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Oil Demand for Cars Is Already Falling (bloomberg.com)
388 points by jseliger 68 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 301 comments

The article tries quite hard to link the falling demand for oil to the emergence of electric vehicles. But looking at the reduction in half of the usage of gasoline in Italy, I see that basically all of it happened prior to 2013, long before Model 3 was a thing.

I found this interesting site [1] where you can see the gasoline consumption for every country between 1991 and 2012. And all big EU countries I looked at (Germany, France, UK, Italy) exhibited a steep decline between 1999 an 2012. This can't have anything to do with electric vehicles. Most likely it's the continuous improvements in car efficiency.

To check this I went to edmunds.com [2] and I compared the same car between the 2004 and 2018. Here's what I got for the highway mileage for 3 random cars (in all cases I looked at the most basic model):

- Mazda 3: 2004: 29 mpg ; 2018: 37 mpg

- Toyota Camry: 2004: 29 mpg; 2018: 39 mpg

- Ford Explorer: 2004: 19 mpg; 2018: 23 mpg

That's an improvement between 21% and 34%. Not bad at all.

[1] https://www.indexmundi.com/energy/?country=de&product=gasoli...

[2] https://www.edmunds.com/mazda/3/2017/sedan/

Beyond cars getting more efficient, a lot of cities have also dramatically reduced their share of trips made by car.

Paris reduced car mode share by 45% since 1990: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/01/the-automotiv...

The new generations in Europe bother less and less to get a driver’s license. Most of my friends don’t have one. Public transport is that good.

Where do you live? My experience is that the better transport a city has, the more expensive living in that city is, and middle class people are pushed to the suburbs where transportation take a long time to take you to work and you need a car to go shopping and activities.

Plus it is common knowledge that this graph seems to match almost perfectly with the massive prolonged economic crisis in Italy.

Somehow that seems to totally escape everyone here.

It is also common wisdom that gasoline demand growth (and more generally energy growth) is the most direct and reliable indicator of economic trouble, more so than any other (mostly because governments "change" (a cynic would say falsify) essentially all other indicators).

And lo an behold ! This matches the data in other sources:



(note that the last graph is without taking inflation into account, so the real "zero" level is somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5% at the moment and therfore hasn't seen a single year of real economic growth since 2000 or so, and has had a few years of double digit "real" declines)

So I think we can safely conclude that the real issue is that Italy has seen a very long an disastrous economic recession, and that they are in fact not buying a lot of electrical cars.

This is also very much not a positive evolution. This is going to have cost a LOT of Italians a LOT of quality of life.

This depends on the country you're in. If you're living in a large city such as London, Berlin or Paris -- sure.

But try living in Belgium, a bit more rural Germany or the Netherlands (perhaps with the exception of Amsterdam) and things are definitely less accessible if you want to get out of the city for a bit.

It's a different pattern of living. If you mostly use a car then you know about highways, traffic jams, parking, etc.

If you mainly use public transports, then you know what places are easily reached that way, when the last train, bus, etc. goes in the evening.

There is stuff that is hard to do with public transport (be in the middle of nowhere early in the morning) and there is stuff that is hard to do with a car (go out drinking in a city center).

Even in London this is very area specific. Sure, virtually no one will recommend driving in central London, so if you're visiting the city/square mile, you're probably going to take public transport (due to traffic jams, the congestion charge, maze like street layouts, difficulty parking, etc).

But outside of it, many parts of London will have people drive all over the place. If you're in Havering or Barking and Dagenham or other areas on the perimeter of London, a car is basically seen as mandatory for anyone over 16 or so.

I suspect it's partly cultural too; a lot of the Hacker News/Reddit user/cosmopolitian 'liberal' mindset becomes a lot less common outside of tech hubs and densely populated urban areas.

The driving age for cars is 17 in the UK.

I also disagree that anywhere in London requires a car. And doubly that anyone from the perimeter requires a car early on. I know many people who lived in these areas and did not learn to drive.

Smaller towns and rural areas in the UK do require having a car to live effectively in.

Pull up a map of Greater London, and look at Biggin Hill (very south part of the map). There's no train or tube out here, and the bus routes basically run North and South requiring at least a change to get anywhere useful. We are INSIDE London, and part of a London Borough, having a car here is almostly mandatory if you actually want to get anywhere in a timely manner, or if you work in central London. It 's ridiculous as we're only 20ish miles from Westminster as the crow flies.

What are you talking about! You just walk to the airport and fly straight to London city!

But in all seriousness, that does look pretty poorly connected, but it also looks like the only place. Some people I know from Slough, Kew, and Watford all don't know how to drive, and none seems to have suffered from it.

> You just walk to the airport and fly straight to London city!

It's about £650 for a one-way helicopter trip from the airport to a City based helipad. I do it every day... XD

My experience in the Netherlands was that the railways connected all the major cities and stopped at lots of towns and villages between them.

And then there are segregated bike routes all over the place, in addition to lots of on road accommodations.

Do you just not think anywhere there is "out of the city"?

> things are definitely less accessible if you want to get out of the city for a bit.

You can always rent a car when you want one. Just checked some prices and in the off season here in Barcelona you can pick up a car for $1/day...

That's just nonsense, you can't.

Feel free to add a source that is transparent about all non-fuel costs.

There's tons of false advertising, e.g. rent a car for 1 euro a day (service charge), but also pay a maintenance charge, an insurance charge, a monthly membership fee etc etc.

For example I have a 3 euro a day rental, but I also pay monthly.

Typically cars will cost about 30-35 euros or so per day, for the cheapest ones, with possibilities here and there to do 15-20 in certain seasons under limited conditions.

I have a time believing that figure... Where did you get it from?

I can't confirm OPs number but I have in the past hired a car for less than 6 euro a day in Ireland.

The problem is these prices are trap. I think its a big risk since the car is not covered - if anything happens to it (somebody crashes into you or even malfunction) then you pay for it.

Not without a license.

Not necessarily. Some cities still have fairly bad public transport. Using the car just happens to be worse.

Anecdotal evidence, I just came back from Munich and compared to Singapore vehicular traffic is much worse.

While Singapore public transport is good and taxis are reliable, they also make it very expensive for people to own a car, and the total number is restricted.

See here for numbers: https://dollarsandsense.sg/complete-guide-buying-car-singapo...

Their example car worth 50'000S$ (~36'000 USD) will end up costing 160'000S$ (116'000 USD) total.

Still cheaper than most Scandinavian countries!

What on earth do you mean with that? Seems to be around 40k USD in Sweden, and I've never before heard of any rumor that cars would be an unaffordable luxury in Scandinavia.

Hint: Scandinavia is not a country. Cars are cheap in Sweden compared with Denmark, for instance.

How much would, say a new Audi A4, cost you in Sweden?

Singapore is expensive because of the additional taxes that get added on to the base price. From what people (on HN in fact) have told me most Scandinavian countries levy significant extra taxes on car purchases.

So the $40k car might actually only be $15 to 20k in other countries such as Germany and Belgium?

But neither of those ranges are near the $160k in Singapore.

Starting prices for a Volvo V60, in euros:

The Netherlands: 36,500 Belgium: 35,000 Germany: 37,500 Sweden: 31,000

These may not be exactly comparable feature-wise, but those extra taxes don't seem to have a big impact.

As other people are mentioning it depends what country in Scandinavia. Sweden is not super expensive. Norway is very expensive but on the other hand they have excellent subsidies for electric cars: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/02/norway-electri...

But still the total number of cars e.g. in Germany has been rising in the last few years: http://www.geodaten.guetersloh.de/umweltdaten/umweltd/daten/...

The only decline in car ownership was in 2008, and that was because of the financial crisis, not because of great public transport (which has actually been getting worse in my city in the last few years). The story that people are giving up cars in masses is mostly a myth, even though it might look like that if you live in certain bubbles in the largest cities.

If a middle income family gets a second and sometimes even third car that doesn't necessarily translate into a proportional increase in kilometres driven.

If enough families get additional cars that could also easily offset whatever young people are doing. It's more complex than "there are more cars, thus people giving up cars is not a trend"

But are middle class families getting second and third cars at higher rates? It's a plausible explantion if true, but I haven't seen any evidence of it.

"If a middle income family gets a second and sometimes even third car that doesn't necessarily translate into a proportional increase in kilometres driven."

True, but the embedded carbon cost of each additional vehicle is roughly equal to 10-12 years of driving that vehicle.

> the embedded carbon cost of each additional vehicle is roughly equal to 10-12 years of driving that vehicle

This is not really true, though you can adopt certain extreme assumptions that would support such a claim.

Using statistically average assumptions (12 tonnes of embedded carbon/"average" car, 180 g CO2/km, 14,000 km/year) results in DIRECT CO2 emissions from burning the fuel alone to be roughly equal to 5 years of use.

But to get a like for like comparison, you should add the embedded emissions in producing the fuel, car service and maintenance, accidents, infrastructure costs etc... under such considerations the embedded carbon cost of the vehicle will roughly equal to 2-3 years of use.


new vehicle. but used? lots of second cars are beaters. does demand in the used market induce manufacture of more cars? hard to see how.

Don't worry. It eventually gets sold to less fortunate people second hand.

While I agree that it’s mostly a myth I’d like to add to wongaru; we’re a one car family (my wife works at home). I flirt with the idea of being a two car family but we’d barely use the extra car.

On the other hand, if there was a way for me to get to work with public means, I’d do it (28 miles/day commute) I’d still keep my car and still flirt with the idea of having an extra beater (I.e an extra car for the wife) lying around for weekends [1]

I wor the day that I loose my ICE car though. The ICE car, if terrible, is one of the most important tools for the maintenance d liberty (with no AI, of course). As an example, the pentagon papers would not have been published (and therefore hasten the end of the Vietnam war) if not for the mighty station wagon.

[1] when you have kids having either parent able to take the kid out to an event and maintain the other’s ability to go to stores quickly is a massive increase in flexibility.

Eh, that is certainly true in the suburbs, but we live in the city with a child and no car. We can buy 99% of what we want within walking distance. Bigger items we would have delivered. If I had a driving license (which I would if it wasn't such a costly hassle in my province), I would rent a car occasionally. Metro + bus + walk + bike in the summer is completely fine otherwise.

I suspect that's an inequality thing - more people with second or third cars, not a growth in the number of households with a car.

I absolutely disagree with the conclusion. I live in the UK and my friends who don't own a car mostly don't have one because it's so stupidly expensive to own one. None of them say they prefer to sit on the bus for an hour instead of a 30 minute drive, no matter how nice the bus is.

>None of them say they prefer to sit on the bus for an hour instead of a 30 minute drive

Nobody suggested this. The point is that when public transit is effective, it becomes more attractive because of the cost savings relative to owning a car. In the absence of effective public transit, commuters will still tend to buy cars regardless of the expense because they don’t have a good alternative.

From my experience in Berlin it’s more like sitting 20 minutes in the underground, instead of 30 minutes sitting in the car if you include finding a parking lot.

i do. on the bus i can read, reply to messages or even sleep. if i had a car, i'd have to pay attention to traffic.

it's half an hour wasted vs an hour doing something productive.

greetings, eMBee.

If driving means being home with your kids 30 minutes earlier, then being productive on the bus means absolutely nothing in comparison. Besides, I like to listen to podcasts/audio books while driving, so it's not completely wasted time.

I lost mine in France when I was 21 ( got it at 18yo ), I'm 27 now and just starting again you can travel Europe quite easily the big problem where I live now is I need it more and more due to work.

Do most of your friends live in cities?

How do your french friends in the rural countryside manage without cars?

Young people living in the country side of France all get their driver’s license as soon as possible.

They move to the city. I wonder how much of that gasoline use reduction is simply a consequence of ever higher urbanisation.

Not many people live in the rural countryside, and those that do likely still need cars.

And yeah, it's very common for someone who lives in the city themselves to have all of their friends also live in the city. Not many young adults out in the boonies, plus how would you ever meet and become friends with them in the first place if you couldn't get there?

Some of them got their driver license early, some of them had their parents do most of their driving until they moved to the city.

Isn’t urbanization a thing?

As in "people moving to the city", it is. But in my area, the city density never reaches a level where anything except the car is really convenient. Sure you can take the bus. If you're back home at 11, willing make a 15 minute ride an hour's, and pay the same as for a cheap car.

This is really an issue of the quality of public transport and general infrastructure. Southern Germany, Bavaria, has a very good railway system.

Even the regional railway lines often get you faster where you need to go than a car would, especially during rush hours.

There's also the rarely mentioned factor of parking space becoming increasingly harder to find and more expensive in city centers. In my region, this is being solved by building affordable, or even free, parking decks near subway stations on the fringes of the city.

But even with that the parking situation still remains tense.

Fair enough. But as a whole the people of the world move together in ever exanding lumps.

One (there are many pros and cons) slightly positive side effect is that efficency have to increase. It’s unavoidable as humans in general seems to have a will to survive.

What seems to slow it down is mainly an unbridled capitalism, which is why for example China in a weird and somewhat unexpected fashion leads the way.

EV’s are not only more energy efficient, they also have a positive impact when it comes to proximity pollution.

I don't understand what you mean by saying that.

Do you think nobody lives in the countryside any more? Do you think the next generation will permanently live in cities? Who do you think will grow your food and look after your open spaces?

My point was the author of my parent comment probably has a very skewed view of the need for cars, if all their friends are young metropolitan professionals.

They have a blind spot to the needs of a lot of other people.

> Do you think nobody lives in the countryside any more?

Less and less people. Pretty much all of my extended family moved out two decades ago, for example, and several no longer live in the countryside because their region is no longer countryside.

And AFAIR France at least a few years ago had a problem with farmer solitude stemming from this, and ultimately from farm automation.

My point was that on the whole this is what has been going on. Round the world.

In the context of the thread and with my own situation in mind I’m not surprised that the demand for oil to support public transport is decreasing.

I’m with you that the car is going nowhere!

I think we just missunderstood each other a little bit.

>Who do you think will grow your food and look after your open spaces?

Robots, i hope.

>Robots, i hope.

Funny, I have the opposite dream for technology where it alleviates the need to pack in as tightly as possible into cities for no particular purpose other than a job. While some people do truly love the city for the density and variety of amenities (I did when I was young), many people are forced to go there because that's where the good jobs are. This is made obvious by the number of people willing to commute an hour in from suburbs.

Ideally the only people living in high density are people who want that, which could easily be enabled by technology (remote working).

That's not remotely realistic any time soon.

We can't all move into the cities and leave the countryside as a wasteland. Many people want to live there, and we need people to live there to keep the spaces living and working.

I worry that many people in tech have never spent any time outdoors and have no appreciation of nature at all.

It is already true that robots grow our food, the labour productivity for food production is orders of magnitude higher than 100-200 years ago, huge tracts of land that previously required hundreds or even thousands of workers are now managed by a handful of people and their machines. That process in a way has already happened. And it is already the case that most career opportunities (and a high percentage of young people) are in the cities.

Not a wasteland, just sparsely populated like Isaac Asimov's Solaria. Don't worry, the countryside will be just fine without people. Just read The World Without Us.

I guess I'll become an agricultural robot repairman like the guy in Interstellar when I grow older.

Public transport.

Even after they hit 35? Easy to not have a dl when you are young and no kids.

Starting with elementary school, they can just take the public transport on their own. Used to do this as a kid in Vienna. For younger kids, cars are defenitely an advantage but I'm seeing more and more parents with their kids on a bike. Either on a childrens backseat, in the front part of a carrier bycicle, or by accompanying them on their own bike.

Thats nice. Americans cities are too cold and not bike friendly for that, unfortunately. Bike friendliness might change( or not) in future tho.

It's still easy after 35 because nobody is forcing you to have kids.

huh? How is that relevant to the question I asked. Don't have kids because u don't want to get a DL ?

Coincidentally, many of the folks not bothering with a driver's license don't know even the most basic traffic rules, yet move in traffic with their bikes... to their own (and others) detriment.

And yet many of them know more about the rules applying to cycling than most drivers. A cyclist rolling through a red light is fully aware of its meaning, licence or not. Many drivers who cut off a cyclist while turning however seem to have a deeply rooted misbelief that somehow a turning car would have precedence over a cyclist going straight. The licensing requirement is surprisingly ineffective.

Are you talking about a car that is taking over a bicycle before turning, or a bicycle taking over a car from the right in the same lane (which is not allowed)?

I'm talking about different lanes

Also, it's gotten to point that a lot of people hate cars and commuting. I love biking to work and getting on the subway whenever weather is bad. I think driving a car is just a big waste of time

Indeed. I was recently house hunting for a cheap place outside the city (I love the city but I work fully remote and I love buying a cheap house with no loan even more).

Every time I had to drive to the house, it was a huge pain in the ass. The agents wanted to meet in the middle of the week, so I'd have to drive in the morning, find a coffee shop or library to work from, drive to the house, go back to the coffee shop, then finally drive home. It was a couple hours+ dead time every day.

Where I ended up buying I took the train (working the whole way), rode my bike 15 minutes, viewed the house, rode back to the train station, and took the train home (working the whole way) - whole thing fit in a regular work day + lunch break.

Now if I lose my job and wind up having to commute, I'll still have the train time to work, do personal projects, etc. but if I'd been in a car I'd just be sitting there getting out of shape and wasting my time (and trashing the planet).

Even though living in the country means I'll definitely need to buy a car, it should (hopefully) only be one for our three person household, and the drive vs. train visits to view places was a helpful reminder of how much I hate car commuting.

I actually prefer driving to literally any other form of commuting - I get to sit in an air conditioned personal seat with my own music/podcasts/audio books playing, it's great. In comparison biking/walking is just miserable, and public transport is actively unpleasant. But then I actively enjoy driving, even if it's just for the commute.

And people stay in (inner) cities longer. Before, people had kids earlier and they moved to the suburbs when they had kids. Now they have kids later and more and more stay in the city even after having kids.

In Norway in cities a lot of new apartments are OK even for families with 3-4 kids. As a result some schools in the cities previously considered for closing down became overcrowded. And this is really a new development. Even twenty years ago a big family implied moving to a suburb.

If it helps, people notice. My wife and I had a lot of conversations along the lines of "maybe we should just move to a country that doesn't make having a kid so damn hard" and Norway was near the top of the list. The excellent support for families with kids who have autism (though ours does not, it was a concern genetically) helps as well.

How can the apartment work for 5 or 6 people? Are apartments simply larger, or is it a sort of make do with less space Tokyo wise thing?

The apartments became bigger, over 100 square meters or 1000 square feet’s.

And consequently more expensive? I mean raising children in the city is usually a question of paying a lot of money or living three to a bed.

This does not sound like a public policy solution, but parents paid more for bigger flats

In Norway until recently even with 2 kinds the assumption was that the family needs to move to a suburb either to own house or to rekkehus, a terraced house that shares walls when few others (hills and mountains made that a good fit). This was much more expensive than an apartment in the city.

What newer apartment blocks brought was an option to stay in the city. Surely a 3-bedroom apartment with a big living room and a kitchen costs more, but prices are comparable with own houses in far away suburbs. That gives an option to stay with kids if not in the city center then at least within a short ride from it in public transport.

The article wasn't specifically linking the decline to the Model 3 at all. They give electrified buses the primary credit among vehicles, noting that EV passenger vehicles are expected to have a large impact going forward.

I'd bet that diesel vehicles had more to do with the big decline in Italy, and the smaller decline in Germany, than anything else.

For example, this EU diesel consumption chart showing a correlation on timing between the drop in gasoline consumption and the rise in diesel previously:


I'd be very curious to see if Germany's drop in gasoline consumption coincided with an increase in diesel consumption.

The large diesel vehicle boom perfectly coincides with Italy's drop in gasoline consumption:


Italy went from ~33% of new cars being diesel, to ~60% in only four years.

Germany went from ~30% of new cars being diesel, to ~48%, in just seven years.

The UK went from 15% to 50% over a decade.

For US readers, diesel cars are around 30% more economical than petrol cars, and most European countries charge less tax on diesel, meaning it is 5-20% cheaper at the pump (diesel costs more to make than petrol, but in Europe taxes make up ~60% of transport fuel costs).

I wonder if overall the economic benefits were worth it, based on what evidence is coming to light regarding the health effects of diesel vs petrol.

> regarding the health effects of diesel vs petrol

There's a known solution to sort out the SO2 emission, but it would cost a bit more.

The problem isn't pushing diesel over petrol, the problem is letting the car vendors cheat so blatantly, apparently with political backing (in Germany at least).

> There's a known solution to sort out the SO2 emission, but it would cost a bit more.

Not if you're Volkswagen.

I'm an American, and I have a really distinct 'smell memory'(?) of cities I visit whenever I happen to be in Europe. I only realized a few days ago that this was actually just the diffuse smell of diesel exhaust.

that's just not truth, its old data

diesel cost MORE than petrol already even in Europe and modern diesel engines consume as much as modern petrol engine with automatic transmission, in past diesel used to be more efficient, but this benefit was wiped out


In most of Europe (the UK is one exception I know of) diesel costs less at the pump than petrol. The cars themselves cost a little more, but the fuel usually is cheaper.

Excluding hybrids, the current generation of petrol engines (as they historically have done) have a lower fuel economy that diesel. A new VW Passat for example can be configured with a 1.5l petrol engine which achieves 53.3mpg (UK) or a 2.0l diesel engine that achieves 68.9mpg (UK) [0].

Diesel fuel itself has around 15% more energy per volume than petrol, and the properties of its combustion just make it more efficient than petrol, so I don't see how this will ever change, unless a new method of combustion is adopted. I don't really see that happening though, as hybrid and EV technology will likely take over from pure ICE vehicles.

[0] https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/app/configurator/vw-gb/en/passa...

At least in Greece, where the fleet is in general older than other more developed countries, the steep decline in the last few years can be attributed to price (taxes mostly).

I remember when I got my license around 2008 everybody was freaking out in the idea that the price would approach 1 euro per litre. Now after years of recession the price casually goes to 1.80 especially in the islands. So people just drive less and also more reasonably (not fast accelerations, showing off etc.). A welcome side effect is the big reduction in road accidents.

Just to make Americans reading this lives easier, I did the math, 1.8 euros/litre is $7.77/gallon.

> the steep decline in the last few years can be attributed to price

High unemployment rate is also a very likely culprit: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?id=LRUN64TTG...

Recently got a Toyota Verso, and was shocked to find out it averages 62.8 mpg [1]. And it really is that efficient.

[1] https://blog.toyota.co.uk/honest-john-honours-toyota-verso-f...

Even my newish bottom-of-the-range Mercedes e-class will do close to 60 mpg on the motorway. Compare that to the previous model from 3 years ago, which was giving around 50mpg, and from 10 years ago, giving under 40mpg.

The newer models feel lighter and more nimble. Almost as if they've got rid of a significant chunk of their unneeded, inefficient components from under the hood and replaced them with something radically different.

They replace everything they can with plastic.

And aluminum, instead of steel, for hoods and body panels. Even rugged pickup trucks are shedding weight.

F150 lost 700lb in transition to aluminum structure.

How much of that do you see at the pump and how much is just manufacturers gaming the reference tests even harder than before?

The money I'm saving is real, so I feel confident that those numbers aren't too far off the truth.

That's 62.8 UK mpg which is 52.3 US mpg.

TIL US liquid gallon != US dry gallon != Imperial gallon...

That’s insane! We should really come up with some kind of standardized system, a world wide metric if you will.

If we do this, let's make sure we can switch to smaller and larger units easily, scaling by 10 for example.

Brilliant! Oh, oh! I have another idea! We should tie the units together some how, like maybe the unit of volume ties to unit for weight/mass by something common, like say, water.

And eventually we could even tie them to the fundamental constants of nature rather than any master reference object.

Or we could tie them to the size of our leader's hands, which is very very small, even though he tends to brag publicly about how big they are and what that means, and repeatedly sends photos of them to magazine editors.

I'm only going for this new system if we can periodically redefine standard units, like for weight.

But... all these gallons are much more easy to relate to than a standard metric liter, thus making all of them superior. If you do not believe me, ask Nassim Nicholas Taleb[1].

[1] https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=metric%20system%20tale...

A liter is the largest typically available pour of beer. How hard is that to relate to??

Contrast with a gallon, which is too much liquid for most people to ever drink in one sitting. I feel I have way less handle on a gallon than on a liter.

Also, this guy's arguments come off as really shallow. To quote from what you're citing:

> A meter does not match anything; a foot does. I can imagine the meaning of “thirty feet” with minimal effort. A mile, from the Latin milia passum, is a thousand paces. Likewise a stone (14 pounds) corresponds to . . . well, a stone. An inch (or pouce) corresponds to a thumb. A furlong is the distance one can sprint before running out of breath. A pound, from libra, is what you can imagine holding in your hands.

These are lame ass examples.

A stone is "a stone"? Goddamn, there's stones of all sizes. You can rationalize any unit of mass that way. A furlong is how long you can sprint before running out of breath?? That surely varies a lot by athletic ability (and many people don't run at all, and certainly couldn't make a whole furlong at a fast pace). A pound is what you can "hold in your hands"? Huh? Surely that depends on the density of the material in question and the size of your hands. None of these are helping me out at all.

You can make better arguments by flipping the tables. 0 degrees is where the weather turns from rain to snow. 1 Liter of water weighs 1 Kilogram (compared to a gallon of water weighing 8.336 pounds). 1 Kilometer is simply 1,000 meters. I could continue but I think I've made my point.

The author hasn't demonstrated that legacy metric systems are innately superior. All he's demonstrated is that it can be hard for people to switch, which is true of many people. He hasn't a lick of evidence pointing to people in SI-using countries being less able to visualize what a kilogram or liter or kilometer are. And he won't be able to, because all units are arbitrary, and SI's convenient allowance for powers of ten always allows you to pick a right-sized unit to work with that doesn't yield a number that's either too big or too far off into the decimals.

Sorry, should have made it clear that my comment was sarcastic.

Oooof ... well, my comment still stands as a rebuttal to the author then, who was not being sarcastic.

That’s insane! We should really come up with some kind of sarcasm marker /s

Yes, had we done that, everybody would be using it⸮


Then there's the way of measuring the weight of weed with your fingers:

One finger in height is an 1/8th of an ounce, two is a 1/4, and 4 fingers high is 1/2. But I've never been quite sure how much a "lid" is.

But if it takes a stone of weed to get you stoned, it's very bad weed, or you have a very high tolerance.

After a significant sun burn I downed a full gallon of water and continued to drink a little more. Granted a rather extreme situation, but you really can need that much fluid.

However, I suspect that was a rather sarcastic response.

> ...I feel I have way less handle on a gallon than on a liter.

What's so difficult? A handle is 1.75L or about half a gallon...

It is a skill. And a rather easy one to learn.

E.g. I’ve completed some basic carpentry projects. At the start I couldn’t have told you how much ⅛ of an inch was. Now I’ve got a good feel for that length. There is no reason why I couldn’t have learned what ½cm looks like instead as both are equally arbitrary.

I wouldn't describe an inch as arbitary, but it is customary. And variable before standardisation with different sizes of thumb! The basis of the metre in comparison is definitely arbitrary!

I grew up in Denmark and have a fine-tuned sense for metric measurements (1 mm, 1 cm, and 1 meter). In my small town is more common for craft people (~ "contractors") to compete on who had the more accurate eye measurements. It's truly a sight to behold.

TL;DR: any measurement unit can be learned; Metric strength in the simplicity of conversions.

(Small turbodiesel)

> That's an improvement between 21% and 34%. Not bad at all.

It's not, though your sample is somewhat optimistic. For most vehicles it's closer to 20% than 34.

The interesting point is that electric cars don't reduce oil consumption by ~20%, they reduce it by ~100% (or ~99.5% since 0.5% of US electricity comes from oil).

That's about to be a dramatic drop in oil consumption as they come to be even a significant minority of vehicles.

> The interesting point is that electric cars don't reduce oil consumption by ~20%, they reduce it by ~100% (or ~99.5% since 0.5% of US electricity comes from oil).

In aggregate, oil consumption may drop, but it doesn't account for the possibility that fossil fuel consumption (natural gas, coal) in the energy mix of power generation will rise to meet the increased electricity demands from charging electric cars at home and workplaces. At least, until we completely figure out an efficient way to harness renewable energy like solar inside (swappable) batteries.

> In aggregate, oil consumption may drop, but it doesn't account for the possibility that fossil fuel consumption (natural gas, coal) in the energy mix of power generation will rise to meet the increased electricity demands from charging electric cars at home and workplaces.

That's a relevant distinction for climate change, not if you're an oil company, or Russia and OPEC. Pre-tax oil prices are liable to trend lower -- and give countries an opportunity to raise fuel taxes without causing significant consumer harm, reducing oil demand even further.

And the capacity increase is poised to come from mostly non-fossil sources anyway. Expanding coal is preposterous -- solar is already cheaper and the only people who don't hate it for five different reasons are coal mining companies. Natural gas might be expanded somewhat, but even there solar is cheaper, and anyway natural gas releases less carbon per KWh than oil (much less coal) even before accounting for the greater efficiency of electric vehicles.

> At least, until we completely figure out an efficient way to harness renewable energy like solar inside (swappable) batteries.

Electric cars already do this. The batteries hold more charge than the average daily commute, so all that's required is to charge the vehicle during daylight hours.

Nit: 99.5% doesn't account for the far greater efficiency of the EVs themselves, typically 100+ MPGe, thus the true reduction is even closer to 100% (fwiw, my roof produces all of my EV consumption most of the year).

That large reduction in Western Europe is probably caused by the switch towards diesel engines that I don't think that graph covers.

And then now the effort is to switch from diesel to petrol (or other things). [1]

What's old is new again.

[1] https://qz.com/1183779/europes-intoxicating-love-affair-with...

Let's be cautious attributing things to 'efficiency improvements' - that is a minefield of ways to be wrong [0]. Is it not a reasonable theory that the tailing off of demand is linked to increasing real prices of gasoline [1]? That seems like a simple and obvious explanation to me. I don't know if my source is particularly reliable, but real petrol prices have been all over the shop in recent years.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

[1] https://inflationdata.com/articles/inflation-adjusted-prices...

That and introduction of road tolls and paid entrance to city centers across Europe.

Besides better mpg the steep decline between 1999 and 2012 could be affected by the internet. Not just remote work but just how you don’t have to physically travel to get information or get things processed any more.

And online shopping. It used to be normal to drive everywhere to just have a look, but today all but the most important purchases are done online and delivered. The efficiency of this is significant

Increases in car efficiency don't necessarily result in less use of gasoline, often it results in more, due to Jevon's Paradox.

Perhaps EU countries raised gasoline taxes in that period, or people got poorer.

Maybe we passed the limits of Jevon’s paradox? There are practical limits to how much time a person can drive, or how much they can consume. I know I personally passed the point several years ago where I want to spend less time in a car, regadless of price.

The main limit in EU countries is the road space. There's very few areas designed to take as many cars as the US.

Sorry but maybe that holds for a smaller increase of efficiency but I highly doubt that's true for 20%+

- Honda Civic Coupe HF 4 cylinder (M5) 1985: 49 mpg [1]

Pretty soon we will be as good as 1985.


the same car model name gets much bigger and more powerful over time. Usually a new model is inserted under the existing one, for honda its the "fit".

1985 civic was quite small, about 150" in length and small engines usually < 100 horsepower. the new civic is (169.3 in) 4,300 mm, considerable larger.


you can see the evolution in civic size by car generation here.


Got a Honda Clarity Hybrid Plugin for ~two months. I have been using the electric mode. Don't have to fill the gas tank after ~1800 miles. Used only ~1-2 galleon of gas because I wasn't too sure about the setup initially.

It has electric range of 48 miles - perfect for the daily commute ~30 miles round trip. A nice gas option is there just in case the battery is gone - which I used couple time.

The charge point app shows that the car took in 169KWHr in Oct. I figure if it is charged at home 15c / KWHr = ~$23. That's 50% to 75% cheaper than my last commuting car's gas cost.

I am doing my share to reduce the oil demand.

Is the electricity that you're using coming from a renewable resource like hydro/wind/solar, or is it from a NG/Coal burning plant like most are?


Looks like 49% of California's Electric still comes from NG from 2016. Solar was < 10%.

Hopefully solar will be higher and higher percentage of it soon.

I love to see the 50%+ or more Ca's roof top, parking lots cover with solar panels.

I like to a solar deployment system such that: * a 40 ft container pull up to a parking lots. * A machine drill 4, 6, 8 1x6 ft holes on the ground. * A concrete 1x6 ft concrete anchor beam drop down - secured. * Some posts erect on site in a half hours. * The per-fabricated solar panel pull on top and fasten. * The whole solar deployment is finished in < 4 hours.

It looks like you're referring to the "In-State Electricity Source Percentages" table. According to that table, natural gas reached its maximum share in 2014 at 61.3%, when solar was only 5.3%. In 2017 natural gas was down to 43.4% and solar was up to 11.8%. California is making progress at a good pace.

I think a big problem is from the reflections produced by the current panels, blinding pilots overhead. I know when the sun hits a reflective window on the building across the street from me at the right angle, I have to pull my blinds as it makes it incredibly bright for a few minutes, and if you look at the huge reflection in the window it hurts the eyes. I can only imagine how bad it would be for pilots if 50%+ of buildings/houses had them installed.


However the means of measurement for mileage has changed since then and is more strict. You can go to [1] for more information but that 51mpg car is now 43mpg now.


If only 1985 could catch up to our NVH , safety and emissions.

The article actually is forward looking and is making the point that oil demand is still growing and not yet falling. They cite and prominently feature this bit from the report the article is about:

"Oil use for cars peaks in the mid-2020s, but petrochemicals, trucks, planes and ships still keep overall oil demand on a rising trend. Improvements in fuel efficiency in the conventional car fleet avoid three-times more in potential demand than the 3 million barrels per day (mb/d) displaced by 300 million electric cars on the road in 2040. "

So yes, you are right fuel efficiency is a big factor; that's in fact exactly what the report says.

However, the article then goes on to claim that the report's prediction of electric car growth is actually off and that the impact will be much larger and much sooner than the report predicts. They also call out the notion that electric buses are currently already having a bigger effect than electric cars. I think they are right and that there are more currently oil intensive sectors where electrification is going to have an impact in the near future.

They then they get a bit hand wavy citing diesel demand declines in Germany that probably have much more to do with Diesel-gate and the sharp drop in demand in Italy, which in all likelihood has everything to do with the bad economy there and nothing whatsoever with electric cars. Also Germany is actually way behind in deploying electrical vehicles compared to e.g. the US, Scandinavia or the Netherlands.

In my view the real drivers here are going to be economical and not environmental. E.g. buses burn a lot of diesel. Diesel is expensive. Electricity is not. Therefore any reasonably priced electric bus is going to be saving cost. Which is why that is already having an impact.

The same is about to happen to most commercial operations involving cars. There are already police forces driving Teslas, which aside from being cool and good PR is also saving them a good bit on fuel. My bet is the taxi sector will start transitioning to being mostly electric in the next few years already. Fuel expenses are an enormous chunk of their margins. Same for local deliveries in cities. As long haul trucks become electric and self driving, that will also have a cost impact (eliminating the two single most cost factors of people and fuel). Aviation and shipping are next. That's starting to happen but will probably accelerate towards the end of next decade as technology matures. Also the economic life of such vehicles is much longer so this will happen slowly. But it's the same principle: fuel is by far the biggest cost factor and eliminating that changes the game.

Right now going electric doesn't quite make sense everywhere yet but that abruptly changes as volumes go up, prices go down, electricity becomes cheaper, and infrastructure gets deployed. By 2040 it is not even going to be close in terms of cost advantage. I'd actually say that by 2025 it is going to be very uneconomical to be burning fuel in cars (it arguably already is today); downright silly by 2030, and completely bat-shit insane by 2040. Somewhere in that time line any manufacturers still depending on internal combustion engines will be wiped out by a near complete collapse of demand and their profit margins. That's why essentially all of them are simultaneously investing heavily to make that happen while downplaying how fast it is happening so they can buy some more time to make it happen. They are all scared shit-less this will happen before they are ready to deal with it.

All this will also have an effect on oil production and related investments. In short, oil investors are already divesting. That cat is already out of the bag. Two things seem certain, decreasing demand and increased uncertainty over reliable supply and the resulting price volatility are going to be major concerns for anyone having oil as a dependency. It's not that there's not enough oil, it's more a matter of having an economic way of actually getting it to where it is needed at a predictable price.

why it's driving Tesla in police force cool? sounds to me like extreme waste of money for luxurious car for police force with unnecessary mileage within city, which it's why i saw in multiple European cities Nissan leaf, can't imagine public uproar if police would driving their assess in Tesla

1. Cars are getting smaller, and more efficient

2. Fewer people use private transport because public transport is slowly improving in Western countries

3. More people elect to own mopeds, which eat like 10 times less gas than a car

4. More people move to big cities, pushing even bigger incentives to abandon private vehicle ownership

As well as ice and hybrid cars being vastly more fuel efficient, our habits have changed. Far more working remotely and buying products online has reduced commuting and drives to the mall and specialist stores.

Can anyone detail what technology breakthroughs got these mileages so high?

Over the past 10 years or so there are two main things:

1. various technologies to vary cam timing and lift, which allows you to keep the engine efficient over a wider range of rpms. Forms of this have been around a long time but they are become more widespread and more capable.

2. direct injection - where some or all of the fuel injectors inject directly into the cyclinder, rather than into the intake manifold just before the cylinder. Because the fuel can be added just when you want it to ignite, you can leverage higher compression ratios and/or turbo chargers without pre-ignition

on top of this there have been some small improvements in tire CRR, aerodynamics, materials. But a lot of the use of lightweight materials seems to coincide with also making the cars bigger. They certainly haven't gotten lighter overall!

If cars had stayed the same dimensions since the 1980s, the fuel economy savings would seen WAY more amazing.

"Can anyone detail what technology breakthroughs got these mileages so high?"

I am not speaking of hybrid cars where the technology change is obvious - I am speaking only of pure ICE cars.

The "technology", where there is any at all, consists of mostly petty optimizations to the existing ICE model ... engine start/stop at intersections, cylinder deactivation at cruising speeds[1], optimizations to cam timing and making the fuel injection system behave more like a Diesel engine, even when it is a gasoline engine.

Again, all petty optimizations that don't represent any interesting technology and I find it laughable to see car advertisements in 2018 for various aspects of the engine/drivetrain.

The real gains have been from switching 6-cylinder, 3.x Liter engines out for 4-cylinder 2.x Liter engines and attempting to make up the difference with turbo and super chargers (sometimes both!)[2].

The end result is what you would expect to see in a mature, already optimized, already spec'd technology: very small incremental gains that have large tradeoffs in other areas. These little 2L 4-bangers are loud, they vibrate a lot, and they're going to be very finicky in terms of maintenance when the dual turbo/super chargers get to 8 and 10 years old.

I can't wait to never see any of them again.

[1] I think this is only applied to 8 cylinder engines which are turned into 4 cylinder engines at highway cruising speeds.

[2] ... and generally failing. I hope this "wisdom" is lost to time because we move away from ICE cars entirely, but for anyone still interested: "There's no replacement for displacement".

> These little 2L...

I regularly forget that most people here are in the US. The vast vast vast majority of cars in Europe are smaller than 2 litres, even diesels. Most petrol (gas) cars here are 1.2-1.4L engines, while most diesels are 1.6-1.8. A 2l VW golf is pretty much the top of the line in terms of "standard" cars, before you get to "performance" style cars.

Indeed, I don't think I ever owned a car with more than 4 cylinders, some only had two.

The turbo petrol engines have gone even smaller than you describe. Ford sell a Mondeo (large family car) with a 1 litre, 3-cylinder engine.

I have the next model up, a 1.6L 4-cylinder. It is quiet to drive and has good fuel economy.

As of lately plug-in hybrids prioritize using the battery pack over gasoline. While the electric ranges are nowhere near Tesla models, 42 miles of pure-electric on Honda Clarity Hybrid, 25 miles on Toyota Prius Plug-In, and 29 miles on Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In, it's good enough for most people's short trips and the cars are cheap enough to be appealing to commuters.

63% of US electricity is powered by fossil fuel. Electric cars need to recharge.

This article doesn't recognize the trade-off of increased demand on the power grid, and source of that fuel.

The article doesn't talk about greenhouse gas emissions, so the power grid and fuel source isn't really relevant to the point, especially since oil is an extremely small part of the energy mixture in most places.[1]

If they were talking about greenhouse gases, then the answer seems to be that it depends on where you live and how/what you drive, but an electric vehicle almost always produces less emissions than an equivalent gas powered one. [2] does a decent job explaining though I feel he leaves a few parts out for the sake of clarity. For example, driving a P100D isn't the equivalent of driving the average car. It's more like driving a sports sedan (like a BMW M5), so those sorts of vehicles would probably be a more fair comparison. In the same vane, the whole US car fleet includes lots of SUVs and other trucks, which if there were equivalent electric models, would obviously not go as far as a Leaf. It would be great if there was a US calculator that worked like [3] does for the UK so that we could do the same sort of comparison based on the mix where we live.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_generation#Product... [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RhtiPefVzM [3]https://www.nextgreencar.com/tools/emissions-calculator/

FUD. Even if all the electricity was generated with petrol, it would still be a win because EVs are way more efficient than gas cars, typically 100+ MPGe.

I recently rented some Hyundai car for a trip to Seattle. Driving reasonably, that car got 54Mpg average on that trip.

My old Honda 2001 gets between 35 and 40Mpg consistently.

I can attest to this - my 2014 Diesel UK Ford Focus returns (real) 62-64 MPG on my commute, I can get it over 70MPG if I hypermile.

I agree. The author has no understanding of the history of the automotive industry. We've seen this hype phase before returning to reality.

The truth is that gasoline is still king because it is the fastest way to recharge your car. Manufacturing process and incremental improvements have made combustion engine far more efficient and cleaner. It's likely that this trend will not weaken, instead get even more boost more than ever because it offers a cheap alternative to electric cars.

Coupled with a low oil price, we aren't going to see combustion cars disappear like HN folks would have you believe, instead we will see consumers voting with their money.

At some point we will see combustion engine that approach somewhere a bit shorter than the 80~85% theoretical limit of combustion engine efficiency, but that is still an insane improvement to what we already have.

I don't disagree that electric cars will get more popular, but a cheap oil price and highly efficient combustion engine that is coming is not going to lead to an apocalyptic future where sportscar owners are banished to remote islands, free to cause all the pollution they want.

"but we have over 60% efficiency from our combustion engine!" they yell to no avail. The silence of electric cars whirring in the cities snuffs out Doug Demuro's fans.

> The truth is that gasoline is still king because it is the fastest way to recharge your car.

No, that's not why. Gasoline is still largely king because it's the legacy technology, so it has a very wide install base and it's still cheaper.

The average person very rarely drives the full range of an electric vehicle within a day, so the charge time almost never becomes a limiting factor. Indeed, for many people, having to fill up at a pump every so often brings more inconvenience into your life than simply plugging in your car at home or the office every so often. Once you have access to a charging station at some place you're already going regularly to anyway, electric becomes more convenient than liquid petro fuel.

> No, that's not why. Gasoline is still largely king because it's the legacy technology, so it has a very wide install base and it's still cheaper.

Do you know why it's so popular? You can fill up anything from cars, jets, boats, planes several folds faster than the current battery charging technology. Battery also tends to have a fixed weight even if its used up which becomes a no-go for the military and aviation.

If what you say is true about the average electric vehicle driver, that they rarely charge and it's a none issue, consider for a moment the average gasoline vehicle driver, who can't afford an electric car, who doesn't care as long as it takes them from A-Z as cheap as possible, who are more likely than the electric car driver to leave in less affluent neighborhoods requiring longer commute, the downtime is more expensive than someone who can afford to wait around 30 minutes to get a partial charge. When you start to leave the city core and drive long distances, the ability to quickly recharge energy and get going again is critical.

The infrastructure for battery charging has quite some time to go before catching up. Ironically with the increase usage of such power stations, the power to manufacture both batteries and charging stations would still cause pollution and harm to the environment.

There's no silver bullet here and electric cars will be just another niche for people who are rich enough to care about the environment, while majority of wage earners would be lucky to even afford a used gasoline car.

Public mass transportation will benefit the most from reduced cost of operation due to fuel, but that's also minimized the trend of falling oil prices.

When oil became cheap, people chose to go around half the earth than through the quicker Suez canal. It's a testament to how powerful the price of oil is in our society.

Its by no means certain that ICEs will get sufficient investment to improve as much as you say. Dieselgate, carbon taxes and outright bans in much of the developed byworld, China and India choked with pollution make it a risky proposition.

Even if ICE efficiency can improve substantially, can it match the rate at which the price of batteries is falling? Morgan Stanley predicts EVs will reach price parity with ICE in 2025 and then continue to get cheaper.


Add to that cheaper fuel and maintenance. I think you are being too optimistic about ICE's future.

china and india have pollution from burning coal to generate electricity. China and India alone makes up 70% of the world's top 10 biggest coal powered generator.


It's also not a simple matter of getting rid of these plants, there's an entire political stake in seeing these continue to run, and there simply is no other way to scale up quickly and at a lower unit cost using alternative renewable sources of generating electricity.

You can always burn more coal or some non-renewable sources to meet your varying peak demands. Not so with other sources like solar panels or hydroelectricity.

Coal is certainly a big factor in China and India's air pollution. But that does not discount that they are both going after other sources of pollution, particularly vehicles, which is the subject of this discussion. China is being particularly aggressive, as the article points out the biggest chunk of displaced oil consumption is electric buses of which China has 90+% of the world's total.

Hybrid ICE is the future IMO. EV"s will be a niche market for short range, low use transportation.

I think falling demand has a lot less to do with electric cars and more to do with the MPG in cars going up and people finally buying newer cars. Electric car penetration in the US is not high enough to have a massive impact, but MPGs going up and newer models of cars getting on the road can have a massive impact.

When it comes to electric vehicles, the question won't be oil, it will be the supply chain still being very polluting and China having a massive foothold on lithium supplies.

Two factors not clearly stated, but linked to, in the article:

- Electric buses, which have much higher usage than personal vehicles [1]

- China’s sustained and increasingly stronger push for EVs [2]

China is the largest land vehicles market in the world with 30% of global sales, so its moves have a large impact. [3]

When the initial sales prices of EVs become competitive with ICE cars without subsidy, it is likely that Chinese EV manufacturers will push hard to expand markets in developing countries where cost is a major concern. They should have a cost advantage over established global brands. The flip to electric, for new car sales, could be quite rapid then.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-23/electric-...

“The numbers are staggering. China had about 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the roads worldwide in 2017, accounting for 17 percent of the country’s entire fleet. Every five weeks, Chinese cities add 9,500 of the zero-emissions transporters—the equivalent of London’s entire working fleet, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance.”

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-14/china-is-...

“The world’s biggest market for electric vehicles wants to get even bigger, so it’s giving automakers what amounts to an ultimatum. Starting in January, all major manufacturers operating in China—from global giants Toyota Motor and General Motors to domestic players BYD and BAIC Motor—have to meet minimum requirements there for producing new-energy vehicles, or NEVs (plug-in hybrids, pure-battery electrics, and fuel-cell autos). A complex government equation requires that a sizable portion of their production or imports must be green in 2019, with escalating goals thereafter.”

[3] http://www.oica.net/wp-content/uploads/Sales-all-vehicles-20...

The writing is on the wall.

Soon you won't be able to sell many ICE personal vehicles in China. Huge taxes will be levied on them, or the big bosses there will ban them altogether. (I would put money on a ban. The Chinese government always did have a fondness for blunt instruments.)

In any case, it has now been confirmed that even companies like Ferrari and Maserati have electric vehicles in the works. Mainly with the Chinese market in mind, and targeted for 2020.

So yeah, if the largest market is intent on a wholesale switch to electric, then that's definitely gonna have a big impact.

I live in Shanghai and already have an electric vehicle ... it just isn't a car. I would estimate that almost 20% of the population already has electric scooters.

That being said I doubt they will get rid of them because that isn't really the way China works. For taxis, you really need an ICE at the moment. For delivery vehicle not so much. Every delivery vehicle that I've seen in cities is electric. The trucks between cities aren't but lots of the intercity deliveries are by train (some is electric some isn't).

One thing to be aware of is that China generally has tough laws that are not well enforced. This is by design. They don't have to change the law they just need to enforce it more strictly.

What generally happens is that the laws are introduced into the top tier cities and then slowly out to other cities over time. What they have been doing is increasing the emission requirements. This is to bring down pollution. We had an old jeep that we rented that had to be tested every 6 months because of its age. There was a loophole that let us pass the test. It cost a little bit more but we could drive it. The government knew about the loophole and let it exist for a few years then closed it. You knew it was coming just not when. I think the jeep was moved into the country or sold for scrap.

The emission requirements will just keep slowly going up. There will be way around the requirements (which they are aware of) but they will slowly make it harder and harder. If you really want an ICE it will still be possible but when you go for a new car it will just be less effort and easier to get electric.

This is why I have an electric moped. I could get a petrol one which would technically be illegal but it is just so much easier to get electric.

For taxis, you really need an ICE at the moment. For delivery vehicle not so much. Every delivery vehicle that I've seen in cities is electric.

Very interesting. Where I am in North America, nearly every taxi is electric, and I think I’ve seen two electric delivery vehicles in the last five years.

I wonder why our transportation is so very opposite.

Most local delivery is done using scooters (cheep) not cars(expensive).

There is so much online shopping that distribution centers are roughly every 10km so you go back to base get a load and a new battery. Same for food.

The difference is there isn't really a car charging network here like in the US. Most of the charging here is just using normal sockets or at home. I charge my batteries overnight twice a week. There are a number of charging points in the public garage but it is still slow charging.

So not good enough for a taxi going all over the city but good enough for delivery.

Do you mean priuses? Those are actually hybrids, and they dominate the taxi/Uber market in the USA ATM.

Where are you?

Do you mean hybrid? Or really electric? Which brand, models do taxi use?

> Where I am in North America, nearly every taxi is electric

May I inquire where? To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never seen one.

Maybe Uber/Lyft around here you’d see a few, but never a taxi.

Not in NA, but most taxis at Schiphol (Amsterdam airport) are either Tesla’s or Hyundai Ioniqs.

Spoke to a driver about it once and the Tesla’s rarely do more than a single charge in day.

it's because he call electric tricycles vehicles, pretty much 95% of delivery vehicles in Chiba are electric tricycles, same go for dump trucks in bigger cities, they just don't user big vehicles (trucks/vans) but tricycles

Beijing already had more than a few EV taxis (BYD) in 2016, I heard Shenzhen was much more aggressive on this front. As far as charge times; these are taxi drivers who hangout a couple of hours at the airport for just one fare back, they probably queue up for chargers also.

Around three quarters, and all busses are electric.

The need for long charge time is not that big of an issues as drivers still have to do mandatory breaks, and show up at depots for cleaning at least once a day.

It doesn’t matter at all really, China isn’t exactly known for the productivity of their bus and taxi drivers. Productivity is often a distant secondary concern for service type jobs.

Man, you lived in Beijing

You’ll find taxi drivers chilling even in shanghai if it isn’t rush hour. Not to mention airport taxi queues, even when you can barely get a taxi st the airport, drivers are waiting 2+ hours to get through it. The authorities hardly consider their time important.

Both cities are such a chill place. I've been to both. Before Shenzhen, I worked in Shanghai on a half a year contract to bring a small webdev and marketing consultancy shop back from the dead after loss of a CTO.

But the moment I stepped out of the plane in Shenzhen, I felt it almost physically that the air there is different: public transport that runs like a clockwork, exemplary public sanitation, police in subway that actually does its job, all public services being largely well run, and ..... the most unchinese thing possible ... traffic laws actually being enforced, and very zealously at that

Traffic laws being enforced?!? Now that’s just crazy talk :).

Ok, I admit shanghai is much better than Beijing in this regard, heck most tier twos in the south are (think HZ, GZ, and even almost 3rd tier Kunming). I’ve never been to Shenzhen before, but I can believe it is very different from Beijing :).

Last taxi ride in Shenzhen I took was in an electric car.

Why levy high taxes on low mpg vehicles? Wouldn’t it make more sense to increase fuel taxes?

Who cares if someone has a massive SUV if they drive it 2 miles per day? It’s the 50 mile per day driver that you really want to discourage from buying a gas guzzler.

Sincerely, a dude that bikes to work 90% of the time unless the weather is particularly deplorable (or has a big load go bring home)

> Why levy high taxes on low mpg vehicles? Wouldn’t it make more sense to increase fuel taxes?

It makes sense to do both, because it's necessary to catch the average driver without pinching either end too hard.

It doesn't take much to convince the heaviest drivers to buy more efficient vehicles -- it may not even take anything, since the fuel savings is already thousands of dollars for them regardless of any taxes.

But they're still paying the fuel taxes even with the more efficient vehicle. Meanwhile the average driver would need a much higher fuel cost to convince them to buy the more efficient vehicle -- high enough that it would hammer the innocent heavy drivers who have already bought more efficient vehicles.

On the other hand, a combination of fuel tax and incentives for purchasing more efficient vehicles will convince the average driver to switch without putting too severe a burden on heavy drivers who have already done the right thing.

It's also generally not good to discourage productive usage. Better to get consumption from 100 gallons to 60 by going from 30MPG to 50 than by only being able to drive 1800 miles instead of 3000 and losing whatever value the extra 1200 miles of travel was worth.

And of course it would be the opposite if you tried to do it entirely through a fee on inefficient vehicles -- the amount required to convince the median driver on its own without a fuel tax would be too much burden for vehicles with light usage. Which is why you want a balance of both.

> It doesn't take much to convince the heaviest drivers to buy more efficient vehicles

Require them to buy 1000km of fuel when buying the vehicle.

Plus second hand owners won’t feel the extra taxes on new cars, not directly anyway.

Huh, that's an interesting idea and I like it. It'll give people a visceral feeling of how much more expensive the inefficient vehicles will be to operate. Have this amount be printed prominently on the price sticker, and maybe consider increasing the distance. Depending on the country and inefficiency of the vehicle in question, the extra amount for pre-purchasing the fuel will only be low to high 3 digit dollars.

Yes, it always seems inefficent to put controls on the rate of pollution rather than on the amount of pollution.

I actually think excise taxes on new vehicles is more effective since it forces people to put everything on the balance sheet when committing to buy. Makes sense because people don't commit to creating pollution/CO2 emissions when they fill their tank, they did it when they bought the car.

On the other end you can do what California is doing which is paying people a couple of grand towards a down payment if they replace an older ICE car with an electric car. Would be a good idea if the state would also identify and target longer distance commuters for buyouts.

Two negatives here. The first is that people rarely pay cash for a car, so unless you are levying a huge tax, it just rolls up into another $20/month. Significant over the long term, but not really an inducement to change behavior.

The second is that this turns into a form of environmental redlining. Poor folks who need a car get priced out of the new car market. They then get stuck in older, less efficient, and less safe vehicles. Mass transit may eventually fix this, but in most parts of the US you’d have to raze entire cities to get a working mass transit system.

Behavioral economics, in short.

It's the reason why people rent a $1k TV that lasts for 10 years at $50 (5%) a month ($6k spent) or pay 2% a month on a creditcard.

We tend to overlook the small amounts and get slapped in the face by the large amounts.

I really don’t know how this is going to work out for personal vehicles just given a lack of personal parking spaces. On any given night, the roads are filled with illegally parked cars (turning a 4 lane street into a 2 lane one), let alone parked in a space with access to a charger. It only works out for e-bikes because you carry the battery up to your flat for charging.

Most of the personal EVs I saw in Beijing were Teslas; because if you were rich enough to have a private parking space, you were looking for an Audi replacement, not an economy one.

> I really don’t know how this is going to work out for personal vehicles just given a lack of personal parking spaces.

It probably won't work. Or, come to think of it, it will sort of work as it will force the "poorer" people (those who can't afford a dedicated parking space with access to a charger) to sell their ICE cars and revert to using public transport, so you'd only have "richer" people driving their EV cars. A similar thing is now happening in cities like Paris, where recent rules forbid the use of older diesel cars, which has in fact meant that people who had moved out in the banlieues for cheaper rent while still working in downtown Paris have had to go back to using public transport, which out in the banlieues is not that reliable compared to the downtown area. That means that those "poorer" people now have issues arriving at time to work or picking up their kids from school. Regressive taxes and bans are bad.

I have a Chrysler Pacifica plug in hybrid, and I know the plan is to use the technology in Maseratis.

The drivetrain is awesome... Not as good as a pure electric, but still awesome.

I wonder how much is due to people driving less. Totally anecdotal, but thanks to remote work, I've barely had a commute nor needed a car since 2012. I was barely ever driving, and I finally sold my car this spring and have been much happier without it. It seems that my lifestyle is trending, so maybe that's having an impact.

I doubt there's a big impact there for a variety of reasons.

- A lot of people who work remotely still need/want cars. In fact, I'd speculate that one reason a lot of people are drawn to remote work is precisely so they don't need to live in expensive, crowded locations.

- Remote work is still a fairly small slice.

- In many cases, people who commute are commuting further/longer, in part because of housing prices in elite cities.

I'm not sure how typical you are. Even though I mostly work remotely, I still drive a fair bit for recreational activities even aside from running local errands (which, in my case, I can't really do without a car).

> A lot of people who work remotely still need/want cars

I work remotely and my wife and I have two cars. We do significantly less miles than when I worked in an office. Often our gas car sits in the garage for 2-3 days unused.

This is because we try to do as many electric miles as we can.

> - A lot of people who work remotely still need/want cars.

Sure, but working remotely means I put gas in my car every 2 weeks instead of every week.

I do agree that it's mostly like too small of slice of the population to make a difference yet though.

But family who had to have two cars can often downsize to one.

I doubt it happens a lot though, because you cannot guaranty that you will be able to work remotely in your next job.

I definitely drive more working remotely than I would if I commuted to the office. I like to work from different places throughout the day.

You work remote, but you drive further than if you went to the office?

Since I work from home my annual km driven have fallen by 40%.

I work mostly remotely and I drive fewer miles as well as a result—which is probably typical of most who work mostly or solely remote. But it in no ways affects my need to own a car. Though the car will presumably last longer as a result.

> buying newer cars

And unfortunately changing cars too often has a significant environmental cost. I think making of the car has as much as 50% of its average life-time carbon footprint. So buying a newer car may be increasing the MPG, but brings in a huge upfront environmental cost.

Producing a gas vehicle is equivalent to two years of average driving as far as carbon footprint is concerned, according to this one guy on YouTube (https://youtu.be/6RhtiPefVzM)

But your aren't throwing away the old car when you upgrade. It goes on the used market and someone who has an even less efficient car buys it. Someone who probably can't afford a brand new maximally efficient car.

Its a lot smaller than 50% but if the improvement is minimal then you might never offset the production emissions but if you are switching to an electric car it only takes about 2 years depending on the car and your location.

2 points there:

- Almost all manufacturers have admitted to BSing the MPG tests, so the gains in practice probably aren't as good as we think.

- Ideally, that ratio will shift over time to be more on EV and efficiency gains.

Most manufacturers haven't admitted to BSing the MPG tests. You're probably thinking of the widespread cheating on the pollution emissions tests, which was a separate problem.

Here is everything you need to know about the demand for autos and the psychology of the auto consumer in the United States. Also very instructive about attitudes toward public transportation in the US.[1]

This video is worth one million words:[2]


What is depicted in the video is considered, by much of the United States population, to be their birthright. The tax or incentive regime that would be necessary to prevent every young male from buying a huge truck[3] would be a bigger political impossibility than banning firearms.

I note that General Motors just reintroduced 0% financing for trucks.

[1] ... which is well deserved. Bus transit in the United States is terrible. In most municipalities, there is no other option.

[2] A state farm (insurance company in the US) commercial that was aired in the past year during American football (not soccer) games.

[3] If you don't live in the US, you have no idea how enormous the vehicles are that individuals are using to drive their single persons to the grocery store. It is very common to see a 7 meter long vehicle that is rated to tow an 8 horse trailer (or a yacht) being driven, with no cargo, and a single occupant, to run errands around town.

Great link, that video really does pack quite a lot of cultural context in a short time. If you're not from the US and understand each second of that video, you'll understand quite a lot about other things that happen in America.

I'm quite interested to see how Tesla's pickup truck does in this market. On one hand, it can be a total flop, because as you pointed out, huge swathes of this market exist because men need to acquire and exhibit their "masculinity" (as they understand the concept). Burning fuel and making noise seems to be one of the core components of this "masculinity". Coal Rollers simply take this to it's logical conclusion.

On the other hand, maybe its other attributes (0-60 times, towing capacity, size, technology, price) can be sufficiently better to overwhelm this "burning fuel and making noise" aspect and become a well-selling truck. Maybe buying a ridiculous 6-seater, $80k+ EV pickup will be how you update this "masculinity" while distancing yourself form the coal rolling assholes.

"I'm quite interested to see how Tesla's pickup truck does in this market."

I wasn't aware that Tesla had a pickup truck in the pipeline...

On the platform side, the skateboard chassis design and its low center of gravity along with AWD achieved with multiple engines, etc. - there's a lot to be excited about there.

However, the UI/UX is getting weirder and weirder and I have a hard time imagining that serious workers/contractors/fleets are going to embrace a big touchscreen and no physical controls and no physical dials behind the wheel, etc.

I think a much better outcome would be a Tesla licensee who could concentrate solely on the professional truck market.

I just don't get the huge-truck-owning mentality, even after reading about it. Unless it's serving its actual purpose of being a truck, it's a waste of a vast amount of money to purchase, and the poor fuel economy will cost a fortune to run as well. I'm sure they great to drive, with good riding position, powerful engine etc., but I don't understand why all the big negative factors of owning such a beast don't come into play more significantly.

I know the USA has much lower fuel prices than here in the UK, but even so surely it's something to factor in? Also, it's a relatively recent-ish phenomenon even in the USA isn't it (i.e. marketed for lifestyle/personal use outside their original intended commercial purposes)?

I was in the market for a new vehicle recently and went to test drive a few, even some bigger ones like the Nissan X-Trail. But even this had something like 60mpg fuel economy. The smaller stuff I tested was ~70mpg. I'll have to factor in the purchase cost, maintenance costs, fuel costs etc. They are all such significant expenses I couldn't afford not to. And I'll more than likely end up with an equivalent to the Ford Focus 1.6L I just sent to the scrapyard, because it's decent enough but affordable. Or a Transit Connect/Caddy minivan for moving all my biking gear around. I'd love a bigger and more luxurious car, but it's very hard to justify rationally. A truck would be way out of the question for both affordability and practicality. It's not really even there on the spectrum of desirability, and I think anyone who did get one would be roundly mocked for "compensating for something" and "not caring about the planet".

Pickup trucks are a marketing success story. The missing links in your undstanding of this phenomenon are hours of commercials during your adolescence linking your masculinity to the truck and the judgement of your peer group of whether your vehicle is manly enough. That's why the bigger the better, why people lift the suspension to make them taller, why models with quieter engines secretly play engine revving sounds through the stereo, and why people hang fake testicles off the trailer hitch. When my friend bought his first car at 16, a compact sedan, everyone told him it was a college girl car. Poor guy.

And what makes that possible is the difference in space. In Western Europe you just look like a massive knob making your life difficult squeezing through small lanes or into city parking spaces with your pointlessly oversized vehicle. But in a sprawling suburban or rural setting there are no such limits, and marketing can have its way.

Unfortunately, I see these abominations more often on the road in the Netherlands. Unfathomable... Such a blight on our otherwise reasonable, albeit overcrowded, highways. Tax them off the road as fast as possible, I'd say.

This ad was specifically targeted towards rural communities which have poor public transit networks and where driving is a given. This doesn't represent the attitude of many Americans. Americans are pro transit in the cities. Not as much as Europe, but certainly not as bad as you make it out to be.

It all depends on the US city and what the public transportation options are. If it's mostly bus, then people will prefer to drive if they can.

What's the reason for that though? I used to have a 30 min bus ride to work and back. I could have driven, but was more hassle and required getting an expensive parking permit. The bus gave me 30 mins to read a book or newspaper, relax, use the free wifi and not have to deal with rush hour commuting traffic both ways. It was better in all aspects except the fixed bus times; but every 30 mins isn't too bad.

I can understand it when the public transportation options aren't great. But when they are readily available, why not use them. I've never really considered driving a desirable luxury in the current world; unless perhaps I had a chauffeur! It's a necessary and not particularly pleasant chore, and if I can avoid it, I will!

There are many reasons why Bus transportation in the US is usually terrible:

* Lower classes i.e. poor tend to use the bus more, and in general the middle classes in the US avoid contact with this demographic group.

* Infrequent routes means you have to plan your whole route in advance; if you miss your bus by a minute, you're whole days plan is fucked

* Infrequent routes have the additional drawback of making you wait for long hours at the bus stop; more contact with said lower classes, more inconvenience etc.

* Homeless folks tend to use the bus a lot, and they stink, and the whole bus will reek

When I was in South Korea, I LOVED using their clean, on-time buses. They were an absolute breeze. But most American bus systems are pretty gross.

Using the bus in Seattle, can confirm. I'm still going to go for the bus in most cases, but it's not too infrequent that I have to surreptitiously dodge someone walking around with a beer bottle and shouting at people at the bus stop.

I'm curious about South Korea, do they simply address homelessness better, or what's the reason for them not having this problem?

There seems to be less inequality, or perhaps less poverty in SK. The streets are super clean and crime levels are very , very low, so you can see young school students walking around in their headphones late at night.

So typical big city problems don't have to exist, for the most part. Interesting.

Think of an item, that you're purchased within the last couple of years, that was not made from oil but was manufactured in Russia. Ok, I wait. You can't think of any? OK, then what about from of the Arab speaking countries? Yes. I can wait. Take your time.

I hope those countries have a plan B for when the majority of the world's car run on something else than oil.

Does software count as an 'item' for you? If yes, for me (and I guess many others here) it would be various products of JetBrains, also Kotlin (even if I did not pay for that one directly) and OCR software from Abbyy. Also did not pay for, but use daily: nginx.

JetBrains are Czech, not Russian.

IIRC they're headquartered in CZ, but the developers were mostly in St. Petersburg, and Kotlin is named after a Russian military island.

Arabs yes, but Russia? They have at least some manufacturing. My house has some insulation from Russia (although tbh, only where the quality wasn't important). Until SpaceX they manufactured (most of the?) rocket engines for the US. They're still the only ones that make rockets that can send people to the ISS.

That said, they'll still be in a lot of trouble if oil/gas collapses.

Oil has been a curse for much of the Arab world, they are going to go through a painful transition but it will be better for them in the long term.


I don't own an S-400 but they seem to do ok.

"Russia's defense industry employs 2.5 – 3 million people and accounts for 20% of all manufacturing jobs in Russia"

Yes, but that is being funded by the sale of oil to Europe .

>Around 70% of Russia’s oil production is sold in Europe. Each time we fill our tanks, we are sending about €7 to Russia. This analysis details how rising oil demand in Europe has funded increases in Russian military expenditure over the last decade.


Russia also sells gas, on which we are quite dependant. That is not going to change any time soon.

Makes me even happier to have sold my car last week; I’d thought about it in terms of sending less money to the House of Saud to bomb Yemeni civilians, but I’m also putting less money in Putin’s hands, along with providing slight benefits for the environment and my waistline, and a large benefit for my bank account.

Knowingly, some Sure anti-perspirant (solid, not spray). That's the only thing I know of, but there might be a small number of other things. Their manufacturing for export isn't large that I'm aware of, but there is some.

Interesting anecdote: Alan Mulally (former ford ceo) greatly increased fuel mileage in SUVs due to his work in the aerospace industry (Boeing). He knew aluminum well and pushed for adoption of aluminum bodies instead of the traditional steel bodies. This shaved something like 600lbs off the weight of the trucks and contributed to significant MPG increases. F150s get 26 MPG highway, an almost unheard of efficiency 10 years ago for trucks. As recently as the early 2000s, 4 door passenger vehicles averaged around these efficiency levels.

You don't need electric vehicles to cut oil demand. This is just one example of many moves the industry is making.

Imagine what kind of optimizations electrical vehicles will get when they become more mature. What Tesla, Bolt, BYD, etc are doing is just the beginning.

Can confirm, my 2003 jaguar xtype got 17 mpg! Awesome engine noise, and not much else. Purchase price is down payment on first repair.

Purchase price is down payment on first repair.

This has always been a problem for Jaguar, I wonder why they have never been able to get a grip on it.

I think they were just very content to not care about it. I imagine they were making money selling replacement parts or upselling new Jaguars every 3 years :\\\\

Personally I thought the shape of the X Type and S type was nasty, but loved the engine. Mine was sold to scrap when the reverse gear blew one day-- don't try to force the shifter into reverse if it won't let you for some reason.

The 70s XJS is a really cool body style and anyone with a lot of time, money, and or skill on their hands would be really wise to just knife a crate engine into it somehow and get all the reliability that Jaguar mechanical bits have never delivered, ever :)

On the subject of accelerating the transition towards sustainable energy, Elon Musk recently said:

> Without Tesla, ... There would still be a transition to sustainable energy, but it would take much longer. History will judge this, obviously, but I would say on the order of 10 years, maybe 20 years.

Source: https://www.recode.net/2018/11/2/18053428/recode-decode-full...

I don't think he's wrong, but this can be said about existing pioneers in electrification as well (e.g. Toyota, Honda) which have already brought electrification to the masses in the US with improved efficiency and no compromises. It's rare that I don't see an electric hybrid taxi/Uber/Lyft in the US.

I wonder if hybrid should become the new bottom. No ICE unless it has some small electric power and regenerative braking.

Be careful with hybrids, especially if you can't plug them in.

Even the plugin hybrids might be worst for the environment: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46152853 (transporting a heavy battery and never charge it is pretty dumb).

We really need to skip the hybrid phase and go directly to 100% BEV.

I don't get it. Hybrid charges on use and breaking. To save on traffic jam, stops / lights and random city driving. That's how I understood it.. am I wrong ?

I get that companies might buy things and the use them wrong but that's another issue.

History will judge that Tesla's competitors made an extraordinary mistake in waiting 15 years to try to directly compete with Tesla in EVs. At the rate they're going they'll get to $50b in annual sales before most of the auto majors each have even a small fleet of EV vehicles available for purchase.

Nissan makes more EV's than Tesla by a bit.

Nissan has definitely done a fair job with the Leaf. I'm not aware that they're still outselling Tesla on a quarterly basis now, due to the Model 3's sales explosion. Do you have the latest numbers on Nissan's EV sales for 2018 - how does that stack up to what's expected of Tesla for the full year?

Tesla's primary competitors are BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Audi, Infiniti. Anyone selling a lot of cars over ~$45,000.

It’s totally false. Model 3 sales are about 15 times greater than leaf sales in the last months.

I would say it's not totally false. It was a bit hard to find comparable numbers, but it seems to me that Model 3 sales have outpaced Leaf sales recently as you note. However, it was true until quite recently that Nissan Leaf was the best selling, and it appears that it is the all time top selling EV model overall (Model S would appear to be number two). Tesla may have also taken the title of most cars overall, but that is spread across three models, and again is due to the recent boom in Model 3 sales which may or may not be sustainable. Now that the market is proven, it would be fairly easy for Nissan to introduce new models if they like, and other companies are actively introducing EV models (which are probably impacting Nissan as well as Tesla). It is not at all clear to me that Tesla is as dominant as you seem to imply. It is fairly clear to me that Nissan has so far done more in bringing EVs to the mainstream than Tesla has (not to minimise Tesla's very significant contribution).

It’s not hard at all. Nissan Leaf sales figures for August 2018 are 1315: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/insideevs.com/nissan-leaf-sal... For the Tesla Model 3 are 20450: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.teslarati.com/tesla-model... So model 3 was selling actually 15.5 more than Nissan leaf. And the gap will only increase as the production increases.

Are these global sales? Leafs are everywhere in Norway, so that would mean that we get the lion's share of the entire production.

Obviously US sales, model 3 is sold only in US and Canada.

The context of the conversation is how far ahead Tesla is. Using US only sales figures for the Leaf, rather than worldwide which was almost 7k in August, serves only to exaggerate the gap in a misleading way.

maybe in us, but herehere i can hardly see Tesla while police sometimes and public drive leaf and there are few small electric BMW, talks outside us/Norway doesn't really exist

Model 3 is sold only in US and Canada, so I would be rather surprised if you saw it elsewhere.

I've seen a decent number of Teslas in Spain, for whatever reason.

History is awesome at judging mistakes (pretty easy once you know who won). 50bn is not that big as % of the the top 10 automobiles sales combined.

With that said I hope history will acknowledge the impact that Tesla and Musk have had/will have.


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