AD #2222 – Environmental Downside of EVs, NHTSA Wants New AV Rules, Toyota Struggles To Make Solid State Batteries

October 30th, 2017 at 11:31am

Runtime: 7:30

0:30 CARB Builds Massive Lab with VW Fines
1:30 Toyota Struggles To Make Solid State Batteries
2:43 NHTSA Wants New AV Rules
3:21 Ferrari’s Mega FXX-K
5:09 Environmental Downside of EVs

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40 Comments to “AD #2222 – Environmental Downside of EVs, NHTSA Wants New AV Rules, Toyota Struggles To Make Solid State Batteries”

  1. David Sprowl Says:

    Thank you for addressing the full issues with BEV in relationship to CO2 footprint.

  2. JWH Says:

    Enjoyed the brief analysis piercing the “EV’s are zero emission” smokescreen that many put out there. Agree totally with cradle to grave energy & emission analysis. Reminds me of the propaganda put out years ago about how nuclear energy was so efficient. I used to lean towards nuclear energy as a good process until about 35 years ago when taking classes at UM at night, & some fellow classmates that worked in the field educated me on de-commissioning costs. Those costs put a totally different perspective on the equation.

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “Environmental Downside of EVs” = no free lunch.

  4. Barry T Says:

    I would like to join in in thanking you for clearly communicating the whole picture of EV’s. Most media reports are very superficial and seems to just replay the same talking points. With the constant gains pressing forward in ICE and hybrid electrification technologies, it seems like the regulation EV goals are just blindly forcing a vehicle fleet that doesn’t have customer demand or honest “big picture” science motivation behind it.

  5. MJB Says:

    Bottom line, it takes energy to make (convert) energy.

    And sense the cheapest forms of converted energy are also the most inefficient ones (solar…), it looks like we’ll be stuck bouncing back and forth between the lesser of the remaining evils – ICE vs. Electric, with the intentionally blind (mass media) leading the conveniently blind (general public) into believing that one (ICE) is doing far more harm than the other (Electric).

  6. MJB Says:

    oops… I meant to say “since”, not ‘sense’.

  7. Chuck Grenci Says:

    For those new to the show the EV commentary will be enlightening; for us veterans, John, you’re preaching to the choir.

    Since just about no one will be able to get that Ferrari (shown on today’s show), maybe the new mid-engine Vette will resemble Ferrari’s direction. Some Ferrari’s and the Current Vette already show certain like characteristics.

  8. Barry Rector Says:


    Does CARB know these statistics about how much energy it takes to produce the batteries for zero emission vehicles? Are any batteries produced to CA?
    You should be on the CARB Board of Directors but I doubt you could be because you are way to logical in your thinking of vehicle emissions! LOL

  9. Cozy200 Says:

    So John, Lets take a Chevy Cruze and a Chevy Bolt. Drive each for a 100K miles, and then recycle them both. Use standard highway figures for fuel consumed. What is the difference between to similar cars in engery costs. Cozy

  10. Lambo2015 Says:

    It will be good to see an in-depth study of cradle to grave carbon foot print comparing ICE and EV’s. Seems we always get reports of just pieces of the pie. I think like JWH pointed out we may find the decommissioning of batteries may not be so great for the environment.

    John thanks for answering my question last week on your “you said it” segment pertaining to off peak charging and still having a fully charged car in the morning.

    In addition to the EV advantage that off peak charging may provide now. I would suspect that at some point the grid will be balanced with enough EVs charging and pushing power back that there will no longer be an off peak rate, again reducing the advantage of the EV.

  11. Albemarle Says:

    As we all know, the ICE had a serious uphill battle to become the dominant form of propulsion. This new fangled gas was hard to make, in short supply and not available everywhere.
    But now that it is dominant, it seems many predict that nothing should replace it. It will be replaced because change is inevitable. If the replacement is not clean enough. then it will get cleaned up. After all we’ve allowed the auto industry over 100 years of design and development to clean up the ICE and there’s still lots of room to go.
    So what if a battery design of 2 years, uses more energy than it should? Did we legislate Henry Ford to use something other than the ICE because it wasn’t carbon neutral enough?
    Well boys & girls, problems like this is exactly what turns an engineer’s crank.
    Problems are there to be overcome and they will be. The transportation field is changing fast. It’s even more fun to watch as when the Mustang was introduced and Pontiac brought out the GTO.

  12. John McElroy Says:

    #8. Yes, the CARB is aware of the energy it takes to manufacture EV batteries. After all, it was the Union of Concerned Scientists that made this obvious.

    To my knowledge, no EV batteries are manufactured in California.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The one clear benefit of EV’s, is that they export smog-causing emissions from from cities, if there is a place to charge the vehicles in cities.

    As far as greenhouse gas emissions, yeah, it’s not simple, whether the source of the power, the manufacturing impact, and much more.

  14. Lambo2015 Says:

    #11 Not to sound petty but we haven’t really given the auto industry over 100 years to clean up emissions. The EPA was only founded in 1970 and according to the EPA new passenger vehicles are 98-99% cleaner for most tailpipe pollutants compared to the 1960s. We do have lots of room to improve in other areas like the airline industry which I don’t believe has a carbon footprint to meet.
    Not saying we should stop the pursuit of EVs and that R&D shouldn’t continue to improve on EVs and the ICE. but I don’t like it being sold to the public in its most simplistic form of a zero emissions vehicle.

  15. Michael Says:

    Hello John,

    Please note that Tesla’s Gigafactory will be powered completely by a Solar/Wind Farm Built on the Roof and The factory will NOT use any Power from the Grid and Thus the Batteries Used in Tesla’s cars will NOT create any carbon foot print at all … making them Greener than Any ICE car.

    Here is a link about the factory.

    Please Tell Your Viewers About the One Company that Cares enough to make it so …Tesla

    Michael T.

  16. Wim van Acker Says:

    In short: we can only improve carbon footprint of road transportation in the U.S. if the electrical power grid is cleaned up. Which is a long and arduous process, since:
    1 we have run out of locations for additional hydro power generation
    2 we don’t want to build new nuclear power plants
    3 we don’t want wind turbines in our backyards, along our coastline and virtually everywhere else.
    Therefore, improving carbon footprint of vehicle traffic will happen in Germany (30% renewable sources plus 14% nuclear)), France (2% coal fired, 83% nuclear power and 15% renewables), and a handful of other countries out of the world’s 250 countries. Unfortunately, mostly with smaller populations than Germany (80 million) and France (65 million).

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The U.S. could easily cut the carbon footprint from personal transportation in half, if more people would drive what makes sense, rather than 5500 trucks to move one person around. Cheap gas encourages frivolous waste.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    5500 pound, that is…

  19. Wim van Acker Says:

    And: the batteries are produced from rare raw materials. I have never seen an assessment of reserves of Lithium versus demand, which shows that large scale adoption of EV’s is actually feasible with current Li-ion technology. Such assessments have been done for fossil fuels: world’s coal reserves are x times current annual demand, natural gas reserves are y times current annual demand, uranium and thorium reserves are z times current annual demand, etc.

  20. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ #15: How do you figure this? Isn’t the materials used to make the batteries Mined and refined and transported to said assembly area? Again,there is no free lunch.Tesla’s carbon footprint isn’t exactly clean as you think.

  21. Lisk Says:

    15) No carbon foot print at all is a mighty bold statement. The lithium has to be mined, most likely with diesel powered equipment. Same with the aluminum, iron, copper, etc. All those product will arrive by ship, truck and/or train to the gigafactory The plastics are carbon based (housings, wire wrapping) And based on Elon’s promises to date, just when will the Gigafactory employ the wind and solar power? Right at the moment and for any foreseeable future, I can’t think of any man made product that has a zero carbon foot print

  22. Wim van Acker Says:

    @20: valid point; just checked Wikipedia on Lithium. It says “According to the Handbook of Lithium and Natural Calcium, “Lithium is a comparatively rare element, although it is found in many rocks and some brines, but always in very low concentrations. text continued “”

    I am not a mining expert, but to me it seems that “very low concentrations” equates to “high energy needed for mining”. You need to break up large amounts of rocks or extract from large volumes of brine to mine the Lithium. And will need to refine what you get out of the rocks and brine.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The motor/generators in many EV’s and hybrids also use “rare earth” materials for the magnets. I don’t know how much supply is available, but it could be an issue when electrics reach high volume. Some EV’s use copper, or maybe aluminum field and armature windings, rather than permanent magnets, but I don’t know which ones.

  24. John McElroy Says:

    Great discussion going on here. The main point I’m trying to make is the need for life-cycle, cradle-to-cradle, emission regulations. Just because an EV doesn’t have a tailpipe doesn’t mean it’s a zero emissions vehicle. The next issue with BEVs I’ll be addressing is the problem with recycling lithium batteries. Probably in Wednesday’s Autoline Daily.

  25. Bob Wilson Says:

    I searched the Union of Concerned Scientist papers and found only one, November 2015, in the web link covering life cycle cost. It does not include this specific quote:

    “… the Union of Concerned Scientists says BEVs with 250 miles of range START out life …”

    Citing out of context from an unidentified UCS paper just one part of the life cycle cost, the “START,” is misleading.

    The Union of Concerned Scientist paper, pp. 4, I cited shows BEV cars have a lower total cost for combined operation, battery and vehicle manufacturing over the life-time:

    – 51% reduction for midsize gasoline vs 84-mile BEV
    – 53% reduction for full-size gasoline vs 265-mile BEV

    To test this claim, we have two plug-in hybrids, a 2017 Prius Prime and 2014 BMW i3-REx that cost $2.50-2.90 to go 100 miles, half the cost of the same cars on gasoline.

    Let me suggest reaching out to the author(s) of the UCS paper for an “Autoline After Hours” panel and include someone who claims EVs are dirty for an open discussion. Be sure and let both teams bring their backup data and cite it in the transcripts.

    It is delusional to think fuel efficient, battery powered and assisted cars are only bought by environmentalists and somehow throwing dirt on them works. For me, the only green I care about are the Greenback, Yankee dollars we keep in our wallets instead of burning them up at the pump.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  26. Marc Lapointe Says:

    Hi John,
    Love the show. As an auto industry retiree I’ve been listening longer than I wish to admit. Enjoyed the piece on lifecycle costs and emissions of EVs. I was doing an MBA in the early 2000s and did a research project on Pedelecs, electric power assisted bikes. As part of my research I found a paper on lifecycle emissions of electric bikes written by Chinese researchers. The Chinese wanted to take the highly polluting tuk-tuks off the road. The papers conclusion: an electric bike with a lead acid battery had no advantage over the tuk-tuk. Later I found papers on disposal problems with batteries. There is no free lunch.

  27. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #20 G.A., Right you are, and also as stated in John’s commentary (irregardless of the source of electricity), there is a “crossroads” of sorts when the ICE and Electric change from one being less polluting. Some may and some may not reach the point of benefit. Scrutiny must be used before the damnation of the ICE.

  28. Bob Wilson Says:

    Sorry about that last posting, web link appears to be mangled. Hopefully this one citing the November 2015 UCS paper works and if not:

    Still, it give a opportunity to address some of the comments:

    #9 – Fortunately the EPA web site,, has done the math:
    – Bolt -> 28 kWh/100 mi, $2.80 at Huntsville electric rates ($0.10/kWh)
    – Cruze -> 2.9 gal/100 mi, $6.09 at Huntsville gas prices ($2.10/gal)

    Fortunately, about 1/3d of my EV electricity is free from merchants who want my business. I’ve yet to find any giving away gasoline or diesel.

    #24 – Hopefully you will include the whole sale price of the metals used to make these batteries:

    $27.44/lb – Cobalt
    $ 5.16 – Nickel

    Failed batteries would be an excellent ore because they are already concentrated compared to natural sources and the right mix to make more. Just there aren’t enough failed batteries except from crashed cars.

    As for salvage or crashed Prius, their batteries are repurposed supporting a cottage business of battery rebuilders.

    This nonsense about “life-cycle” fails to document there are specific industries and independent costs associated with operation and ‘salvage’ (i.e., junk yards and auto collision insurance.) So there are strategies to reduce these costs and built-in to operational cost is a +50% reduction in per mile cost to drive BEV cars.

    Bob Wilson

  29. Brett Cammack Says:

    What percentage of the global market for this form of battery is comprised of EV utilization?

    I suspect that tsk-tsking about EV batteries it straining at gnats compared to the impact of cellphone, tablet, and laptop batteries.

    Yes, I know that proportion will change as EV acceptance and availability ramps up over time.

  30. Danny Turnpaugh Says:

    When the political elites and liberal Hollywood people stop telling us what we should do and then they fly around the country with a carbon footprint and wasting fuel. Then maybe I’ll give up my 5500 pond pickup with 1 person in it.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, a lot of people who have no need for them drive huge trucks “because they can.” And yeah, flying is very inefficient, but politicians and entertainers of all political stripes do a lot of it.

  32. RickW Says:

    Something that’s rarely mentioned regarding CO2 emmissions are the 10′s of thousands diesel cargo ship that have lengths of 6, 7 and 800 ft, spewing exhaust all around the globe also.

    Would love to know the break down of percentages of automobiles, trucks busses, etc,i.e. Ground Transportation compared to Airlines and Cargo Ships.

    I read once that if Cargo Ships would just slow there speeds down it would have tremendous impact on emissions and actually help the ports handle the volume of containers arriving in any given day.
    Most ships arrive early and have to wait days to be off-loaded due to back-log.
    By regulating or coordinating their timing into each port it could have a tremendous positive impact in reducing the carbon emissions being put out by these huge consumers of fossil fuels globally.

  33. Anthony Parisio Says:

    About the Ev emissions. It seems to me if you are going to talk about the energy and emissions used to make batteries than you should compare them to the energy and emissions in the production of gasoline. To compare a battery’s production to the production of an unfueled gas car is very illogical and unfair. The day to day pollution created in the production of gasoline is a major consideration but seldom mentioned.

    Also an other seldom talked about is the pollution that comes from gas cars is not limited to only carbon dioxide. The particulates that they expel are carcinogens that have no safe limits. They are so small no filter can stop them. They are one of the leading cause of leukemia and lung cancer.

    Why don’t you mention any of these facts in your articular?

  34. Lambo2015 Says:

    #31 I agree that in comparing the impact of an EV to a ICE engine you need to capture the whole picture but gas production isn’t the same as battery. It should be;
    Gas production vs Electricity production
    Engine Trans vs Elect motor and battery
    And then the disposal of a ICE vehicle vs an EV when they have served their lifecycle.

  35. Lambo2015 Says:

    To go even one step further in the comparison I would say things like oil changes should be included, as an ICE would consume about 20 to 30 gallons of oil over 200k miles. Axle lube transmission fluid and any other oil based product that is different from an EV should be included. As you mentioned the types of emissions should be taken into consideration too.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #30 Cargo ships are, by far, the most efficient way to transport cargo, more than twice as efficient as even trains, according to this, and other articles I found.

    The speed the ships run is a compromise between fuel usage and trip duration. A bad thing about ships, especially when they are near, and upwind of a land mass, is that the engine exhaust is very dirty.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s dirty, as with NOx, particulates, and especially, sulfur, with the “bunker oil” they burn.

  38. Bob Wilson Says:

    #36 – I would only add that once the ship is at the dock, a fleet of less efficient trucks are running around moving the containers to distribution centers. Then others are bringing the next load to the ship. Small wonder that Toyota’s first practical fuel-cell truck is under test at Port of Los Angles. Take the ship cargo capacity times two and there are the port source of the vast majority of port pollution.

    NOTE: the link is a YouTube showing the Toyota fuel-cell truck.

  39. stephen Says:

    Used BEV batteries are being recycled to be home storage like the powerwall. See Eaton who take older Nissan Leaf batteries. Every one of these sold will cut peak power use and off-peak car charging. Smelting all those batteries is not green much as smelting Lead-Acid batteries for recycling is either.
    As for zero emission- no car is zero emission if we include the cradle to grave energy usage. All car makers are looking to add in more recycled content (Fords F150 aluminium can be smelted for use in the next Ford truck) – ICE car or BEV.
    As to Ships – most have slowed down to cut fuel use already. LA Port mandates cleaner fuel as it approaches port and offers onshore plug-in power instead of idling dirty diesel. Many older ships are being scrapped now and ever bigger container ships cram more containers for the same trip. LNG powered ships are appearing and eliminating bunker fuel (the dirtiest diesel sold). Europe is mandating cleaner bunker fuel in its busiest waters or no access and the US is moving that way.
    John says ICE developments are boosting MPG but the gains are in single figures. The ICE gives you a 20% thermal efficiency ie 80% of the fuel is wasted (BEVs waste 40%). Most emissions are from “cold” start and for most of us, this is modern driving not the open free roads like the car makers disney like adverts.

  40. Al573 Says:

    F1 is claiming efficiency’s of over 50% for their power units. from race engine technology magazine