Ban on new thermal vehicles: suicide

Posted on November 7, 2022


On June 8, 2022, the European Parliament adopted a directive aimed at banning the marketing of thermal vehicles (cars and small utilities) from January 1, 2035. The decision has serious consequences in terms of its use and possibility for the citizen. “universal” The EV (Electric Vehicle) is far from being shown off. It is also fraught with consequences for the European car industry, which has had to completely rebuild itself in less than 15 years. The sector produces 7% of GDP and employs 10% of the manufacturing workforce.

What is an electric car used for?

Compared to thermal vehicles, electric vehicles are characterized by a short range and long charging times. These features converge to the same conclusion: an electric car is not a road vehicle, but an urban and suburban vehicle. Its application should be limited to small cars with low autonomy (20-30 kWh batteries), daily journeys of no more than 150 km and long charging times at low power sockets (<10 kW) used at home day and night. office. 75% of all kilometers traveled are for journeys of less than 100 km per day, while only 25% are for long-distance journeys. Despite its shortcomings, electromobility will play a decisive role in the mobility of the future.

Energy balance and carbon footprint of an electric vehicle

An electric car that burns no fuel is almost 100% efficient (20% to 30% for a thermal car). However, to these usage consumptions are added gray consumptions related to the high energy consumption required for the extraction, conditioning and assembly of the metals (cobalt, lithium, graphite) required for battery production. Over 100,000 km (guaranteed battery mileage), the energy used to produce the battery will increase the consumption of a city car by 36% (small battery 30 kWh) and more than double the consumption of a road car (large battery 90 kWh). ). 100% efficiency must therefore be widely modulated.

If it does not emit CO2 during its use, an EV is responsible for a lot of gray emissions during its life cycle. Depending on the source of electricity (coal, gas, fuel oil), electricity can be highly carbon-intensive: on average, Europe emits 250 gCO2 per kWh. The production of a high energy capacity battery is a process that emits a lot of CO2. According to the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, the production of a 1 kWh battery emits between 60 kg of CO2 and 100 kg of CO2.

A small city electric car emits 62% less CO2 than the thermal equivalent, on the other hand, an electric road car emits 8% more. As with use and consumption, long-distance electric mobility is disastrous in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.

Excessive consumption and excessive electricity

Total electrification of France’s current fleet would increase annual electricity consumption by 100 TWh, i.e. a 25% surplus compared to current consumption. Although significant, this growth is not a barrier. On the other hand, the excess demand for electricity (about 30 GW) is 40% of the nominal power consumed during peak times in winter. The generalization of electric mobility should therefore be accompanied by the implementation of additional subdivisions.

Finally, the management of long-distance electric mobility can be disastrous in days “the great transhumation”. Thus, on August 1, 42,000 high-power 240 kW terminals will be required to handle the critical flow of vehicles. An additional bottleneck that shows how electric mobility is not very suitable for long distances.

Batteries and rare metals: the question of European independence

Lithium-ion batteries, a key element of electric mobility, are currently produced mainly in Southeast Asia (80%).

But building batteries is not the only element of national independence that needs to be considered. Rare and semi-rare metals (cobalt, graphite and lithium) are very sparsely distributed on the earth’s surface. Thus, the DRC has more than half of the cobalt reserves, two-thirds of the graphite reserves in Brazil, China and Turkey, and three-quarters of the lithium reserves in Argentina and Chile.

The transition from thermal mobility to electric mobility will transform our dependence on oil to dependence on mining.

The result: balancing green mobility between electricity, hydrogen and biofuels

Electric mobility, as assumed by the EU, a “therapeutic” universal to replace thermal mobility. If it represents the most suitable solution for urban travel, its long-distance use is highly questionable in terms of use, consumption and CO2 emissions. Carbon-free alternatives over long distances are biofuels and hydrogen.

Covering 25% of journeys with hydrogen would require the production of 1.3 million tons of green H2 per year, which would require about 70 TWh of electricity and the construction of an expensive H2 distribution network.

By abandoning the construction of heat engines by 2035, Europe will implicitly deprive itself of another alternative (biofuel can even be used in current heat engines) in the form of hybrid cars combining bio-ethanol and electricity.

The end of the production of thermal cars in 2035, as proposed by the European Directive on the long-term vision of the hydrogen sector, will inevitably encourage engine manufacturers to create electric road cars and energy suppliers to equip road stations with high-power terminals. . Against all logic, this strategy could ultimately prove suicidal for the Old Continent.

The article was originally published June 20, 2022

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