The Electric Clunker

boondoggle Contrary to both corporate capitalist marketing efforts and one important stream of very harmful and very half-baked mythology, to the extent they aren’t merely a piece of distracting vaporware, electric cars are a major nightmare, not a suppressed panacea.

Consider this news from the IEEE:

EVs need lots of power, especially when charged quickly. Utilities bet that most buyers will want a 240-volt charger that can “fill the tank” of a modest-size EV in 2 to 3 hours, four times as fast as a standard 120-V charger can. Such “AC Level 2” chargers, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers’ emerging J1772 standard, draw up to 6.6 kilowatts. Turning one on is like adding up to three homes to a neighborhood, and that’s with the air conditioning, lights, and laundry running.

Turning on two or three Level 2 chargers could burn out the street-level transformers that are the distribution grid’s weakest link. Most utilities employ undersized transformers, which are designed to cool overnight. Without time to cool, sustained excess current will eventually cook a transformer’s copper windings, causing a short and blacking out the local loads it serves.

As the wonderful Dmitry Orlov notes, our economic masters know only one answer to the problems their rule generates: boondoggles, or, in Orlov’s words, “solutions to problems that result in more severe problems than those they attempt to solve.”

Sustained maximum profit-making requires cars-first transportation, so we are going to get more of it, the planet and us human be damned…