Those of us who write professionally about electric vehicles are used to seeing the mainstream media get it wrong, and it’s often not intentional. Even pro-EV articles in mainstream newspapers and magazines usually contain a certain amount of misinformation, as it has been entrenched in the industry for years.
Above: Tesla’s Model Y (Source: EVANNEX; Photo by Casey Murphy)
I’m a long time fan The New Yorkr, an excellent magazine that features in-depth reporting on a wide variety of topics. I was delighted to see a recent play, America’s Favorite Pickup Truck Goes Electricwhich dealt with the Ford F-150 Lightning, and more broadly on the growing popularity of electric vehicles. Alas, I was disappointed when I read the article and came across several misleading statements.
Author John Seabrook discussed the environmental impact of electric vehicle battery production and how battery capacity decreases over time. To be fair, both are valid concerns, but Mr Seabrook has greatly simplified both issues and made them much more problematic than they are – although, to his credit, he may have been unaware that he s These were two common ducks who are endlessly exaggerated and dishonestly misrepresented by the anti-VE crowd.
He also stated that “due to the terms of Tesla’s onerous patent, [Tesla Superchargers] are not compatible with Ford EVs and other EVs”, which is not strictly accurate (it’s a matter of technical incompatibility, not patents), and seemed misleading to me, because it doesn’t did not mention the fact that You’re here developed his property Compressor system at a time when no other automaker offered DC fast charging, nor the fact that the company is now starts to open his system electric vehicles from other car manufacturers.
As a public service (and means of self-promotion), I wrote a letter to the new yorker in which I addressed the issues with the article, and my letter was published in the March 7, 2022 issue of the magazine.
Now, before you attack The New Yorker with your online torches and pitchforks, let me point out two things. First of all, the article was by no means an anti-EV blockbuster piece – it was a balanced overview that was based on numerous interviews, and the inaccuracies were the kind that are hard to pin down. avoid when a stranger writes on a highly technical area (yes, I’ve been guilty of that myself). Second, for a publication to acknowledge its mistakes is a sign of good journalism – lesser magazines, especially in these click-through times, rarely bother to correct mistakes in past stories.
Out of necessity, The New Yorker condensed my letter and adapted it to their house style (which includes, among other quaint peculiarities, an emphasis on writing numbers). Also, as news publications do, they omitted the quotes I included to back up my claims (if there are no quotes, it’s not non-fiction). So, dear readers, I thought you might like to read the longer original version of my letter, and There you go.
LETTER TO NEW YORKERS
I enjoyed reading John Seabrook’s article on the coming wave of electric pickups, and agree with much of what he has to say.
I’ve been a long-time subscriber to The New Yorker, and I appreciate (and envy) the level of access your writers enjoy, and the incredible amount of time they can devote to their research. However, even the most in-depth research is sometimes no substitute for the vast knowledge that comes from writing about a specific topic all day, every day.
I’ve been a full-time writer on electric vehicles for the past decade. I’ve published several thousand articles on electric vehicles, including at least a dozen on the Ford F-150 Lightning. I identified several misleading statements in Mr. Seabrook’s article (admittedly, fewer than in most EV-related articles I’ve read in the mainstream media). Mr. Seabrook may not realize that a few of the issues he touches on briefly have been discussed in detail in scientific publications and the electric vehicle trade press for more than a decade.
(1) Seabrook cites a single scientist who said it takes 25,000 miles of driving for the low tailpipe emissions of an electric vehicle to negate the environmental footprint of battery manufacturing. Rahul Malik is an eminent battery scientist, but he is far from the only one to have studied this very complex problem, and others have found much shorter periods to nullify the vehicle’s “climate backpack”. electric.
A model developed by Argonne National Laboratory (which includes thousands of parameters) indicates that a Tesla Model 3 driven in the United States would achieve lifetime emissions parity with a Toyota Corolla after 21,500 km. (https://www.Reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/when-do-electric-vehicles-become-cleaner-than-gasoline-cars-2021-06-29/)
Tesla’s 2020 Impact Report (https://www.tesla.com/ns_videos/2020-tesla-impact-report.pdf) claims that “a Model 3 has lower lifetime emissions than an equivalent ICE [internal combustion engine] after covering 5,340 miles.
Mr. Seabrook’s statement is a vast oversimplification at best (as I suspect Dr. Malik or any battery researcher would agree). Obviously he couldn’t get into the specifics of the article, but he should have at least noted that the relative emissions footprint of an electric vehicle varies significantly depending on the particular model in question, the mix of generations of the region where it is driven, and of course the ICE vehicle to which it is compared.
A 2020 study from the Eindhoven University of Technology (https://www.oliver-krischer.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/English_Studie.pdf) cites several concrete examples. In Europe, the lifetime carbon emissions of a Volkswagen e-Golf are 54% lower than those of a Toyota Prius; the emissions of a Tesla Model 3 are 65% lower than those of a diesel Mercedes-Benz C220d.
The “long exhaust pipe” problem, as it’s known in the industry, has been the subject of dozens of scientific studies (as well as thousands of anti-EV success stories). I’ve been reporting on this for about a decade, and the vast majority of published studies have shown that the carbon emissions of an EV’s life cycle (including raw materials, manufacturing, production of electricity and disposal at end of life) are far lower than those of an ICE vehicle, even if the EV is charged with non-renewable energy.
The latest dose of debunking comes from Yale University, where a new study (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27247-y) found that the total indirect emissions of electric vehicles are small compared to those of fossil-fuel vehicles.
In a 2020 article, I listed some of the studies that looked at this topic: https://chargedevs.com/newswire/new-study-reaffirms-carbon-emissions-of-evs-lower-than-ices-lists-flaws-in-long-tailpipe-arguments/.
(2) Seabrook says electric vehicle batteries are “designed to last no more than eight to ten years.” I’m not sure exactly what he means by “rated”, but the statement is very misleading at best. All EV batteries are warranted against failure for 8 years by federal law (in California it’s 10 years). Battery capacity gradually decreases over time. Several studies have measured real-world battery degradation over a period of years and concluded that a typical EV battery should retain usable capacity for many years, after which it can be reused in a storage application. stationary. I don’t know if Mr. Seabrook asked any battery engineers at Ford or Rivian about this, but I doubt anyone would have agreed that their batteries would be scrap-ready after ten years.
The Eindhoven study states: “Empirical data shows that modern batteries will most likely last more than 500,000 km. New studies claim that two million km are possible with current technology. I can provide more detailed quotes upon request.
(3) The fact that Tesla superchargers are not accessible to owners of other electric vehicles is not so much a matter of patents as a simple business decision. Tesla operates the Supercharger network as a service offered only to its customers. The company recently announced its intention to open the network to electric vehicles from other brands and is slowly starting to do so on a pilot basis.
Chief Editor, Accused
Written by: Charles Morris