Who’s afraid of electric vehicles? Busting the Kelly myths

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2018 has brought with it a new debate on the benefits or otherwise of electric vehicles.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg kicked things off with a press release and several interviews in January.

In these, Frydenberg highlighted the inevitable growth in the number of EVs on Australia’s roads, growing consumer demand, the emergence of a growing second-hand fleet, courtesy of corporate and government fleet sales rolling over, and even conceded that the fuel cost of a 300-km journey in an electric vehicle is currently about a third of that of a petrol-fuelled car”.

It seems  clear that he is a fan and likes the idea.

On the other hand, we have Liberal MP Craig Kelly’s ignorant rant on ABC radio and comments to The Australian claiming electric cars “created more carbon dioxide pollution than petrol vehicles.”

Kelly, you may remember, is the same guy who said “renewable energy is killing people this winter because subsidies are driving up power prices.” He is also a renowned climate sceptic and a die-hard Tony Abbott supporter, according to various reports, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise he would be the source of such a vitriolic and ignorant spray about EVs.


Not being satisfied with radio and news paper coverage he has also published a number of equally alarmist pieces on his Facebook page, including calling for an EV road tax, a pre-emptive strike on any form of (non-existent) subsidy for EVs and even a piece claiming EVs would kill people because they are too quiet.

I don’t know what EV nightmare Craig Kelly had over Christmas, but clearly it scared the bejeesus out of him. So, lets take a look at some real-world facts. Kelly raised several issues in the case against EVs and here is an alternative perspective:

Claim: EV’s have a higher carbon footprint

Kelly’s argument on this issue was based on the government’s Green Vehicle Guide. His argument was that the CO2 emissions from a Tesla were higher than a Corolla, according to the GVG.

Firstly, comparing a small budget car to a large luxury car is puerile, because they are a different class of vehicle. Secondly, it assumes that Tesla owners charge from coal-fired energy.

This ignores that blindingly obvious fact that Tesla owners are forward thinkers and like to save money and therefore are extremely likely to use Green Power or to recharge from their own solar system, reducing their emissions to virtually zero.

The GVG also happens to use outdated data from when Australia’s electricity emissions intensity was higher than it is a today .

Of course, the situations will vary – – but simply put, he cherry picked the extreme and least likely cases to make a point. In the majority of cases and studies from around the world show EVs clearly produce less emissions per km.

Claim: EVs have a higher life cycle emissions footprint

When Kelly was challenged on emissions per km in the ABC interview, he diverted the argument, claiming that life-cycle emissions were the problem, too, and that somehow EVs have a higher carbon footprint than ICE cars.

This is kind of bizarre, given that there are hundreds less components required to build an EV and also that his own oft-quoted source of all truth on EVs (the GVG) explicitly says:

“To date examinations of lifecycle environmental impacts of conventional vehicles indicate that the largest proportion of energy consumed (and associated greenhouse gas emissions) in a cars normal lifecycle occurs during its operational (use) phase, and not from its production, nor the embodied energy in the materials from which it is made.

“While this proportion will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, plant to plant, model to model, and with fuel type, various studies report that the vehicle operation phase (at least for a conventional vehicle with an internal combustion engine) consumes around 85-90% of life-cycle energy use.

“At this stage we are not aware of significant life-cycle data for electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids. Most recent studies are indicating that the majority of primary energy consumption for electric vehicles also occurs during vehicle use.”

So, Kelly is just making this rubbish up.

Claim: EVs get unfair subsidies

Having watched the EV market for a few years now and run a boutique EV business for a while, I can tell you that subsidies for EVs are virtually non-existent.

A few states offer very small stamp duty discounts and if you are one of 20 per cent or so of all Australian EV owners to own a Tesla then you can also get a small luxury car tax discount. I was unable to get any discounts at all for my EV or the few I helped sell.

However, what Kelly failed to mention was that this type of rebate is also available to conventional vehicles with low fuel consumption (note however the value cut off is slightly different).

Looking back at the total conventional vehicle fleet in Australia, the fuel tax subsidy alone is steadily increasing and was $6.3 Billion a year in 2017/18.

There are also several billion dollars more paid to various fuel related industries. So conventional vehicles enjoy the benefits of a variety of very large subsidies in Australia already. EVs do not.

It is notably true that all road users pay a road tax through petrol fuels, which theoretically contributes substantially to the upkeep of transport infrastructure and all I can say is that as road user I’m happy to pay my fair share for my impact if I’m not currently being accounted for.

However, I do want to see an evolution to the way impact is measured and charged because our current rules are completely outdated.

Some of the unexpected benefits of EV ownership I have discovered over five years which directly relate to this include significantly less tire and brake wear, no oils or coolants to pollute, no heat gain and zero fumes. Perhaps most importantly for road wear however is the gearless, ultra-smooth linear drive.

A linear drive eliminates the “pulses” of energy delivered through changing gears and the accompanying surges in torque, and regenerative breaking has the same lower wear and tear effect on de-acceleration. This is often seen through ripples in bitumen roads where heavy traffic is frequent.

So, any way you measure it, EVs have an infinitesimally smaller rate of subsidy, if any, at the present time. As an emerging industry of the future, arguably this sector should receive support like so many others have. But a concocted panic was all we heard from Kelly on this issue.

Claim: EVs will kill you because they are quiet

Now, in part, I agree with Craig Kelly on this issue. EVs are notably quieter than conventional vehicles and especially at low speed, when road noise from tires and drives are minimal.

There are few studies on the topic but one I found (slightly outdated but well written and researched) described the risks well I thought.

In a nutshell, the majority of the risk is at less than 16km/hour and for pedestrians. Above those speeds road, drive train and electronic noise makes them almost the same as conventional vehicles from a pedestrians perspective. It recommended an audible system for EV’s at low speed that simulated vehicle noise which pedestrians are accustomed too and some manufacturers do this.

Now in principle, I’m not necessarily against this.

However, I would make two points. Firstly, vehicle noise and road noise limits have been steadily declining for many years, so roads and vehicles are substantially quieter than they used to be; a trend that will continue.

If we are going to force EVs to make noise, the standards should reasonably reflect a steady decline in the noise requirements over time alongside conventional vehicles.

Secondly, pedestrians are inevitably learning to adjust their behaviour in response to EVs. How do I know that? I have now travelled more than 50,000km on my EV and predominantly in urban environments.

I have probably passed hundreds of thousand of pedestrians and talked about my EV to thousands more. The vast majority of people I come into contact with on the road stare in bewilderment at my EV and are intrinsically aware of its presence because it’s so unusual.

Thanks to Elon Musk the entire planet now knows about electric cars, too, which doesn’t hurt.

I would argue that people are starting to regularly see them and the majority understand the simple equation that if they are quiet you’ll have to adapt beyond audible alerts to remain safe as a pedestrian. Humanity already adapts to exactly the same issues for the billions of bicycles around the world as well as electric trams, trains and all manner of other electric utility vehicles.

In addition, although only anecdotal, I know that as an EV user with a new technology I present this risk – and I adjust my driving accordingly everywhere I go. I do exactly the same thing when I swap to my bicycle and ride on roads around pedestrians.

Knowing that I should not expect to be heard at all is my responsibility, and I can therefore mitigate the vast majority of this risk by just driving a little differently. I also believe that the vast majority of other EV owners are equally tuned into this simple fact.

So, sure, if we must in the interim, let’s have smart audible alert systems in low speed situations. However, let’s also educate all road users to the changes and continue to drive down overall road noise.

Kelly and the other naysayers’ solution of “lets just stay really friggen noisy so we don’t kill people” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Claim: EVs aren’t really cheap to run

Look, this is just dumb.

Yes, EVs are more expensive to purchase now, but they are plummeting in cost and in some cases (like my own) are almost on par. Even with their premium, today almost every EV owner will benefit from substantially lower operational cost and frankly, far simpler ownership with less moving parts.

The fuel versus energy cost savings are roughly 1/3rd to 1/10th of the cost depending on circumstances, which increasingly quickly offsets the up front cost penalty. In my case, I estimated that the price premium I paid would be offset in around five years and was very happy with that. As it turns out, it’s actually going to be even less than that, due to improvements in the short time I have had my vehicles.

Yep, there are some potential variables. Yep, the batteries will not last infinitely. We have limited experience to go by on how this will pan out in real life – but in fact, we do now have millions of EVs on the roads globally, and each year brings new lessons.

Kelly’s carry-on about this issue is the exact same argument we face (from him and his cohort) against renewables. Just like renewables, the economic reality is they are cheaper and they will happen, despite antiquated false opinions, simply because consumers want cheaper energy costs and – in the case of EVs – less ownership hassles and a better driving experience.

Kelly’s claim that EVs are not cheaper to own is outdated garbage.

The EV case study

I’ve tried to highlight the basic theory of why I think anti-EV people are misguided. Scenarios and results will certainly vary and direct comparisons are not easy, but I can give you direct evidence of my own personal experience as one example.

The tabulated results are below.

I previously owned a 2001 Moto Guzzi V11 Rosso Mandello and now own a 2014 Zero DS, an all-electric motorbike. Interestingly, the capital cost of both vehicles was almost the same – around $24,000.

The Guzzi was a limited edition Italian 1100CC sports tourer and was relatively expensive as a consequence. The Zero is a cutting edge production EV motorcycle designed primarily for city use with 11.4kWh of capacity and also expensive as a consequence.

My case probably favours my EV a little because the Guzzi was a large capacity and heavier bike so I do acknowledge that more modern smaller bikes would have a better result, although the fuel consumption is not significantly different in this performance class.

In terms of performance, other than top speeds in excess of 150km/h, my Zero performs similarly to my previous bike in terms of acceleration and torque. In both cases, 98 per cent of my riding was in and around Sydney.

I acknowledge that the bikes have totally different design intent, but I think it works out pretty even given that both equally suffer limitations and handicaps – the Zero for long-range use and the Guzzi around town.

Comparing the overall financial, energy and performance characteristics of conventional petrol vehicles to EVs requires a bunch of formulse which can and do vary depending on location, circumstance, and most importantly, the point in time at which you use the factors because they change.

So, I’ve used the best ones I could find today, tried to be reasonable and fair and, in my cases, benchmarked it against my experience in the real world. I’m satisfied that what it says it pretty close to what I’ve experienced.

The short version is that I have compared two vehicles with similar “seat of the pants” performance and price.

Over 45,000km the Guzzi would have cost $6,206 in fuel and the Zero cost was $675, assuming you were paying for the energy, which I mostly don’t. I would have used 3,879 L of petrol or 2,250 kWh of electricity.

The Guzzi would have created around 6,030 of kG of CO2 and assuming 100 per cent coal-fired electricity, 373kG Co2 to recharge the Zero.


Guzzi V11 Zero DS
Weight  kG 219 179
Top speed km 213 153
G Co2 per Km 134 8.3
Max Torque Nm 94 92
Max Power kW 66 40
Energy conversion efficiency % 27 90
Range consumption km/L (equiv) 11.60 181
Standing 1/4 mile Sec 12.2 14
0-96kmh time Sec 5.7 5.2
Fuel consumption L/100km (equiv) 8.62 0.55
Energy consumption kWh/100km (equiv) 28.3 8.64
kG per kW 3.2 4.5
kG per Nm 2.3 2.0
L/km equiv 0.09
kWh/km equiv 0.05

The maintenance and servicing cost of the Zero has been a few hundred dollars (belt, pads, brake fluid) excluding modifications and a couple of glitches I had.

The Guzzi would have cost around $3000 over that time in tyres, oils, spark plugs air filters, pads, fluids and minor servicing costs again excluding modifications or glitches.

So, I win big-time, Craig Kelly, in so many ways with EV ownership – and I’m pretty confident that I’m not on my Pat Malone there. Which is exactly why everyone else in the world is so excited about EV’s. Except you of course.

Final word

I just want to add a final word on this topic, which really bewilders me, and that is this:

Energy and EVs are inextricably linked. The more EVs on our roads, the more energy is required to service them (offset of course by reduced reliance on 100 per cent imported fuel).

A variety of federal and state entities make a lot of money through the provision of energy already (Snowy Hydro, State owned Transmission and Distribution companies, coal royalties and even a retail JV or two like Red Energy).

We can make energy in Australia but we can’t make fuel. EVs convert around 90 per cent of the energy input into motion, compared to around 20-30 per cent for conventional engines, so they are vastly more resource efficient.

The nice thing about EV demand is that it can be flexible, so it can add load to lumbering central fired generators when it’s needed and in the future, can be used as a distributed demand control or energy agent. So, the government-owned energy utilities will make more money the more EVs there are – and that’s before (if) they build Snowy 2.

Craig Kelly’s anti-EV position is costing the government millions in future potential revenue!

Kelly has argued that the cost of the infrastructure should not be subsidised and that owners should pay. Well guess what, not only do the majority of owners do exactly that (at home) but there is a massive opportunity for energy providers (including government) to make money by enhancing that infrastructure.

It’s a no-brainer to me.  

  • tsport100

    “Look, this is just dumb” Says it all… Every-single fake point Kelly makes can be disproved with a 5 min Google search…

    • john

      5 minute I would have thought 10 second mate.

    • Rod

      And there lies the problem. Your average MSM devouring muppet does not think to dispute the “facts” they are fed by the Mudrake papers and shock jocks.

  • john

    This kind of argument was used by the Automotive Industry when they had to replace steering columns with collapsible columns.
    Previously without seat belts, which the industry also said would send them broke, the usual cause of death in a collision was intrusion by the steering column.
    As to this word salad mess of an argument by the said Mr Kelly he represents the worst of ignorance in society and is merely repeating it.
    Another way of explaining his statement is to say this ” Look over there Squirrel”
    To sum up incorrect being kind to the man or total rubbish to be truthful.

  • Joe

    Every time that the Kelly opens his mouth to spray Renewable Energy and now EV’s he just shows himself up as a clueless ninny. The great shame is that he and his ilk are actually part of our national government that is responsible for running the country. The Kelly is a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Energy……there are no words.

    • Barri Mundee

      There are only expletives!

  • handbaskets’r’us

    Just on the no-noise bit…lots of combustion cars are almost silent these days.
    As an EV driver, I’m aware that pedestrians can’t much hear me coming.
    Same goes for bicycles and prams -and shopping trolleys!
    Somehow we survive and there’s no indication of a national crisis so far…(?)
    In 3 years of diving my Tesla in pedestrian-rich precincts there has not been a single case of ”OMG! I didn’t hear you!”

    EV drivers charge off their solar in most cases Craig.

    I dream of days we wake to an almost silent city with delicious clean air.

    • Mike Westerman

      I dream of days we wake to an absence of inane babble from ignorant politicians…

      • solarguy

        Well at least it will be a pleasant dream, not the current recurring bloody nightmare.

    • Rod

      Over a certain speed, vehicle tyres make plenty of noise. As a cyclist I can usually get an indication of the speed of a vehicle coming from behind, even at 50kMh I can hear them.

      • neroden

        And you know — if there’s someone who is about to obliviously walk in front of your car, you do have a tool to notify them that you’re there. THAT’S WHAT THE HORN IS FOR.

        Sorry to shout.

        • Rod

          Most of them are wearing over ear headphones anyway.

    • Joe

      The pedestrians can’t even hear ICE today because they have the earphones on with their musak beating away and of course everyone walks around head bowed down, peering at the Handy screens oblivious to the outside world around them.

  • mick

    professor brian cox forwarded an idea on [email protected] that it may not be worth trying to debate the science with the flat earthers because you give them oxygen to no advantage

    • Barri Mundee

      That was certainly the case with the “itdoesntaddup” flat earther/nuclear booster/renwables shit canner on a post of a few days ago.

      I am torn between giving them oxygen (or CO2 ?) and not allowing them the floor.

      • Ren Stimpy

        Wanting EVs to succeed, if I then had to appoint a chief opponent of EVs I would appoint Craig Kelly.

      • mick

        how beautifully fitting

      • My_Oath

        That guy infests the Electrek comments with his trolling. Expect him to pop up here whenever they link a story back to RE.

    • etmax

      I think we need to legislate that if a person in public office uses that position to foster views that contradict the known laws of physics that they should be deemed either to stupid to hold that office, or should be jailed for treason as they are undermining the future of this nation.

      • Ren Stimpy

        No way man! No way will conservative Australians ever be held to the laws of physics! Our ancient-fable-based morality system transcends these realities!

      • mick

        a similar argument about the dog owner having an iq test to be sure he/she is smarter than the dog

      • Rob


  • David Croaker

    With regard to the risks of silent running vehicles / there is evidence that exposure to noise is bad for health – something to consider as an advantage in favour of electric vehicles. As you say, people will adjust to quieter vehicles, but as a species we are made for quieter environments than the modern city. One of the reasons perhaps that we appreciate a holiday out of the city.
    (Dr) David Croaker

    • Ren Stimpy

      Yep, just ask anybody (from the millions) who live near busy city roads about infrasound. Wind turbine infrasound is a fart in a hurricane by comparison.

  • N Page

    What the hell is a climate skeptic doing arguing about alleged emmissions of EVs???? I thought that coal kissers would LOVE these supposed coal fueled cars.

    • John Saint-Smith

      That’s Kelly’s great irony – ‘CO2 is good for humanity when it belches out of an ICE exhaust, or a coal-fired power station, but it magically transforms into a dangerous atmospheric pollutant when it powers one of Satan’s EVs’.
      This moron’s most ludicrous assertion was that the rising cost of electricity – allegedly due to green subsidies, would raise the cost of swimming pool heating so much (during the Australian summer), that parents would withdraw their precious children from swimming lessons, adding to the death toll from pool drownings. In other words, Australian parents are so cost averse that they’d rather their children drowned than pay an extra $1 a swimming lesson. Only one person deserves to drown on that score.

      • N Page

        What, on an implication that coal is cheap or something??

        I hope these retards are stubborn enough NOT to jump ship when free market economics finally kill coal. I hope they go down with it.

      • Joe

        …what’s this then,,,the Kelly argues that people will die in winter due to RE and now he is arguing that people will die in summer due to RE. Please can someone help the Kelly to stop those ‘Deadly RE Electrons’ from decimating the Aussie population.

    • Joe

      ….yep, the coal kissers can’t even get their own arguments to line up.

      • neroden

        That’s the one clearest sign of dishonesty and corruption: inconsistency.

        A misguided ideologue can be honest while being totally wrong about everything — honestly wrong. But an ideologue will strive to be *consistent*.

        If he’s contradicting himself, then he knows, at least at some level that he’s lying.

  • Nick Kemp

    Newer cars have adaptive cruise control, lane assist and auto safety stopping so presumably all of them will protect pedestrians better than the current fleet as well as the rear end of all the other cars driving around.

    All EVs seem to have these features but what about low end Toyotas? I can’t quite tell but I think it’s an optional extra and the cruise control let’s you go faster every time you go down hill because there is no regen braking

  • trackdaze

    Pedestrian alert / avoudance makes the quietness issue as redundant as kellys thoughts and voters.

    • Chris Fraser

      Pedestrians are in ample danger right now due to distractions caused by staring down at mobile devices. Someone will write an App alerting pedestrians that they’re on a collision course with an EV. That’s bound to be one less rant Kelly can assail our earholes with.

      • Ren Stimpy

        That App should also alert mobile phone user pedestrians to all kinds of other terrain as well – sign posts, garbage bins, fire hydrants, other pedestrians, brick walls, etc.

    • My_Oath

      If only someone thought of putting an audible warning device in cars. Call it something like ‘born’, or ‘torn’, or ‘corn’. Maybe even ‘horn’ or something. I don’t know… some boffin will get around to it one day, I am sure.

  • MaxG

    Have a look at the “The five universal laws of human stupidity” … now I understand what I couldn’t grasp. Kelly = stupid; no benefit to himself or others.

    • Ian Franklin

      I think that Barnaby Joyce is a stupid bandit

  • N Page

    Apparently some commenters on ‘The Australian’ website are anti FTTH NBN because… Get this – they argue that kids will ‘dig up’ the apparently un-conduited optic fibres, and blind themsleves be looking at lasers.

    The centre right, LNP, murdoch camp are some serious next level borderline retard level cult sheep.

    • Chris Fraser

      Its a shame to think I may never get my FTTH due to this image of a kid armed with a shovel … but then we slide irreversibly towards the Conservatives’ hated Nanny State.

  • Kim Grierson

    Why would an EV cause less tire and brake wear? Can anyone tell me?

    • John Saint-Smith

      You too could ask ‘Google’. Plenty of discussion on the web already. A few simple pointers: EVs use regenerative braking, saving brake pads, and because they have smaller, lighter motors, without gear boxes and transmissions shafts, the power is transmitted more smoothly to the wheels. There is also potential for torque vectoring with each wheel driven individually with its ideal power to assist steering. Don’t bother with Bing, that search engine hasn’t heard of EVs and tyre and brake wear.

      • Kim Grierson

        Thanks for this. I do drive a small 7 year old EV and have recently changed the tyres for the first time. It does brake very easily but I had attributed that to its small size. I do drive it more aggressively than an ice car because it is zippy but stable and because it brakes so easily when needed.

        • Ren Stimpy

          How do you charge it up?

          • Kim Grierson

            I just plug it in my garage.

    • Matthew Jenkinson

      You will find those that have to replace tyres early on some EVs, specifically Tesla, due to their performance. Multiple launches at high acceleration do not do well for tyres.

      Regen braking though can almost (?) stop a car completely, and at a normal braking rate, so you only need to touch the brake at the last moment before stopping, or under emergency braking. It has been reported that a Tesla Model S should do more than 150 thousand km between brake pad changes. This is also a significant pollutant reduction, with less brake dust.

      • Kim Grierson


    • My_Oath

      The electric motors can be reversed and used as generators when you put your foot on the brake pedal. Its how the KERS system works in Formula 1 for years. The wheels drive the motors (in generator mode) and as they generate electricity, the resistance slows the rotation of the tyres. The car slows down

  • William Page

    I’m not saying electric cars arent something that won’t be good in the future, but to mine enough lithium for all these cars batteries & make plastic battery shells which can’t be recycled yet & will only end up as landfill crazy.
    The Fact is at this point the majority of people will be charging their car batteries using coal power stations as we don’t have the infrastructure. Im all for electric cars but lets get the science right before we go into this blind folded and then play catchup trying to fix what we have done.
    Lets focus on solar power power plants first then move onto electric cars, when we have a clean way of charging them.
    This article was made up of as many porkie pies as Kelly’s comments were with the bending of the truth to suit his own motive.

    • John Saint-Smith

      It is Kelly Krazy to assert that suddenly every car will be electric. As we convert to renewable energy at an ever increasing rate (please read some of the hundreds of articles on this website!), we will steadily introduce more and more electric vehicles – a seamless technological synergy.

      As for the notion that we have a shortage of lithium, we have only just begun to develop new resources around the world. Some international resource estimates don’t even rate Australia as a source of lithium, despite the fact that we happen to be the world’s largest exporter!. In any event, there are plenty of other materials for making batteries – and I’m completely stunned by your concern about ‘non-recyclable plastic battery shells! What the? I would estimate they will amount about 0.000001% of landfill, even if we couldn’t recycle that type of plastic like we could recycle every other kind of plastic.

      Talk about porkies…

      • William Page

        Im completely amazed that you don’t seem to realize lithium can’t be recycled, rendering the whole battery landfill. Saying that there are lots of other things to make batteries may as well be a fairytale unless you are actually making them out of it. Who is making EV’s without lithium ? Fact we don’t recycle all the other plastics thats one of our biggest problems the world is facing, before trying to put down someones opinion for your own benefit do some actual fact research and mabey don’t just read these articles that are advertisements not giving you full facts.
        What is your angle for EV ?
        If its the $ we aren’t there yet.
        If its to stop polution we aren’t there yet.
        My point is simple get the science right so the polution isnt there. why push forward into creating more rubbish to stick in our ground.
        The only people who are going to benifit out of EV are the businesses selling and making them, hence the huge push for them now.
        another thing to think about it was only 17 years ago when we had this giant push for EV’s and most of them became landfill.
        Please watch the documentry “death of the electric car “.

        • John Saint-Smith

          Really? You’ll find no reference in my comment to recycling Lithium. It helps to pay attention. I was you, my fine fellow who announced that the plastic shell couldn’t be recycled. I’m yet to discover a material which can’t be recycled. It just takes a little ingenuity. It’s way past your bed time good night

        • Ken Fabian

          I’m completely amazed that you are unaware that lithium can be recycled or that Tesla has a policy of taking it’s batteries back for recycling.

          Currently that, like most recycling, is not recycled back to the original quality – that is not impossible but isn’t done because it’s a lot more expensive than “new” lithium and so far there is no shortage. Work on developing better battery recycling is going ahead but I don’t agree that – and unlike every other technology so far – the recycling has to be in place as a precondition for it’s use. Most lithium is not used in batteries and has few direct requirements for recycling. Imposing those kinds of preconditions would have killed any number of valuable technologies before they started and before recycling caught up.

          People like Craig Kelly want to kill this technology the way they likely wish they could have killed solar or wind before they turned into success stories. Underpinning that kind of thinking is unwavering disbelief in the seriousness of climate change, that not even the world’s leading experts can change their minds about ie that when it comes to climate science they know better than all those scientists. Well, if you start with believing the climate issue is not serious it’s not a big step to believe that renewable energy, with it’s intermittency and it’s disruptive to fossil fuels impacts, is unnecessary, wasteful and even damaging. Way wrong then, and way wrong now.

        • My_Oath

          I am completely amazed you are so wrongly convinced that lithium can’t be recycled. Do some ACTUAL research instead of using the internet as a preconceived bias reinforcement engine.

          • William Page

            I have done Actual research unlike yourself. since producing all this plastic crap made from fossil fuels we have only recycled 10% why are these batteries soooo different, wake up and think for yourself not listen to corporate giants that tell you what you want to here and make you feel all warm and fuzzy about saving the environment , not Actual truth.

          • My_Oath

            No, you have not done actual research. If you did, you would not have made the ridiculous statement that the batteries cannot ever be recycled. Recycling tech is being developed and rolled out right now. Your statement that you have done actual research is so far from the truth it doesn’t even reach the elevated levels of merely being a lie.

          • William Page

            Can you please point out where i said lithium could NEVER be recycled ? Bending my words doesn’t make sense.
            I am amazed i have had so many bad comments.
            Obviously ive only had 1 person in 10 that has read my original comment (not just my replies to haters).
            Fact 1. I WANT EV’s
            Fact 2. I just want us not to throw batteries in the ground due to not recycling them. The evidence says that we will do this as it is not cost affective as we have huge supplies around the world of lithium which is cheaper to mine. We can recycle most materials we just don’t , we fill up our recycling bins with plastic every week but very little of it gets recycled.
            3. Using coal to recharge a battery is not an efficient or environmentally friendly way of charging , when we could do so much better using solar.

            I don’t understand why anyone would disagree, unless you work for the liberal party.

          • My_Oath

            Wrong again. The evidence is that recycling the batteries is profitable based solely on the cobalt recovery – the lithium aluminium and nickel recovery is FREE – You realise that ‘free’ is cheaper than mining new supply yeah?

            For this reason recycling capacity has commenced being rolled out.

            But here’s the thing: there aren’t many EV that are nearing the end of their lives. We have 12-15 years before the full recycling capacity is needed just for the little trickle of EVs being built right now. Its not an urgent situation. We still need the new raw materials in the interim and until there is enough old batteries actually being recycled.


            Now, as for pointing out where you said lithium will never be recycled:

            “I’m completely amazed that you don’t seem to realize lithium can’t be recycled, rendering the whole battery landfill.”

            ^^^ Your words son, your words, and unbent. Now, off you hop.

          • William Page

            Thank you for your reply , can you please give me links to who is recycling lithium batteries with it being cost affective, i can’t find any information from reputable sources.

            Sorry if i have mislead anyone with using the word “can’t” ,as from my research at this point in time lithium can’t be recycled.
            I was using it in the context “i can’t do 100 pushups” but that doesn’t mean i will NEVER be able to do 100 pushups.

          • My_Oath

            A company called Neometals. Their feasibility testing demonstrated a cobalt recovery cost of $US4/lb. Cobalt costs $37/lb. The lithium, aluminium, nickel etc come out as by-products.

            They are building a pilot industrial plant as we speak that should be commissioned in the next 6 weeks or so if memory serves.

            Lithium recycling is not an issue. Humans are very good at recycling metals when we decide to do it. 99% of all gold ever produced is still in circulation. 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in circulation.

          • William Page

            Thanks for the info, will keep a track on it, looked at their website it does make sense, just suprised there isn’t more info about this.
            Pity we couldn’t be so efficient with plastics, apparently Australian recyclers have been stockpiling plastics, hoping for a better price to now be told China is no longer taking our recycled plastics and we are going to have to bury it.

          • My_Oath

            The other area they are into that doesn’t get publicity is that they are developing their own battery technology. Specifically, replacing the graphite in the anode with a lithium/titanium alloy. Testing at CSIRO demonstrates it significantly outperforms graphite in lithium ion batteries, charges an order of magnitude faster, and virtually eliminates thermal runaway.

            So why isn’t it being splashed all over the media? My presumption is that the ones that go for the headlines don’t actually have anything viable to put on the market in the near term. And Neomatals don’t have to trumpet in the media. The right people in the battery industry are already watching their tech development very closely.

            Also, they don’t need the cash that publicity can raise. They are already an owner of an operating lithium mine and exporter.

    • Nick

      It doesn’t work like that. The science already exists and has for years. What will drive renewable energy and charging infrastructure is mass adoption of EVs. Besides, not everyone will rush out and buy an ev straight away, it will progressively happen over a few decades. Plenty of time to adapt.

      • William Page

        Hi Nick,
        Thanks for your constructive criticism, a lot better than the other damm me to hell replies.
        I understand the mass adoption of EV’s that will drive the infrastructure but that won’t really happen if everyone doesn’t go out and buy one, hence the double edged sword.
        We made Solar panels for years that took more energy to make than what they produced in a lifetime and the manufacture of them was more polluting than just using coal to get the power.
        We now finally made them efficient and are better for the environment. I just think we should get to that point before we start mass production.
        Have you watched the documentry from 2005 “the death of the electric car “? Another angle to look at.

        • Matthew Jenkinson

          Consider that with an EV, it can get greener with the grid, even after it was sold and has been on the road for years. An ICE car cannot.

          Also there is a big focus on the recyclability of lithium batteries at the moment, with Musk saying that theirs are 92% recyclable at end of life. Most manufacturers are actually looking more towards using them in static storage (grid/home storage) once the capacity drops enough to swap them out of the car. So, for example, when your 75kWh car is at 70% or so, you get a new car battery and use the old one for storage. You now have 2-3 days worth of storage at your house.

          Battery longevity in newer vehicles has come a long way, with the handful that have done > 1000 full charges already still having 90%+ capacity. Most experts now are predicting something like 15 years useful life in a car, plus another 10-15 as static storage, before being recycled.

          And all of this is assuming that we continue using lithium batteries forever, which is unlikely according to most battery manufacturers that have stated they are only a few years away from mass produced solid state batteries that don’t use lithium.

          Not to mention that Goldman Sachs have proven themselves to be lying turds when it suits them, and that at ~500kg for said battery, and a 2% composition of lithium according to Tesla, that would be more like 10kg, depending on what they mean by 2%, as the density of lithium carbonate is about one third that of the major material component, nickel.

        • Nick

          I think it is extremely difficult to determine just how environmentally friendly a car really is. If that is what we really care about, then we should probably stop driving altogether. As Matthew said, lithium batteries will likely be supersede within the next decade or two anyway. But even if they don’t, a typical battery will last up to 400,000km (almost the life of the car), and then can be used for home storage. After that it can be recycled. How I see it is that an EV can become almost 100% green eventually (through clean energy, recycled batteries etc), whereas with an ICE it is impossible. This might all be pointless debate anyway, since if Google and Uber can crack the autonomous driving nut and drastically lower ride share prices, owning a car will be a burden.

          My advice is try driving an EV. It may seem silly now but once you try it you can never go back, it makes ICE look extremely old hat. It is like going back to your old Nokia brick phone.

        • My_Oath

          You are seriously referencing a doco from 13 years ago and ignoring the intervening the 13 years of tech development? I can see where your confusion is coming from. Even expert reports from 13 months ago are hopelessly outdated given the pace of development.

          • William Page

            I was posting the doco to show how little EV technology has actually come since 1997, you obviously have not watched it.
            Watch it and then you might actually understand how much BS is out there.
            Most of the cars from then ended as landfill.
            Sometimes people have to look at facts in the past and realize the difference between what we are being told and what is actually going to happen.
            When i was young we had our milk delivered in glass bottles, and they were picked up and refilled ,never saw rubbish, now with all of this so called technology & recycling there are bottles plastic bottles, bags everywhere and the local tips are expanding to fill them up with more landfill, at this point we don’t recycle lithium, we charge electric vehicles with coal power stations.
            Lets get this sorted first and invest in solar power stations.

          • My_Oath

            Well I am telling you what id going to happen – Lithium Ion battery recycling technology is being rolled out right now. So much for your hilarious “will never be recycled” nonsense.

          • reecho

            “how little EV technology has actually come since 1997”


          • William Page

            Seriously? Have you watched the doco ?i think you might be amazed at how good EV’s were 20 years ago.
            Please don’t just ridicule without understanding my point or reading my concerns. i have only had one reply from another person with constructive criticism, the rest have been trolls and close minded fools. At no point have i said i am against EV’s ,i just believe we need to set up the infrastructure and get the science right before we go head first. All the bullshit about recycling shits me because it never happens, it is not cost affective to recycle lithium as we have huge amounts of it,we won’t run out for a hundred years, so why would we recycle it ,because its good for the environment? Not going to happen, we only recycle 10% of plastic we produce.

          • neroden

            I would like to take you seriously, but you don’t seem to even realize the basics, which makes you sound like a troll.

            Gasoline cars are HORRIBLY INEFFICIENT. The absolute best ones are less than 20% efficient; most are more like 12% efficient. They burn the rest of the gasoline and dump pollution in the air… to generate *HEAT*!

            For this reason, a Tesla powered by *coal* produces less emissions than a typical gasoline car! (Coal power plants are often 50% efficient.)

            In practice, of course, electric cars are charged by some solar power, some wind power, some hydropower, etc., so the situation is even better. Electric cars also last longer than gasoline cars (because they have very few moving parts, and don’t involve explosions, fire, and waste heat, all of which is stressful for a car).

          • reecho

            I have watched the doco. GM created a fantastic vehicle in the EV-1, but did everything in their power to undersell it, and in the end kill it. Current battery tech in EV’s will make fantastic off grid storage after they have done service. Recycling will be a massive part of this in the end, with a number of battery manufacturers stepping up. There are other materials in the batteries that is clearly worth the recycling process. Australia could be a world leader in lithium mining, processing and ultimately cell and pack production if this government had a strong enough ticker.. We have the perfect climatic conditions. Infrastructure will come as demand increases, mainly by the private sector..

          • William Page

            Thank you for your reply, definitely food for thought, i really hope this is the case this time around.

    • Charles

      “will only end up as landfill crazy.”

      Please, just stop repeating any old rubbish you hear, especially if it comes from the mouth of Craig Kelly.

      • William Page

        Please read my actual reply to the article before commenting, can you please tell me what you are going to do with a spent battery that can’t be recycled cost affectively ? I am very interested in your solution. I am not siding with kelly, i just think we should wait until we have it right before we make more rubbish to deal with.

        • Ren Stimpy

          ‘can’t be recycled cost effectively ?’

          Anything can be done cost effectively with enough volume. I guarantee you that when most cars on the road are electric the recycling of the batteries will be done cost effectively.

        • tsport100

          Again – a 5 min Google search answers that one:

          • William Page

            Yes you are correct, the big word is PLANS to , not IS, all the replies i have had have been from either trolls that just talk BS . Or people telling me how we are going to recycle lithium one day or how we are one day in the future going to charge these cars with renewable energy not the filthy coal we use now. All anyone is telling me was my original point. I want electric cars BUT WHEN and only WHEN it can benifit our environment not because it suits companies to make money. We are constantly told we are recycling but the fact is most things don’t get recycled due to cost, its just cheaper to burry it.

          • neroden

            Electric cars benefit our environment immediately, right now. Can you get that through your head?

            Gasoline and diesel cars are *extremely inefficient*. Because of this, even a Tesla powered by *coal* produces less pollution than a gasoline or diesel car. Seriously. Those are the actual facts.

        • My_Oath

          “what you are going to do with a spent battery that can’t be recycled cost affectively”

          Use a cost effective method rather than one that isn’t cost effective.

          The problem is that EVs are new. Previously, lithium batteries have either been extensively used in button cells (hearing aid type) or pouch cells (mobile phone etc type).

          EVs don’t use either of those. They use 18650 or 2170 series cells. The fact is, there are not many of these cells that have reached the end of their life. There just aren’t any of then to recycle in any scale.

          But there will be.

          Just as there will be cost effective recycling tech for those cells.. and that tech will exist because it is being developed right now.

          Australian lithium miner and tech company Neometals is currently building a pilot plant that is nearing completion. It has already passed lab testing and bench testing phases with flying colours. And it is economic to recover the cobalt alone with the lithium and other metals as pure bonus profit.

          But the real benefit of the Neometals tech is it is a small modular design so very easy to throw one up next to a cathode manufacturing plant. The old batteries go in one end of the Neometals plant, and the recovered metals go out the other end directly into making new cathodes.

          And they aren’t the only company, nor even the only Australian company working on the issue. They are just the most advanced, expecting to pull the trigger on a commercial plant go-ahead in late 2018.

          Your prognostications about where these batteries will end up, and what can’t be done with them is nonsensical, ill-informed and actually quite funny.

    • neroden

      Don’t be a dumbass — do your research!

      We already produce less emissions by running a *Tesla* off of *coal* than by running a gasoline car. Union of Concerned Scientists confirmed this a while back.

      Or look at the test done recently and reported right here on RenewEconomy — an efficient diesel car, versus a land-boat of a Tesla running off a diesel *generator*. The Tesla used less fuel!

      It turns out gasoline/diesel car engines are *astoundingly, horribly* inefficient — less efficient than a diesel generator + an electric motor. Gasoline/diesel cars are just wasteful!

      Tesla batteries last for more than 10 years (probably 20 or 40); the same is true of most recent electric cars, though not the Nissan Leaf (due to design screwups by Nissan). None of it will go to landfill in our lifetimes.

      Switching to an electric car reduces emissions *immediately* — it will reduce emissions further as the solar panels are installed to power them.

  • Lamby

    “Claim: EV’s have a higher carbon footprint”

    Everyone, including Renew Economy, all think that petrol magically appears in car tanks and has no carbon footprint getting there!

    Refining petroleum is a MASSIVELY power intensive process. You also need to account for extracting the oil and transporting oil and petrol around the world. Once you add these factors the ICE creates more than double the amount of carbon!

  • Cameron Pidgeon

    On the “Silence Kills” issue – This is something that I have been thinking about for years. In addition to Nigel’s counter arguments I have noted that
    a) pedestrian detecting radar and automatic collision avoidance breaking will one day standard in all new vehicles with no great cost if government hurry things up a bit with legislation; and
    b) like the panic over children raised by gay couples, the horse has already bolted on this issue: we would have heard about it by now if it was an issue, small though the number of EVs in the road is.

  • Bob Fearn

    In Canada we have ignorant trouble makers too. The fossil fuel gangs have so much clout that they received billions in sibsidies, convince our governments that the worlds dirtiest oil is an essential export and they make things difficult for solar and wind.
    Ignorance, greed and arrogance are rife in Canada.

  • etmax

    I think you need to inform yourself better so that you can make a stronger argument. Here are some facts about EV’s in comparison to ICEV’s

    1. Even a Tesla liberates less carbon than a Prius when charging off dirty coal electricity. The reasons are asfollows:
    1.a The Prius uses 4.3l per 100km liberating about 10kg of CO2
    1.b The Tesla Model S (bigger/heavier) uses 1.69l per 100km equivalent so if petrol was used it would be about 4kg, but as it’s electricity (for VIC) 18kg. so it looks like almost double, but here’s where it gets interesting.
    1.c it actually takes around 6kWhr of energy to produce 1l of petrol, and about 1kWhr of that comes from electricity and the rest comes from burning gas and other by products of crude that have a much higher carbon content.
    1.d After all of this you only get 9.8kWhr of energy from that litre of Petrol.

    So you can see that EV’s win hands down in the green stakes.

  • Rob

    Kelly is either as thick as a brick, corrupt……or both!

    • reecho

      There is not enough tin foil in the whole world for our mate Kelly….