Editor Blog: Don’t Put BEV Dollars Before Climate Control

I’ve just received a press release claiming that the UK would save nearly 55,000 metric tons of CO2 annually by switching all its current fleet of ICE powered vehicles to BEVs.

It’s from one of the many companies/lobby groups that have sprung up hoping to cash in on the BEV market being artificially driven by government legislation banning the sale of new ICE vehicles by 2030. Yet, just like so many snake-oil salesmen currently jumping on this bandwagon, the company elmo weaponizes data in the way that the Victorian saying recognized: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

That’s because this bunch of lobbyists focus largely on tailpipe emissions conveniently leaving out the 40% extra CO2 produced in building a BEV compared to the equivalent ICE powered vehicle, according to that champion of electrification, Volvo. The automaker also highlights the extra CO2 used over the lifecycle of the BEV compared to an ICE powertrain unless the BEV is fed exclusively on sustainably sourced electricity rather than the more than 60% fossil fuel sourced electricity that is the global average.

The elmo company did eventually release a statement saying it did factor in the UK’s average energy mix into the BEVs’ CO2 calculation as well as the average CO2 for creating the battery packs, albeit not the overall CO2 emitting in building the BEV compared to an ICE powered vehicle. It added: “We decided to create an experiment to highlight what the potential possibilities are should we switch from ICE to EVs overnight (which we know is very theoretical as we couldn’t make that switch without big changes to infrastructure).”

However, in a later financial presentation, Volvo admitted it makes a bigger profit margin on building a BEV than with the comparable ICE vehicle. Here is the rub – the main driver towards BEV is money not climate concerns, something accentuated by many BEV zealots’ purblind hatred of hydrogen technology which, on the face of it, currently offers much less of a margin.

Meanwhile, several other automaker and powertrain developers such as Bosch have expressed deep concern over banning ICE technology that has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions far quicker that the roll out of BEVs can achieve. Many of these arguments are being ignored in the cash-grab that the BEV ‘revolution’ is promising so it’s heartening to see that some organizations still try to fly the flag for common sense, such as the US’s Diesel Technology Forum which will be holding its ‘Virtual Event to Highlight New Research about Benefits of Advanced Diesel Technology Engines powered by Bio- and Renewable Fuels’ on July 21.

Naturally, this is another lobby group so any data it reveals must be scrutinized closely to ensure it is robustly researched and makes sense. That said, it claims “using more renewable and biodiesel fuels, will deliver substantially more greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and other emissions benefits at far lower cost than emerging zero emissions vehicles”.

This is a tune many other powertrain developers have been playing for some time and not just in the automotive world. Rolls-Royce, attending this week’s Farnborough International Airshow 2022, is showcasing the work it is doing with synthetic aircraft fuel to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its engines. It also is working on hydrogen fueled engines, albeit a technology that will be two or three decades away.

My point here is that the current dollar-dazzled eyes of those racing towards BEV technology risk jeopardizing the very ecological benefits they claim to be championing. By ignoring the immediate CO2 reducing attributes within the gift of ICE technology, the industry may be making one of the biggest errors since installing emissions cheat devices that led to Dieselgate, thus writing a dark chapter in the history of automotive that following generations will have to read and live with.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


5 comments

  1. Avatar Drew Winter 19th July 2022 @ 2:00 pm

    Bravo!

  2. Avatar Robert 20th July 2022 @ 7:00 pm

    Thing is everyone is using renewable energy. Thing is a unit of energy can only be used once. The technology to capture, transport, and store the energy is really the important need.

  3. Avatar BEN 20th July 2022 @ 7:19 pm

    Go outside when you write your next article and notice how hot it is. Look at all the fires too.

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 21st July 2022 @ 6:56 am

      Ben, I suggest you read more than just the headline and you will see the article is all about the need to combat climate change with ALL of the best tools at our disposal.

  4. Avatar Ron Holt 20th July 2022 @ 10:47 pm

    The voice of reason! Unfortunately politicians don’t understand common sense.

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