If you’ll take careful note, I never once used the reference green in my post regarding the New York Times’, ahem, less than stellar, review of the Tesla Model S. What’s at stake here isn’t the measure of green that Tesla Motors reaches, but the performance of the vehicle itself. As with all new technologies, you have to know how to use it, and electric vehicles are no different.
Blame the Machine
Let’s not talk about electric vehicles for the moment, but washing machines. I just sold my washing machine to my neighbor, who’s been doing laundry by hand for the last thirty years. Her husband is keen on getting this new machine to give his wife more free time. How many of us still do laundry by hand? Here in the highlands of Perú, this is still the norm, and even though many of the people have electricity, running water, and even hot water in some cases, they always say the same thing, “Washing machines don’t clean as well as by hand.”
The first thing I note about these people is they do not know how to use a washing machine. Of course they don’t, because they’ve never used one before, nor read the instructions. Come to think of it, there are thousands of people in fully developed countries that still do not know how to use a washing machine. They throw in clothes without pre-treating stains, stuff the machine beyond its capacity, add four times more soap than necessary, then press ‘Start.’
When the clothes aren’t clean, or they itch because there’s so much soap left in the clothes, what do they do? Do they blame themselves for not knowing how to use the machine? Of course not! It’s the machine’s fault. Sure, a reviewer might compare one washing machine to another, but you can’t really compare it to hand washing. Like comparing apples and oranges, washing machines and hand washing, or electric vehicles and conventional vehicles, it just can’t be done.
Performance and Greenness
Now, back to the Tesla Model S. I am not talking about whether the electric vehicle is green or not, but how it performs. It is accepted fact that the more you use your accessories, the more energy you use. Bones said it best, “I cannot change the laws of physics!” Not only this, but the faster you drive, drag becomes an increasing weight on any vehicle’s efficiency.
As far as being green goes, I’m fairly certain that electric vehicles are the best direction to go. If powered by renewable energy, could be the best thing we’ve got. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, essentially electric vehicles with on-board generators, if they can get the infrastructure in place, actually could be better considering convenience.
For the most part, electric vehicles generate less greenhouse gases than their conventional counterparts, as shown by my own calculations and independent studies. Is the technology perfect? No, but how do you explain the many happy Tesla Model S owners? I’m sure if buyers weren’t happy with their $50-$85K purchase, they’d be howling! Also, what about other independent tests? One bad review by one reporter merely points out where the test procedure was flawed, and perhaps where technology can still be improved.
Ben has been a Master Automobile Technician for over ten years, certified by ASE, Toyota, and Lexus. He specialized in electronic systems and hybrid technology. Branching out now, as a Professional Freelance Writer, he specializes in research and writing about his main area of interest, Automotive Technology, Alternative Fuels, and Concept Vehicles.
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Join the Discussion4109 total comments so far. What's your opinion ?
Ben, excellent analogy. I found it surprising (somewhat) that the Times energy writer of all people lacked an understanding of EV performance parameters in cold weather. They still work in the cold, and the Model S can make long trips. You just have to use them differently than you would an ICE vehicle. In exchange for the convenience trade-off, you get cheap, clean fuel, almost zero maintenance, and a clear conscience about not supporting corrupt oil regimes! ... Keep up the good work.
Ben, Great Analogy!! Most of us do not step back and understand what is at the crux of the issue. Same kind of inhibitions came in when one moved from horses to cars. I also remember anecdotes when my grandparents moved from using firewood to propane in India. They said the food does not taste the same, its dangerous, and to the point that cooking with propane caused digestive problems. I myself had issues converting from a gas stove to electric stove when I came to the states, I could not calibrate myself and the food would get burnt the first few times. Then, you figure it out and go along your merry ways.
Thanks for your comment :) And how many of the people here are cooking on wood fires in their homes and suffering from lung cancer now? Back to electric vehicles, how many people are suffering because of climate change brought on by the increase of carbon dioxide emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Age? Electric vehicles aren't the cure, but they're a great step in the right direction.