% EV-critic Terence Corcoran likes GM's Bolt EV.
 Jonathan Kay likes EVs & owns a VW e-golf EV. %

Jonathan Kay: Get an electric car to free yourself from the tendrils of big
government. No, seriously
September 29, 2017  Jonathan Kay  News Canada

[video  flash

images  / Tyler Anderson/National Post
Electric car zealot, Jonathan Kay | Consider the e-car

Kay (pro-EV) versus Corcoran (con-EV)

Just because the switch from gasoline to battery-power delights Mother Earth
doesn’t mean it’s an affront to Lady Liberty


That electric-light-bulb moment, when I reimagined the relationship between
freedom and energy, came eight years ago, during a Tea Party conference at a
Nashville hotel.

After watching marquee speeches from the likes of Sarah Palin and Andrew
Breitbart, I poked my head into the smaller seminars. That’s how I chanced
upon a libertarian survivalist, who spent an hour showing me, and about two
dozen other clueless urbanites, how to live “off the grid.”

In coming years, he explained, North America’s entire electrical system
might be crippled by some kind of catastrophe, civil war or military attack.
(The whole conference had an apocalyptic undercurrent.) But the survivors
could generate their own sustainable power supply using a bunch of solar
panels, or – if they had access to running water – a homemade water wheel
made out of ordinary lumber and a simple coil generator.

I’m hopeless with tools, and I still power my house the same way my Toronto
neighbours do. But the presentation changed the way I think about fossil
fuels. I’d always associated renewable power with save-the-earth leftists;
and the advocacy of unfettered coal, oil and gas usage with conservative
ideology. And yet, it’s renewable energy that lends itself to local
individual autonomy – while the extraction, processing and transportation of
carbon fuels require highly centralized, capital-intensive industrial
operations, nationally administered grid operations, and dense layers of
government regulation.

The construction of Keystone XL and other pipelines would be impossible
without government taking land from private owners through its power of
eminent domain. The construction of new coal and gas plants requires years
of environmental and community-impact assessments. Even the rules governing
which containers can transport gasoline are subject to a thick web of rules
designed to protect us from toxicity, fire and explosions. From ground to
gas tank, carbon-based fuel technology is a libertarian nightmare.

But what if I told you there’s a device out there that, in time, will help
free you from the tendrils of big government?

It exists. I own one. It’s called an electric car.

It’s been more than 14 years since Bart and Homer rode in the car of the
future – “Hello, I am an electric car. I can’t go very fast, or very far” – 
at an exhibit “sponsored by the gasoline producers of America.” But oh, how
times have changed. The all-electric Tesla X 90D does zero to 60 in 4.8
seconds, gets 413 kilometres of range on a single charge, and can be fully
recharged in about 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, it also sells for $128,700. Since my family spends about
$4,000 a year on gas, I’d need to keep the Tesla going till 2037 to earn
back the premium I’d be paying over a similarly sized gasoline-powered SUV.

Fortunately, there are more than a dozen other all-electric options on the
market, including Tesla’s mass-market Model 3, which sells for less than
$43,000. All-electric vehicles remain a niche market in North America.
(About 0.6% of total Canadian vehicle sales.) But that will change as prices
drop and range increases. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, released in
July, predicts that electrics will constitute more than half of global
light-duty vehicle sales by 2040.

To be clear, I’m talking about Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), which
contain no gas tank and no gas engine. They are powered solely by plugging
them into an electric source. Tesla’s models are BEVs. So are the BMW i3,
the Chevy Bolt, the Nissan Leaf, the Kia Soul and the one I bought in June:
the Volkswagen e-Golf.

The gas money I’ll save by switching to electric car ownership is enough to
pay my monthly cable and Internet bill. At off-peak electricity rates, I can
charge my e-Golf’s battery for about $2.50, or about a penny per kilometer.
That’s a tenth of what it costs to run a comparably sized non-electric car.
Electric cars are also more pleasant to drive because there’s no engine
noise. For this reason alone, my wife refuses to back to gas power.

And then there’s the massive savings on maintenance and repair – since BEV
technology eliminates the need for almost all of a car’s most expensive and
breakable parts. There’s no transmission. No clutch. No mufflers. Nor does
my e-Golf have a tail pipe – because the only by-product it generates is

And freedom. My trip to the Volkswagen dealership was, in effect, a flight
from government regulators. Our previous family car – a 2008 Volvo –  had
just failed its Ontario Drive Clean test, which is designed to weed out
older cars that belch out excessive pollutants. According to mechanics, my
“oxygen sensors” weren’t functional, so the diagnostic equipment couldn’t
properly measure my tailpipe emissions. Cost for new sensors: $900.

Then it got worse. I failed a second Drive Clean test – even with the new
sensors. It took the mechanics another week to figure out the problem, which
had something to do with the catalytic converter. All in all, it cost me
more than $1,100 to make the car road-legal. When I got it back, I put it up
for sale immediately.

If, as I expect, the Volvo ends up being the last gasoline-powered car I
ever buy, then that’s the last big-government Drive Clean test I’ll have to
take. Not to mention the last time I pay taxes when I fuel up at the pump.
Nor will I get ensnared in the myriad carbon-abatement schemes that likely
will be implemented as the fight against climate change intensifies.

A true libertarian would argue that the government doesn’t have any business
regulating my car’s emissions to begin with. But in an age of global
warming, that view isn’t realistic. Whether by carrot or stick, governments
are going to regulate the interface between your tailpipe and the outside
world. The only way to opt out is to ditch the tailpipe altogether. And
there’s only one way to do that: my way.

While I currently get my home’s electricity from a publicly owned utility
(whose rates are set by government fiat), there is no law of man or nature
that prevents me from getting off the grid entirely – just like that Tea
Partier in Nashville advocated – and fueling my e-Golf with solar or
hydro-electric homebrew. In 2017, this is not as crazy as it sounds: The
same technology that powers my e-Golf is being implemented by regional
electric companies.  

Moreover, even a massive surge in BEV ownership will not likely require a
spike in public power-generation infrastructure. According to Bloomberg, a
wholesale shift to BEVs will increase projected global power consumption by
only 5 percent between now and 2040 – while eliminating the need for eight
million barrels of transported oil every day.

There’s an obvious catch, of course. One large reason that buying an e-Golf
made clear economic sense for my family is that I live in a province
(Ontario) whose government provides BEV buyers with a subsidy worth up to
$14,000. Kathleen Wynne also paid for half the cost of my home charging
station. In my case, the total value of these incentives amounted to almost
a third of the e-Golf’s purchase price.

Which is to say: Even while electric vehicles liberate drivers from the
day-to-day tax and regulatory morass that surrounds fossil-fuel usage, big
government is actively distorting the market for BEV technology at the
buy-in stage. That’s why electric cars still seem like a suspect technology
to many conservatives.

But that will soon change, because such subsidies will become unnecessary
(not to mention fiscally unsustainable) as BEVs move from niche product to
mass market.
It’s Kay versus Corcoran in the great electric car debate Tyler
Anderson/National Post

Much of the cost of a BEV is the “B” part – the battery. And as the
Bloomberg report indicates, the price of lithium-ion batteries is expected
to fall by more than two-thirds between now and 2030. As a result, the
authors conclude, EVs will become “economical on an unsubsidized
total-cost-of-ownership basis” (my emphasis).

I’m not going to misrepresent myself as some kind of free-market activist.
In fact, I very much appreciate the comments I get from my left-leaning
neighbours who see the charging cable running from my house to my car. When
they praise me for doing my part to protect our environment, I nod
earnestly, lest their high opinion of me be shattered if they found out my
true, purely financial motives.

It’s sanctimonious vignettes like this that keep conservatives in the market
for V8s. But in truth, this is no zero-sum game. Just because the switch
from gasoline to battery-power delights Mother Earth doesn’t mean it’s an
affront to Lady Liberty ...
[© 2017 National Post]

% Counterpoint: Con-EV %

Terence Corcoran: I drove an e-car and l liked it. However, I don't like the
Maoist-style subsidies
September 29, 2017  Terence Corcoran  News Canada

Terence Corcoran, electric car skeptic
] ...

The Volt was one of those “green things that might never make it to 60 miles
per hour.” ...

GM Bolt, the auto giant’s 2017 follow-up to the Volt. It may not be Camaro
furious, but it is fast, with 286 foot-pounds of torque and snappy
acceleration that can take the Bolt to 60 miles per hour in about 6.5
seconds ... no varoom. Silence, practically. 

The Bolt is no muscle car, but its all-electric carbon-free system smoothly
produces power that can deliver enough pep and speed to triumph over any
street and expressway. It feels cool to drive, has a digital dash with all
the data, an impressive infotainment system along with a four-door spread
that contains plenty of back seat room and SUV-like space behind ...

when a driver who switches to electricity says he’s saving hundreds of
dollars a month, at least a third of the savings is avoided taxes,
essentially another EV subsidy ...

by 2050 Canada will need 278 terrawatts (a trillion watts) of new
electricity capacity just to cover the forecast EV demand ...

I drove 62 kilometers, but the range indicator on the flashy dash said I had
used up 100k. It was hot and the air conditioner seems to have burned up
more than a third of kilowatt consumption. The cold-weather heater would do
the same ...
[© 2017 National Post]

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