A known Chevrolet Volt critic was back at it again yesterday with a piece that filtered to the top of a Google News search after we typed in the keywords “Chevrolet Volt.”
We will preemptively discuss this blogger’s newest allegations as he has a knack for being quoted by others who do not dig beneath his assertions’ murky surfaces.
Citing “More bad news for the Chevy Volt,” the National Legal and Policy Center ramped off of an Australian story about a comprehensive look at CO2 emissions done in the UK regarding EV batteries’ life cycles. The story said, “emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.”
Because of this, the NLPC said, “The study takes into consideration driving, manufacturing and disposal [of lithium-ion batteries], and undermines the case being made for a rapid introduction of electric vehicles as a means to address environmental concerns.”
Actually those who commissioned the report at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership who are fully knowledgeable of its data, not just an interpretive news story grabbed by NLPC, did not indicate they felt the case for EVs was now undermined.
The study was jointly funded by the British government and car industry, and about it the pro-EV LowCVP Web site wrote, “Electric and hybrid cars create more carbon emissions during their production than standard vehicles – but are still greener overall.”
The problem according to the study was total CO2 produced in manufacturing battery-powered cars is not typically accounted for by EV proponents. “For a battery EV, 46 percent of its total carbon footprint is generated at the factory, before it has travelled a single mile,” the study summary said.
The study recommends EV manufacturers should estimate not just tailpipe emissions (or lack thereof), but total emissions involved in manufacturing and battery use.
Another statement in the Australian article that the NLPC cued off of was, “Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.”
So based on the premise EVs may use two batteries in their lifetime, the Australian article said they may not just be 50-percent worse, EVs may be responsible for more than double the CO2 of internal combustion vehicles.
Actually, the EV industry has not yet seen large scale battery replacements, and stating replacement in terms of “a few years” is misleading when 8-10 years or so is more likely.
And by that time frame, it is possible that new generation vehicles and batteries will be available so most of today’s buyers will opt for a new vehicle rather than replacing the battery.
But the NLPC presented what may be facts through its ideological slant. We know it has been biased because this organization was responsible for spreading rumors that the Volt was suspected of causing a garage fire, and car dealers were pervasively gaming the system, claiming federal tax credits for themselves – two stories we had to report were misrepresented.
In any event, after the NLPC quickly concluded “vehicles like the Chevy Volt are not as green as perceived to be,” and cited the questionable “gamble” by GM and others on a slim projected market, it led into this:
“The wisdom of producing money losing electric vehicles that seem to offer little benefits to the environment should be further questioned. Particularly when taxpayers are subsidizing cars like the Chevy Volt with a $7,500 tax credit. At a time when Democrats are calling for the wealthy to pay a higher share of taxes to address a growing budget deficit, why are buyers of cars that cost over $40,000 (seemingly with little or no benefit to the environment) receiving subsidies? The case is even worse for Tesla’s electric car, which costs over $100,000 and also qualifies for the $7,500 tax credit.”
Yes, this bit of quickie reasoning is fully supported by the First Amendment, but no, it does not adhere to an ethic of being fully accurate in representing the whole picture.
Our other purpose in writing this is to offer the informed readers of GM-Volt opportunity to rebut allegations, and to start the ball rolling with a more balanced view.
First, we note the piece is titled “More bad news for the Volt.”
Does the NLPC forget far more news about the Volt has been about numerous automotive journalistic and engineering awards, as well as recognition by the federal government and insurance industry for more-than-could-be-expected top safety ratings?
Or is the “bad news” the false portrayals the writer has himself propagated? Instead of retracting the fire and “gaming” stories, it looks like the same writer is unrepentantly throwing more “bad news” on the wall to see what sticks.
As for tax credits, one major premise behind the EV movement is that this society we have built on petroleum has to do something to find alternatives. Big Oil has had its day, and we need clean, sustainable energy.
Jump starting an industry in the face of an entrenched (petroleum-based) industry is quite involved. There are high regulatory hurdles and costs to doing business that Henry Ford never dreamed of when he introduced the Model T.
Subsidies and tax credits take the sting from early adopters, and are presented as an investment in the future and the rapidly growing field is seeing new advancements weekly.
After contacting the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), we were told it did not have evidence contradicting significant CO2 produced in battery manufacturing. On the other hand, no one knows whether we will even be using lithium-ion or related batteries in 10 years time.
Do EV opponents want to talk about CO2 or costs to taxpayers? We can keep going on petrochemicals, but what are the real costs with that plan?
The NLPC ends its piece with something that sounds intellectually honest, saying, “While debating the perceived benefits and value of the Chevy Volt may not be politically correct, it is nonetheless a debate worthy of having.”
In fact, whether a debate needs to happen, or not, it is clear that it has already happened, and is ongoing – in the court of public opinion and by decision makers responsible for large budgets.
Substantially increasing expenditures by worldwide military, corporate fleets, as well as government policymakers indicate belief in EVs is pragmatic and leading somewhere better.
Admittedly, there is ideology involved. In today’s political climate, when is there not? But without even getting into it, what is the alternative? Kill the technology baby in the cradle when the life blood for existing technology is waning? Keep sending money to lands where many want us dead, and to those who manipulate the markets to keep us on the string for their petroleum?
How does that help America or the rest of the western world and developing economies as well? It is not a question of if, only when we cannot support this society which is so profoundly based upon petroleum.
We would be interested in learning also whether total battery electric vehicle manufacturing-to use-to-recycling CO2 emissions are really as bad as the UK study says.
Feel free to let us know what facts you can dig up, or points you can add. We have linked the stories above for you to read in the light of day. Critics will have their say, but we want to know what is the whole truth? That is what will stand in the long run.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.