As an impartial observer I was disgusted at the snide personal attack by Chris Erasmus on Keith Bryer in his letter (Business Report, October 14). In the first place, Erasmus’s opinions are heavily biased since he has a vested interest in the subject of electric vehicles. In the first paragraph he adopts a bellicose gloves-off attitude by accusing Bryer of misdirection, false information, and unclear thinking.
He even goes as far as labelling Bryer’s article as bordering on the insane. This is the sort of blanket unsubstantiated accusation adopted by many of those involved in the green movement – the epithets used are jargon used by disciples in the movement to vilify anyone who has the temerity to disagree with their bigoted opinions.
Bryer’s article is in no way insane and makes perfectly valid observations about the drawbacks of electric cars. It should be obvious to any unbiased observer that using an electric car is tantamount to running the vehicle mostly on coal.
What seems to have eluded Erasmus is that electricity is a medium used to transfer energy, and not a source of energy. He deliberately avoids the fact that in South Africa we are battling a shortage of electricity. Does he not watch television? We are bombarded with messages urging us to turn off all non-essential appliances as electricity consumption becomes critically high.
Yet Erasmus would have us all driving electric cars, which would push consumption way into the red. Please don’t trot out the old excuse that batteries would be charged at off-peak periods. If there were a general use of electric vehicles (EVs) there would be no off-peak times. Electricity consumption would constantly be in the red.
Has Erasmus done his homework in working out just how many kilowatts of power are used by all the vehicles on the roads using petrol?
Does he really think, in his blinkered view, that enough electricity could be generated to replace the enormous energy at present provided by oil?
He even admits that Bryer is correct in pointing out that EVs “at least for several years” will be burning coal to supply them with power. For several years? Bryer never used the phrase “for several years” – those are Erasmus’s words. Come off it. It would be more accurate to talk of decades, or even centuries.
When our coal resources are exhausted where will our energy come from. Windmills? Erasmus even admits that windmills would not be capable of supplying even a fraction of the power needed.
He talks vaguely about a mix of green solutions but doesn’t name them. Probably, whether we like it or not, we will be forced to use nuclear power – the alternative being a shutdown of all modern facilities.
Another point that Erasmus fails to point out is that the giant wind turbines would not be cost-effective if they were not heavily subsidised by green points. In fact, they probably would not exist at all.
Quite apart from the power supply problem with EVs, are a number of other disadvantages. The weight problem for a start. Batteries are heavy – even the latest lithium ion types – which makes for overall inefficiency.
Then there is the major drawback of range. Who would buy an expensive car that can only be used for short town trips? Even if electric supply points could be provided along intercity routes, what about the time taken to recharge batteries?
Imagine halfway between, say Durban and Johannesburg, I have to stop for an hour to recharge my car battery.
Or a long line of cars waiting for a plug-in point at the “filling station”. Wake up, Erasmus, and face reality, instead of deriding those who point out the practical difficulties of replacing petrol-driven cars with EVs. Has Erasmus forgotten the fate of South Africa’s attempt to manufacture an EV. Even with huge government subsidisation it turned out to be a financial disaster.
Wait for it – the inevitable criticism. If you are so anti-EV, what do you suggest as an alternative? Make no mistake, I am not anti-EV. I would love to own one as a second car to drift silently around town.
But as a large-scale replacement for petrol cars I see huge obstacles. In fact, there should be no need to replace internal combustion engines.
The solution is already in operation in countries like Brazil, where ethanol is a viable alternative. At the moment, it is used to mix with conventional fuel but it could, if needs be, replace petroleum entirely. Ethanol is in the final analysis solar power, in that plants convert sun power into usable energy, and do so more efficiently than man-made photovoltaic cells.
Another rather crass observation comes from Farouk Cassim on the same page, who suggests that the puny power generated by his 12 solar panels would be enough to power an electric car for 40km of travel a day. Charging an EV uses as much as three times the power used by an average household.
So much for Erasmus’s statement that it’s fine to have an opinion but that opinion should be based on fact. Do your homework, Cassim, lest you fall foul of Erasmus’s nasty pen.
I trust that Erasmus is not another green opportunist who jumps on the high moral platform of saving the planet, with a financial agenda.