August 02, 2017

#Environmental scattershooting: Could the internal combustion engine kill itself off?

That's the focal point of this long read about how full electric vehicles may be "just around the corner" sooner than we think.

Here's the first main takeout from the piece:
To get a sense of what problems may occur, here is a list of the most common vehicle repairs from 2015:
1. Replacing an oxygen sensor — $249
2. Replacing a catalytic converter — $1,153
3. Replacing ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) — $390
4. Tightening or replacing a fuel cap — $15
5. Thermostat replacement — $210
6. Replacing ignition coil(s) — $236
7. Mass air flow sensor replacement — $382
8. Replacing spark plug wire(s) and spark plug(s) — $331
9. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve — $168
10. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purging solenoid — $184
I can directly relate to the first and seventh of those, and indirectly to some of the others. Never had to replace ignition coils, but have had to replace starters, and a starter isn’t the same on an electric as on an internal combustion engine.

And, that doesn't count other radiator-system problems, oil leaks and more.

From there, Seth Miller transitions to electric-drive car batteries. He notes that when the Prius came out, people wondered about battery lifespan. Turns out that's no problem.

As for charging? 

Well, the new Tesla Model S, in one option, goes more than 300 miles on a charge. The Chevy Bolt does more than 200. At least in more densely-populated areas, we're now talking about something more than commuter driving. Next will be to speed up the charge time. State rest areas, especially in sunnier climates, could maintain charging stations that are solar powered. California may well do this. Here in Tex-Ass, not on your nellie.

Will electrics jump past hybrids any time soon?

Maybe, maybe not.

With the gasoline half of the hybrid engine working less often, most of those top 10 repairs will have less frequency.

Some hybrids could make themselves better, though, especially among "full" hybrids.

Assuming it has no mechanical problems, Hyundai's Ioniq may — let's hope — nudge the Prius into using a direct injection engine on the gas side in the future. This will lighten the vehicle and further increase efficiency.

For non-communter driving, I'll still take that option at this time — a premium performance hybrid — over an all-electric. And, given Tesla's production history, I'll look for someone else to break the 300- mile charging barrier on an all-electric before I even consider buying a Tesla.

Will the combo of hybrids and electrics jump past all-gas cars anytime soon?

In Europe, possibly, with Norway (2025) Britain and France (both 2040) on record as phasing out internal combustion cars whether gas or diesel. More compact populations there will make it easy.

In the US, less likely. However, Miller argues, from film cameras and non-smartphone cell phones, that a "collapse" could happen fairly quickly.

And, speaking of Norway, Statoil, the state oil company, expects oil demand to peak by 2025. And, it's building a floating offshore wind farm.

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And it needs to happen.

The latest news from the climate change desk?

Ghosts forests — caused by rising sea levels killing coastal trees with their salt water. And, they're even happening here in Texas, making them harder to deny.

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Finally, look at this long read from the Guardian on how climate change skepticism became "skepticism" and now outright cynicism.

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