Electric decisions

Submitted by peter on Mon, 10/01/2018 - 11:10

Electric cars are in the news again in an attempt to make us feel guilty about recycling our petrol cars for another year. Replacing an existing car with a new car creates more carbon dioxide than running your existing car for another 15 years. Do you really need a new car?

Buying a new electric car adds the problem of doing something with all the poisonous lithium in the battery when the battery wears out. We will probably just dump the batteries overseas so thet other countries can make a profit from recycling the expensive lithium.

There is no legislation to force car manufacturers to protected you against the explosive firestorm caused by the slightest failure of the lithium batteries. Think about all those people burned by Apple ear buds. Think what it would be like being inside the ear buds when they burst into flames. That has already happened to owners of electric cars. One minimum protection would be to ban the most explosive combinations of chemicals used in lithium batteries. Another would be to invest in the better technologies ready to replace lithium over the next few years.

A major local newspaper declared the top choices of electric cars for 2018. As usual, most of the cars are not electric, most are hybrids with some electrical assistance for a petrol engine. Full electric cars do not work for Australia's long commuting and travel distances.

Their number one choice for an "electric" car is a car with a 3 litre V6 turbo engine plus some sort of token hybrid electric system tacked on the edge. A turbo engine is an expensive complicated way to produce the power and fuel consumption of a larger engine. The V6 is probably equivalent to a V8. With an engine that big, the electric hybrid part would rarely have an effect on the carbon dioxide output.

Their second choice is better, a car with the option of pure electric for inner city people and a petrol hybrid for everyone else. This would be a good option over the next five to ten years while road side stops are fitted out with solar powered charging stations.

$30,000 surcharge

Near the top of their list is a $20,000 small economy car that is on sale at $52,000 in the electric form. There is no way to justify that massive price increase given that a similar car is available with just a small difference in price between the regular car can the battery operated version.

What could you do with $30,000? Petrol cars are not in the top ten list of carbon dioxide polluters. $30,000 could convert two houses to full solar, reducing CO2 output by the equivalent of several cars. You could buy and protect a large tract of trees, giving you carbon credits to cover 100 years of car travel.

$100,000 surcharge

One of the cars represents over a surcharge of over $100,000 when you compare the fancy in fashion electric car to the same size petrol equivalents. That is six houses you could convert to full solar. For the total cost of the car, you could renovate 15 existing cars to stay on the road for the ten year life of the batteries in electric cars. You would save the CO2 production from 15 cars which is equivalent to 225 years of driving a petrol car.

Ten years from now we will not need the expensive polluting inflammable lithium batteries. You could provide a huge benefit to the world by not buying this electric fashion accessory.

Reasonable price

The next "electric" car is a reasonable price. There is not much difference between the petrol and hybrid versions. Given the fuel savings in stop/start traffic, the car would be a good investment for people who need a new car. If all manufacturers offered an option like this, most Australians would buy the slightly more expensive hybrid.

The car can run 40 kilometres on pure electric which means many families could use the car as pure electric for local shopping trips and the drive to the train station. With the almost $30,000 they save compared to the fashion brands, they could convert their house to pure solar with a second battery for topping up their car overnight. This car is the best and only practical car in the whole list.

2.5 litres

One car is a 2.5 litre family sedan with a hybrid electric assistance added on. There is no mention of the electric system having enough power to run the car on short trips without using the engine. For people out in the country, this would be the normal mode of operation. Instead of buying this sort of hybrid, they would reduce CO2 production more through the use of ethanol based fuel.

This type of hybrid works well for a taxi. There are other uses. Unfortunately many of the new hybrids use stupid European type fuel that is made without ethanol. The result is an increase in CO2 far more than what the hybrid part can save. They also fail to put solar panelling over the top of the car, something that would make a difference for a car that is out on the road all day.


The list has a small petrol engine hybrid that is turbo charged. Turbocharging is an expensive inefficient way to replace a full size engine with a smaller engine. Turbocharging is common in Europe due to their stupid tax laws that create a massive extra expense for anyone trying to buy a car with a full size engine. When the manufacturer test drives the turbo engine, they fake the driving to work the engine below the turbocharge range, producing a fake low petrol usage. You buy the car to save fuel then find it impossible to drive the car without the turbo.

The turbo engines have to run at high pressures which means high temperatures which produce pollutants far worse than CO2. We are talking about chemicals that kill people, chemicals that heat up the atmosphere more than CO2, chemicals that destroy the ozone layer.

The turbo engines from Europe cannot use our ethanol fuel mixes, the biggest crime in the car world. Never buy a petrol car that cannot tun on an ethanol mix.

Electric bike

Electric bikes are excellent alternatives to electric cars for the short trips where electric hybrids cars can run on pure electricity. If you chose to keep your petrol car for another few years and use an electric bike for small local trips, you would be saving the world from the equivalent of 15 years of petrol car driving. You would avoid all the parking problems at your local shops.

Yes, you would be out in the rain occasionally. In Melbourne, this could be a problem because they can get times when there is a drizzle of rain all day for several days. In Sydney, the rain tends to dump down heavy for a short time than not rain again all day. If you are about to jump on your bike and the rain hits, wait ten minutes then ride in the sunshine. The electric bike option works most of the time in most parts of Australia.


Years ago in Europe, diesel engines were pushed as a way to reduce fuel consumption, a real advantage in Europe where fuel is expensive. Unfortunately diesel contains more carbon that petrol, resulting in an increase in CO2 production. The situation is worse in Australia because diesel has to be compared to our ethanol mix petrol. Diesel is an evil choice for small to medium cars in Australia.


Some people buy new cars for the extra safety features. If your car has safety belts, you have the best safety feature in existence. The next thing you should look for is side airbags. If you update to a car with airbags but do not get side impact airbags to protect your head, you have no advantage over safety belts.

Some of the new collision avoidance stuff is useful occasionally but it is proving to be not effective in many situations. The manufacturers are not training drivers to tell when the computer video systems cannot judge distances or spot pedestrians. If you do not believe how bad the automation can be, talk to one of the pedestrians killed by an automated car.

One of the more interesting new safety ideas is to monitor they eyes of the driver and stop the car when the driver is not watching the road. When this works, it will be the best safety investment after side impact airbags for your head.


The most imaginative minds in Australian media cannot make up a story where an all electric car is a good choice for Australia. They have to feature hybrids. Among the hybrids are some good choices for several situations. The journalists are a bit too stupid to add in electric bikes as an alternative mode of transport for some trips. The journalists still refuse to mention ethanol mix fuel because they are paid to promote expensive European brands. Buying nothing for another year is still the best choice for most people.