CHOICE membership

Electric and Alternative Vehicle Fuels


Electric vehicles have fewer than ICE, hopefully this is reflected in their reliability. I suppose the industry could always add more bells and whistles to compensate.

“Oh no, the robot drink lifter poured coffee into my nose again! Why are these electric cars so unreliable?”


Or they sell some “batteries not included”. :grinning:


Maybe this is the issue, one expects electric vehicles to have a very high reliability, and when one doesn’t, it becomes a good news story.

But like anything electronic/electronic, all it takes is for a 10c diode, capacitor, wiring harness etc to fail, and it could be all systems down.


“Sylvia , 70, completes round-Australia trip in an EV for …. $150.90”

Great story!
For balance what might have been more useful to know is the actual power drawn from the grid etc used for recharging the vehicle. At 5 km/kWh and more than 20,000 km you would expect around 4,000 kWh or at our local rate of $0.28 per kWh and $1.00 per day service cost the true cost would be over $1,000. Still great compared to petrol.

What perhaps needs to be better explained is that in this instance most of the recharge came from sources that were not charged directly to Silvia for the power. The free EV street charges were paid for by us the tax payer. Good for Silvia that most of us in someway sponsored the trip. That it was done at all is remarkable.

The other item that needs explanation if it is not obvious, is that all of us who pay for fuel for a vehicle, including my lawn mower and tractor, also pay for our highways through fuel taxes. Silvia and all other EV owners benefit from this. Of course this is not sustainable into the future. EV’s impact the roads the same as every other vehicle.

So the headline which makes a point of the low cost misrepresents the facts. It ignores the true cost to the community of the journey. It neglects to headline the extreme value of the sponsorship provided by the community to the journey. Politely this should have been acknowledged second or in third place. Silvia’s intrepid spirit is first in my mind. The endurance of the EV recognising the total distance travelled is a distant second. The unqualified sponsorship of the rest of us in subsidising the cost of the energy and free road use should be third.

The cash cost quoted for the electricity used is not significant. To focus on it may suggest that the saving is more a fraud than a reality and would detract from the remarkable achievement of Silvia and the Tesla. Noted this has prominence in the headline.


The Tesla vehicle is made from aluminium, which requires large amounts of power to refine from alumina, which is derived from bauxite. It will be recycled with a lot less energy, just like a drink can. The main advantage is its zero emissions at the tail pipe , compared to ICE and the existing power network.


Aluminium is a great engineering material if you need to save weight as per aircraft.
For the Tesla this also helps to save weight, which is necessary given the added weight from the battery pack. Unfortunately aluminium has a higher carbon footprint than steel so the Tesla needs to offset both this extra carbon and that of the battery manufacture. Perhaps Elon Musk could have used carbon fibre composite to reduce weight further and claim some carbon credits.

We can recycle both steel and aluminium. Not sure re carbon fibre panels?

The zero tailpipe emissions from the Tesla or any EV are indeed great.
Logically you need to recharge from a renewable such as solar PV.

Charging any EV from the grid, at least in most states in Australia may not be that green. Up to 90% of the electricity in the eastern states come from carbon fuels. Using electricity from the grid may be cheaper than purchasing petrol. It is not necessarily any better environmentally than driving a lighter weight high efficiency petrol ICE powered vehicle.

(Petrol 2.3kg CO2 per litre vs Grid mainly coal generation 0.8kg - 1.1kg CO2 per kWh at source, excluding transmission loss and charging losses)
Note: the grid generation carbon figure is actually a blend of coal, gas, hydro and renewables/storage.


Trust the Russians to make an EV that looks like a Travant.


I’ll wait for the two door fastback hatch version finished in Lotus ‘Carnival Red’.

Eggshell blue is so 50’s bugeye Sprite.


To me, two things are likely to kill fuel cells:

  • inefficiency (the cells themselves are good enough, but the fuel cycle isn’t) and;
  • hydrogen is difficult to manage.

I doubt that an extensive hydrogen infrastructure is feasible. If range anxiety proves justified, then we’re probably better off sticking with liquid bio-fuels. We probably won’t need much and existing infrastructure can handle them.


Most EV’s use lithium storage batteries at present. Hydrogen is just too expensive at present. And most of it comes from reforming hydrocarbon fuels creating byproducts such as CO2 and NOX.

Hydrogen is noted in this example to cost around $14US per kg. It does go further than one litre of petrol. But it’s still much more expensive. As noted there are other reasons technically re manufacture or supply, transport and safe storage that are being worked on. It may still become a viable option for specific types of vehicles and use given the range it can provide.

An alternative to seeking continuing to live the same way but low carbon by upgrading everything, is to change how we use resources and live so that we use less. Low emission vehicles become far more practicable if we redesign them as light weight (eg less than 500kg) short range (10-20km) low speed (up to 40kph) for the school, coffee shop and supermarket runs. And for longer journeys welcome to the world of public transport or Uber-bots all running on renewable technology best suited to each design.

The only people who may seriously be thinking the future of the automobile and everyday transport is a quad electric motor 500kW, 2000kg car are the ancient order of Top Gear fans and the boards of the big car makers whose future relies on us all keeping the great American Car dream alive.


Then again, if you want alternative, this is alternative!

Prototypes will be on the road within two years - of 2011.


At least one would not lose it a poorly light car park at night, as it might have a warm inviting glow.


Lots of arm waving and promises… but I suspect doubtful it will be appearing on the road any time soon.


Maybe the ugly electric motorcycles from the maker of the ugly electric car?


An interesting article on today regarding electric vehicles.


As everyone should know, electric transport is only part of the solution. A lot more has to happen besides (including de-carbonising electricity generation).

As to the author, here’s a typical opinion:
“John Cadogan is a crass, misogynistic clown that uses rhetoric and bombastic language in order to try and further his own brokerage business. He’s widely regarded as a joke in the industry he claims to be an expert in, I actually thought it was satire until I looked into him.”


Perhaps the source might be questionable in that it tends to be very conservative. The facts presented have been properly sourced.

The conclusion that EV’s need to be charged from solar PV or an alternate 100% green source to genuinely deliver low carbon outcomes is spot on.
Politely the article even uses optimistic range calculations for EV’s in the comparisons.

That EV’s have a high carbon manufacturing footprint (17tonnes of CO2 equivalent for a Tesla Battery is one estimate) has also been omitted in any comparison.

This is not an argument against EV’s or the Tesla vehicles, or in favour of staying as we are. It may simply illustrate that we still have a lot further to go to reduce vehicle emissions in any meaningful and economically acceptable way. Do we need to to more and try harder?

P.s. For our two family household of recent retirees we compared the CO2 emissions of our two cars, mowing etc based on 2,750l pa with our annual electricity approx 3,500kW and gas/LPG of 110kg.

Based on living north of the NSW border we are directly responsible for the CO2 emissions of approx 3.4 tonnes from residential power and gas usage.
This is much less than the approx 6.4tonnes produced from transport and other petroleum fuel use.

This will be different for every household. Perhaps more on one side if you have an air conditioned MacMansion in Cairns or more on the other if you commute by car every day from Gosford to Mascott.

I’ll set the maths and data out in a table if there is enough interest?


It depends:
The carbon emissions of driving 10,000 miles:
Average Electric Vehicle 0.96t CO2e *

Average Petrol Car 2.99t CO2e

Average Diesel car 2.88t CO2e

  • vehicle charged from UK mains electricity


All of the sources I’ve seen that make a big deal of such things seem to assume that we’ll dig stuff up, make an EV, then throw it in a hole. The whole process being powered by coal-fired boilers.

As the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, as soon as the vehicle is driven, the picture changes.
“By the end of their lives, gas-powered cars spew out almost twice as much global warming pollution than the equivalent electric car.”

Far from perfect, but not a bad effort.

The most egregiously misleading analyses seem to assume that everything is made from freshly-mined materials, which are thrown away after a single use. If we get our recycling act together, the picture also changes substantially. If the recycling is done with renewable energy - well, you get the idea.

As I said, we need to change a lot - and fast. Concentrating on one small sector and complaining that it doesn’t do everything is a variant of the nirvana fallacy. Fortunately, the changes seem to be happening in spite of troglodyte politicians.


It does depend. I agree. If the same vehicle was recharged from the mains in Queensland today and it is a Tesla model 70d it will use around 200Whr per km mixed usage. For 10,000 UK miles rounded to 16,000km Aussie that needs 3,200kWhrs plus 10% for charging losses plus grid loss. The latest carbon footprint for grid power Qld rounded down is 0.8kg CO2 per kWhr. Do the maths that’s 2.8 tonnes of CO2 real for Australia.

If it was Victoria or NSW where most Aussies live, 40% of us live in just Sydney and Melbourne add another 10% for NSW and 25% for Vic.

Per real life comment from a Tesla owner, Tesla owners club.
“Long distance trips, range mode on I get 260-300 Wh/Mi (depending on how fast I’m going). City traffic is 320-350Wh/mi. I don’t have a city-non-traffic number.”

Being concerned is relevant, being a scientist makes no difference. Unless you are all measuring the same thing.

Climate change is real.
Greenhouse gas emissions from man made sources is fact.
A reduction in the global carbon sink is also due to Civilisation.
Getting the facts right is important.

One of the worse things we can all do is kid ourselves that by paying for an over priced EV and recharging it from the grid we have solved the global crisis. If you can afford a Tesla you also need to invest in a green power source to charge it. No problem. Then you might truely make a difference.


Is today relevant? Today, we have problems. We need to work toward solutions, not pretend that nothing can ever change. To you, the nature of the grid at the present time is evidently a fatal flaw. To me, it just shows other changes that we need to make. Fortunately, necessary changes seem to be happening despite political obstructionism.

Is anyone pretending that? Of the few people I know that have bought EVs, all bought because the vehicles are fun and sexy (which is why the ugly Russians struck me as funny). The environmental thing is nice, but not a primary motivator.

One contact has more than enough solar capacity to do just that. He had it before buying the car. There’s some idea that the battery in the EV might be used as storage for the home power system. It will reduce what’s feeding back into the grid.