Free Markets, Free People

Coal powered, er electric cars, not as efficient as EPA claims?

Why I’d be shocked, shocked I tell you if that was the case.

The tease:

The Green Machine is now exposing how the US Government can choose to create data that disobey the laws of thermodynamics so that the worthless government policy of favoring plug in vehicles over gas or diesel powered vehicles can be supported by the public. Yes the US EPA chooses to make 34.4% equal to 100%.

Hmmm … I’m hooked, let’s see why:

The EPA allows plug in vehicle makers to claim an equivalent miles per gallon (MPG) based on the electricity powering the cars motors being 100% efficient. This implies the electric power is generated at the power station with 100% efficiency, is transmitted and distributed through thousands of miles of lines without any loss, is converted from AC to DC without any loss, and the charge discharge efficiency of the batteries on the vehicle is also 100%. Of course the second law of thermodynamics tells us all of these claims are poppycock and that losses of real energy will occur in each step of the supply chain of getting power to the wheels of a vehicle powered with an electric motor.

So the 118 mpg equivalent that the EPA allows the Honda Fit is nonsense?  Tell me it ain’t so!

Well it is simple the US EPA uses a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline to calculate the equivalent MPG of an electric vehicle.

Dr. Chu Chu of the Department of Entropy is instructing the EPA on thermodynamics in coming up with the 33.7 kwh per gallon. On a heating value of the fuel 33.7 kwh equals 114,984 BTUS which is indeed the lower heating value of gasoline. The fit needs 286 watt hours to travel a mile and the Green Machine agrees with this for the 2 cycle US EPA test with no heating, cooling or fast acceleration. Using this amount of energy per mile and the 33.7 kwh “contained” in a gallon of gas, the EPA calculates the Fit gets 118 MPG equivalent.

All of these calculations are in fact flawed as the generation of electricity, the transmission and distribution of electricity, the conversion of the AC electricity into DC electricity, and the charging and discharging of the vehicle batteries all have energy losses associated with these activities. The average efficiency of power generation is perhaps 42.5%, the transmission and distribution efficiency is perhaps 90%, the AC to DC conversion and the battery charge discharge efficiency is about 90%. Multiplying all these efficiencies one can calculate that the overall efficiency is 34.4% to get electric power from fuels at the power station into stored electrons within the plug in vehicle’s batteries.

On this basis the 118 MPG equivalent is 40.6 MPG actual for the Honda Fit which is not much of an improvement to the gasoline version of this vehicle that has an EPA rating of 35 MPG combined for city and highway driving.

Uh, that’s quite a little downgrade in performance, isn’t it?  Nothing like being 190% off, EPA.

However, I am glad to see the administration has finally taken the politics out of science and has “real” science again serving the public’s best interest.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Another "green jobs" success story

And yes, I’m being snarky. The only folks that got anything green was the company that folded. The taxpayers, of course and as usual, got the shaft:

A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line.

The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company.

The “money trail”:

The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a \$300,000 community development grant.

When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional \$240,000. Green Vehicles also received \$187,000 from the California Energy Commission.

So here we have government taking taxpayer money and picking "winners". Wonder how many police and fireman all that money would have paid? Wonder who the Salinas government is going to claim it has to lay off first when budget crunch time hits? Because we all know state and local governments in California are doing fine financially, don’t we?

Yet this sort of fiscal nonsense is rampant in government today.  They seem to think it is their job, at all levels, to intrude in areas they have no business intruding and pick winners according to an agenda with little understanding, apparently, as to what it actually takes to succeed in doing so.  You know, like there has to be a market, the firm has to be adequately financed (for more than a couple of months) and it has to have a long-term and viable business plan that actually passes a sanity check.

Instead it seems, at least based on this story, that “just words” got the Salinas government in a real “hope and change” attitude:

Last year, Salinas city officials said they were excited about Green Vehicles moving from San Jose to Salinas because they wanted to turn Salinas into a hub for alternative energy production.

City leaders wooed Green Vehicles to jump-start the sputtering local company and turn Salinas into an "electric valley." Donohue and Weir both voiced their high hopes for Green Vehicles.

The start-up company promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs and pay \$700,000 in taxes a year to Salinas.

Green Vehicles was supposed to be up and running by March 2010 inside their 80,000-square-foot space at Firestone Business Park off of Abbot Street.

Ryan had lofty goals, listing his company’s mission as: "To make the best clean commuter vehicles in the world; To manufacture with a radical sense of responsibility; To engage in deep transparency as an inspiration for new ways of doing business."

Green Vehicles designed two vehicles, the TRIAC 2.0 and the MOOSE, which it planned to manufacture.

On July 12, Ryan wrote a blog post announcing that his company was closing.

"The truth is that not realizing the vision for this company is a huge disappointment," Ryan wrote.

So they invited a company that was obviously already underfunded with promises of money and a great mission statement? What could possibly go wrong with that?

Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Uh, so as Economic Development Director for the city, Mr. Weir didn’t know that before they made the big offer and threw all the taxpayer money at the company?  No indication of it when the company was in San Jose?

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned.

Oh, well yeah, that’s the important part to be “irked” about – not the half mil of taxpayer money they threw down a rat-hole in an iffy company that officials obviously didn’t check out.

This is why governments should be held to doing only those functions they’re best suited to do.  If I were a Salinas resident, I’d be petitioning for recall elections for the idiots who threw taxpayer money away in a time of fiscal difficulty.  When the mayor tells the people of that city that he’s going to have to lay off cops and fire fighters first, my reaction would be, “oh, no – we think the mayor and the Econ Dev Director should be laid off first since they just cost taxpayers a half mil in a stupidity tax”.

Yes, I know, radical idea – accountability.

Oh … and by the way, who names a car the “Moose”?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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