leaf’s battery will hold 80 percent of its original charge after five years, Nissan said it assumed owners would drive, on average, 12,500 miles a year.

“We’re going to give them all of our data to see for themselves. The data shows that the car is performing as it should be. “We’re 100 percent certain that there is no defect,” [said Nissan].

In other words, one promise of pure “EV”s is mountains of dead batteries, and the usual — perhaps even accelerated — planned obsolescence of individual automobiles.