Arguments for/against Promoting Electric Vehicles

However, back on the hill!

Alan Kohler:
It apparently doesn’t occur to the Minister for Emissions Reduction that subsidising EVs instead of utes might make his task, and that of the Prime Minister, of meeting the new international standard of net-zero emissions by 2050 a bit easier.

But they are the generals fighting the previous political war, which they won while scorching the earth of Australia’s energy policies.

Our ‘tradie Ute’ led recovery is built on the back of imports. The only Aussie content (added value?) is at the sales desk of the local dealership. It’s keeping car dealers and their used sales staff busy clearing the not so old used tradies vehicles.

If only the average consumer could claim a motor vehicle as a tax write off! It could start by allowing it for low emissions vehicles.


For the once automotive capital of the world, the USA? The only question is how the dealers are going to adjust. Especially since EV’s have significantly less maintenance, few moving parts, and greater ability to self diagnose.

Will there be fewer dealers with fewer service and support staff?

General Motors has said it’s aiming to produce only EVs by 2035, with 30 new plug-in models arriving by 2025, marking a $27-billion investment. Ford, which previously committed $22 billion to EV development, just announced that 40% of its vehicles will be electrified by 2030. Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, Hyundai, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and other automakers are making similar pledges.

Assume Australia will follow, belatedly. BEV or FCEV or both!


Without any domestic industry will there be a choice? Excepting accepting dumped old ICE products few other markets will take - and that can only go on for so long… we will get what wins the market.

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This article canvasses some arguments:


Stamp duty is waved on vehicles under $78,000.

The first 25,000 EV’s under $68,000 sold in NSW also get a $3,000 rebate. The rebate will be available for some years based on current sales data.

In 2020 total Australian EV sales excluding Tesla were 1769 vehicles. Tesla sold a market leading 3430 vehicles nation wide. NSW is approx 30% of the Aussie market.

The Tesla Model 3 base version only might just qualify. Plenty of other brands to choose from - supply dependant?


Economists’ arguments:

It’s a kind of electric vehicle :grin: :


What that means in practice:



Arguments for promoting public transport instead.


‘Arguments for promoting public transport’ would be a better description. The author indicates their view is that electric cars should be subsidised ‘as well’, rather than ‘instead’.


Lots of good arguments for:


Looks like the perfect way for all Pizza delivery services to update. Ten times the life of the brakes compared to the average urban stressed delivery vehicle. Green cred to offset the gas in the ovens. Quicker at the lights. All those anti collision safety features. Lower fuel costs and the potential of a future upgrade to a self driving pizza.

Typically vehicles that as an EV have plenty of idle time to recharge including mid morning from cheap solar. Perhaps the waste heat from the battery pack etc can go to cooking the pizza on the way and save on the ovens?

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Perhaps with a Spot robot for the final few metres to your door. Fitted with an arm, of course, so the robot can knock on said door. This is fun, but getting off-topic.


If you have $60,000 to spend on reducing your carbon footprint, I believe it would be a mistake to spend it on an electric vehicle.

I would spend a few hundred dollars on converting your current vehicle(s) to run on biofuels: E85 (that’s 85% ethanol, 15% unleaded petrol) for petrol vehicles, biodiesel for diesel vehicles. That will more-than-remove your vehicle(s) from your carbon footprint, because more carbon is pulled out of the atmosphere in growing the feedstock for the biofuel than is released back when running your vehicle(s).

You could spend another few hundred dollars on a still to produce your own ethanol, or on a backyard biodiesel cooker, especially if you are some distance from a service station that sells E85 or biodiesel.

If you have a diesel vehicle and if you live in an area with coconut palms, intercept some of the coconuts which are de-nutted each year (to protect the public from falling coconuts) and taken to local landfill (where they rot away, releasing methane to the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas between 25 and 85 times more potent than CO₂), and the biodiesel they produce will give you an exhaust that smells like a Thai restaurant.

The $58,000+ you have left over can be used to better insulate your house, especially in places usually neglected like under the floor and in the walls, and in better draft exclusion, and in double- and triple-glazing with low-conductivity window frames (i.e. not aluminium). You can buy heavier drapes and pelmets to further reduce loss of winter warmth and summer cool through your windows.

Then you can install solar panels on your roof, putting in solar hot water while you’re up there, and replace any gas appliances with electrical ones, making sure any air-conditioning/heating is provided by reverse-cycle technology (what these days is often called a heat pump).

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Perhaps you can demonstrate how this reduces our carbon footprint with some solid data.

How much does it reduce it? How much air pollution will be saved compared to having an EV? What will it cost to build the infrastructure to grow and process enough biofuel for us to do this compared with the cost of improved power networks and additional solar/wind generation? If - as before - you can’t answer these questions you are not furthering understanding but holding out hope that cannot be fulfilled.

The example of claimed savings you have given does not address the key issues at all but only distracts from them.

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I moved this aspect of the discussion into this older topic that seems more appropriate for the thought.

I think there are arguments for both sides here. If you have an existing car with a lot of lifespan left, buying a new one has a massive environmental impact in itself. But if you are buying a new car anyway, there’s a solid chance going electric is the best environmental move


It reduces it by whatever component of your carbon footprint is the emissions from your current vehicle(s), and then some – biofuels are better-than-zero-emissions, because more carbon is locked up from the atmosphere in growing the feedstock than is released to the atmosphere in running your vehicle(s).

I assume by “air pollution” you do not mean carbon pollution i.e. greenhouse gases (including those which are not carbon-based, like nitrous oxides) which is covered above, but rather conventional air pollution from particulates and the chemical components of photochemical smog.

While biofuels are undoubtedly better than fossil fuels, EVs are the clear winner here.

A great deal less than it will cost to build all those battery-powered replacement vehicles and the network of charging stations to keep them powered, not to mention the much-more-expensive distribution system needed for compressed hydrogen, if fuel cells are your EV alternative.

The mechanic who converted my ageing Subaru said the cost of the conversion would be more than recovered in extending the life of my existing car, even though it doesn’t have a lot of lifespan left.

He reckoned one of the merits of biofuels, which the fossil-fuel industry is desperate to repress, is that petrol-engined cars run a lot cleaner on ethanol, with substantial savings in maintenance costs in addition to extending the life of the engine.

It has been an interesting diversion from the core topic to consider - should we be promoting something other than electric vehicles?

There is the proposal E85 or high ethanol fuels offer a solution, interim or permanent compared to electric vehicle technology. While both are better than burning gasoline or diesel, the relative merits as fuel differ and are dependent.

The carbon footprint of ethanol depends on the feedstock used. The net energy balance (ratio) varies depending on crop type, location and processing. It can be as low as 1.0 (Aust Sugar cane) to greater than 2.0 times (USA corn). There’s no evidence efficient production of ethanol from crops such as cane sugar, corn, harvested waste biomass, etc sequesters additional carbon. The capture is temporary, based on current best practice of consuming the waste biomass to offset the external inputs required to support production and consumption.

For more on ethanol as a fuel - Ask an expert.

It is possible for a car to have an aftermarket conversion to E85, however in most cases the cost of the conversion, decreased fuel economy, limited availability of E85 and potential longer-term impacts on engine longevity likely outweigh any benefits of the conversion.

In comparison electric vehicles energy conversion and carbon footprints depend on the source of electrical energy and battery life cycle. When sourced from solar PV the carbon footprint of the energy consumed is negligible, the efficiency of energy captured approx 4 times greater than an ICE, and the land use loss negligible compared to cropping for ethanol production.

While EV’s are more expensive for the initial purchase they are cheaper to run compared to an ICE. This includes comparisons to vehicles running less carbon intensive E85 fuel which is more expensive than premium unleaded per litre. The most damaging of the 3 to the environment on a daily basis is a fossil fuel ICE.

Whether EVs should be promoted as an improvement and how/what government is doing correctly or incorrectly to encourage (or discourage) Australians to move on from fossil fuels is germane to this topic.

The discussion about biofuels as a separate issue to vehicles is best done in

A bit about posting from the Guidelines is

We encourage people to take an evidence-based approach to all discussion, which means you must present your source or your reasoning when posting to the Community.

Iteratively restating the same opinion or referencing hearsay on what is at the end of the day a topic based on matters of science and economics is to be avoided whether the restatement is in the same or an allied topic.


We have decided to close this older topic, please continue the discussion about electric vehicles here.