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“The Economics Just Don’t Work”: Demand For Electric Semis Plunges Due To High Costs

“The Economics Just Don’t Work”: Demand For Electric Semis Plunges Due To High Costs

For the last year, we’ve been writing extensively about how high costs and low demand have made EVs uneconomical – and, as a result, unpopular to produce – for the auto industry.

It turns out unionized employees extorting you on labor costs while the government mandates you produce a money-losing product isn’t a combination that leads to prosperity and profit. Go figure.

Now, it isn’t just car manufacturers that are balking from the idea of all electric vehicles: the trucking industry, once expected to eventually make the shift to all electric as well, is seeing tepid demand for new rigs, according to a new Wall Street Journal article.

“The economics just don’t work for most companies,” Robert Sanchez, the chief executive of Ryder, said earlier this month.

Ryder’s experience highlights the difficulties state and federal governments encounter in encouraging truckers to transition from polluting diesel rigs to zero-emissions vehicles, the report says.

It also indicates that significant improvements in battery weight, range, and charging times are necessary for battery-electric trucks to effectively compete with diesel rigs in the cost-sensitive freight industry.

Rakesh Aneja, head of eMobility at Daimler Truck North America, told Wall Street Journal: “Quite frankly, demand has not been as strong as what we would like.”

Aneja said orders for its Freightliner eCascadia battery-electric semi truck are about the same this year as they were in 2023.

Battery-electric trucks are about three times more expensive than diesel rigs, the Journal notes. And while federal and state programs help offset purchase costs, significant hurdles remain due to high operating costs and setup challenges.

Truckers find these electric trucks difficult and costly to run, with installation of on-site charging facilities taking years. These trucks travel less than half the distance of diesel rigs per charge and require several hours to recharge.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Unsold Tesla’s Pile Up in Mall Parking Lots, Big Discounts Likely

Tesla is renting parking lots to store thousands of vehicles. This helps explain the mass layoffs.

Tesla Cranking Out Cars, But to Where?

Please consider Tesla’s Storing Unsold Inventory In An Abandoned Mall Parking Lot

Parking lots full of Tesla vehicles are becoming impossible to ignore as the electric automaker seemingly can’t sell enough cars and trucks to match its rate of production. According to its own figures, the electric automaker produced 46,561 more vehicles than it delivered to customers during the first quarter of 2024. Where are all these cars going? Parking lots at its factories, malls and airports.

Recent drone footage from the automaker’s Fremont, California factory shows that cars are still rolling off the assembly lines at a high rate to fill the site’s lots. Things aren’t different on the other side of the Atlantic. Neuhardenberg, a small town in Germany of less than 3,000 residents, is complaining about the noise Tesla transporters are making as the company parks cars at the nearby regional airport.

Spotlight Germany

From the above link …

The residents of Neuhardenberg and the surrounding communities are annoyed by the traffic noise: many trucks loaded with Tesla cars drive across the streets to the airport where the cars are stored. It should continue like this at least until June.

Around Neuhardenberg the rural peace is over: columns of trucks from the Tesla factory in Grünheide thunder across the streets several times an hour. The reason: Since last summer, the nearby regional airport has been used as a parking area for Tesla vehicles.

The contract between Tesla and the airport operator runs until June 2024. It is still unclear whether it will be extended. The people of Neuhardenberg will have to continue to adapt to the trucks.

In Preparation for Next Phase of Growth

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

VW The Latest Automaker To Step Back From All-Electric Plans To Embrace Hybrids

VW The Latest Automaker To Step Back From All-Electric Plans To Embrace Hybrids

Not to be left behind by the rest of the industry, Volkswagen is the latest auto manufacturer to walk back its plans to go all-electric.

The move should come as no surprise to Zero Hedge readers, as we have been writing non-stop about the industry’s shift from BEVs back to a more common sense (and cost efficient) model, hybrids, over the last year.

Volkswagen was once heavily invested in promoting its ID line of electric vehicles as the future, Bloomberg wrote this week. But now it has admitted it needs more plug-in hybrids due to slowing EV sales.

This shift is part of a broader reworking of VW’s electrification plans, following botched model releases and falling behind in China, the report says. The company has abandoned efforts to seek outside investment for its battery unit and canceled plans for a €2 billion EV factory in Germany.

Despite its pivot to electric cars, VW is still selling many combustion engine vehicles and is likely to exceed its emissions allowance next year. CEO Oliver Blume has requested leniency from European regulators, a stark change from VW’s aggressive EV lobbying just three years ago.

VW’s electrification drive was partly a response to the fallout from its diesel emissions scandal, leading to an ambitious plan to launch 75 electric models by 2029. Former CEO Herbert Diess championed this rapid transition, causing friction with industry peers.

While not abandoning EVs, Blume is forming partnerships, like with Xpeng Inc., and preparing a new EV brand in China to attract young consumers. VW is also discussing with Renault SA to develop cheaper EVs for the mass market.

Recall back in April we noted that Ford was “re-timing” its efforts to go all electric and back in February we wrote that GM was shifting to plug-in hybrids, too.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bidenomics At Work: Ford Slashing Battery Orders As Losses Per EV Approach $100,000

Bidenomics At Work: Ford Slashing Battery Orders As Losses Per EV Approach $100,000

Ford is cutting battery orders in yet another sign that the EV market, despite a constant tailwind from the U.S. taxpayer, is starting to slow.

The company is cutting the orders to curb electric-vehicle losses as it scales back its EV strategy in a slowing plug-in market, according to insiders who spoke to Bloomberg.

Ford CEO Jim Farley has said the company’s EV unit “is the main drag on the whole company right now” and CAT said its “cooperation with Ford is moving forward as normal”.

The company responded by saying it wouldn’t comment on relationships with suppliers.

Bloomberg notes that with plummeting EV prices and weakening demand, Ford’s losses per electric vehicle exceeded $100,000 in the first quarter, doubling last year’s deficit.

Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that Ford’s projected EV unit losses this year will nearly offset profits from its Ford Blue division, which produces traditional internal combustion engine vehicles like the Bronco SUV and gas-electric hybrids such as the Maverick truck.

BI analysts said of the results: “That raises questions about the prudence of investing heavily in EVs.”

Ford’s order reductions highlight industry challenges as U.S. automakers face weaker-than-expected EV demand and battery makers in South Korea, China, and beyond struggle with unsold inventory.

This has affected prices for key metals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel, leading to multiyear lows and stalling new projects. Ford has reduced EV production costs but had to cut prices to stay competitive with Tesla.

Ford CFO John Lawler said in April: “We’ve seen prices coming down quite dramatically and that’s why we haven’t been able to keep up from a cost reduction standpoint.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Biden Wants EVs so Badly That He Will Quadruple Tariffs on Them

Astute readers will immediately notice the title of this post makes no sense. It’s not supposed to. But it is exactly what President Biden is doing.

Biden to Quadruple Tariffs on Chinese EVs

Counter to the idea that quick EV adoption is needed to save the planet from a climate disaster, please note Biden to Quadruple Tariffs on Chinese EVs

The Biden administration is preparing to raise tariffs on clean-energy goods from China in the coming days, with the levy on Chinese electric vehicles set to roughly quadruple, according to people familiar with the matter.

Higher tariffs, which Biden administration officials are preparing to announce on Tuesday, will also hit critical minerals, solar goods and batteries sourced from China, according to the people. The decision comes at the end of a yearslong review of tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on roughly $300 billion in goods from China.

Officials are particularly focused on electric vehicles, and they are expected to raise the tariff rate to roughly 100% from 25%, according to the people. An additional 2.5% duty applies to all automobiles imported into the U.S. The existing 25% tariff on Chinese electric vehicles has so far effectively barred those models, often cheaper than Western-made cars, from the U.S. market. Biden administration officials, automakers and some lawmakers worry that wouldn’t be enough given the scale of Chinese manufacturing.

Conflicting Goals

We need EVs so badly that we also need a 100% tariff to stop them. That makes no sense but it is the precise message.

Stated differently, we don’t want EVs unless people are willing to pay 100% more for them. And this is despite the claim that the world as we know it will end in 12 years if we don’t act on them.

World Will End in 12 Years 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pritzker doubles down with $827 million of taxpayer money for expansion by troubled electric vehicle maker, Rivian – Wirepoints

At $1.5 million per job, this new incentive package from the state is at least 15 times the norm. For this much money, the state could have just handed out a million bucks to 827 people, instead of creating 550 jobs.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that the State of Illinois will provide an $827 million incentive package for Rivian to invest $1.5 billion to expand its electric vehicle factory in Normal, Illinois. The expansion is expected to create at least 550 full-time jobs within the next five years, and will build Rivian’s next model EV, the R2. Rivian initially got $49.5 million under Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2017 to create 1,000 jobs at the same location.

The new deal gives $1.5 million per job created, which is astronomical in the world of location incentives. Estimated average location incentives paid by state and local governments around the nation range from $13,000 to $84,000 per job, though sometimes go as high as $100,000 per job for capital intensive projects. Even using that high end, Rivian’s package will be 15 times what’s typical.

Moreover, Rivian is on shaky wheels, along with the rest of the U.S. EV industry. Rivian loses over $43,000 for every vehicle it sells and has had two rounds of layoffs this year. The decision to move its R2 production to Illinois is a further reflection of the company’s need to preserve cash. R2 production was initially planned for a new $5 billion plant in Georgia, heavily subsidized by the state. But Rivian concluded that moving production to the existing Illinois facility would save cash.

Its stock price has consequently been hammered. It reached a high of $172 per share in 2021 but now trades at less than $10 per share.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another Round of Mass Firings at Tesla, Sales Must Be Imploding

Tesla announced yet another round of layoffs today. News came in the typical way, an email starting “Hello Employee”. It seems “Hello Ex-Employee” would be more fitting.

Another 10,000 Employees

Don’t worry, it’s just another 10,000 employees.

Almost Like Vaporware

Clearly this is 4-D chess … in an attempt to hide the vaporware.

Cash Constraints

 

It think it’s order constraints. Orders are crashing.

Question of the Day: 10% or 20%?

Electrek reports Tesla (TSLA) launches another round of layoffs

Three weeks ago, Tesla started a significant wave of layoffs. The automaker announced it was laying off about 10% of its workforce. However, we reported prior to the announcement that the layoffs could be closer to 20% of the workforce once everything is said and done.

Sure enough, Tesla had another significant wave of layoffs last week.Now, we hear of yet another round of layoffs at Tesla.Several sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that workers across several departments, including software, service, and engineering, have received the dreaded “employment level” email between Friday and Sunday.

 

The layoffs were expected after CEO Elon Musk made an example of Rebecca Tinucci, Tesla’s former head of charging, and her entire team by firing everyone last week. After the move, he emailed other executives and told them that they would also be let go if they don’t let go higher percentages of their teams.

Balls to the Walls for Autonomous Driving

“Not quite betting the company, but going balls to the wall for autonomy is a blindingly obvious move.”

That’s an admission Tesla will give up on the entry-level market after promising for decades he would make one.

Preparation for Growth

On April 15, I noted Elon Musk Fires 10 Percent of Tesla Workforce, Prepares for “Next Phase of Growth”

Preparing for Growth

…click on the above

Notes from the edge of civilization: Apr. 28, 2024

Notes from the edge of civilization: Apr. 28, 2024

No one wants EVs, but governments keep subsidizing them; Canada’s economy is being zombified; Education — higher and otherwise — is still woke, but not awake; and, cursive as cure.

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING: Even Ford’s own marketing materials admit that EVs are a product “drivers really want… but just don’t know it yet.”

Last week Ford announced its electric vehicle (EV) division, known as Model e, lost $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2024. That translates to a loss of $132,000 per vehicle for the 10,000 units the company managed to sell. Ford anticipates the losses will continue to mount for the rest of the year, with a projected annual loss of $5 billion.

Image

The world’s largest EV maker, Tesla, is also hemorrhaging profits. The company’s adjusted earnings for the first quarter fell by 48%, underperforming even the lowered expectations set by most Wall Street analysts.

But governments are still pouring in massive amounts of taxpayer dollars to subsidize a product that consumers don’t want to buy.

On Thursday, Canada announced a $5 billion corporate welfare package for Honda to build an EV battery plant and manufacture EVs in Ontario. When Justin Trudeau released a video about the new deal on X over the weekend, the comments were not kind:

DeTocqueville14: You bribing Honda with money stolen from taxpayers isn’t them betting on you.

govt_corrupt: Justin Trudeau bribes Honda. Buys 1k jobs for $5B and bets on an industry with declining sales and rising inventories. Govt ‘investing’ at its finest…

jpkiekens: 5 million $ per job subsidy for an industry plagued with a huge oversupply of vehicles and with insufficient electric energy supply in most provinces. Bravo. It’s genuine theatre. But a very bad play.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Copper Supply Shortage Is Here

The Copper Supply Shortage Is Here

With the AI boom and green energy push fueling fresh copper demand, and with copper mines aging and not enough projects to match demand with supply, the forecasted copper shortage has finally arrived in earnest. Coupled with persistently high inflation in the US, EU, and elsewhere, I predict the industrial metal will surpass its 2022 top to reach a new all-time high this year:

Copper vs USD, 5-Year Graph:

The AI boom is stoking the need for more data centers, which will require around a million metric tons of copper by 2030. Meanwhile, this year’s deficit of 35,000 tons is expected to rocket up to a staggering 100,000 tons in 2025.

Electric car batteries and EV charging stations also depend on copper, adding to the problem of there not being enough activity at existing mines, or the development of new ones, to satisfy the industrial need. Says Bank of America analyst Michael Widmer:

“The much-discussed lack of mine projects is becoming an increasing issue for copper.”

While many mainstream forecasts depend on a solid economic rebound to keep demand for copper up, inflation is here to stay, especially as the Fed is likely going to be forced to cut interest rates at some point this year. Even with just one 2024 rate cut instead of the three that markets originally expected, higher USD prices for copper and other commodities like gold are on the way. Out-of-control inflation will drive prices higher even if the oomph gets sucked out of the AI bubble, or we see other signs of an economic “hard landing.” As Peter Schiff said last month,

“I think we’re on the verge of the biggest bull market in commodities since the 1970s…They’re cutting rates because they have to avoid a financial crisis — a banking crisis.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Off-Road vehicles & equipment need diesel fuel

Off-Road vehicles & equipment need diesel fuel

Preface. Move over semi-trucks. You are not the most important truck in the world, even though I gave you the starring role in “When Trucks Stop Running”.  What really matters are the trucks that grow our fuel: Food.

And mining trucks to get materials to make trucks, logging for fuel and infrastructure, tanks to fight wars (ugh!) and many others.

This post is mainly about off-road trucks, which are as essential for civilization as the trucks hauling goods over roads.  This post is also about how amazing diesel and diesel engines are.  Off-road trucks and equipment present an even larger challenge than on-road trucks to electrification because they are often far from the grid.  Though anything other than a drop-in fuel faces the same problem: a completely new distribution system would be required for hydrogen and other alternatives.

Retrofitting off-road trucks with some other kind of propulsion than diesel is also hard since each kind of truck or equipment is custom made for a specific purpose, they aren’t mass-produced like cars. This makes it hard to transfer technology because it costs a great deal more to custom-build and modify.

Whatever energy source is used to move 40 ton trucks uphill has to be quite powerful, and with diesel second only to uranium in energy density, the alternative may only exist in another universe with different physical laws.

***

DTF. June 2003. Diesel-Powered Machines and Equipment: Essential Uses, Economic Importance and Environmental Performance. Diesel Technology Forum.

Excerpts:

The diesel engine is the backbone of the global economy because it is the most efficient internal combustion engine – producing more power and using less fuel than other engines.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXXIV–To EV Or Not To EV? One Of Many Questions Regarding Our ‘Clean/Green’ Utopian Future, Part 2.


Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXXIV

Knossos, Greece (1988). Photo by author.

To EV Or Not To EV? One Of Many Questions Regarding Our ‘Clean/Green’ Utopian Future, Part 2.

In Part 1 of this two-part Contemplation I argue that the recent trumpeting of electric vehicle (EV) car sales as a prologue to their imminent mass adoption and possibly ‘saving of the world’ from our errant carbon emission ways is more a projection of hope than reflective of realities behind some rather opaque curtains. This growth may continue as cheerleaders hope — at least for a bit longer, and thus appearing to support their assertions — but there exist some relatively strong headwinds suggesting it will not. Time of course will tell…

In attempting to peer behind or through the curtains one must consider: the pattern of previous technology bubbles created by intense mass marketing and purchases by early adopters; the evidence for the manipulation of sales growth statistics feeding into the narrative of widespread and growing adoption; and, the need for current growth to continue in light of resource constraints, a lack of infrastructure supports, government subsidy withdrawals, inflation impacts, and the cost concerns of purchasers (see this recent Bloomberg news article that highlights the international car rental agency Hertz Global Holdings unloading 20,000 EVs (about 1/3 of its U.S. EV fleet) due to higher repair costs, low demand, and reinvesting some of the sales dollars into ICE vehicles).

There is also growing skepticism towards the most marketed aspect of EVs: they are significantly better for the planet’s environment and ecological systems[1]. One needs to step well outside the Overton Window created by the marketing propaganda of retailers (and regurgitated by much mainstream media and most politicians) to gain a more balanced view of this widespread assertion. And this is where I begin this Contemplation…


Carbon tunnel vision has created a widely-accepted narrative where the most dominant and for many the only impact of concern surrounding transportation vehicles seems to be what exits the tailpipe of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle and does not for an EV. This creates a very narrow, keyhole perspective that ignores the embodied energy and a wide variety of ecologically-destructive, hydrocarbon-based industrial processes that are necessary for the production, maintenance, and eventual reclamation/disposal of both types of vehicles.

As I point out in Part 1 of my series of Contemplations on carbon tunnel vision and energy blindness:
“…the following graphic demonstrates (with respect to particular aspects of the issue of ‘sustainability’) this tendency to narrow our perspective can prevent the acknowledgement of so many other aspects of our world — and the graphic only includes some of the many others that could be considered, such as land-system change and biogeochemical flows. Perhaps most relevant is that this tunnel vision keeps many from recognising that humans exist within a world of complex systems that are intertwined and connected in nonlinear ways that the human brain cannot fathom easily, if at all.

[See an expanded version that includes more variables we’re mostly blind to below]

My own bias leads me to the belief that this hyper-focus on carbon emissions is leading many well-intentioned people to overlook the argument that atmospheric overloading is but one symptom predicament of our overarching predicament of ecological overshoot. As a result, they miss all the other symptom predicaments (e.g., biodiversity loss, resource depletion, soil degradation, geopolitical conflicts, etc.) of this overshoot and consequently advocate for ‘solutions’ that are, in fact, exacerbating our situation.

This rather narrowed perspective tends to be along the lines that if we can curtail/eliminate carbon emissions — usually through a shift in our technology to supposed ‘carbon-free’ ones — then we can avoid the negative repercussions that accompany the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, most prominently climate change. For many this is the only (or, at least, the most prominent) issue that needs to be addressed to ensure our species’ transition to a ‘sustainable’ way of living.

So, let’s try for a moment to open up this rather narrow keyhole and take in a wider perspective. Let’s look at how some of the other significant planetary boundaries are being broached.

When one opens the keyhole wider, the concern with carbon emissions/climate change may be seen as an outsized one in comparison to boundaries that appear to have been more significantly broached, such as: novel entities, biosphere integrity, land-system change, biogeochemical flows, and fresh water change.

This is not to say that the boundary of climate change is not important, it’s to try to better understand why a hyper-focus on carbon emissions is problematic: it’s one of several tipping points that need our attention, and not even the worst. The most pressing areas that we appear to have overshot beyond climate change include:
· Biogeochemical flows: agriculture and industry have increased significantly the flow of phosphorous and nitrogen into ecological systems and overloaded natural sinks (e.g., atmosphere and oceans)
· Novel entities: geologically-novel (i.e., human-made) substances that can have large-scale impacts upon Earth system processes (e.g., chemicals, plastics, etc.) have grown exponentially, even to the point of some existing in all global water supplies
· Biosphere integrity: human demand for food, water, and natural resources are decimating ecosystems (clearing land for mining and agriculture, for example, may have the worst impacts)
· Freshwater change: global groundwater levels in particular have been significantly altered by human activity and expansion (especially our drawdown of aquifers that exceed significantly their replenishment)
· Land-system change: human conversion of land systems (e.g., solar farms, agriculture, etc.) has impacts upon several of the other boundaries (i.e., biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows, freshwater change) and the significantly important hydrological cycle

Azote for Stockholm Resilience Centre, based on analysis in Wang-Erlandsson et al 2022.

Carbon tunnel vision tends to help minimise, or at worst, ignore these other predicaments of our ecological overshoot. In fact, what I sense and what some of my conversations did suggest is that the issue of ecological overshoot itself is completely off the radar for these commenters. One, in fact, admitted he had never read Catton’s book on the subject but in ‘skimming over’ the summary notes I sent a link for he simply saw “a bunch of vague assertions…didn’t learn anything…probably heading towards a hard wall…”. He then added for effect: “I don’t see any solutions from you. I do see almost entirely your focus on smearing renewables with the exact same material the Deniers and carbon pollution people do. Exactly the same.””

Leaving aside the competing narratives regarding whether or not carbon emissions are in reality greatly reduced through the production and use of EVs[2] — perhaps mostly due to the source fuel for creating much of the world’s electricity that is necessary for powering EVs (hint: it’s hydrocarbons[3]) — for most critics of EVs the dominant issue is the massive mining that is required for the materials to construct the battery components for the storage of energy to run EVs[4].

Proponents of EVs tend to ignore the significantly destructive mining that is necessary and/or rationalise it away by arguing that mining can be carried out in a more environmentally-friendly manner[5], can be avoided through recycling[6], and/or future technological breakthroughs will drastically reduce its impact[7]. An example of this type of thinking is shared in a discussion at the end of this Contemplation.

Regardless of such hopefulness about future possibilities, mining is currently one of the most ecologically-destructive industrial processes performed by humans[8], and a lot must be carried out for the finite battery minerals necessary to store the electrical power required to run EVs[9] — to say little regarding all of the finite hydrocarbon inputs needed to carry this out[10] and the negative societal impacts that arise in areas where much of this mining takes place[11]. All of this potential additional mining has raised growing concerns about the ecological systems impacts of supposed ‘clean-energy’ vehicles[12], and in fact this is true for all non-renewable, renewable energy-based technologies (NRREBTs) that have been marketed as ‘green’ and ‘clean’.

Then there’s also how EVs will worsen plastic pollution in our ecological systems[13]. For a variety of reasons, but especially because they are heavier due to the weight of battery packs, the industry has increased significantly the use of plastic components in EVs[14]. Plastics, of course, are derived from petrochemicals. This graphic depicts the vast array of plastic components that help to create an EV. It is estimated that close to 50% of an EV’s volume is composed of plastic.

These hydrocarbon-based components are integral to the production of EVs and the industry argues that it is through the continued and expanded use of these hydrocarbon-based products that EVs will become even more efficient. (Note that the plasticisation of ICE vehicles has also been occurring[15] in an effort to reduce vehicle weight, avoid corrosion, and reduce costs).

Add on top of this aspect that it has been determined that car tire and brake wear of all types of transportation vehicles are the primary cause of microplastic pollution[16]. Since EVs tend to be much heavier than ICE vehicles (due to their battery packs), the wear on these components is increased[17] leading to substantially increased microplastic pollution with EVs compared to ICE vehicles.

This particular petrochemical-based, plastic-pollution aspect is one that is rarely discussed and awareness of it needs to be raised since it appears our broaching of this specific planetary boundary (novel entities) is one of our most problematic (see graphic above), yet greatly ignored[18] — particularly when it comes to evaluating the ecological impact of EVs. EV advocates are quick to counter such issues with a reminder that it’s carbon emissions that is the most significant and/or only problem to be dealt with (e.g., don’t condemn the good looking for the perfect), minimising the harm caused by other aspects — a clear reflection of the carbon tunnel vision problem summarised above.

Further, as the curtain gets drawn aside with regard to the recycling industry and the myths that have surrounded it[19], it has become apparent that: only a portion of products actually get recycled, with a lot impossible to recycle and ending up in landfills; it requires large amounts of energy, perhaps not as much as the original product production but certainly not zero and in some cases more (and then there’s Jevon’s Paradox regarding how ‘efficiency’ savings are negated via increased demands); and, depending on what is being recycled and the processing necessary, there is much in the way of toxic pollutants created.

So, the argument that EVs and all or most of their components can be recycled and thus mining for its production can be significantly minimised falls far, far short of reality — to say little about the second law of thermodynamics and the related concept of entropy. And this is as true for ICE vehicles as it is for EVs; some of the components can be recycled (with associated ‘costs’) but much cannot — and this is particularly true for the hydrocarbon-derived, plastic components[20].

Despite narratives to the contrary, replacing billions of ICE vehicles with EVs will require significant quantities of hydrocarbon extraction, processing, and burning; the opposite of what EV cheerleaders argue is the primary reason for transitioning to them — to say little about all the hydrocarbons necessary to build and maintain/resurface the roadways these vehicles tend to travel upon, be they asphalt or gravel. Often, EV enthusiasts will counter this reality with arguments that the goal is to reduce the number of vehicles (particularly if they are ICE-based) on the road at the same time, thus mitigating the replacement problem.

This is not happening, however. The world is adding more and more vehicles every year[21], and the vast majority are ICE vehicles. EVs are, despite the ‘replacement-theory marketing hype’, becoming additive to our globe’s vehicles, not replacing the ICE fleet. Not surprisingly, this is exactly the same pattern with non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) such as solar panels and wind turbines — they are adding to our energy production, not replacing any of the hydrocarbon-based energy production they are supposedly meant to supplant[22].

In fact, as energy analyst/petroleum geologist Art Berman argues in this article localities that have taken up large number of EVs (e.g., Norway, where 23% of their fleet was composed of EVs in 2022) have witnessed little to no impact on their overall hydrocarbon consumption. Despite repeated assertions that hydrocarbon demand will drop with the adoption of EVs, the data indicates this is simply false. Berman’s conclusion: “If you like EVs, you should buy one but the data don’t support that driving one will do anything to save the planet.”

It’s perhaps important at this juncture to recall the opening passage from an article authored by Dr. Bill Rees and Meigan Siebert critical of the entire mainstream energy transition narrative:

“We begin with a reminder that humans are storytellers by nature. We socially construct complex sets of facts, beliefs, and values that guide how we operate in the world. Indeed, humans act out of their socially constructed narratives as if they were real. All political ideologies, religious doctrines, economic paradigms, cultural narratives — even scientific theories — are socially constructed “stories” that may or may not accurately reflect any aspect of reality they purport to represent. Once a particular construct has taken hold, its adherents are likely to treat it more seriously than opposing evidence from an alternate conceptual framework.”

The construct that EVs are ‘green/clean’ and an important component of a global energy transition has been with us for the past couple of decades. It took a strong foothold as earlier emissions standards for an array of pollutants from vehicles and industry, as well as greater fuel efficiency, drove research[23] and subsequent narratives. With the realisation that there were technological limits to fuel efficiency improvements, it was suggested that the most ‘efficient’ engine would be the one that didn’t require traditional hydrocarbon fuel due to energy storage batteries as the ‘fuel’. An added ‘benefit’ would be the elimination of exhaust emissions (ignoring, of course, all the emissions created in the manufacture of the batteries, and/or the electricity to charge them). Thus, through the magic of mass marketing, was born the story that EVs were ‘clean’ and ‘green’.

There has been a concerted effort to spread this notion of EV ‘cleanliness’ far and wide, especially trumpeting the lack of tailpipe emissions. A majority of the ‘positive-outlook’ articles that arose in the wake of this have been from publications that are heavily slanted towards encouraging NRREBTs and/or the financing of/investing in them. These are, for the most part, individuals/businesses significantly ‘invested’ in seeing the rapid and widespread adoption of EVs and other ‘green/clean’ technologies. Their rhetoric is purposely slanted towards placing EVs in a positive light and then leveraging that perspective towards purchasers who may wish to ‘do the right thing’ where ‘the right thing’ is buying an NRREBT such as an EV.

This is Marketing 101: grow business revenue through the expansion of market share by getting the product front and centre for potential customers, particularly via the highlighting of features and/or benefits[24]. And when multiple billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars are up for grabs, multiple millions (perhaps billions) will be ‘invested’ in managing/guiding the narrative via all sorts of avenues — to say little about the mainstream media’s dependence upon funding in the way of advertising dollars, regardless of the ‘accuracy’ of what is being marketed via their product.

The massive and significant marketing propaganda we are constantly exposed to[25] about EVs and their ‘great-for-the-planet’ attributes have convinced a lot of people. The majority of these accept without question the positive aspects highlighted in commercial advertising or preached by EV cheerleaders. The illusory truth effect explains a lot of the power of this propaganda/advertising on beliefs: repeated exposure to information regardless of its validity/reliability comes to be perceived as truthful, primarily because familiarity overpowers rationality. This is why many hundreds of billions (perhaps trillions when one includes ‘public relations’ work/agencies/departments for corporations and governments) of dollars are ‘invested’ annually in advertising and narrative management — it works to impact belief systems and thus behaviour[26].

I would argue that consumers are additionally more prone to such narratives to help alleviate and/or reduce the cognitive dissonance that arises from a growing awareness that industrial civilisation is unsustainable and destructive to ecological systems (i.e., infinite growth — that we are continuing to pursue/experience — is impossible on a finite planet and has significant negative repercussions) yet wishing to also believe that human ingenuity and our technological prowess can overcome and ‘solve’ the predicament of human ecological overshoot and/or its symptom predicaments (e.g., biodiversity loss, resource depletion/scarcity, etc.)[27].

A part of me additionally believes that the narrative that EVs can be part of some grand ‘solution’ to our ecological overshoot predicament and its various symptom predicaments is the mind’s attempt to not only reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts but cling to the notion that we all have agency in/control over a very uncertain future[28]. We story-telling apes are creating tales to support such belief systems and reduce our anxiety. Perhaps buying an EV is subsequently not really about addressing environmental concerns; it’s about telling ourselves a comforting tale and engaging in some virtue-signalling to others to help us maintain our self-image as thoughtful, caring beings with agency over our future[29].

Personally, I view technocornucopian perspectives as delusional in a world of significant human ecological overshoot where the surplus energy to continue pursuing growth and such complex technologies is quickly disappearing[30] (if not already exhausted). We have for some time been pulling growth from the future via financial/monetary machinations and supported by geo/political gamesmanship (i.e., wars over resources and market control)[31].

That governments are not only complicit but encouraging the deception about EVs and NRREBTs being ‘green’ perhaps says a lot about their stake in the narrative. And what is a government’s incentive? Aside from the need in a debt-/credit-based economic system to chase perpetual growth to avoid ‘collapse’, this may be just another racket being perpetrated on the masses as U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler suggested war is.

For myself, I tend to gravitate towards the entire energy transition narrative (of which EVs are but one component) being another in a wide array of profiteering rackets, leveraging the growing evidence and recognition that Homo sapiens are having a profoundly negative impact on the planet’s ecological systems. And those that are benefitting from this story will disseminate and protect it vociferously. Others, well, they’re caught up in the narrative/propaganda.

Given the Ponzi-type nature of our monetary/financial/economic systems, geopolitical stressors, resource constraints, and ecological concerns, one has to wonder just how far and how long the uptake of these NRREBTs can or will continue. In fact, some are arguing that the wheels have already fallen off with increasing numbers of planned projects being paused/cancelled[32]. And despite all the marketing and shouting from rooftops that the EV market is exploding, the sheen appears to be coming off the EV narrative.

Michael Shedlock begins this article with: “The market for used EVs is plummeting. What will car rental companies do with the used ones? Problems started in China but have spread to Europe and the US.” Citing a Bloomberg article, he highlights that “A subsidy-fueled boom helped build China into an electric-car giant but left weed-infested lots across the nation brimming with unwanted battery-powered vehicles.”

In this article economist Stephen Moore is quoted as stating: “The Edsel was one of the great flops of all time. I’m here to tell you, if these trends continue, we’re going to see the EV market become the next big flop because car buyers don’t want them.”

Let’s dispense with the binary narrative that is often on display and be perfectly clear and honest for a moment. Both EVs and ICE vehicles — along with all the infrastructure supports necessary for their production and use — are detrimental to our significantly important ecological systems. The continuing production and use of one, the other, or both simply exacerbates the human ecological overshoot predicament.

Once again, while the future cannot be predicted with much accuracy, the current reality is much, much different than the bargaining being carried out by those wishing to see a shift from ICE vehicles to EVs — particularly given that the environmental advantages cheerleaders crow on about are mostly founded upon as-yet-to-be-hatched-technologically-improved-and-massively-scaled-up chickens. These potential breakthroughs/improvements may or may not come to fruition. Most likely they will not make it much beyond a research lab or marginal prototype use, and believing otherwise is akin to faith/hope/wishful thinking; it is certainly not reflective of current realities.

We are being convinced by growth profiteers and their narrative managers that ‘smart’ or ‘green’ or the ridiculously oxymoronic notion of ‘sustainable’ growth is the way to maintain ‘progress’ and that human ingenuity, especially where technology is concerned, will extricate us from any and all issues we encounter along this inevitable path. We are not abiding by the precautionary principle and erring on the side of caution, however; not even close. We are travelling full-steam ahead and creating rationalisations/justifications in our story-telling manner to make us feel good about our suicidal behaviour and actions, thereby reducing our cognitive dissonance.

Without a significant, and likely expedient, reduction of both types of vehicles (that we are very unlikely to do voluntarily), there is little point in bargaining ploys to keep the status quo from continuing for as long as possible which seems to be what the narrative around an energy ‘transition’ and the adoption of NRREBTs is.

I had written a suggestive path forward on this issue that might provide some mitigation by avoiding the exacerbation of our destructive tendencies but in reflection see little point in sharing it. Given the human proclivity to pursue the business-as-usual scenario painted by Meadow’s et al. in The Limits to Growth over the past handful of decades[33], I’m certain any guideline would not be pursued and it would simply be cathartic for me.

While most want ‘solutions’ to our overshoot predicament, this demonstrates a weak understanding of not only what a predicament is (it has no ‘solution’) but also displays energy/resource blindness and denial of the ongoing ecological systems destruction that accompanies all complex technological ‘solutions’. The best mitigation any of us can pursue is a dramatic reduction in our consumptive and excessive tendencies.

The best vehicle in terms of reducing damage to our planet is the one not produced, regardless of type. If reducing one’s dependency upon and/or use of a well-maintained ICE vehicle can help to prevent the production of a new vehicle (of either type), then the negative ecological systems damage that accompanies the creation of transportation vehicles is reduced dramatically. Reducing dependence upon and/or use of an ICE vehicle (to zero if at all possible) will likely go much further than purchasing an EV.

You are not a progressive steward of the environment with your purchase or heralding of an EV (or related NRREBTs). That is a narrative we story-telling apes have weaved in order to avoid reality and reduce our anxieties, engaging in denial and massive magical thinking/bargaining along the way. As I’ve said numerous times, we are an intelligent species just not very wise.

The bottom line is as I commented on a recent FB post regarding supposed misinformation about EV battery ‘facts’: Substituting one resource-intensive and complex (and thus environmentally destructive) technology for another fully and completely overlooks humanity’s fundamental predicament of ecological overshoot, and is more about reducing one’s cognitive dissonance than anything else.


[H/T Schuyler Hupp]

A handful of other ecological variables that could be added: land system changes, resource depletion, food scarcity, biosphere integrity, climate change, novel entities, stratospheric ozone depletion. Then add on top of this massive ecological complexity all the socioeconomic and sociopolitical systems that Homo sapiens have created that exacerbate our ecological overshoot.


Here is the discussion that I referred to above that demonstrates the magical thinking some engage in regarding the energy transition being touted by many. It was in response to this posted article.

Me: It would seem we need to destroy our ecological systems to save them…hmmmmmm.

UB: I am always in favor of creative disruption. It is the very concept of “Seneca Cliff,” normally followed by a “Seneca Rebound”

D: With a sad caveat the Good Doctor has pointed at: it must be not that much fun to be creatively disrupted 😉

Me: The one aspect of this energy ‘transition’ that seems to be invariably left out of the equation is the massive and significant destruction that would and is being wrought on the planet (and a planet with already very overloaded sinks). The scale of the mining and processing that is being considered (and requiring a gargantuan pulse of fossil fuel extraction and burning) would surely put us over (if it hasn’t already) any tipping point from which our planet could recover from (let alone Homo sapiens survive, or many other species for that matter). I’ve not seen anywhere a detailed consideration or analysis of this particular perspective; except to mostly dismiss it via omission of the issue.

E: Sorry Steve Bull — but mining for the energy transition will NOT destroy the biosphere. The “Energy Transitions Commission” is a huge global think tank. They estimated the entire energy cost to mine and build the entire Energy Transition over the next decades. The total thing will release about 4.5 to 9 months of today’s global annual emissions. Once. Fossil fuel emissions will have stopped forever. (Figures here — but I converted to months equivalent CO2 emissions for ease of comparison.)

https://www.energy-transitions.org/new-report-scale-up-of-critical-materials-and-resources-required-for-energy-transition/

But it will create too much mining?

From the link above: “Between 2022–2050, the energy transition could require the production of 6.5 billion tonnes of end-use materials, 95% of which would be steel, copper and aluminium which the energy transition will require,”

Again — fossil fuels are 14 billion tons EVERY year.

What about all the raw rock and ore crunched to extract all those metals? It’s still not as bad as fossil fuels. https://www.sustainabilitybynumbers.com/p/energy-transition-materials

Me: We will have to agree to disagree.

Sure, a ‘think tank’ composed of people with very vested (financial) interests and focused on economic growth is guaranteed to be providing objective opinions based on very sound research and models.

It’s a great (cognitive dissonance-reducing) narrative but given how far into ecological overshoot the human species has travelled, whether it is death by a 1000 cuts or 999 or even 900 is truly moot. Both are ultimately suicidal when sustaining ‘growth’ is the fundamental driver (even if it’s not, maintaining the status quo is equally problematic given the amount of resource drawdown it requires).

The most appropriate path would be to attempt to reduce (significantly) all our complex technologies (along with other things like population) rather than attempt to carry on with business as usual via non-renewable, renewable energy-based industrial products.


If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website or the link below — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers).

Attempting a new payment system as I am contemplating shutting down my site in the future (given the ever-increasing costs to keep it running).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the 3 books individually or the trilogy, please try the link below indicating which book(s) you are purchasing.

Costs (Canadian dollars):
Book 1: $2.99
Book 2: $3.89
Book 3: $3.89
Trilogy: $9.99

Feel free to throw in a ‘tip’ on top of the base cost if you wish; perhaps by paying in U.S. dollars instead of Canadian. Every few cents/dollars helps…

https://paypal.me/olduvaitrilogy?country.x=CA&locale.x=en_US

If you do not hear from me within 48 hours or you are having trouble with the system, please email me: olduvaitrilogy@gmail.com.

You can also find a variety of resources, particularly my summary notes for a handful of texts, especially Catton’s Overshoot and Tainter’s Collapse: see here.


It Bears Repeating: Best Of…Volume 1

A compilation of writers focused on the nexus of limits to growth, energy, and ecological overshoot.

With a Foreword and Afterword by Michael Dowd, authors include: Max Wilbert; Tim Watkins; Mike Stasse; Dr. Bill Rees; Dr. Tim Morgan; Rob Mielcarski; Dr. Simon Michaux; Erik Michaels; Just Collapse’s Tristan Sykes & Dr. Kate Booth; Kevin Hester; Alice Friedemann; David Casey; and, Steve Bull.

The document is not a guided narrative towards a singular or overarching message; except, perhaps, that we are in a predicament of our own making with a far more chaotic future ahead of us than most imagine–and most certainly than what mainstream media/politics would have us believe.

Click here to access the document as a PDF file, free to download.


[1] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[2] See this, this, this, this and/or this.

[3] See this.

[4] See this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[5] See this, this, this, and/or this;.

[6] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[7] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[8] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[9] See this, this, and/or this.

[10] See this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[11] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[12] See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[13] See this.

[14] See this and/or this.

[15] See this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[16] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[17] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[18] See this, this, and/or this.

[19] See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[20] See this, this, this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[21] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[22] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[23] See this.

[24] See this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[25] It’s hilarious, in a very sad way, that the advertisements that flood my Facebook feed are almost entirely focused upon non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies (e.g., wind turbines, solar panels) and electric vehicles. This is perhaps because I occasionally comment on these posts. What the FB algorithms seem to be missing, however, is that my comments are quite critical of the assertions being made in the ads.

[26] See this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[27] See this.

[28] See this, this, this and/or this.

[29] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[30] See this, this, and/or this.

[31] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[32] See this, this, this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[33] See this, this, this, this, and/or this.

Electric Vehicles for Everyone? If the Dream Was Met, Would it Help the Environment?

Even if you are 100% convinced in man-made climate change, the idea the EV’s will help reduce COemissions is nonsense.

The Impossible Dream

Hello climate change advocates, please open your minds and consider the Manhattan Institute report Electric Vehicles for Everyone? The Impossible Dream by Mark P. Mills, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow.

A dozen U.S. states, from California to New York, have joined dozens of countries, from Ireland to Spain, with plans to ban the sale of new cars with an internal combustion engine (ICE), many prohibitions taking effect within a decade. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a feat of regulatory legerdemain, has proposed tailpipe emissions rules that would effectively force automakers to shift to producing mainly electric vehicles (EVs) by 2032.

To ensure compliance with ICE prohibitions and soften the economic impacts, policymakers are deploying lavish subsidies for manufacturers and consumers. Enthusiasts claim that EVs already have achieved economic and operational parity, if not superiority, with automobiles and trucks fueled by petroleum, so the bans and subsidies merely accelerate what they believe is an inevitable transition.

It is certainly true that EVs are practical and appealing for many drivers. Even without subsidies or mandates, millions more will be purchased by consumers, if mainly by wealthy ones. But the facts reveal a fatal flaw in the core motives for the prohibitions and mandates.

Executive Summary Key Points

  • No one knows how much, if at all, CO2 emissions will decline as EV use rises. Every claim for EVs reducing emissions is a rough estimate or an outright guess based on averages, approximations, or aspirations. The variables and uncertainties in emissions from energy-intensive mining and processing of minerals used to make EV batteries are a big wild card in the emissions calculus…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Ramping up wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles can’t solve our energy problem

Ramping up wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles can’t solve our energy problem

Many people believe that installing more wind turbines and solar panels and manufacturing more electric vehicles can solve our energy problem, but I don’t agree with them. These devices, plus the batteries, charging stations, transmission lines and many other structures necessary to make them work represent a high level of complexity.

A relatively low level of complexity, such as the complexity embodied in a new hydroelectric dam, can sometimes be used to solve energy problems, but we cannot expect ever-higher levels of complexity to always be achievable.

According to the anthropologist Joseph Tainter, in his well-known book, The Collapse of Complex Societies, there are diminishing returns to added complexity. In other words, the most beneficial innovations tend to be found first. Later innovations tend to be less helpful. Eventually the energy cost of added complexity becomes too high, relative to the benefit provided.

In this post, I will discuss complexity further. I will also present evidence that the world economy may already have hit complexity limits. Furthermore, the popular measure, “Energy Return on Energy Investment” (EROEI) pertains to direct use of energy, rather than energy embodied in added complexity. As a result, EROEI indications tend to suggest that innovations such as wind turbines, solar panels and EVs are more helpful than they really are. Other measures similar to EROEI make a similar mistake.

[1] In this video with Nate Hagens, Joseph Tainter explains how energy and complexity tend to grow simultaneously, in what Tainter calls the Energy-Complexity Spiral.

Figure 1. The Energy-Complexity Spiral from 2010 presentation called The Energy-Complexity Spiral by Joseph Tainter.

According to Tainter, energy and complexity build on each other. At first, growing complexity can be helpful to a growing economy by encouraging the uptake of available energy products…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

EVs–They’re Not Maintenance-Free, and They Don’t Save You Money

EVs–They’re Not Maintenance-Free, and They Don’t Save You Money

The planetary emergency we must avoid (spoiler alert: it’s not climate change)

The planetary emergency we must avoid (spoiler alert: it’s not climate change)

Rather than expanding our renewable electricity production and developing an EV fleet, a degrowth approach would be to initiate a massive energy conservation programme and investing in cities where we can live, work and play within 15 minutes’ walking or biking

Opinion: Purchasing an EV is something more people are doing to reduce the worst impacts of climate change. EVs are attractive and increasingly convenient.

But is this reaction to the climate crisis an example of the wrong solution to the wrong problem? Is climate change, as serious as it is, even the most important problem to address?

Climate change is certainly an existential threat and more needs to be done to mitigate its worst impacts. Yet even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, we would still face a range of environmental existential threats.

Part of the problem is we haven’t defined the problem correctly. Rather than trying to deal with specific issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and so on, there is an underlying cause that connects these threats. Understanding the cause could provide a new approach to dealing with many of these challenges.

First let’s step back and try to understand just what the threat is. As far as we know Earth is the only planet in the universe with complex living systems, with a biosphere covering its surface.

The biosphere is an intricately balanced network of living and non-living systems interacting with each other in a self-regulatory manner. This rare web of life provides for us physically, economically, aesthetically and spiritually.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
Click on image to read excerpts

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase @ FriesenPress