Archive for the ‘EVs – Electric Cars’ Category

Marketing 101: The dogs have to eat the dogfood…

July 28, 2022

Some interesting data on EVs from Consumer Reports
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Earlier this year, Consumer Reports surveyed over 8,000 people on the subject of EVs.

The question that drew most of the headlines asked about “purchase intent”.

Which statement below BEST describes your thoughts on buying or leasing an electric-only vehicle if you were to buy or lease a vehicle today?

The answer:

  • 14% said that they would definitely get an EV;
  • 22% would consider getting one;
  • 35% would consider “in the future, not today”;
  • 28% wouldn’t even consider getting one.

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Of course, you can look at the glass as half-full or half-empty…

  • Looking only at the “top box”, 14% are hot-to-trot right now
  • Combining the top 2 categories, 36% would definitely get an EV … or at least seriously consider getting one (Note: This was CR’s headlined conclusion)
  • Combining the top 3 categories, 72% are open to the idea of getting an EV some day … i.e. they are “definite maybes”

On the flipside, looking only at the “bottom box”, 28% say that they wouldn’t even consider getting an EV, not now or in the future.

28% translates to about 65 million gas-fueled vehicles currently on the road.

I that a big number (i.e. a show stopper) or a small number (i.e. a “so what?”)?

Draw your own conclusion …

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That was CR’s headline question.

What  I found more interesting was a question about EV ownership, now or ever.

The general finding: 95% have never owned or leased an EV.

No news there, since EVs are just getting started in the market.

But…

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Let’s dig a little deeper on the other 5%…

The total sample was pretty big — just over 8,000 people.

So, 400 people in the sample currently or previously owned an EV.

Of the 400, 160 currently own an EC.

That leaves 240 who previously owned an EV, but don’t currently own one.

What’s up with that?

That’s 60% of the 400 who apparently “tried” an EV but went back to a gas guzzler.

Hmm.

In my prior life as a marketer, I would have gotten pretty concerned if the majority of customers who “tried” my product didn’t repurchase it … or worse, chucked it after buying it.

In marketing parlance it’s called “buyer’s remorse”.

In plain English, it’s a sign that the dogs aren’t eating the dog food.

Think about it.

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Tech Talk

P.S. Yeah, I know that 400 is a small sample and that EVs are continually improving, so today’s (and tomorrow’s) EVs are better than yesterday’s.

I still think it’s a red flag.

While on the subject …

“Purchase intent” surveys tend to be biased high.

If people aren’t really shelling out any buckos, they’re more likely to say that they’ll buy something … especially if the price of the product isn’t included in the question.

So, the purchase intent results reported above are very likely overstated.

Marketing 101: “Reasonable reach”

July 25, 2022

It’s only possible to incentivize buyers to buy something that they can reasonably afford.
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Last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke a Climate Control truth out loud:

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Recognizing the uh-oh of his comment, he tried to soften it by saying:  “We could have no pain at all by making EVs cheaper for everyone.” Source

Wrong, Mayor Pete.

Making an EV cheaper?

Right now, for example, Ford’s base model Lightning F-150 pickup costs $39,974, a mere $10,000 more than its gas-powered version. Source

Of course, government can make that $10,000 go away with the stroke of a pen.

How?

Simple: subsidies to car buyers and manufacturers.

But, Mayor Pete, there are two pieces to the puzzle … the $10,000 price differential is one problem … the $39,974 (or, $29,974 after possible government subsidies) is a bigger one given that

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Source

You see, Mayor Pete, about half the country doesn’t have the scratch to buy more than a week’s food and gas.

A shiny new car isn’t on their radar, whether it’s $39,974 or $29,974 … or $65,000 for crowd-swooning Tesla.

Why?

It’s out of their “reasonable reach”.

And, by the way, the “reach” is getting more difficult these days …

As the headline teased:

Last November, 32% of Americans said they were ill-equipped to cover a $400 emergency expense.

But this year, that number has risen to 49%, according to a YouGov survey for the Economic Security Project conducted online in May .

It’s clear that more Americans are having trouble covering unplanned expenses than in the past.

It’s easy to see why fewer Americans have cash reserves in the bank now compared to last November.

Living costs have been soaring over the past six months due to inflation, and wages aren’t rising at a steady enough pace to keep up.

That’s forced many people to dip into their savings rather than reserve that money for other purposes. Source

Simply put: An EV isn’t within the reasonable reach for most Americans … and the reach is getting longer as savings erode and inflation shreds buying power.

Or, as the original Grandma Homa used to say more colorfully:

“If you don’t have a pot to piss in, don’t go shopping for Cadillacs.”

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P.S. to Mayor Pete

According to the WSJ:

Most nonrich consumers will likely opt for gasoline-powered cars for decades to come. 

So, the auto industry is gambling on big electric vehicles – loaded with exciting, high-tech gadgets – aimed at the rich.

For example, Nissan is giving up its pioneering electric Leaf in favor of a big electric SUV aimed at affluent shoppers. 

Ford is placing bets on the Mustang Mach-E; GM on the Hummer EV, 

Some $526 billion is currently being invested to create dozens of mostly high-end electric vehicles aimed at the 17% of buyers who constitute the luxury market.

Regulators everywhere are structuring their electric-vehicle industries based on subsidies from less-affluent people who continue to buy gas-powered cars.

 

Part 3: Putting the “E” in EVs

July 20, 2022

How much electricity is currently generated? How is it generated? So what?
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In Parts 1 & Part 2, we concluded:

    • The U.S. currently consumes about 4 trillion kWh of electricity per year
    • About 1.5 trillion kWh (about 40% of the total) is consumed in residential use … about 1/2 of that is used by HVAC & hot water heaters
    • A scant amount of electricity is currently being consumed for “transportation” … and, practically all of that is used by public transit systems.
    • If all vehicles currently on the road were to be replaced by EVs, recharging their batteries would consume an additional 1 trillion kWh of electricity.

All of which raises a couple of  central questions: Does the U.S. have the electricity generation capacity to service a full national fleet of EVs?

Short answer: no.

So, where will the additional electricity come from?

Today, we’ll set the context by looking at our current supply of electricity…

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)….

Total U.S. electricity generation in 2021 was about 4.12 trillion kWh.

There are four fuel “sources” for electricity generation: natural gas (38%), coal (22%), renewables (20%) and nuclear (19%).

in the past 10 years, total electricity generation has stayed virtually constant at around 4 trillion kWh … but the mix of fuel sources has changed.

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Coal and nuclear power have declined in the overall mix of fuel sources … coal by a lot, nuclear by a little … natural gas and renewables have increased and are, together, account for about 60% of fuel for electricity.

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Digging deeper in the  category of renewable fuel sources….

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  • From 2011 to 2021, electricity fueled by renewables increased by over 60% to 826 billion kWh … which is accounts for 20% of the electricity generated.
  • About 2/3s of the increase is attributable to wind power … which provides about half of the renewable fuel used to generate electricity … and about 9% of the total fuel that goes into electricity generation.
  • Almost 1/3rd of the increase is attributable to solar power … which provides about 3% of the total fuel that goes into electricity generation.

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Takeaways

  • Electricity generation has stayed practically constant for more than 10 years at around 4 trillion kWh
  • Some area of the country have experienced brown outs (rationed supply of electricity), primarily during periods of hot weather … suggesting that, during daytime hours, the electricity generation capacity is at capacity.

It is commonly assumed  that there is available nighttime capacity.

  • Over the past 10 years, coal usage as an electricity fuel has been cut in half … replace by natural gas (2/3rds) and renewables (1/3rd).
  • But, 20% of electrical generation (899 B kWh) is still being fueled by coal
  • Nuclear power — about 20% of the fuel mix — has been slowly declining as old plants are being retired … and no new plants being built.

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Bottom line: To meet Biden’s aggressive climate control objectives, electrical generation will need to be increased by almost half … 1 Trillion kWh for EVs and 899 Billion kWh to totally phase out coal.

Part 2: Putting the “E” in EVs…

July 19, 2022

So, how much electricity will EVs eventually require?
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In Part 1, we looked at current demand for electricity and concluded:

  • The U.S. currently consumes about 4 trillion kWh of electricity per year
  • About 1.5 trillion kWh (about 40% of the total) is consumed in residential use
  • A scant amount of electricity is currently being consumed for “transportation” … and, practically all of that is used by public transit systems.

Of course, EV demand for electricity will increase.

By how much?

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Let’s look at our prior ballpark estimate:

A full “incredible transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by over 40% (640 billion kWh / 1.5 trillion kWh = 43%)

Data, sources & calculations

  • in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses
  • The 229 million collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.” Source
  • From what I can ascertain,  on average, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 billion kWh of additional electricity.

What do other sources day?

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The Energy Institute at the University of Texas analyzed the likely additional energy required by state for a full transition to EVs.

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The UT-EI conclusion: On average across states, 30.9% more electricity will be needed to electrify EVs … with wide variability across states.

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All States’ Data

The 30.9% translates to over 1.25 trillion kWh of added electricity required … almost equal to all of our current residential consumption of electricity.

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In August 2021, the NY Times asserted (without attribution or analysis):

If every American switched over to an electric passenger vehicle, analysts have estimated, the United States could end up using roughly 25% more electricity than it does today.

Working the NYT’s estimate …

Their 25% — apparently based on total U.S. electricity consumption —  implies that we’ll need an additional 1 trillion kWh of electricity

The 1 trillion kWh of electricity is roughly equal to  66% of our current residential electrical consumption, (1 trillion / 1.5 trillion = 66%)

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The Brattle Group is a research consultancy that “combines state-of-the-art analytical techniques and practical industry experience to answer complex economic, financial, and regulatory questions”.

Brattle analysts did a detailed “assessment of the investments needed across the electric power sector to support the deployment of 20 million EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

Brattle’s conclusion: 20 million EVs will add 60–95 TWh of annual demand and 10–20 GW of peak load to the system.

Taking the low end of Brattle’s range (60 TWH per 20 million vehicles) and scaling that number up to all 239 million vehicles currently on the roads …  717 billion kWh of additional electricity will be needed for a full “incredible transition” to EVs … with a high estimate of 1.135 trillion kWh of electricity required (equal to about about 75% of current residential electricity consumption).

239 million vehicles / 20 million = 11.95

11.95 x 60 TWH = 717 TWh

One Terawatt Hour is equal to 1 billion  Kilowatt Hours. Reference

So, 717 TWh = 717 billion kWh

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So, how much electricity will EVs eventually require?

  • UT Energy Institute: 1.25 trillion kWh
  • Brattle Group (high): 1.135 trillion kWh
  • New York Times: 1 trillion kWh
  • Brattle Group (low): 717 billion kWh
  • HomaFiles estimate: 640 billion kWh

Our back-of-the envelop estimate was on the low side.

Looks like 1 trillion kWh is a reasonable (and easy to remember) estimate of the electricity load that an “a full “incredible transition” will add to the system … a 25% to 30% upper to our current levels.

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Next up: So, where’s that electricity going to come from?

Putting the “E” in EVs…

July 18, 2022

Starting point: How much energy do we consume now?
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A couple of weeks ago, I posted some ballpark estimates of how much additional electricity would be consumed in the U.S. if Biden’s “incredible transition” materialized and all of us were driving shiny new EVs.

My conclusion: A full “incredible transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by at least 50% (640 billion kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

For details see: Update: What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

At the time I asked for ideas re: sources of (1) “hard” numbers re: electricity generated and consumed, (2) analyses of how much EVs will add to electricity consumption and (3) “real” plans to bolster U.S. energy production and distribution (i.e. “the grid”).

A couple of you pointed me to some info sources … THANKS!

So, let’s work the numbers, starting with electricity consumption

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)….

Total U.S. electricity consumption in 2021 was about 3.93 trillion kWh.

Of that total, the 3.8 trillion kWh is classified by the EIA as “retail sales”.

Of that total, “residential retail sales” account for almost 1.5 trillion kWh about 40% of total “retail sales of electricity”.

For reference: We previously ballparked total residential electrical consumption at about 1.34 trillion kWh (10,715 kWh per household x 125 million U.S. Households)

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Drilling down further

Between 1/3 and 1/2 of residential electricity consumption is driven by home HVAC systems (air conditioners and furnaces) … hot water heaters (14%) and washers & dryers (13%) push the cumulative total to almost 75% or residential use. Source

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Takeaways:

Rounding up a bit for simplicity:

  • The U.S. currently consumes about 4 trillion kWh of electricity per year
  • About 1.5 trillion kWh (about 40% of the total) is consumed in residential use
  • The majority of residential use attributable to HVAC systems and hot water heaters.

Important: Note that only a scant amount of electricity is currently being consumed for “transportation” … and, practically all of that is used by public transit systems.

Said differently, the electricity consumed by EVs is currently rounding error.

But, that will change…

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Next up: How much electricity will Es consume?

How much did Sen. Stabenow save driving her EV from Detroit to DC ?

July 13, 2022

The Detroit News pegs the savings at less than $10.
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A couple of weeks ago, Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow took a  trip from Lansing, MI to Washington, D.C., in her Chevrolet Bolt EUV to tout the benefits of driving electric.

Stabenow crowed: “I went by every single gas station, it didn’t matter how high it was.”

English translation: Get an EV and stop whining,peasants.”

So, how much did she save?

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To answer the question, the Detroit News ran  the senator’s trip through two popular charging apps, A Better Route Planner (ABRP) and Chargeway.

According to ABRP, Stabenow’s Bolt EUV used almost 200 kWh of energy on the 600 mile trip.

So, ABRP estimates that Stabenow paid (and probably expensed) about $80 for electricity.

Note: Charging station operator Electrify America’s charging rates across Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are a uniform 43 cents per kWh.

In comparison, a comparably equipped, gas-powered Trailblazer SUV gets 33 mpg on the highway.

At $5 per gallon, that works out to about $90 in gas bill (600 mile / 33 mpg x $5 per gallon).

So, Stabenow saved about $10.

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The News, apparently doing some rounding, pegged the savings at $8.

The News also pointed out that the Bolt is priced about $5,000 higher than the Trailblazer ($28,195 to $22,995).

And, channeling an analysis by Chargeway, The News concludes that Stabenow’s EV added more than three hours to the a gas-fueled 9 hour, 30-minute Lansing-to-D.C. road trip (13 hours, 9 minutes total) … attributable to charging time (added distance to charging stations, wait time, actual charging time) and slower speeds.

Note: Chargeway assumes an average speed of 60 mph on the Bolt EUV’s Lansing-to-D.C. trip while ABRP assumes 65 mph

But for EVefficiency, ABRP urges drivers to travel at, for example, 55 mph in the long leg between Toledo and Pittsburgh. Ohio and Pennsylvania have a 70 mph speed limit.

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Paraphrasing the News’ conclusion

Get an EV if:

  • You’ve got the $$$ to buy one
  • You plan to use it for commuting, not road trips
  • Your employer Or somebody else) provides free-to-you charging
  • You can charge it overnight in your garage or driveway (at economical electricity rates)

Otherwise, you may want to hold off for awhile…

Update: What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

June 27, 2022

Would the electric companies be able to supply the increased load?

Note: While at the beach last week, I got some helpful input from loyal readers and trusted sources which I’ve tried to incorporate into the original post.

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In a prior post we ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers on EV ownership.

The conclusion: With $5 per gallon gas and 14¢ per kWh electricity, a shiny new EV would practically pay for itself … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Key assumptions: (1) A typical EV with a 50 mWh battery has a range of about 250 miles (2) All electricity drawn for charging is stored in the battery (i.e. charging efficiency is 100%)

Caveats: (1) Doesn’t consider the cost of an in home charging station (for faster charges) which would lengthen the breakeven time frame (2) Doesn’t consider differences in lifetime maintenance costs which likely favors EVs and would lower the breakeven time frame 

Let’s assume that life expectancy (for you and for an EV) is generally longer than the breakeven time frame … and ask a broader question:

If there were a groundswell of EV demand, would electric companies be able to generate enough electricity to keep the EVs charged (and the rest of our electricity-based lives operating “normally’}?

Suppose, for example, that Oprah gave all of us an EV today.

How much electricity demand would be added on to the U.S. electrical grid?

Again, let’s run some more back-of-the-envelope numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (whatever the heck that is): In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh)

For reference: My home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh

Before you accuse me of being an energy glutton, consider…

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research estimates that Al Gore (former VP and current Climate Control Advocate) has a 20-room home that “devours” nearly 221,000 kWh annually … that’s about 20 times the national average … and about 10 times my home’s usage 

  • There are about 125 million households in the U.S.  We’ll assume that each household is a “residential utility customer”.
  • That makes total residential electrical consumption about 1.34 trillion kWh (10,715 kWh x 125 million)

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  • According to Federal Highway data reported by Metromile, in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses, and they collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.”

Note: I’ve seen estimates that range all the way up to 7.5 trillion miles.  To give EVs every benefit of the doubt, we’ll use the low number

  • Again, from what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 billion kWh of additional electricity.

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowing in” is a gallon “stored for use”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

Bottom line: A full “incredible (fast) transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by at least 50% (640 billion kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

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Key question: will the electric companies (and the country’s electrical grid) be able to meet the increased demand?

Keep in mind that:

  • In some (many?) parts of the country power plants are currently fueled by coal, gas and nuclear power — all of which are deemed taboo by climate control zealots.
  • Key components (or full units) of solar panels and windmills are sourced from China … and neither modality has been proven to generate a dependable flow of energy “at scale”.
  • Some parts of the country have a history of electrical outages — e.g. unplanned weather outages and rolling blackouts.

But, a trusted source reminded me that the electrical companies — while sometimes stressed during peak daytime hours — have substantial unused capacity during nighttime hours.

That unused capacity can be tapped by “demand management” that nudges EV owners to charge their batteries overnight instead of during the day.

Note: I’m trying to track down hard data re: U.S. electricity generation capacity.  Any ideas re: sources?

For example, nighttime electricity rates (i.e. prices) are generally lower than daytime rates … and that differential can be widened to coax overnight EV charging.

That’s true, but overnight charging at home — even with nighttime rate discounts — isn’t exactly a gimme.

  • For example, many urban car owners park overnight on the street where there’s no access to a personal (or public) electrical outlet.
  • Other drivers park in driveways and would need to run extension cords from house outlets to their cars.  Good idea?
  • And, charging via a standard 110/120 outlets is a slow process … adding only a few miles of range from an overnight charge.
  • To up the charging speed requires 220/240 service and a fast-charging station … which adds to the initial EV “investment”.

So, leveraging unused nighttime electrical capacity may be a partial solution, it doesn’t close the supply-demand gap that EVs are virtually certain to create.

How’s that gap going to be closed?

I’d sure like to see the plan…

 

 

 

What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

June 18, 2022

Would the electric companies be able to supply the increased load?

Short answer: Nope.
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In a prior post, we ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers on EV ownership.

The conclusion: With  $5 per gallon gas and 14¢ per kWh electricity, a shiny new EV would practically pay for itself … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Let’s assume that life expectancy (for you and for an EV) is longer than 20 years … and ask another question:

If there were a groundswell of EV demand, would electric companies be able to generate enough electricity to keep the EVs charged (and the rest of our electricity-based lives operating “normally’}?

Suppose that Oprah gave all of us an EV today.

How much electricity demand would be added on to the system?

Let’s run some more back-of-the-envelope numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (whatever the heck that is): In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh)

  • There are about 125 million households in the U.S.  We’ll assume that each household is a “residence”.
  • That makes total residential electrical consumption about 1.34 trillion kWh

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  • According to Federal Highway data reported by Metromile, in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses, and they collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.”

Note: I’ve seen estimates that range all the way up to 7.5 trillion miles.  To give EVs every benefit of the doubt, we’ll use the low number

  • From what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 million kWh of additional electricity.

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowing in” is a gallon “stored for use”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

Bottom line: A full “incredible (fast) transition” to EVs would require at least a 50% increase in electricity generation for consumer / residential use (640 kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

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And, where may I ask, will all of this additional electricity come from, given that power plants are fueled by coal, gas and nuclear power — all of which are deemed taboo by climate control zealots.

Solar panels and windmills sourced from China?

Sorry, but I’m betting the under on those.

So, how we gonna do it, Joe?

Looks like there may be some holes in the U.S. energy plan

There is a plan, right?

 

What if Oprah gave me an EV?

June 17, 2022

How much would my electrical demand increase?
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In a prior post, I worked through numbers that explain why my electric utility company sent me an email alert of “ABNORMAL USAGE” … followed by an insinuating alert asking me: DO YOUR DRIVE AN EV?’

The post’s numbers show how EV-charging likely triggered the “unusual usage alert” … and a subsequent series of EV charges led the electric company to infer (incorrectly) that I was on the EV bandwagon.

The email alerts got me wondering…

I asked myself: How much more electricity would I use if Oprah gave me an EV and I ditched my gas-sipping SUV?

Let’s work the numbers…

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  • Like an average American, I drive about 13,500 miles each year Source
  • From what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored electricity. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range)
  • So, my lowball annual charging consumption would be at least 2,700 kWh … some at home, some at charging stations

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowed” is a gallon “stored”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

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For simplicity, let’s assume that I do all of the charging at home…

  • Our home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh

Note: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh).

Before you accuse me of being an energy glutton, consider…

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research estimates that Al Gore (former VP and current Climate Control Advocate)  has a 20-room home that “devours” nearly 221,000 kWh annually … that’s about 20 times the national average.

  • Again, I estimate that my annual charging consumption would be at least 2,700 kWh

  • That’s about 10% of my current TOTAL electricity usage.

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So, is a 10% increase in my electricity consumption a good thing or a bad thing?

Let’s monetize it…

  • In 2021, I was charged 11.5¢  per kWh
  • Currently I’m being charged 14¢ per kWh … a 20% increase over 2021 rates
  • So, my @home charging charge (<= I love the alliteration) would be about $400.
  • My Audi Q5 SUV gets about 25 MPH
  • So, driving 13,500 miles annually requires about 540 gallons of gas.
  • At Biden’s induced $5 per gallon, that’s a whopping $2,700 annually.
  • The electrifying cost benefit of my hypothetical EV: $2,300.

Of course, the savings depend on $5 (or higher) gas prices and 14¢ (or lower)electricity.

My hunch: Gas prices fall like a rock when Biden is sent packing in 2024 … and electricity prices will keep going up since the industry is already at capacity (think: rolling blackouts) with demand rising

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Of course, Oprah’s not giving me an EV, so I’d have to buy one to get the savings.

Tesla T3’s go for about $50,000.

With $2,300 a year in cost savings, it would practically pay for itself. … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Unfortunately, that’s a bit longer than my actuarial life expectancy, so I think I’ll hold off buying one.

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Of course, there’s even more to the story.

The above is an incremental analysis that only adds one user (me) to the electrical grid.

Surely, BGE could accommodate that small increase.

But, what if there was a veritable groundswell towards EVs?

We’ll tackle that question next, by asking “What if Opah gave everybody an EV?”

Stay tuned…

More:“KENNETH HOMA, do you drive an EV?”

June 16, 2022

Let’s dig into the numbers…
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Earlier this week, I posted that I had gotten two “alert” emails from BGE, my electric company.

The first email was a “NOTICE OF UNUSUAL ACTIVITY” …euphemistically asking  “what the hell is going on at your house?”

I reported that my son had charged his new Tesla overnight, and that probably triggered the alert.

The second email was more direct: “DO YOU OWN AN EV?” It showcased a chart that my energy efficiency had dropped from the borderline of “good” and “great” … all the way down to “fair”

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Again, I pointed a finger at my son’s periodic Tesla charging.

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Well, a couple of loyal readers politely challenged my inferences and doubted that EV-charging was the impetus for BGE’s email alerts.

So, I retrieved some numbers and did some back-of-the-envelop number crunching.

Let’s work through the numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh).
  • Our home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh …  which averages out to about 75 kWh per day.
  • When my son charges  at my house, it’s for about 8 hours, drawing about 40 kWh … about 5 kWh per hour of charging
  • So, based on an average day’s electricity consumption at my house, that’s a 50% spike in electricity consumed (40 /75 = 53%).

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  • For reference, our biggest electrical draw is the HVAC that services our upper 2 levels (which get hottest in the summer and coldest in the winter)… with a smart thermostat that capture usage data.
  • Our upper level HVAC uses 5,300 kWh per year … about 20% of our total consumption … about 15 kwh on an average dayon hot days (high 80s and 90s) it spikes about 50% to 22 kWh
  • When BGE sees that spike, they know it’s a hot weather-related  event
  • When I got a 40 kWh Tesla charging spike on an average day, BGE red flagged me … since it was out of pattern … and sent the “unusual activity” alert.
  • When the spike happened a few times, BGE apparently concluded that I must have bought an EV which I’m charging from one of my home’s 110 circuits … and warned that I should brace for higher bills.

Bottom line: BGE drew reasonable analytical conclusions at the first spike … and after noticing a couple of spikes.

But, to answer their question : “No, I don’t drive an EV … I don’t own a EV … but, occasionally, an EV sleeps overs at my house.”

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BGE’s question and my readers’ nudges really started me thinking about EVs.

For openers, I asked myself: “What if I did own an EV.  How much more electricity would I consume?”

That’s next up…

How to double the time it takes to take a car trip…

June 14, 2022

Simple: Buy an EV and download a charger-finder app.
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Last year, my wife and son took their annual weekend trip to Cleveland to visit some relatives and go to an Indians’ (err, Guardians’) baseball game.

In prior years, the trip from DC to Cleveland took under 6 hours.

Last year it was over 10.

What changed?

Her gas-efficient Audi A4 was left in the garage.

His Tesla hit the road … and  the hunt for EV chargers started.

Apparently, their experience is neither unique nor time-obsoleted.

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A recent WSJ article chronicled a writer’s EV travel from New Orleans to Chicago and back in a shiny new EV.

The Goal: Roundtrip from New Orleans to Chicago and back (2,000 miles) in 4 “leisurely” days.

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The plan:

Given our battery range of up to 310 miles, I plotted a meticulous route, splitting our days into four chunks of roughly 7½-hours each.

We’d need to charge once or twice each day and plug in near our hotel overnight.

While we’d be fine overnight, we required fast chargers during the days.

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Charging Stops – The Dream 

Fast chargers tend to be located in parking lots of suburban shopping malls, or tethered to gas stations or car dealerships.

ChargePoint — which manufactures and maintains many fast-charging stations — promises an 80% charge in 20 to 30 minutes.

That’s  longer than stopping for gas — but, on the bright side, “it’s good for a bite or bathroom break.”

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Charging Stops – The Reality

It turns out not all “fast chargers” live up to the name.

At our dealer’s fast-charging station, our dashboard tells us a full charge, from 18% to 100%, will take 3-plus hours.

Fastest charge: 25 minutes.

Longest “fast” charge : 3 hours

While there are already thousands of charging options between New Orleans and Chicago, most were are classified as Level 2, requiring up to 8 hours for a full charge.

And sometimes, charging stations are only open during business hours at, say, gas stations or car dealerships … or, may require an attendant to turn it on.

And sometimes, you get beat to an advertised “open” charging station by another driver — or get shocked by an unexpected “out of service” sign

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The Economics

Over four days, we spent $175 on charging.

We estimated the equivalent cost for gas  would have been $275.

That $100 savings cost us many hours in waiting time.

A gas-fueled 2-day trip can be EVed in 4 days, with some white-knuckle situations along the way.

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The Urban Divide

This was a surprise to me…

The car’s highway range actually was worse than its range in cities.

Indeed, highway driving doesn’t benefit as much from the car’s regenerative-braking technology which uses energy generated in slowing down to help a car recharge its battery

But, a battery’s charge can be stretched by using cruise control to  reduce inadvertent acceleration and deceleration … and by:

Turning off the car’s cooling system and the radio, unplugging phones and other devices and lowering the windshield wipers to the lowest possible setting while still being able to see in the rain.

In other words, shelve all of the car’s creature comforts.

Yipes!

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PS For added color, read the whole article:

I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping.

Scroll down the article for an accompanying video The Electric Vehicle Road Test..


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