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Report Drives Home Point about Electric Vehicles

Montreal Economic Institute did analysis of where the electricity to recharge these cars should come from, how much greenhouse gas could be eliminated from the environment, how much this would cost, and how effective government subsidies would be.

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I don’t hate electric cars. Science hates electric cars.

Not to mention the marketplace. Currently (ho, ho — sorry, I just can never resist that one), they’re running at about 0.6 per cent of the market.

And a report from the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), which bills itself as an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization in (aw, you guessed) Montreal, has dealt what should be a blow to battery-powered vehicles.

Germain Belzile, a senior research associate at MEI, and Mark Milke, an independent policy analyst, did a thorough analysis of where the electricity to recharge these cars could come from, how much greenhouse gas could be eliminated from the environment by replacing fuel-powered cars with battery-powered electrics, how much this would cost, and how effective government subsidies to this end could be.

The results of the study make the correct policy clear — there is no hope for electric cars to achieve any of the goals their proponents make for them, and your tax dollars are being profligately wasted.

The full report is available at: Economic Note Report

An executive summary can be found at: Electric vehicle subsidies: expensive and ineffective

For a further precis of their conclusions, read on.

Essentially, the report quotes Belzile as saying, “(Subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles is) just a waste. Not only do these programs cost taxpayers a fortune, but they also have little effect on GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.”

In other words, subsidizing the purchase of such vehicles is the least efficient and most expensive way of reducing GHG emissions.

The report states that even if Quebec and Ontario achieve their wildly optimistic objectives — Quebec, 100,000 electric cars by 2020, one million by 2030; Ontario 5 per cent market share by 2020; once again, may I remind you they currently have something like 0.6 per cent share nationwide, so there’s a lot of ground to cover in two-and-a-half years — they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 2.4 per cent in Ontario, 3.6 per cent in Quebec.

Oh, goody.

Don’t you just breathe easier already, knowing that in 13 years, the air will be 2.4 to 3.6 per cent cleaner?

And that your province will only have to spend several billion-with-a-b of your tax dollars in pursuit of that lofty ambition?

So, why are all car companies pursuing the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles?

Not because they can make a profit on them. Even the vaunted Elon Musk with his Tesla electrics only makes money by selling ‘credits’ to companies whose vehicles cannot achieve the same on-the-road emissions targets.

electric cars subsidy

And, he makes about as many cars in a year as Toyota does in a minute.

(Personally, I think Mr. Musk just wants to gather up as much government-subsidized money as he can so he can move to Mars, but maybe that’s just me.)

No; the reason carmakers are pursuing electrics (financed, if I may repeat myself again, by your and my tax dollars) is so they can keep making and selling the cars you actually want to buy.

Like the 707 horsepower Dodge Challenger. OK, just one example.

There are other factors at play in the manufacture of electric cars, some of which I have touched upon before.

First, the most popular car batteries use lithium, mined in such economically advanced and environmentally sensitive countries as Bolivia. It is shipped in Diesel-powered trains to the west coast, loaded onto Bunker-C-propelled ships to China, sent via Diesel-powered trains to the interior where factories produce the batteries which are then put back onto Diesel-powered trains, Bunker-C-propelled ships and Diesel-powered trains and sent to the factory where the batteries are finally fitted to the cars.

Once again, oh, goody.

John McElroy, a respected Detroit-based automotive journalist, has visited the Nissan Leaf electric car assembly plant, and he notes that the batteries for those cars are subjected to up to two weeks of very high temperatures, baking the batteries so they are ready for use.

Do any of those emissions generated to fuel those bake ovens get counted against these vehicles’ EPA numbers? Of course not.

What if we do achieve a significant number of battery-powered vehicles? Where and how do we recharge them?

First, do you have any idea how much gasoline we burn annually in our cars? Neither do I, but rounded to the nearest billion barrels, I’d go with A LOT. And, it is literally cheaper than water at your local self-serve.

Where do we find the amount of electricity needed to replace that much gasoline? Quebec has Manic 5. Ontario has the ancient Niagara Falls generating stations. B.C. has Kitimat. That’s about it for hydroelectric in this country, with no new projects coming along.

Are we going to have any more nuclear generating stations built anywhere near your house in the near or even distant future? Those willing, please raise your hands.

Windmills? That’s a LOT of windmills.

A couple Christmases ago, we had a major ice storm in Toronto. Put the city’s lights out for up to six days. That’s how robust our electrical infrastructure is. Let’s plug 400,000 cars into that every night and see what happens. The city burns to the ground is what happens. It is all a pipe dream.

Also Read: Toyota charging ahead in battery research

The only long-term solution is hydrogen. Solar-powered catalytic crackers in the Indian Ocean turn sea water into hydrogen and oxygen. When you burn hydrogen, you get water. A perfect closed loop.

When we run out of solar power and sea water, we’re all living on Mars with Elon Musk. And he will already have snagged all the prime real estate. Clever, isn’t he?

Now, there is one wild card which might turn this whole game on its head. The U.S. President will likely force all carmakers to only build cars with V8 engines because “ … that’s what we had when Ammurrica was GREAT! …”

Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

electric cars subsidy

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