Electric cars

Obama Falls 600,000 Electric Cars Short, Science Advances by Funerals, and Record Wildfires?

A scitech research and policy round up for January 7, 2016

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Tesla
Tesla

Obama Electric Car Subsidy Fail

Back in 2009, I called President Obama's pledge to subsidize 1 million plug-in electric hybrid cars by 2015 a "chimera." Washington Post columnist Charles Lane today has a terrific op-ed in which he details his bet with a colleague that there would not be anywhere near that many PHEVs on the road by 2015. Tellingly, the bet was not taken. Lane reports despite a federal subsidy of $7,500 per car that, "automakers have sold 407,136 electrics (EVs) since they hit the market in 2010." Lane takes this delightful potshot at Tesla:

Surely chief executive Elon Musk's high-tech product, priced north of $100,000, will pave the way to all-electric nirvana, even if gas prices are, for now, heading down and interest rates are heading up.

That's certainly the impression one would get from the press on Musk and his company, the most fawning media treatment of any public figure since Pravda covered Stalin.

As it happens, 90 percent of federal subsidies for all-electric cars went to folks whose annual incomes are above $100,000 per year. Lane concludes that it is unlikely that even by 2018 that there will be 1 million PHEVs—0.3 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet—on America's highways.

Wildfire Trend
USFS

Record Wildfires?

"2015 Wildfire Season Shatters National Record With 10 Million Acres Burned," declares an EcoWatch headline. That's roughly the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. That's surely bad, but is it the record? Not according to the U.S. Forest Service which reports that "wildfires scorched 40-50 million acres a year in the 1930s." In September, 2015, my colleagues over at the Reason Foundation extensively analyzed the problem and made some good policy proposals about what should be done to handle wildfires on government land.

One Funeral at at Time

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it," claimed physicist Max Planck. His observation has often been paraphrased as "Truth never triumphs—its opponents just die out. Science advances one funeral at a time."

A new National Bureau of Economic Research study by MIT economist Pierre Azoulay and his colleagues ask, "Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?" Their short answer: Yes.

They look at the effect that 452 prominent life scientists had on publications in their specific fields while they still lived. They report that researchers who are not collaborators with the superstar who died do in fact start publishing more in the field after his or her death. From the abstract:

Overall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone. Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subfields that offer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of "foreign" ideas.

It is interesting to note that the median age of all National Institutes of Health grant recipients is 52. However, more people over 65 are funded with research grants than those under age 35.

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  1. To repeat:

    Total number of Chevy Volt sales in the US since 2011: 84,656

    Total.

    By comparison, Ford sells around a million F150’s every year.

    1. Well, that’s still quite a lot of Chevy Volts…. considering their usefulness.

      1. I haven’t found the exact number but somewhere around 20% of that total is from Government purchases.

        Congratulations America! We are the proud owners of several thousand of these shitboxes,

        1. In the ’70s my father had a state provided car for work that was a Plymouth Fury. During the Carter administration it was replaced with a Chevy Chevette to save gas. Within the first year the gear shift knob had fallen off and he had to use a pen to push in some button so he could get it out of Park.

          When he called the state motor pool, they told him to not even bother bringing it in to be fixed because all the other Chevette owners had way bigger problems and he would never get his piddly problem fixed.

          To this day I can get him going by bringing up that Chevette.

          1. We had a Chevette in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Holy crap was that thing a disaster. There was a steep hill near my house in Boston growing up and in the winter there were days when we were worried whether or not it would make it up the hill. I’ve seen lawn mowers with more power.

            1. They did make a few Chevettes with 327 small blocks that solved the power problem in a big way.

              The engine was almost bigger than the car.

            2. Haha I learned to drive in a Chevette at the bottom of a steep hill. I stalled that fucker so many times…

        2. +1 Zil

      2. I see exactly zero chevy volts on the road where I live. I do see a lot of Nissan Leafs and a few Teslas.

        1. I’ve never seen a Tesla with my own eyes.

          1. I got to sit in one a couple of months ago. For a rich man’s toy, they’re pretty cool.

            1. Ahem… for a rich man’s taxpayer-subsidized toy, they’re pretty cool.

            2. I got to sit in a Lamborghini Diablo once, it was almost better than sex.

            3. I know the auto workers who are building those Teslas. You are taking your life into your own hands, fool.

          2. I built many a Toyota and Pontiac in that Fremont plant and was part of the team that sold the NUMMI plant to Tesla. And, I drive by Tesla every day, twice a day. (I drive and gag, gag and drive as I pass by it on I-880).

            And a few of my (former) NUMMI colleagues are now Tesla workers. (not me – I’m no fucking crony).

            But this I can tell you – you’re not missing much. And this I can also tell you – Tesla will soon go the way of Solyndra. It would have died a long time ago if Jerry Brown hadn’t bailed Tesla out.

            Five more years maximum and Tesla, like DeLorean, will be toast.

        2. The only place I see them is in the doctor’s parking lot. We’ve got a Volt and a couple of Teslas, and I think a Leaf.

          1. For some reason the Leaf appeals to the Northwest Fundie.

            I think there’s something kind of… dirty-working-class about driving a Chevy.

        3. In south Houston I’ve seen both.

        4. Plenty Teslas, a few Volts, and Leaves when I notice them… but the one that really tickles me is that in the dimming twilight of on the back roads of our sleepy burb I see a lonely Fiskar Karma cruising around like a modern, electric Flying Dutchman.

    2. Kind of a shame really. When you dive into the engineering underneath the Volt, it’s actually very cleverly designed.

      1. After a few years it costs more to replace the batteries than the car is worth.

      2. Do you understand how easy it is to design a battery-operated car? It’s a frame, batteries and wheels, basically.

  2. “…Charles Lane today has a terrific op-ed in which he details his bet with a colleague that there would not be anywhere near that many PHEVs on the car by 2015.”

    I’m sure you meant “on the road”.

    “Overall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a eld when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone. Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subelds that oer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of “foreign” ideas.”

    I assume you copied and pasted this quote which is missing a few letters here and there.

    1. SG: Yes. Thanks very much for the proofreading. Fixed.

      Reason squirrels sometimes don’t like the letter “f” when cutting and pasting quotations – they also sometimes direct their ire towards letters next the the offending “f” – a puzzle.

  3. Speaking of which, our S.L.U.T. (streetcar) has ridership numbers so low, I believe the DOT no longer even posts them.

    The S.L.U.T. is turning out to be one draining relationship.

    Yet despite its boomtown surroundings, the streetcar needs another bailout to keep going.

    It will be the third rescue in seven years.

    “Ridership levels and sponsorship revenues on the South Lake Union Streetcar have been less than the forecast amounts, resulting in operating cash flow challenges,” reads the budget pleading from Mayor Ed Murray.

    Oh, and Mr. Mayor, while I’ll admit they’re less than forecast they are absolutely not less than predicted.

    A lot of people don’t know this, but the whole project has been in the red from the beginning. It was supposed to cost $47 million to build but that ballooned to $56.4 million ? forcing the city to take out a loan to cover part of the difference.

    So my question is this… how many more “green revolutions” in alternative transportation are we going to have to suffer… how much more oil, resources, manpower, electricity and tax dollars are we going to flush down the toilet so a few campaign supporters can wear a snappy tee-shirt, telegraphing their good intentions for the planet?
    http://www.seattletimes.com/se…..off-track/

    1. Wow, if Danny boy is disparaging SLUT it must be an epic fail. Progtards rarely admit it when they are wrong.

      1. For the first couple of years, the Times kept printing “ridership up!!11!!” articles (and I’ll bet Danny Boy supported the living fuck out of this project so this must be a difficult article for him to write) without printing the fact that ridership was below projections. “Look, today, TWO PEOPLE got on the S.L.U.T.!”.

        Now they can’t even pretend.

    2. Is this SLUT shaming?

    3. Doesn’t it only go like 1 or 2 miles? What were they expecting?

      It’s almost like the thing is a false-flag operation built by anti-transit types.

  4. Lane concludes that it is unlikely that even by 2018 that there will be 1 million PHEVs – 0.3 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet – on America’s highways.

    The president should be encouraging people to do their patriotic duty and buy an electric vehicle, so that by the end of 2016, he can fake new tears but out of joy, this time.

    according to the U.S. Forest Service which reports that “wildfires scorched 40-50 million acres a year in the 1930s.”

    But back in those times, not as many rich Marxians were living inside forested country estates, so the fact that in 1930, 40 to 50 million acres of forest burned to the ground isn’t as tragic a news as having 10 million acres burn down today.

    “Overall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone.”

    But that’s the reverse of what is being suggested: That the superstar is believed once his or her detractors die off. From the above comment one would conclude that it is the superstars who tend to hold down scientific progress precisely because their research or standing detract from the younger and less-known scientists. That actually explains how is it that the Climate Change hoax has been alive for so long.

    1. On your last point, I’ve noticed (can’t back it up) that superstars generally have one or two really amazing new discoveries, then they are pretty much done and fall into the ranks of a normal scientist except with outsized influence.

      1. (can’t back it up)

        Perhaps because it’s not true.

        1. I was mainly thinking of Einstein. Brilliant man, but a firm believer that God did not role dice. It caused some issues when we were first tying to modeling electrons.

  5. Are there subsidies for building the EV charging stations?

    With so few EV’s on the road, I see the EV charging stations disproportionately commonly.

    1. There’s a parking garage downtown with an entire section of EV charging stations. It’s almost always completely empty, and once in a blue moon, there’s one lonely Nissan Leaf parked there.

    2. That’s the problem!
      NEED MOAR SUBSIDEEES!

    3. I make a point of parking my obviously gas powered truck in those spots.

    4. PG&E will increase our electricity rates to pay for new EV charging stations. Elon Musk asked PG&E and PG&E put in a new rate case to the California PUC.

      so – there’s another subsidy

  6. Stepfather desperately wants a Tesla. He’s very geeky and they’ve got him completely sold on the concept. Are there any good sources for the problems with the company that someone heavily into fact citing will accept. He’s fairly good at math, so finance sheets and the like aren’t an issue.

    1. Is Tesla Doomed? Bob Lutz thinks the writing is on the wall for the EV maker.

      Lutz is the former Chairman of Chevrolet, so take that with a grain of salt, but the numbers for Tesla right now are looking terrible.

      1. Elon needs some more welfare

      2. If anyone should know what a doomed carmaker looks like, it would be a former Chevy honcho.

        1. Are you saying he figured it out only after he was handed his hat? Because he sure didn’t know what it looked like from behind his desk.

    2. Do you live in a cold-weather area?

      http://www.consumerreports.org…../index.htm

      1. Anybody who started a car in a Midwestern winter could have predicted this.

    3. Don’t let him. It’s a death trap.

  7. It is amazing to me people think electric cars are green or clean simply cause they arent burning gas. Where is that electricity coming from?

    1. Your wall, duh. My house doesn’t belch any smoke.

    2. Clearly, since you can’t see the emissions from an EV, that means EV’s run on rainbow power.

      1. Don’t forget the unicorn farts.

    3. When I did some work building IoT apps in the energy market one of the things I heard was that a charging station in your garage was the equivalent to adding another house in your neighborhood.

      Turns out it wasn’t far off

      The trouble arises when electric car owners install dedicated electric vehicle charging circuits. In most parts of California, charging an electric car at one of those is the equivalent of adding one house to the grid, which can be a significant additional burden, since a typical neighborhood circuit has only five to 10 houses. In San Francisco, where the weather is cool and air conditioning is rarely used, the peak demand of a house is much lower than in the hotter parts of California. As a result, the local grid is sized for a much smaller load. A house in San Francisco might only draw two kilowatts of power at times of peak demand, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. In comparison, a new electric vehicle on a dedicated circuit could draw 6.6 kilowatts?and up to 20 kilowatts in the case of an optional home fast charger for a Tesla Model S.

    4. All of the energy generated by windmills is earmarked for Teslas.

      Sometimes I’m surprised you people don’t know these things.

    5. Isn’t it hilarious that in order to be green, electric companies buy fossil fuels (like, cheap oil) to produce electricity so Tesla owners can fuel their autos?

    6. It is amazing to me people think electric cars are green or clean simply cause they arent burning gas. Where is that electricity coming from?

      From significantly more efficient large power plants, mostly, but in some areas of the country possibly from the solar panels on your roof.

      The market will turn to electric cars eventually, but not when gas is below $2 and the tech has yet to be perfected.

      My relatively new Honda should need replacing in ten years or so…My expectation is that its replacement will not have a gasoline engine.

  8. Tesla is a special kind of toy for the rich. They get to act like they’re ahead of a trendy curve AND brag about doing *something* for the environment.

    As noted before, it’s environmental indulgences for the wealthy.

    1. And the cherry on top is always the obnoxious vanity plate: “NOGAS”. FUCK YOU my Honda Civic is better for the environment and the government didn’t give me a fat tax write off to buy it!

  9. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it,”

    Someone may have said something to this effect in the comments in a Bailey article on extending lifespan. I seem to remember that.

    Electric cars are wildly inefficient, a horrible waste. Anyone who pushes them should be forced to run on a treadmill to power one of them.

    Sure, this may not be a record year for wildfires but what about the multiple Katrinas that we have had every year since 2005? Huh? What about that?

    1. “Truth never triumphs – its opponents just die out. Science advances one funeral at a time.”

      Seem like I read a theory on this once.

    2. You seem to forget that the Katrinas stopped when Obama was elected. And also the earth began to cool and the oceans began to recede.

      1. I forgot about that.

        And rainbows shooting out of his ass.

  10. Meanwhile Musk’s Solar City pulls out of NV after they yank subsidies. But solar is going to be competitive with conventional power sources real soon now…

    1. You got some more info on this? This would be delightful. Just shows it isnt about helping the climate at all…all cronyism and rent seeking

      1. You got some more info on this? This would be delightful. Just shows it isnt about helping the climate at all…all cronyism and rent seeking

        Utilities got an upper regulatory hand. From this article:

        NV Energy, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that owns Nevada’s two biggest utilities, had sought the changes to recoup money that it says solar customers aren’t paying for grid operations. The company’s monthly fee for solar customers has jumped 40 percent to $17.90.

        Elon-the-billionaire-rentseeking-Democrat discovers there is always a bigger fish…

        1. It says article not found. Sorry i dont understand how buffett and musk are at play here exactly when you say bigger fish?

      2. Solar City is basically a tax credit harvesting entity. They harvest the tax credit the homeowner would receive for putting up panels on their house. Of course all greed energy tax credits are subsidies but these are just a little more blatant.

    2. Eh. I have a problem with calling it a subsidy when the rate is the same no matter which way the dial spins (they ruled net metering credits didn’t have to be the same retail rate power companies charge to draw power from the same meter).

      I was unaware that net metering was available anywhere but retail meters, so this has me confused. Admittedly, I don’t know the full story.

      1. Considering net metering doesn’t account for grid costs when run in reverse, it’s a subsidy no different than EVs driving on roads predominantly paid for with gas taxes.

        1. Considering the power company doesn’t pay upkeep on the generation equipment, what’s your point?

          1. Also, what’s this “run in reverse” shit? cable is cable, transformers are transformers. They work at nearly the same efficiency either way. I was unaware of large battery capacitor networks where charge/discharge might actually affect them. The power goes back up the line to the transformer and gets sold for retail at the next house down the line.

          2. Considering the power company doesn’t pay upkeep on the generation equipment, what’s your point?

            But the utility still has to pay for spin reserve to compensate for the intermittent nature of solar power.

    3. Don’t worry, Elon – Cuomo (and I) are still subsidizing your new plant in Buffalo.

      *fingers crossed*

  11. “That’s certainly the impression one would get from the press on Musk and his company, the most fawning media treatment of any public figure since Pravda covered Stalin.”

    Can we bring this sentence to the attention of Matt Welch?

  12. However, more people over 65 are funded with research grants than those under age 35.

    Why would that be a surprise? A 35 year old probably has 5 years of research experience following the terminal degree and a post-doc or two.

  13. Back in 2009, I called President Obama’s pledge to subsidize 1 million plug-in electric hybrid cars by 2015 a “chimera.”

    I called it a test of how stupid Americans are.

    The only serious way to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil would be to mandate the maximum price of gasoline to be 6.9 cents per gallon.

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