Electric cars roundup: recent news

For a variety of reasons, over the last few months, I have not written as often as I would like. As such, I have accumulated quite a few articles that I wish to mention. While the animal articles require their own space, others do not. As such, this post will include electric car news from all over the world. Dates are a little muddled (and may be relatively out of date), and it is possible that with some of these, changes have been made. We are working hard on improving the website, which is taking much of our time, we hope to have a breakthrough soon. Below is a list of articles written, click on read more to read each of the articles listed.

-The Tesla s P100D has a 0-60 time of 2.28 seconds

Department of Transport in the UK has a new scheme which will help with the cost of installing charging points in places like schools and similar

 –China wants us to buy its electric cars

  –2023 best selling car was the Tesla model Y 

 –A new possible battery breakthrough would both cut the cost of batteries, and bring down the length of time it would take to charge to something similar to that of filling up a petrol or diesel tank 

 –when will all UK cars be pure electric 

Volkswagen is loosing the electric car race to China and Tesla 

EU has set a target of 30 million electric cars on its roads by 2030

 –The Chinese government is promising to rein in the number of electric cars its companies are making, so as to not flood the west

Freezing temperature are known for reducing electric car range, caused long queues for charging  

 –Autocar published an article looking at how green electric cars actually are

Paris Mayor plans to triple SUV parking tariffs to cut air pollution

Continue reading

The critically endangered Regent honeyeater may have new hope

This critically endangered species of honeyeater has a renewed hope of survival. They have become so rare, that the juveniles have started mimicking other bird species, because they hear the sounds of their own species so rarely.

The new speck of hope comes from the fact that captive birds have bred after being released.

There are an estimated 2200 species in Australia which are in some way endangered. This species is endangered for the same reason that many of these are – loss of habitat. Agricultural land, forest clearing, logging and the expansion of coal seam gas drilling was predicted to wipe out this bird, but thankfully they have survived.

Around 140 birds have been released to help bolster the population and have been shown to have bred with wild birds. With just 300 wild birds left, every extra breeding bird can make a large difference.

Sperm whales make direction decisions democratically

Researchers have found that sperm whales decide on which way to turn democratically. While these whales only socialize with members of their own clan. You might think that this might restrict them, but generally clans have 20,000 females, making these groups huge (one of the distinguishing marks of the clan is by vocal dialects – which may end up as symbolic markers of the clan identity).

When travelling in a group they can take over 1 hour to decide which way to turn. These groups can be extremely large, and yet decide things together. Decisions like direction and speed of travel and also when to feed. While it is not clear how they reach consensus or how they “speak” to each other, it is clear that decisions are made together.

How do animals like beavers and otters stay clean underwater (and benefit their environment at the same time)

A British beaver living out its life on the the river Otter in Devon

Anyone who has removed a branch or similar from a pond, will remember the incredible quantity of weed that will have wrapped around it. Any surface which lies underwater, tends to accumulate variety of things which makes it “grimy”. From dirt to algae and even bacteria, the process is called fouling.

However, animals like otters and beavers do not have to spend large amounts of time removing these substances from their fur – Why? This ability comes in part from the fur itself, where each hair can bend and flex as the animal moves, and a recent study showed that this ability to move allows the accumulation of dirt to be less than half of that when the hair is held steady at both ends (or for instance in hair that does not sway). This is a big issue in places such as boat, and people are working on ways to stop this.

It is fascinating the way that so many human processes take their inspiration from the natural world.

Beaver dams create barriers which allow all these bad substances to be removed. Dams block large quantities of soil, manure, slurry and fertilisers from rivers and streams, The stationary water allows substances like fertilizers and other chemical substances to sink to the bottom and be removed from the river ecosystem. Both the European beaver and the American beaver have the same impact on their water environment. While otters do not have the same dam making ability, they do have cleaning impacts on their environments as well.

It is well known, that while otters and beavers are often not the first species to return after a river is polluted, they can accelerate the process.

Ford has made clear its aim to take on Tesla and BYD by launching cheap electric cars

Is this news to anyone? It is known that the car industry is in a race to move to electric. Given the vast saving for the end line consumer, the huge reduction in pollution, and the fact that many countries have already set dates where combustion engine car sales will be banned, surely the response to this news is ” why have you not made this move before?

What is clear, is that ford is developing a smaller and cheaper EV platform. Well this is great, but everyone is trying to create small affordable electric cars.

Now, how many of these small cars is ford aiming to sell? Currently, ford makes a $28,000 loss on each electric cars. Which means that they need to bring this down, or 2 million electric cars sold my ford would cause a huge loss.

Tesla is making progress on their own cheap model – the so called tesla model 2. This is aimed to hit the target of $25,000, or around £18,000, and they are expecting to make millions of this model, which does not seem unreasonable.

We need to remember, that while we look on ford as an old car company (and they are) at the current moment, they are not bigger than tesla. So in 2023 tesla sold 1.81 million vehicles, all electric, while ford sold 1.99 million, however only 72,000 of these were electric. If in the future, only electric cars count, then perhaps we should already be looking at ford as the minnow in a pond with a huge shark that is tesla. If we look at profit, this might make this clearer, Ford made profits of $4.3 billion, while Tesla made profits of 15 billion.

So, is Ford a tiny electric car maker, or not? Is it going to become one of the most profitable electric car makers, or is it going to become a small car maker? Time will tell, however, the problem is that the 2 million small electric cars that ford says its is targeting, is also the same number that Tesla is going to be targeting. Can the world demand sustain 2 million from each? Possibly, in the future, but Ford may well find that diving into the pond of small Electric cars is a hard place to make money, and finding enough demand for 2 million electric cars may well prove to be the harder part of the transition.

Time will tell, but they certainly have their work cut out for them.

Sperm whales can take over an hour to decide together which way to go

Family of spermwhales underwater near water surface, shot from below photo credit italy sokol-dbw8sol

Generally, only spending time with their clan (numbering around 20,000), it seems that decisions about where to go, are made cooperatively in a democratic way.

Taking up to an hour to make the decision about the direction of travel, they can often travel in large groups making communal decisions about destination, route and speed, as well as when to feed and what to do about predators.

Some of these clans live over large areas, split by as much as thousands of kilometres, and it is thought to be akin to language forming in humans. Interestingly, these clans can share areas of the sea, but will only spend time with other members of their clan. Social units within clans, are based around the females, with each unit consisting of around 10 females with their offspring. These become very close, with other females babysitting young while their mothers make deep dives to feed – even suckling is done as a group.

The sperm whale has a brain which is thought to be larger than any other animal to ever live.

Over a million were killed for their very pure oil, between 1712 and 1982. There are thought to be around 300,000 in the worlds oceans, however, before whaling it is thought that there were 1.1 million.

Rishi Sunak continuing to face pressure over plans to max out North Sea Oil

I wrote a month ago, about Rishi Sunak and the foolish plans of the UK government to try to max out oil production from the North Sea. The governments argument was that it would help bring down costs for UK people.

This is an image from a youtube video suggesting that Rishi Sunak has investments that will benefit from this move. Whether this is true or not, he will be remembered as a prime minister who locked the UK into oil and gas at a time where the best financial move, as well as climate move is to divest fast. Should you wish to see this video yourself, Click here I would argue a fascinating subject, but beyond the scope of this site.

Unfortunately, this argument bares no water, as the extracted fossil fuels would be sold on the open market, and there would be no discount at all in the UK. As such, this will do nothing to help the UK people save money, merely give some fossil fuel companies some money, and potentially some tax revenue for the UK government, though whether this is worth the costs that will have to be paid is the future is being questioned increasingly loudly.

What is unfortunately clear, is that the things that are going to be best for the UK public is additional insulation in houses, and renewable energy. Unfortunately these are two projects which the government is increasingly eager to turn its back on.

The green housing grants, during Covid, were aimed at improving the housing stock of the UK, and it did, but only for around 1% of the houses that need to be dealt with. Furthermore, this was really a boost for the building firms, rather than the green housing grants in particular – they charged as much as possible, and the work did not really continue after the end of the period in question.

Why politicians keep spouting information that is so easily destroyed is hard to understand. It seems hard to believe that a man with the amount of money that Rishi Sunak and his wife has, would be influenced by the performance of his investment, however, given where we are going, I would argue that investing in fossil fuel extraction is a foolish move – whether in the next decade or further ahead, the fossil fuel industry must die, and it is likely to happen fast when it truly starts. Rishi Sunak has been accused of dodging scrutiny on this subject by failing to appoint a climate change committee chair (for over 18 months since Lord Deben retired) – and now the independent watchdogs chief executive has resigned in frustration. Given this position was there to keep the government to account on climate change and changes that will limit its effect

What is Rishi Sunak afraid of? Either he is attempting to avoid scrutiny, or he is incompetent – which is it?

A species back from extinction? A species of pine tree thought extinct for 2 million years has been found in Australia

Known as the Wollemi pine, the species evolved 91 million years ago, and was thought to have gone extinct 2 million years ago. However, in the blue mountains, west of Sydney a stand of 90 of these trees have been found. They were found in 1994, but their discovery has been kept quiet till now, while the national parks service of Australia has been planting small clumps of this tree in many other locations, in order to avoid this tree being lost in an accident.

This is a rare positive bit of news in a world where literally millions of species are considered endangered, from species of plant that you might never have heard of, to animals like the lion. We do not have time to celebrate for long, we must make sure as many others as possible will survive into the future.

It is sad to think that it is far harder to find animals or birds that are in a similar situation. This would be the equivalent of some dinosaur being found somewhere. What else is waiting to be found?

Should Hertz dumping 20,000 electric cars be a warning to car buyers?

So Hertz is downsizing its electric car fleet, just a few years after buying them. Should this put off electric car buyers? Well, I would argue no, and I suspect that Hertz will live to regret this day.

So have Hertz abandoned electric cars? Nope, it is true that in the current climate, they have scaled back their electric buying car program from 100,000 cars to just 50,000 cars, but this is still a significant number.

Given that in the USA they own around 500,000 cars (elsewhere it is mostly franchise so they do not own the cars) suggesting that at the current time, Hertz will have around 10% of its fleet as electric.

What has prompted this? Well, largely a higher cost of repair cost.

The problem for Hertz is simple. They get paid a rate, to rent the car, they save nothing by it being electric, on the other hand, the renter, might save plenty of money, as refueling can be far cheaper (though admittedly, with currently high electric prices on this side of the Atlantic, public chargers are often just as expensive as petrol.

So, no, this does not (as business insider suggests) mean the end of the electric car. In fact, given that they are selling around 20,000 electric cars, it is quite likely that it will boost the number of electric cars in public hands.

It is true, that some fixes are far more than they should be (we have found that) but it is also clear that overall, electric car owners save money. Whether this will accelerate the change or slow it down, time will tell. It is often the case that once experienced few want to go back to a fossil fuel car, so renting them is useful. Unfortunately, given the price, Hertz treated them as premium, which meant this had less affect than might otherwise have been the case.

I think they will come to regret this, the world is going electric, and the transition is accelerating around the world. It seems likely that they will have to reverse this change within a decade.

In 2021 the USA emitted 13.49% of world emissions, but if Donald Trump gets re-elected, it can only get worse

Do Americans really want to go back to this for 4 more years?

In 2021, the year after Donald Trump left the white house, the USA emitted roughly 13.49% of the world emissions. To put that in context, it is over twice the emissions from the 27 members of the EU and the UK combined (this is despite the USA having a population of 330 million vs almost 500 million across these 28 countries). So, how could Donald Trump make that worse?

Well, in the first Trump term, he was largely finding his way, and by shunning anyone with experience, it took quite some time. This will not be the case during a second time.

So what has happened since he left the white house, and what can he do.

During the last 4 years, major climate legislation did a number of things. These include reversing a move to end a crackdown on governmental climate scientists (because you dont want expert advisors working for the government?) a frenzy of oil and gas drilling permets, and making sure that the Paris climate accords were not only dead, but buried.

So what is expected of Donald Trumps second term if he gets in?

Just to start:

  • Driving forwards on fossil fuel production (as electric cars and heat pumps make these cheaper and far more efficient)
  • Side-lining mainstream climate scientists
  • Undoing and eliminating any rules about reducing planet-heating gases including carbon-dioxide and methane among others.

He is also likely to undo all the good moves that have occurred under president Biden (perhaps of highest priority, getting rid of the Inflation reduction act, which cost 370 billion dollars and was there to support clean energy and electric cars – without a single republican vote, and looked on as the biggest defeat republicans have had.

The American first Policy Institute (pro trump) critisized Bidens “apocalyptic green fantasies” and said “Our nation needs a level regulatory playing field for all forms of energy to compete, Achieving this level playing field will require the repeal of the energy and environment provisions withint the Inflation Reduction Act”. The act has already been gutted by the house, which is currently controlled by the Republicans (this as republicans continue to turn up for ribbon cutting occasions paid for by the act in question). Thankfully, though, these projects are so popular, it would appear impossible to fully get rid of them.

The stupidity of this move – aiming to undo what little progress has been made, should mean Trump being elected would be impossible, though whether it will is another matter. Global warming will hit America hard, furthermore, Americans could each save thousands through taking on these new ideas.

It is also not true that there is a war on oil and gas production, with record levels reached under Biden last year.

It would be a clear shot in the foot, and would likely lead to the USA returning to being a Pariah on the world stage. Whether the American population will be able to hear and understand this is a different question.

See Animals Wild