The problem with electric vehicles

 For starters, while EVs don’t burn fuel, you need to charge the battery which, of course, requires energy. And where does that energy come from? More often than not, it comes from the very thing the use of EVs is supposed to be replacing. Photo credit: Pexels/dcbel


For years now we’ve been hearing about the wonders of electric vehicles (EVs). Enormous amounts of money have been spent by governments to entice people to buy them, from subsidies to free charging stations. 

Here in Canada, the Trudeau Liberals have already subsidised EVs at a cost of $1 billion. Another $680 million in the next five years will go toward the Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) to build an entire new infrastructure of charging stations. 

In Ontario, Doug Ford’s government are ready “to become a North American hub for the next generation of electric vehicles,” and Ford’s PCs have recently committed to matching a $295 million investment from the Trudeau’s Liberals to retool the Ford Oakville Assembly Complex to become a global hub for battery electric vehicle production. 

Electric vehicles are held up as the great green alternative to gas-powered vehicles. In fact, the federal government has set a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks to be zero-emission by 2035 [read: electric and not gas-powered]. This is even more ambitious than their previous goal of 100 per cent sales by 2040.

And, it seems, virtually the entire Canadian political class has either embraced or surrendered to the seemingly unstoppable momentum of EVs.

Well, here’s an interesting twist. Just the other week it was revealed that the Swiss government is considering legislation that would make it illegal for people to drive EVs over the winter except when it’s “absolutely necessary”. 

Yes, you read that correctly. The Swiss government is discouraging people – to the point of making it illegal! – from driving their electric cars.  

Why? Simple: there is not enough energy supply in Switzerland to power them. 

Confused? How can this be?  

Let me explain.

During the summer months, Switzerland gets around 60 per cent of its energy from hydropower. But in the winter, hydro can’t produce enough energy, so the country imports a lot of electricity from France and Germany – both of which have long been dependent on Russian oil and gas imports. 

Now that those “fossil fuels” have largely been cut off, these various European countries – not just Switzerland – are facing severe energy shortages this winter. This means that there won’t be enough electricity for people to charge their EVs. This move highlights the obvious flaw in this push towards electrification, especially EVs. While EVs don’t burn fuel, you need to charge the battery which, of course, requires energy. 

Still confused? Right – perhaps you have never stopped to consider where the “energy” comes from that powers the EV charging stations? 

Or did you just think that it was “magic” that powered the EVs?

Almost everywhere in the world, the charging stations are getting a lot of their power from oil and gas – the very same “fossil fuel” energy that EVs were supposed to replace. In many places, the power is coming from coal. 

So, to be clear, most countries typically need coal or oil or gas as a source of energy to power the charging stations, the very charging stations upon which many EV owners “power” their smug virtue-signalling.

Some EV owners think, and even say out loud, that they are more concerned about the environment than you are. How can they say this? Well, this is because they have an electric vehicle, while you drive a gas-guzzling vehicle that is destroying the planet.  

All the while, their very same electric vehicle most likely gets its energy, ultimately, from the same sort of greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuel that you do.

Ahem. (There are many other issues with EVs including the very expensive batteries with materials mined out of the earth, which is hardly a “zero emission” activity, or the reliability of the vehicles in our northern climate.)

Consider too that here in Canada, the Trudeau government is pushing hard for us to move away from fossil fuels which provide reliable base power to our grid, towards renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which are unreliable and intermittent. 

Now imagine how this could play out over the next decades. If governments follow through on their plans to ban traditional gas-powered vehicles, it is their stated hope that everyone will have to drive an EV. 

But, at the same time, governments want to shut down the traditional energy sector which – for the foreseeable future – provides most of the energy supply that powers EVs. If we’re forced to get all our power from wind and solar, that just means most people will never be able to drive anywhere.

We should consider what is happening in Switzerland as a warning shot. Our energy grids simply cannot provide enough power for electric vehicles, and this move towards EVs for everyone will fail. The Trudeau government is promoting a short-sighted, virtue-signalling policy that will cause significant societal harm along the way. 

Maybe the disastrous situation in Europe this winter will lead to some long-overdue second thoughts about EVs, and the whole climate change agenda. 

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