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Singapore Says Musk's Electric Cars Are About 'Lifestyle,' Not Climate (bloomberg.com)
261 points by yoelo 59 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 282 comments

> “What Elon Musk wants to produce is a lifestyle,” Zulkifli said Wednesday when asked about the entrepreneur’s comments. “We are not interested in a lifestyle. We are interested in proper solutions that will address climate problems.”

Electric cars are poor, even counterproductive stand-ins for long term solutions such as public transportation and the elimination of the suburban commuter lifestyle. They hide a multitude of externalities forced on the public and not paid for directly by owners or manufacturers.

Climate change aside, it's not hard to imagine a country as densely populated as Singapore opposing electric cars.

Electric cars are not at all "counterproductive" for long term solutions to climate change. They are one piece in the big picture of fixing climate change, drawdown.org ranks electric vehicles as #26 on their solution list. (https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank)

Also, by your qualifying "long term" I assume you think they are fine short and even intermediate term? Given the urgency of the climate crisis, short and intermediate term matters - a lot.

I agree with you that public transportation and the "elimination of the suburban commuter lifestyle" (hard to define, but giving you the most charitable interpretation here) is very important. However, we don't have to choose one or the other, the decision as to which car to buy is typically an individual decision and I would think it correlates well with support for greener public transportation. Additionally, I fine it hard to believe that even in the long term there will be no need electric cars in more distant areas. Finally, development of electric cars and their infrastructure will also support electric public buses used for public transportation.

I'm glad Singapore is pursuing public transportation (a no-brainer in a city state) but the claim that it is not a "proper solution" isn't helpful and worse, it assumes that there is a solution. There isn't. There are MANY solutions which will be implemented at different speeds, with different levels of effectiveness and by many different organizations and individuals.

In general, it is better to encourage any useful efforts on this front rather than arguing that solution X isn't "proper" or less effective than solution Y.

> Electric cars are not at all "counterproductive" for long term solutions to climate change. They are one piece in the big picture of fixing climate change, drawdown.org ranks electric vehicles as #26 on their solution list. (https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank)

That thing is literally written by Americans who are 95% likely of living in a car suburb. Of course I’d also put electric cars as a necessity if I were them, they don’t want to change their lifestyle (which, you know, is why we’re in this in the first place).

So serious question: What should they do?

Some solutions come to mind, but they would obviously only work for a fraction of the people currently living in suburbs:

- Work remotely

- Move closer to the city

- Connect suburbs to viable public transportation solutions

> Connect suburbs to viable public transportation solutions

This is the thing that can't work. Public transit inherently requires density. Otherwise you have a bus that only comes twice a day and is still mostly empty because there aren't enough people per unit area to fill it.

Expecting commuter rail to eliminate cars in Spokane or Colorado Springs is delusional. It only works at all in major cities and even most of the cities in the US don't have enough density to make it really efficient -- and are prohibited by zoning laws from building at the density necessary to make that happen.

More to the point, even if we fixed the zoning today, it would take many years to actually build the density required to make it work, and until then people are still buying cars. And electric cars are better for the climate than gasoline.

It's way better to ride an ebike to the commuter rail station than a tesla to work. Build excellent bike networks for the suburbs. It's as cheap as sidewalk and/or paint.

I want to know AnthonyMouse's response to your argument: the treshold density in walking distance versus the treshold density in cycling distance will scale quadratically with the distance (since area is quadratic function of the radius), an electric bike that extends your range twice, will result in a 4 times higher "effective population density" for public transport to make sense.

Edit: just adding that any environmentally responsible form of personal transport doubles range, also results in quadratically (so four times) fewer stations and stops to be built, and linearly (so only half) the total length of rail or road to be laid and maintained

> the treshold density in walking distance versus the treshold density in cycling distance will scale quadratically with the distance (since area is quadratic function of the radius), an electric bike that extends your range twice, will result in a 4 times higher "effective population density" for public transport to make sense.

That's exactly the problem you're working against. A bicycle doubles the radius from walking, but a car at 70MPH on the highway multiplies it by 20 or more, so you get hundreds of times the area and consequent sprawl. And ebikes at those speeds are fatally dangerous, so they can't be a replacement.

The thing that can actually be competitive is trains that can go as fast as cars, but then you need the density to fill them.

If you build the rail, density will come. Bikes are also cool.

> density will come

Unless the NIMBY blocks high-rises.

Restructuring communities around bus hubs doesnt sound like an awful idea to be honest. Even if everyone had a car, since it's the suburbs, it would probably cut down on day to day traffic and allow people to have more affordable housing.

> Electric cars are poor, even counterproductive stand-ins for long term solutions such as public transportation and the elimination of the suburban commuter lifestyle. They hide a multitude of externalities forced on the public and not paid for directly by owners or manufacturers.

Sure, but that's the solution you get from people who've never really experienced a well designed public transportation system. It's essentially a "faster horse" solution to traffic pollution issue which doesn't address the reasons behind the insane amount of tarmac space in modern US cities.

People aren't dumb. Building a city requires decades of coordinated action by thousands to millions of people, and it only works if rich people volunteer or are coerced to give up the disproportionate amount of real estate they enjoy, and no one gets a luxurious amount of space. It's not a matter of individuals seeing the light.

It's also a matter of the government allowing a city to be built. This sounds trivial, but is actually the biggest component to the lack of affordability in SF and NYC.

There are places where a lot of people want to live, but the gov't is actively preventing housing being built there. Instead of allowing the next increment of development (SFH -> missing middle -> mid-rise apartment buildings -> high rise apartment buildings), many US cities do their best to block development wherever possible. The only developments that can make it through the process are 1) huge, 2) well-backed by capital, and 3) hugely profitable.

We need less Hudson Yards, and more of https://twitter.com/mnolangray/status/1163863367439802369

NYC billionaires did not stop nyc from being a city.


Public transit doesnt have to be publicly run. I mean it can be, but services like cruise in SF are not and are better than individual cars as is uber pool. Both let many people in san Francisco live without cars.

Also in san francisco, many of the ferry lines are or were run by private companies. I dont understand how one can oppose the idea of available transit.

In reality what is needed is for governments to deregulate transportation. It is actually ridiculous that the city originally demanded uber drivers have medallions to pick people up. That should be a basic right so that transit companies can start to provide cheap and reliable transit options for city dwellers. If I recall correctly, Cancun has a mostly privatized bus system that works very well.

Finally, roads are also currently publicly funded and governments already have a huge say in transit that individual citizens cant really affect. Having multiple private transit options would mean larger organizations able to stand up to the authorities.

>Partial responsibility for the "Spanish Flu that killed somewhere near 100 million people was public transportation.

Were you in debate club in high school? That was impressive.

You make some fair points here but overall your argument seems to come from a point of paranoia of the communist boogeyman.

You deride a lot of public transportation points but don’t offer an alternative. Are we to believe automotives are satisfactory by your own yardstick?

* Automotives have way higher health risks than your pathogen boogeyman. Blaming 100M deaths in 1918 on public transportation is a reach when Germ theory was only really widely accepted a mere 50 years earlier. On the other hand automotive incidents remain the top cause of death for individuals ages 15-34 in the United States

* Goverment incompetency in public works is not anymore unique to public transportation. The government still operates the roads and bridges that the automotives drive. Look no further than Boston’s big dig where a project was overrun by 10 years and several billion dollars.

* Again, government mismanagement is not something unique public transportation. Are we to pretend cronyism didn’t exist before the SJW Boogeyman?

* For your final point, why are the externalities of cars not applicable here. It’s certainly not 0 - without the obvious threat of climate change, I’d rather have alive annoying tourists than dead adults from automotive fatalities.

Your only strong point, to me, is high availability transportation. However is high availability actually needed or is it just the comfort of knowing that is actually desired. How many people actually need to be able to drive anywhere at 3am on a consistent basis - and for those that do why wouldn’t they be able to accept the economic premium of doing so?

Counterpoint: Tokyo.

Also, you're using the word 'forced' too liberally.

You forgot affordable health care (y)

Wow. Was a relative of yours hit by a bus full of communists?

You're making taking public transit sound like the modern equivalent of storming Omaha Beach.

All of the problems you list apply just as well to any department of transportation that is responsible for building and maintaining roads... With taxpayer money, collected not from drivers, but off the backs of working people, regardless of how much they use those roads.

Very serious question here:

Do you propose that everyone should live in a city in the future? Or that public transit should extend into the suburbs?

If your question was serious you would focus on starting with public transportation in cities, which the US lacks.

Which us city lacks public transit in the city center?

Not trying to be thick but in all american cities ive lived in, there was sufficient transit in the urban core. I understand arguments that it doesnt extend satisfactorily to the suburbs but your claim is much more specific

The problem isn't that there is no transit in the city center, the problem is that the city center isn't allowed to expand or increase in density, so more people can't actually live there.

Then more people live in the suburbs, but you need a car to get from the suburbs to the city. Then you get more demand for roads and parking in the city and people stop using the public transit even there.

> Then more people live in the suburbs, but you need a car to get from the suburbs to the city.

Your assertion ignores the fact that network coverage means nothing if the time to traverse the network just to get from point A to point B is much more expensive, time-wise and economically, than simply using personal transportation to get to where you want to go.

That isn't inherently true in the city center. If you have the population density to run subways every ten minutes that aren't subject to traffic jams, you can get from one part of the city center to another faster on a subway than in a car. But that only works if both of your endpoints are on a subway line, which requires more people to live in the city center than they currently do.

> the problem is that the city center isn't allowed to expand or increase in density,

This I totally agree with

Compare that to asian/european cities and you understand why even in large cities in the US people prefer to use uber.

I've traveled extensively in Europe. While transit was available in most cities, and usable, aside from the real metros, like London and Paris and Barcelona, and a few gems, like Budapest, transit was often not frequent enough and clearly took longer than a car. The reason I took transit was it was cheaper in absolute terms, and, as a student, my time wasn't worth much. Also, that was pre-uber. I daresay that if I visited those places today -- places like Oslo, Prague, Porto, Rome, Dublin, etc -- I would have taken uber. It would be faster, and my time is worth more.

The only Asian cities I've spent any noticeable time in are Bombay and Hong Kong. Bombay -- I guess it's called Mumbai now -- is a shit show, in every sense of the word. It's one of the largest cities in the world. Transit is awful and dangerous. The only reason my parents took it growing up was because when they were young they were too poor to afford anything else. When we go back now, as rich foreigners, we always take a private driver or taxis everywhere. It's just not worth it.

Hong Kong is a different story of course, due to the British influence and the fact that it was Britain when I last visited. Also, its constraints as a small island mean transit is a must have. And I would agree that it's transit system is better than most American cities.

That all being said, the American cities with densities approaching that of London, Hong Kong, etc all do have rather good transit options. As I stated elsewhere, the issue is the US has no large cities in the European and Asian sense. Our cities are sparsely populated. Yes, a lot of that is due to government policy, but it's also due to the fact that America is -- for the most part -- completely empty land.

I agree, the buses are usually empty to half full. Unless you get soldiers marching people out to buses the US to go work for the "greater good" everyone is going to use cars until the traffic jams become simply too long.

I wonder what city you are in. My bus to work is standing room only and double length.

No disagreement there. I'm just curious what this looks like if we advance our infrastructure enough. I'm not suggesting we prioritize suburbs at all. (I wasn't actually suggesting any course of action)

I am curious if the intent here is that people should not live in the suburbs or the country, just in cities where transportation can be most efficient.

The car is one of the ultimate goals of individualism: constant access to what Mills called "Negative Liberty", essentially the freedom to do whatever physical thing you desire to do at any given time. Unfortunately, that means that the subject must self-coerce themselves into believing it's ok that everyone own a car, and something that we can maintain forever. I wonder how many people in the US refuse to believe climate science simply because the idea of losing their car is physically painful.

When individualism leads us down a path of bad decision making (building electric cars rather than the far superior collective path of building up mass transit), I'm always reminded of a scene from the Cixin Liu "Rememberance of Earth's Past" books, where an individualist decision is made that ultimately dooms the people of the solar system, and the person who would have been the true hero of the story only gets to tell that decision maker that they are a child before he is sent off to prison.

This is essentially our battle against climate change right now: technologists trying to make enough toys to keep the rabble of toddlers happy so that we can actually fix the problem.

Owning a car is absolutely not an example of negative liberty. Owning a car is a privilege. Negative liberty is the freedom not to have your basic freedom infringed (it's essentially analogous to the non-aggression principle). Not the freedom to do "whatever physical thing you desire to do."

There's huge tradeoffs between cars and mass transit that you're completely failing to acknowledge. Mass transit works fine when you have a high density urban core. It doesn't work well for suburban or rural populations, which is most of the land area of the U.S. Not everyone is going to live in a dense city nor should they.

Even if electric vehicles do not substantially reduce greenhouse gases, they do pollute the air far less assuming you have cleaner electricity generation.

Moreover, ending the reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels is an end in itself. It would reshape global geopolitics and of course there’s a ton of destruction that happens from oil spills and oil extraction. Going full electric has many benefits beyond just reducing greenhouse gases.

> long term solutions such as public transportation and the elimination of the suburban commuter lifestyle

Would it be too off-topic to mention the most effective solution: having fewer children?

> a country as densely populated as Singapore

Nope, population control seems on-topic.

Population control isn't the issue because we're already consuming far more than we should per person. Even if you completely stopped the growth rate of all nations, that doesn't change the fact that the first world lifestyle is at odds with climate change.

Population and per-capita consumption are both issues.

The birth rate in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world at 1.14 children per woman, far below the replacement rate of 2 and below the United States at 1.8.

How much further do you expect it to fall?

From all the cities that I used, Singapore was the one where I used most often taxis, because they were so cheap. It may have changed since 2004, but I think even for Singapore having electric cars, even for taxis might be better. What am I missing?

Other than this I agree that for cities public transportation, together with good infrastructure for bicycles is very important, because in most cities driving your car yourself is so bad: it is slow, demands a lot of attention, getting a parking place is often very difficult.

What about inspiration? Huh? The fact that you can buy salvaged tesla batteries and experiment for an even greener future. We gotta take steps, and this company is feeding the american keep up with the joneses framework along with car heads desire for horsepower. Don't give me this externalities BS. We need it mass produced because it's a stepping stone.

I don't agree. I think it's a positive. Not everyone agrees with your utopian public transportation and cutting back to as minimalist a life as possible.

...and the elimination of the suburban commuter lifestyle

How are the central planners planning that one?

If you correctly price in the negative externalities of burning gasoline, then the suburbs suddenly get a lot more expensive, and it makes more sense to densify.

It's not working well in France with the Giletes Jaunes. Basically taxing the suburbs told a large social class of working poor people they have no right to exist. I suppose you could try warehousing them in the projects, but good luck with that.

Also makes more sense to stay in the suburbs and get electric cars.

Half the lifetime pollution from a car happens during manufacture. Lets not buy more shit that does the same a-b.

Building the physical infrastructure for all those suburbians to live in the cities would also have a carbon impact.

In practical terms, in five years or so it's not going to be hard to get people to buy electric cars instead of gasoline, but it will still be practically impossible to get them to give up their houses, back yards, and cars to go live in the city.

whatever you do with fossil fuel prices, it won’t do much if you don’t price in the negative externalities of zoning restrictions

All your solution does is hurt middle-class and poor people.

Write them a cheque. Or increase the amount of income you can earn before income tax is paid.

Then they get all the benefits of conservation without being poorer, while particularly punishing those that don’t rearrange their lifestyles.

Doesn’t Canada do this?

Yes. I don’t quite trust the government’s accounting, but yes.

I am largely opposed to regressive measures like this, but in this case I tend to believe the continued survival of our species and our planet supercede concerns about temporary inequalities imposed by our solutions.

Still we must be vigilant that our solutions don't accidentally (or intentionally!) factor down to "there's too many humans, lets starve out some of those poors".

I completely agree with you about that. There are a number of climate change solutions (particularly around population control measures) that land uncomfortably close to eugenics. As a side note, my wife and I are not having children precisely because of the climate crisis. We don't want to bring children into a world that is looking increasingly unsurvivable.

There are much better solutions that target the actual large polluters. People living in suburbs is a small percentage of total global emissions, especially when you consider transportation of goods. Transporting goods across the oceans is a far larger percentage of emissions than people living in suburbs.

If the goal is to continue to survive as a species, there are much more effective strategies to implement.

You can (and we need) to do both.

Suburban living on average doubles the climate impact of the same number of people in a city. The OP notes correctly that this externality is not correctly priced in the current market.

How do you calculate the value of such an externality? Even if for argument's sake I were to just accept that it's double the climate impact on average, doubling a very small value is not really meaningful. The average American carbon footprint is roughly the same regardless.

You also haven't considered that as you move people into cities you need to scale up infrastructure in the city itself. Living spaces, transportation around the city, supply lines for supermarkets. Everything needs to scale. It's not black and white that moving everyone into a tightly packed city is going to make a meaningful difference to global emissions.

What would make a tremendous difference is turning the entire grid into a green smart grid powered by solar, wind, geothermal, etc. That would change things regardless of where people live, because the sources of energy are decentralized and can exist basically anywhere that natural resources like solar and wind exist.

You sort of can’t directly calculate externalities. That’s what makes them externalities.

The common answer is to not calculate it but to add a carbon tax. If you make gas more expensive, road taxes higher and non-renewable energy higher cost, the market actors will change their behavior.

As for the infrastructure cost, you pay that in either case and it’s more efficiently built the denser things are.

Or you can target the largest sources of pollution without punishing regular working people via carbon taxation.

This isn’t a bottleneck style problem where removing the worst thing reorders the thing underneath it. We need to start targeting all of the inefficiencies and carbon emitters. The suburbs are worse for the environment plain & simple so we need to improve on that.

> How do you calculate the value of such an externality?

Carbon emissions are directly correlated.

> You also haven't considered that as you move people into cities you need to scale up infrastructure in the city itself.

Infrastructure has economies of scale, so environmental costs scale sublinearly with capacity.

Police enforcement at gun point then. Are you good with that?

The amount of carbon emitted from people driving to and from suburbs is actually a small amount compared to the real big polluters. It makes no sense to target such a giant restructuring of society for so little gain.

instead of trying to quantify this statement, let's look at trends and actions in governance (since this is not new)

from the Global Climate Action Summit 2018, convened by CA Gov Jerry Brown:

Every 5 weeks, China adds a fleet of electric buses equivalent to the entire London bus fleet – 9500 buses. Technologies are now market ready, societally acceptable and economically attractive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 51% by 2030, through electric vehicles, mass transit and adapting the global shipping fleet. A complete global and technological shift to electric vehicles now looks very likely and, given recent announcements from cities, countries and car manufacturers, is possible between 2020 and 2030. However, the transformation will slow dramatically without strong national and city policies, for example setting target dates to ban internal combustion engines.

Any data supporting this statement?

Have a look at a google search on “cargo ship pollution” and draw your own conclusions.

Simply moving cargo, the lifeblood of our economy, across the oceans burns hundreds of tons of fuel oil - releasing more (and more varied) pollutants into the atmosphere and oceans. One ship, by some reports, emits as many emissions as some 50 million (or more) cars. And there are well over 9,000 on the ocean.

This is a common misconception.

Cargo ships pollute more SO2 and NO2 than personal automobiles. Those two gases cause acid rain. Acid rain is a problem, yes.

They pollute a lot less CO2, though, which is the gas that is actually going to kill us if we don't stop emitting it at the rates we emit it today.

A cargo ship is the most efficient form of transport, in terms of CO2/kg/km.

A personal automobile is the least efficient.

And that is why researchers are proposing we bring back Zeppelins! Zeppelins that are 10x as long as the Empire State Tower is tall, to be exact. Way better for the environment, can be operated autonomously, and cheap to produce.


If I take hanniabu's numbers, that ends up with 8000 ft. zeppelins--the length of airport runways. That's probably not going to be operationally viable: going by the space the largest seaports take up today, you have space to berth only a few of them--maybe 5 at best--at the very largest of them. There's therefore going to be very poor operational flexibility for choosing routes, and with the sheer size and capacity, multi-destination itineraries are going to struggle with long dwell times to partially load/unload them.

You figures are incorrect, this is taken directly from the linked article:

> As proposed in a recent scientific paper, the new airships would be 10 times bigger than the 800-foot Hindenburg — more than five times as long as the Empire State Building is tall

Those numbers are for some very specific substances (which are also bad, nobody's contesting that), but not for CO2-equivalent emissions. It's the same kind of dumb number as that cloth bag reuse count vs plastic. Technically true for some aspect, but utterly misleading.

The Wikipedia article does not say this: « It also includes greenhouse gas emissions. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.2% of the global human-made emissions in 2012 »

As well, is this really something that harmful to the environment? I get that people driving > people not driving when it comes to climate harm, but I don't want to live in a city and I feel like there are much larger climate concerns (in manufacturing, for example) that outweigh passing the blame onto suburban commuters.

Smog from freeway traffic is very real and harmful to public health.

Electric cars are not perfect. Better keep burning fossil fuels!

The most ecological thing to do is to kill ourselves. Any environmental plan has to allow for people to love rewarding lives, or else it's not a good environment for humans.

In Singapore they have monopoly on car servicing and distribution. C&C takes care of Benz and Performance motor for BMW. Then Japanese and Korean cars are also by single distributor entities. They control the price and the market.

Also Oil and Gas is core industry for Singapore economy. So when anyone fills gas it helps government revenues and generate jobs. Climate is not the primary concern given the small footprint of Singapore.

Also if Tesla comes in Singapore as it is perfect place for its range BMW, Benz which are the primary brands will suffer heavily. Also thousands of jobs repairing gasoline engine, oils, filters will be lost. Since electrical car do not have as many mechanical moving parts as traditional gasoline car it will reduce maintenance costs and car servicing and parts related business.

So Singapore won't let Tesla setup up easily. It will be taxed higher than other electrical car companies which works on fringes and do not threaten the oil and gas related automobile jobs and taxes.

Singapore already has an excellent public transport system (such as the electrified subway & light rail), so the "threatening the oil and gas industry" theory doesn't make sense.

Owning a private vehicle is in fact usually a status symbol there. Source https://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/31/asia/singapore-cars/index...

I mentioned the same in another comment about public transport and car prices. Given very high COE cost which allows people to have a car for 10 years and to pay for new COE to renew. A COE can range from SG$ 32,000 to SG$76,000 or higher depending on demand.

But focus on public transport is one thing, still there is a large automobile market with related oil and gas related automobile industry. Moving to EV will threaten them and related jobs.

For those confused, COE = Certificate of Entitlement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certificate_of_Entitlement

"The Certificate of Entitlement or COE is the quota licence received from a successful winning bid in an open bid uniform price auction which grants the legal right of the holder to register, own and use a vehicle in Singapore for a period of 10 years. When demand is high, the cost of a COE can exceed the value of the car itself."

Singapore's oil refining industry isn't threatened by some of the few COE owners switching to Teslas.

The government would be much more bothered by the idea their public might expect non-polluting personal vehicles to be made more affordable and available, and the resulting implications for traffic

So what. Just because they have good public transport system they don't seem to be urging to ban cars. Cars will exist and it's way better to have them electric than gasoline.

They don't seem to be in any urge to get electric buses either.

>They don't seem to be in any urge to get electric buses either.

In that very article we are commenting on is a photo of an autonomous electric bus being tested at Nanyang university and as the article points out they're planning to build out an extensive bus and train network throughout the city up until 2040, to shorten any trip from A to b down to 45 minutes.

Singapore is very much in the e-mobility business, they're just not in the habit of encouraging every citizen to carry around two tons of steel wherever they go.

Uhm, Singapore not banning cars? Wasn't there some news recently... and the top search result is https://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=377d8c25-6..., which starts "In line with Singapore’s move towards a car-lite society, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will introduce" and goes on to describe with various new rules.

Singapore is also one of the places where paying money isn't enough to buy a car. You have to purchase a license to drive that car, which currently costs about €25000 for a ten-year, one-car license, and you have to show that license when you buy the car.

https://dollarsandsense.sg/complete-guide-buying-car-singapo... FYI.

"Cars will exist and it's way better to have them electric than gasoline."

If we're talking about direct air pollution in cities I agree.

For climate change, I mostly disagree:

With an electrical car you're starting with a CO2 debt for the production of the battery.

Then, if you want to offset this debt, you have to use the car frequently and be in an area where the electricity production does not generate much CO2. There are not many areas like this yet (France, Sweden being the famous examples).

The only report I've read about that side issue assumed that producing an ICE/petrol engine and transmission caused no CO₂ emission, or the authors just forgot.

Do you know anything about that? What is the CO₂ cost of producing a typical battery+electric engine compared to that of producing a typical transmission, ICE engine and the minor ICE-related parts that electric cars don't need?

Citation needed. The literature I've seen suggests that an electric vehicle easily makes back any deficit quite early in its life.

An easily digestable version of this calculation is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RhtiPefVzM

No, it doesn't make up the deficit, it does end up slightly better than a ICE one after the projected life cycle of 12 years.

The problem is that unlike ICE cars Teslas are much less likely to be reused for 12 years, as far as other EVs go it's still an open question.

If the only two options are an ICE or an EV, it's likely better to have an EV despite the likelihood of PCO2E being underestimated in the supply chain especially when it comes to rare earths.

But if the option is to have an EV or no car and use public transportation or communal transport the latter is always better.

The ALH version of the Jetta TDI is a pretty good example. I personally owned two ICE vehicles that lasted well over 15 years and 250,000 miles. I have a 2017 Civic with 44,000 miles now. I average over 40 mpg even just driving around town. When we travel extended distances I can some times hit 45 mpg if traffic cooperates. The math behind the ICE vs electric isn't familiar to me, but I wouldn't be surprised if you're closer to right than most people want to admit. I do fully believe the math will slide greatly into the electric vehicle's favor eventually.

I drive a 2000 Civic with 205k miles (it was purchased used). It only gets about 25 mpg, likely because of a part failure in the fuel system that has been too expensive to fix.

I estimate 1000L (264gal) of fuel burned in it per year. That's about 755kg, and 35000 MJ (9800 kWh equivalent). The combustion produces about 2300 kg CO2. That's half the EPA estimate for "a typical passenger vehicle" [0]. An equivalent electric car likely uses less than 35 kWh/100 mi, so an all-electric power budget would be 2300 kWh, which at typical US power production is about 1400 kg CO2, about 60% my current footprint, on a strict operating basis. The battery represents about 5000 kg CO2, so it would be about 5.5 years until my "CO2 investment" pays itself off.

Given the current money-price differentials, and dearth of electrics in the used market where I always buy my cars, it doesn't make sense for me to replace my current car.

I'd also like to see a hybrid with a 20 kW I-2 free-piston linear alternator (probably from Toyota) before committing to battery-electric.

[0] https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-t...

Like I said previously, citations are needed for these assertions. You might be right, but at the moment it looks like opinion.

If anything, electric cars have the potential to last incredibly long. Combine with composite or aluminum body and the body won't rust away on an otherwise perfectly fine car.

Yeah, I'm confused as well. Generally in a 10+ year old car you're looking at possible transmissions issues(or engine depending on the brand, hello Subaru).

We're just about to crack 100k mi and 5 years on our EV with no sign of stopping. From a power train perspective swapping motors is dead simple and you have no transmission. I still see good capacity at ~91k. There are electronics/accessories that will fail but that's no different on an ICE.

Anecdata aside, the average car gets taken off the road around 11-12 years due to body rot, not drievtrain problems. EVs are unlikely to be immune to that.

Except Teslas which are aluminum.

The majority of Teslas are made primarily of steel, with some aluminum parts. Just like other cars.

There's still some decent physical shielding of the underside of the pack(which runs whole body). It'd be interesting to see the long term impacts that would have on the frame/etc.

Where can I learn more about this?

> If we're talking about direct air pollution in cities I agree.

What about PM2.5? Do EVs do not use breaks and tires?

Tyres yes, brakes not so much. The brakes are needed only to come to a complete stop, most normal braking is handled by running the motor as a generator to dump the energy back into the battery.

Regenerative braking cuts these down a lot.

I sometimes wish people who make this argument would go sit in a sealed room with a running electrical car and then a running petrol or diesel car and tell me which one was the better experience.

I think the argument here though is sit in the car with the vehicle's emissions from non-existent to end of life.

I do agree that point-source emissions of the electricity being generated is a big advantage. Nothing sucks more than being exposed to vehicle emissions in traffic/city/etc.

Well, to be fair, you need to be sitting in the room during the production of the battery, too ;-)

The pollution from the production of the battery, the steel and the aluminium can occur well away from major population centres. They are centralised and immobile so there is a much better chance that in the future they can utilise more efficient methods or at least capture some of their emissions.

As long as you also sit beside the smelter that makes the metal for the engine, drive shaft and gearing.

Sure. I'd even allow that you could share that experience with all the steel being smelted for both cars.

I would prefer sitting in a sealed room with my bike.. Always something to tinker with.

brakes ? rarely

I am sure that tires (in the city where is majority of cars electric) will not cause PM2.5 mayhem :)

Also VW prepares this technology : https://www.motor1.com/news/346653/brake-dust-particle-filte...

Tires generate a lot more particulate matter than brakes do, like 95% or so.

> With an electrical car you're starting with a CO2 debt for the production of the battery.

In what way is this bigger than the production of the many components needed in a gasoline car? Internal combustion engine (as an example) is not exactly CO2 natural to manufacture either.

Both are bad. Good is not buying a car when you have one in your driveway that does the trick. Better is never having a car in the first place and biking to a transit hub.

>In what way is this bigger than the production of the many components needed in a gasoline car? Internal combustion engine (as an example) is not exactly CO2 natural to manufacture either.

He literally said "for the production of the battery". Don't build a strawman. It's pretty well accepted that batteries are environmentally dirty to make.

An ICE drivetrain and electric drivetrain sans motor are both big lumps of metal. I'm not sure what the difference is between the carbon footprint per pound of copper vs steel (both cars are gonna have a lot of aluminum but I'm assuming they're within an order of magnitude of even). In either case the manufacturing carbon footprint it pennies compared to the energy required to move the damn thing its whole life (except in the obvious case of the electric an in an area where electricity is low/zero cabon).

I suspect the EV is going to be just barely more carbon heavy to manufacture simply because tech is at a point where the EV needs to place a much higher priority on weight (because it has the heavy battery to compensate for by being light everywhere else and reducing weight increases range) and that priority will result in different part choices throughout the car and that is where the extra carbon will come from (e.g. forged aluminum control arms and rims vs stamped steel).

Obviously the EV is far superior to the ICE vehicle in operation so it would make that back quickly.

I also was talking about the _production_ of the component. Not sure what you mean.

In any case if there is some comparison made between CO2 footprint of _production_ of an EV vs gasoline car, I would love to read that.

There was some info in Wikipedia:


So production CO2 impact is bigger (no only because of the battery) but total lifecycle is somewhat less than gasoline.

Best option is obviously no car produced.

Ok but the value used in the table is for a quite dirty electricity. The value used is 500gCO2/kWh when the OECD mean value in 2013 was already down to 430gCO2/kWh, and the value for my country (Switzerland) is at 24gCO2/kWh... Based on that you get completely different result based on where you leave.

The first column, which is about production, doesn’t use that value.

I'm not even talking about the first column as there is no such thing as a standard electric car, is it a Zoe or a Tesla model X?

Moreover, production needs energy and the carbon intensity should be mentioned (so we suppose that they used the same value). A battery produced at the Gigafactory is going to have a smaller carbon intensity as most of its power supply is solar... By the way this study is very pessimistic. For example if I take the efficiency of the Tesla Model 3 (16.4kWh/100km) for the whole 150'000km we get 12.3 metric tons of CO2 (500gCO2/kWh), far from the 19 tons of the figure.

Also, what about disposing the battery when it reaches its end of life.

So you say that it's a conspiracy?

The first line reads: Taking mass transit is a better climate-change solution than tooling around in one of his Tesla vehicles.

I don't know, I can't really see how this can be a conspiracy aganinst Tesla by BMW and others when they argue that it is better to use mass transit that also runs on electricity. How can anybody argue that it is more efficient to transfer people in 2 tons, 3 metres long 2 metres wide boxes with chemical batteries instead of much more denser electric systems like metro trains and no chemical batteries.

I like what Tesla is doing to the car industry, I want dinosaur smoke out of my living space ASAP but please stop gunning towards public transport. Poblic transport is great and it doesn't make any sense whatsoever to replace it with private vehicles no matter how dinosaur free they are.

So yes, electric cars are a lifestyle choice. Maybe a health choice too if we are to ban the fossil fuel from the cities.

I recall Elon Musk bad-mouthing public transport but public transport is great and cannot be replaced by Tesla vehicles. Maybe he will finally come to that realization when Hyperloop's final version inludes ride-sharing :) I cannot wait for fancy looking metro syst... I mean Hyperloop ride sharing.

it is ridiculously expensive to drive in Singapore. The saying is always that the license to drive a car in Singapore can cost twice what you paid for the car itself. As a result, driving is an absolute luxury. For its population of 5.6 million, there are only 600,000 cars licensed to drive on Singaporean roads[1]. Even if all of those cars started running on electricity it would be a drop in the ocean compared to the ~ 68,100,000 tons of oil SG exports[2].

[1] https://money.cnn.com/2017/10/24/news/singapore-car-numbers-... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_industry_in_Singapore

>Climate is not the primary concern given the small footprint of Singapore.

I would have thought that given its geographical location, climate would in fact be a primary concern of Singapore. So why is it not? One could hardly accuse Singaporean government of short-sightedness.

> ...climate would in fact be a primary concern of Singapore. So why is it not?

Literally the second sentence in an article that was submitted:

> The city-state, which has said its efforts to cope with climate change are as crucial as military defense, has prioritized greater use of its trains and buses, Masagos Zulkifli, minister for environment and water resources, said in an interview Wednesday.

But climate change is global, not local. So it would seem that worldwide adoption of electric cars would be in Singapore's national interest, assuming they genuinely see an existential threat to Singapore from climate change.

And yet, they make statements like this which seem counterproductive. So, why?

It's in TFA. In their opinion good public transport has a much larger impact on climate change than personal cars. Which has been proven to be the case countless times.

> But climate change is global, not local.

And Singapore can't do shit to the way the rest of the world combats climate. It can have an impact within its own borders. It (correctly) identified that the public transport makes more sense in a city-state. It incentivizes public transport while de-incentivizing car ownership in general (electric or not) because there's not enough space for the supporting infrastructure.

You'd learn all of this and more by reading the article before commenting.

I would guess Singapore wants to encourage a local electric vehicle industry and will shelter it from competition in the early years.

No. Singapore is a tiny city state with a service based economy

Dyson is setting up an EV plant in Singapore.

Car in Singapore is already more expensive than a house in USA. So numbers are already limited. So emissions produced by them is not as bad as other large cities in Asia.

One more point is that majority of the cars are discarded when they finish 10 years. So newer car with better technology produce lesser emissions.

Singapore government is far sighted that's the reason they focus more on public transportation.

The cars are not really discarded after 10 years, they just wind up in Malaysia or Indonesia. That impact should be considered as well.

It is a priority because the country is threatened by rising sea level (about one third of the country is on reclaimed land).

I think the control of Singapore's cars is a reason why they can make a shift away from petrol/diesel cars, not against it. Electric vehicles primarily move pollution from the daily usage in dense urban areas, to remote production and recycling. For Singapore this is ideal as it means cleaner air. The local environment is very much a concern for Singapore.

The market effect on BMW, Mercedes, etc... is probably not much of a concern on them as most car manufacturers are introducing electric models, with BMW having a major share of the electric car market in some places. Tesla currently has a good market share in the prestige range but that is decreasing.

The oil & gas companies are also getting in on the act, so they're reducing the impact on the introduction of electric cars. The first charging station in Singapore is in Shell petrol station. They might prefer hydrogen fuel cell cars as it maintains the need for their distribution network, but they'll adapt either way.

As to maintenance, Tesla's quality issues mean there's no shortage of work. I used to live near a Tesla workshop and it was always overfull with cars needing expensive repairs.

> The market effect on BMW, Mercedes, etc...

It will have an impact, moreover for BMW and BENZ electrical line up to come close to Tesla in quality, range, reliability might take another decade.

> Oil and gas industry

Singapore oil tax is not same as electricity. Moreover electrical charging station is not a competitive advantage any decent company do it, indeed blueSG and SP Utilities have more charging station than Shell in Singapore. EV and Tesla will affect this industry directly.

> Maintenance

In general, AEVs require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because there are usually fewer fluids (like oil and transmission fluid) to change and far fewer moving parts.[1]

[1] https://www.energy.gov/eere/electricvehicles/electric-car-sa...

> for BMW and BENZ electrical line up to come close to Tesla in quality, range, reliability might take another decade

Whilst I admire Tesla's ambition, the work they've done to advance electric cars, plus they certainly make nice cars, a lot of people fail to see Tesla's fallibility and the potentially weak position they're actually in.

- BMW plans to have 25 models with some battery capabilities by 2023, at least 4 all electric. Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) are aiming for 10 all-electric models by then.

- On dollar for mile range basis most manufacturers are catching up with Tesla with their new models (or are premium Jaguars, where that's less of a factor). The Chevy Bolt is about equal to the (yet to be released) standard Model 3 in price and range.

- Consumer Reports in the US calls Tesla's reliability "weak" and does not recommend the Model 3.

- Legacy car manufacturers can scale up the bulk of the manufacturing process for an electric car quicker than Tesla, which is still struggling to run a production line that meets expectations.

I like Tesla but it is by no means the clear winner of the electric vehicle race.

> -BMW and Benz plans

I am aware of their plans. But still Tesla has a significant lead as both were still sceptic in full embrace of electric until Tesla outsold them in USA. Also it takes time to master running an electric motor by Software and constantly improve along with battery. Tesla has much longer experience of running a car on electrical motors.

BMW and Benz can sale cars based on strong brand. But to make really good electrical car with a decent range will take some time.

I am pragmatist not a fan of specific brand. More competition the better it is. I will be more than happy to see a real good electric car from established brand. But I don't think BMW i8 and i3 can come close to Tesla's current line up. So is the case with Jaguar and Audi with their new luxury EV. You can't go easy with legs in two boats. So if there is a real evidence of change I will change my views.

Your argument is speculative at best and ad hominem at worst.

> Also if Tesla comes in Singapore as it is perfect place for its range BMW, Benz which are the primary brands will suffer heavily.

Citation needed. Model 3 has performed very poorly beyond initial demand from early adopters/fans.

> Since electrical car do not have as many mechanical moving parts as traditional gasoline car it will reduce maintenance costs and car servicing and parts related business.

And yet Tesla repair and maintenance costs are astronomical.

They're not wrong. Buses, trains and cycling don't have the appeal of a sporty private car, but in a dense city they're much much more efficient.

About the appeal - it depends on your cultural background. Here are some other ways people from different backgrounds think about this (not necessarily consistent with each other):

* A private car is bulky and noisy, bicycles and pedestrians aren't. * Lazy people drive in cars, healthy people walk or cycle. * A private car removes you from society, while using public transport/walking puts you with a group of peers, and cycling is a bit more singular but you're still surrounded by your peers with no physical barrier. So using a private car is somewhat disdainful towards the rest of society. * A car is either a truck for people who need it to move things around, or if its a private car - it's probably some young man wasting his money to feel macho.

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation.” - Gustavo Petro

Although I much prefer the adaption: "A prosperous country is not a place where everyone has a car, but one where everyone meets in public transit".

After all, prosperity is more than development, and there is something very accurate about meeting in public transit. When your richest person and poorest person are both around each other, it is a huge empathogenic.

How realistic is that for a big country (USA) that is really big & sparsely populated in lots of spots outside of major metro areas?

(Disclaimer: I’ve drive only 5k miles a year, and actually just sold my car, since I prefer walking & PT... but I live in a giant city where that’s a legit option)

The sparse bits are by definition sparsely populated. And the size of the country is for most trips irrelevant. You don't drive across half your country just because. You drive to work, and the shops and you only have the same 24 hours in a day the same as everyone else, so its the same upper bound. This[1] suggests the US has fairly short commutes, so it would seem country size is irrelevant for that at least.

[1] https://transportgeography.org/?page_id=5219

Pretty much every major metro is lacking in transport so starting there is great. Halting development in wildlands and favoring growth around transit infrastructure is the next move. The sparsely populated areas are just that and are a drop in the bucket compared to people who live in areas that absolutely should have excellent transit and biking infrastructure.

It's not ultra realistic for less populated areas. But large cities have no excuses.

The united states only has a handful of 'large' cities. Most cities with larve populations are only populated because they encompass large geographies. A large city shouldn't be defined by population but by density and the united states has very few dense cities. Maybe only new York, Philadelphia, washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston, and even some of those are a stretch.

Density is a bad metric because it will always be low in the US due to how cities are built.

But that's the ultimate problem to solve. Build dense cities, and people will (a) want to live there and (b) will want to use transit and (c) transit will make the most sense. The city density issue is one completely controlled by the government. Developers are incentivized to produce high-density housing, because it yields more money. Cities don't want it.

Good point

Okay, but you have to define large, don't you? What is the population size you have in mind?

Do people who don't own or have interest in owning a car really get that upset about other people's choices? The way you've worded those makes it sounds like they're feeling pretty judgemental.

I live in SF, previously Chicago, and I'm annoyed everyday at:

* I have to cross large streets that have been built for cars all the time

* Public transport sucks

* The city is against other modes of transportation like kick scooters and people comolain about how much space they take when you have large cars parked everywhere

* Because people move in cars, no area is really densed. Restaurants and bars are miles apart.

* Because few people take the bus, there are all sorts of crazies there. I took the bus twice when I moved here and almost got beatten up the first time, witnessed someone getting mugged the second time. I'll never take the bus again here.

* When I'm in the shuttle, and the traffic is freaking slow, I look outside the window and see one person per car. Why don't more people take shuttles instead of taking so much space on the road? Well there is no public transport.

* Noise, noise, noise

* The roads are all broken. Shuttle rides are uber bumpy.

I think this is nuts. I lived in san Francisco for many years and the entire city is accessible by public tranit. The city is even building more like the new subway line.

And Chicago takes the cake for crazies on buses. Ive never felt so unsafe on a bus as Chicago.

Id rank san Francisco's situation on par with londons core urban areas. Maybe you're also including the surrounding burbs?

Which line were you on? I take a bus to work every day in Chicago, and I've felt unsafe maybe once or twice. Definitely felt way less safe walking through downtown SF with the homeless population heckling me for my soda.

Chicago's public transit ranks much, much higher than SF's. The fact that you compared it to London shows just how conceited you are.

> conceited

I don't think that's quite the word you're looking for.

We took the bus from downtown to UChicago. The express was fine, but on the way back on the regular, going through south side. It was way worse than SF.

That being said, the commuter buses in Chicago and the L were basically as nice as any other respectable public transit option.

> The fact that you compared it to London

In both cities I have lived near the downtown core. In both cities I was able to get mostly where I wanted to go in under an hour, within and immediately surrounding the city. SF is moderately better in that, within an hour and a half on public transit I can not only visit the city, but also wilderness in Marin county.

> Chicago's public transit ranks much, much higher than SF's

I don't buy most 'rankings'. Portland, where I live now, is supposed to have one of the best transit systems on the west coast. We're looking for neighborhoods to live in. From one neighborhood six miles from downtown, it would take me one hour by bus to reach the city. In SF, I have lived in the city, but I've also lived in Silicon Valley (~ 40 miles away, but still only an hour to SF via Caltrain), and in Marin (~15 miles away in San Rafael, but still only an hour to the city). Still, Portland for some reason is ranked higher. Portland is about on par with Los Angeles. The system is slow. Something is wrong with most rankings IMO.

But what would I know, I'm just some guy who's lived in a bunch of cities, and never commuted by car to work, ever.

Just wanted to chime in and let you know conceited was precisely the word I was looking for. You sound excessively proud of your city (SF) to a fault.

You're in luck, I also lived in London before moving to SF. Daring comparing these two cities public transport is FUD. I've never taken a cab in London, bus and some metro lines are 24/7. Public transportation of SF and the bay is a joke if you've ever been outside the US.

Yes, I do agree the 24/7 thing is very annoying. Although living in Marin for the past few years, it's weird because bus service to/from SF is actually 24/7 there. But, it's totally misplaced.

Within the city though, for everyday tasks, SF is basically on par with most cities in the world. Most cities do not have 24/7 transit.

I strongly disagree with you, and I've lived in 8 different cities accross 3 continents.

It's your personal choice only if you don't expect to have (non-congested) public roads and parking spaces for your car. Space in cities is shared and finite, so something has to give.

When I visit U.S. I'm shocked how much of city space is sacrificed to seas of asphalt and mountains of dull concrete. Multiple very wide lanes cutting cities into inaccessible islands, making everything spaced further apart. Where I'd expect to have a 5-minute stroll by a park to a local cafe, it turns out to be a dangerous 30-minute walk through viaducts and parking lots to a mall.

It depends a lot on where you go to. The cities of the NEC (Boston-Washington axis), along with Chicago and (to a lesser degree) San Francisco are generally pretty hostile to cars and have dense and compact cores. There's a tranche of cities that are trying to develop more towards that transit-heavy/car-lite scenario, which includes Seattle and Portland (and surprisingly, Los Angeles, but they have a long way to go). Then there's the cities that embraced the automobile and have blocks of nothing but parking in their downtown--Kansas City is one of the worst offenders here. And of course the suburbs tend to lean heavily into the space-wasting, automobile-centric design.

It's quite striking just how compact things are in the first set of cities compared to the automobile-centered places elsewhere in the US. Apple's spaceship campus is about the size of downtown Providence. Or, if you impose it on Midtown Manhattan, it would cover the entire area between Penn Station, Grand Central, Broadway, and the Empire State Building (which incidentally houses more employees by itself than Apple's campus does).

The reflexive, condescending erasure of the advantages and necessities of owning a car on the part of wealthy Bay Area urbanites is illuminating as to why some people get pissed off enough to roll coal.

Thinking that everything is about you and your diesel F-250 that you genuinely need for work is the very definition of narcissism. I am willingly to guess, however, that a very large number of people I saw on the way to work here in the 'burbs this morning did not require a two ton wheelchair to get to their place of employment.

The cultural background you're describing isn't a "background", it's an attitude/viewpoint (I'm not sure what to call it) that is only popular among people mostly of/above a certain wealth threshold (poor people wish they could have cars) living in certain urban areas (the ones that have a high cost of car ownership and good alternative options) mostly located in the US and Europe. For everyone else in the world driving around in a luxury car in the city is a symbol of wealth.

There is also no "back" to it. If you traveled back in time to the 90s with that opinion you'd be lucky to encounter anyone other than the most die hard public transit proponents sharing it even in the aforementioned urban areas.

Just because you and the people around you hold an opinion today does not make it a cultural background.

Edit: Is my opinion wrong or have I just struck a nerve?

While the planet benefits from electric cars, it can't be saved without a massive reduction in car use, regardless of type.

Bu tin the context of Singapore it makes sense. It's a small country, a city-state. The whole country is just a bit bigger than the city of Madrid and it has a nice (AFAIK) public transport network. Also, cars are extremely expensive there, over 100K USD for a small car.

So, in the context of Singapore, a Tesla is just about status and luxury.

Nobody is suggesting that electric vehicles should replace buses, trains, and cycling. But electric vehicles should certainly replace petrol and diesel vehicles. Singapore's policy, at present, seems to make that difficult.

They are not wrong at all. It’s a little funny coming from the Air Conditioned City though. Singapore uses an amazing amount of power.

If you ever have the chance to their their two giant botanical gardens, I highly recommend it. Just one tiny example of their commitment to use as much energy as possible for their size.

Not sure how critical I’d be of the air conditioning. It’s like Las Vegas during the summer, but year around - without AC it’s bordering uninhabitable.

It could be worse. They could be cold and using heat instead.

Isn't that the commonly understood strategy of Tesla?

You can't start with the environmental benefits as the main selling point, it has to be a good car. Especially when Tesla started, the base cost of EV tech was extremely high, so the only market-competitive 'good' car you could build on top of it was a luxury car focused on optimising performance, comfort, brand, etc, with a very high price tag.

Obviously as the price of the base tech falls, a mass market car will emerge that's actually good, and sells, bringing the environmental benefits along with it not as a primary thing but a secondary one. That's the way it has to work (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective). Also seems that's exactly what Tesla is doing, I don't see any evidence to the contrary.

Any 'mass market car' can by definition not be good for the climate/environment. Cars, whether electric or other, are unsustainable.

That is false in the case where the mass market dramatically improves global supply chains for batteries/storage. When the world has low cost batteries, solar energy will dominate due to the fact it is approaching order of magnitude lower $/kW costs than extraction fuels.

All of these cars use precious metals and resources which come from (probably) China who pollutes like hell to get them so who knows what the long-term ramifications are.

Pollution comes in various forms. Right now I'm less worried about heavy metals seeping into the land in some remote area of the world than I am about greenhouse gases. I'd rather fence off a square km to pollution for a dozen cars on the road that won't heat up the atmosphere more.

What precious metal in a BEV?


In what way is having a personal 3000lb pile of metal to wheel you around at all efficient? No matter if its gas or electric, 95% of that energy is squandered just moving around 3000lbs of metal everywhere you go in life.

Personal transport is best served on something you can actually pick up and carry. Buy an ebike. Lobby your city council for bike lanes. Anything else is opulent and destructive.

Indeed, cars are bad for lots of reasons. But reducing nasty emissions and noise pollution, and making roads safer with various assistance systems, are improvements to the status quo. Since cars are here to stay (for now), improving them is worthwhile.

While I agree in principle (maybe not that we should get rid of 100% of cars, but probably >90% of cars), there's no way we can do it quickly. And almost certainly not quickly enough to avoid +1.5 C, or very likely even +2.0 C. EVs are a good stepping stone.

I hear what you are saying, but let us not forget that today's mobility environment is a very recent phenomenon. In my opinion the 'change' required is presented as much more insurmountable than it is in practice.

Look at today's world vs the world just 3 decades ago. No mass Internet, no WWW, no mobile phones, no eCommerce, much more smoking, much less obesity, a vastly different financial system, ... Society is apparently extremely plastic in adapting to created changes.

>Look at today's world vs the world just 3 decades ago. No mass Internet, no WWW, no mobile phones, no eCommerce, much more smoking, much less obesity, a vastly different financial system, ... Society is apparently extremely plastic in adapting to created changes.

The effects of the internet and social media on political discourse already looks like a disaster, obesity is a result of changing food infrastructure and availability, and our financial system goes through a cataclysmic global hiccup every decade or two.

If this is what adaptation looks like, we're screwed.

On the other hand 1/2 of world looks more or less the same - rural Africa, india, china...

If you believe we are highly adaptable and new technologies will 'save us' somehow check this presentation : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkj_91IJVBk

...it's eye opening

I find viewpoints like this to be overly regressive in the name of the environment.

Exactly, there are millions of people who won't ever buy a prius no matter if it fixes the environment, makes them more beautiful, and pays them

What I don't get is how the two are mutually exclusive. Singapore still has cars, right?

As other commenters have mentioned, personal car ownership is very much dis-incentivized in Singapore. It's a city-state so walking, biking, and transit are where it's at.

More transit. It is a tropical city state, so walking and biking any amount of distance outside isn’t very pleasant during the daytime (and will require a shower and change of clothes if going to work).

Singapore really disincentives the usages of cars. Which is understandable when you have to cram 5 millions peoples on 722km2. Car, and especially car infrastructure take a lot of space. It is something you can afford when you have the space of the US or Canada, but when you are a small city states, public transportation makes a lot more senses.

> "it would be difficult to develop adequate charging stations with 85% of the population living in high-density, government-supported housing."

This is a common fallacy. If there is already somewhere to park the car, then you already have somewhere to install charging. In a highly developed city like Singapore, the electric grid already extends almost everywhere.

> "hydrogen is a better long-term solution than electric vehicles for decarbonizing transportation, in part because of the carbon footprint from mining the metals needed to produce car batteries and the issues around their eventual disposal."

Batteries aren't free, but neither are electrolizers and fuel cells (limited life span, large quantities of platinum and rare earth metals needed for catalysts, etc). The lifecycle efficiency of battery electric vehicles is much better than for hydrogen fuel cells, and the infrastructure requirements are much more managable.

Batteries will get greener over time. Their main components, lithium, steel,aluminum, carbon, water, these are not dirty materials. Cobalt and other rare metals, yes those must be minimized, which may be why Tesla bought Maxwell which has non cobalt cathode tech, and which has supercapacitor tech that may supplement the battery. In short, EVs will get cleaner over time, let's not throw them out or slow adoption. We desperately need a cleaner atmosphere and they will somewhat help with that by replacing ICEs.

There's serious engineering problem - you need CHEAP material which will be able to handle: 1) very high pressure 2) ultra precise sealing 3) material needs to be resistant againist hydrogen embrittlement (problem for all metal materials)

...in order to build cheap vehicle which will lasts at least 10 years.

Singapore has always been super anti personal vehicle... they have a big excise tax on personal vehicles. Far removed from the context of America where everyone has a car


Or maybe they are just more visionary and resist the detrimental decline of the environmental commons spiral that comes with a private car ownership based mobility model.

It's all about the density of this state/city which makes individual car ownership pretty impractical.

I don't think teslas are needed in Singapore, but it doesn't mean they are not needed elsewhere.

I think SGP's PM is a bit too focused on his country to judge that.

Wouldn't it be the other way around? Singapore got built dense because they had anti-car attitudes.

Singapore has grown 4x since 1960. A lot of infrastructure and housing got built in that time. American cities in the era built themselves into a corner with auto-sprawl, Singapore didn't.

> Singapore got built dense because they had anti-car attitudes.

No. Singapore doesn't have enough land to do anything other than high-density building.

They could have built it much less dense than they did. It’s a very green city.

It’s also hard to imagine a place with better public transportation.

> They could have built it much less dense than they did.

Only if they don't want any economic future. You're not thinking long term.

You could say the same about San Francisco, and yet it’s full of single family homes, outside of a very small core which is dense. The result is fewer people than would otherwise have lived in SF.

The same could have happened in Singapore, they’d just be a country with a smaller population.

Your claim that high-density housing creates a higher population is exactly backwards. A high population in a small geographic area is what creates the necessity of high-density housing.

The population of Singapore even 70 years ago was higher than San Francisco county's population is today. San Francisco also has a nation's worth of external support, Singapore only has its trade deals.

I think Singaporeans know how to run Singapore better than you do.

....I was saying Singapore displayed foresight and ran themselves well.

My point was that American cities have generally lacked such foresight.

It would have been a mistake for Singapore to build things around the car, and it has been a mistake for San Francisco to use restrictive zoning and car central planning.

In fairness, SF proper is dense, but it's tiny. The surrounding area is not dense.

>A high population in a small geographic area is what creates the necessity of high-density housing.

American cities pre-car were generally as dense as European cities. They chose the car intensive route post war. Europe initially went down that path, then pulled back. And Singapore was wise enough not to pursue it.

Their geography surely focussed minds a bit, but they could have made bad choices rather than good ones. Many cities have.

> American cities pre-car were generally as dense as European cities.

Nope. Even after a massive population increase in the last ten years of the 19th century, New York was still only half as populous as London in 1900:



I said dense, not populous. Density incorporates the area you're settled in.

You can see in those charts that both nyc and london had peak density in 1950, as their populations declined after that point, while their area didn't increased. They both reversed that trend around 1990.

NYC has a much higher density than london though: 27,751/sq mi vs. 14,670/sq mi

This was probably roughly accurate in relative terms around 1950 as well, as NYC and London had similar populations in different areas back then.

Singapore increased its density consistently and greatly in the same time period.

> Density incorporates the area you're settled in ... NYC has a much higher density than london though: 27,751/sq mi vs. 14,670/sq mi

So you admit being pro-car or anti-car has nothing to do with it. Good.

Nope, it was just due to congestion. You have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to get a certificate that allows you to buy a car in Singapore.

This needs to happen in nyc.

>Or maybe they are just more visionary and resist the detrimental decline of the environmental

Have you been to Singapore? Because if you have and think they are some green wonderland because they require an expensive purchase permit for a car and you need to get rid of it after 5 or 8 years is because they’re “earthy”, you are sadly mistaken.

It’s 99% population control, 1% environment. The city/state is amazing; but not always in the good way. I recommend you visit.

Green is one thing they are not. They talks good game about biomass (burning trash) and solar, but the entire country glows at night, it earns its name as The Air-Conditioned City.

possibly to do with their deeply socialist ethos

No, it has to do with the fact that Singapore is a small place, which would completely choke if they would not restrict the use of private cars via heavy levies.

And regarding socialist ethos: Singapore is, arguably, the most capitalist and business friendly place in the world.

socialism is not business unfriendly. china is super business friendly

You're confusing socialism with 'government involvement' -- admittedly a mistake many Americans seem to make.

'Socialism' in the classical sense is definitely business unfriendly. Its foundation is a critique of private ownership of factories, workplaces, and other 'means of production'

Socialism means social management of the economy. That need not involve the state at all. And it may not describe China at all, depending on your definition of 'social', regardless of what the Communist Party says about itself.

"Socialist" certainly does not describe Singapore, which neither calls itself socialist, nor acts socialist.

China took off as soon as they added capitalistic laws.

also explain to me how their blocking of EV's is business friendly

That is one subset of one industry.

You don't have to be friends with everyone to have lots of friends.

Any time you see an article promoting hydrogen as fuel, be suspicious - it's likely being promoted by the oil industry.

As of 2000, 95% of hydrogen production is sourced from 'steam reforming', basically breaking off hydrogen gas from fossil fuels: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen#Steam_reforming

Sure, everyone knows you can get hydrogen from nice clean electrolysis but it's not nearly as cheap (energetically) as getting it from fossil fuels.

Anyways, the oil industry would be relatively happy to a move to hydrogen so they could continue being the primary suppler of fuel.

It seems his thoughts apply to any EV's not just Tesla's, but invoking Elon's name in there gives the statement media wings.

Maybe that's because Elon directly criticized Singapore's government a few months ago?



"Singapore has enough area to switch to solar/battery & be energy-independent"

How does something so mild get labeled as criticism?

One of the most annoying aspects of media. See also: Apple, Zuckerberg.

Accessibility and empowerment are important to liberal society. The fact is that there is high demand for motor vehicles even in large municipalities for children/families, the disabled, the elderly, or anyone moving large packages. This is a plurality of the populace, even in urban centers. Banning cars in favor of public transit will greatly reduce their mobility and their voice in society. Electric cars are a great way of serving this demand with a much smaller local and global environmental impact. The fact that the wealthy also enjoy the comfort of private vehicles doesn't make them immoral.

Certainly we can use fewer, greener parking lots. Certainly we can use better public transport. Certainly the _majority_ of transit in Asian and European metros is public, and should be in America. But a plurality of transit even in the densest hubs is private. There are plenty of cars, and there is plenty of real need for them.

Condemning cars is reductionist and elitist, and at the risk of an ad-hominem attack, usually advocated by those who can afford expensive taxis when they need them, and don't often need them since they are young and single.

Maybe the dynamics will change with self-driving vehicles whose hiring will be more economical than ownership. But that is so far not a practical short- or medium-term reality.

I found the last paragraph particularly interesting. I have a friend who is a real car enthusiast; he owns several classic cars which he maintains himself and takes to car shows. A few weeks ago he said that he believed that hydrogen fuel cells were the future, not electric cars.

I don't know enough about hfc's to have an opinion but I followed the link they gave and it looks like they could still be a way off in terms of practicality.

Anyone here have an informed opinion they'd be willing to share?

They are the future if you believe the institutional/inertial/lobbying power of the century old ICE will be insurmountable. As storage and solar/wind $/kW costs continue to fall, hydrogen is looking less promising.

Interesting note, hydrogen motion is governed more by quantum tunneling than by Fickian diffusion which makes it materially challenging to effectively store at high energy densities. From an infrastructure standpoint, it is much lower in costs to store and transmit electrons than it is atoms (which is intuitive from a simple mass balance argument).

Fuel cell cars exist and you can buy them. Examples:

- Hyundai Nexo: https://www.hyundaiusa.com/nexo/index.aspx

- Toyota Mirai: https://ssl.toyota.com/mirai/fcv.html

- Honda Clarity: https://automobiles.honda.com/clarity-fuel-cell

- Lexus LS next year: https://www.motor1.com/news/362598/lexus-ls-fuel-cell-spied/

They're practical realities today. They have fast fueling with good range.

In California. They are completely unfuelable elsewhere!

As far as I know, currently the hydrogen technology is vastly worse than battery cars (BEV) and could only win because of corruption. Which might still happen of course.

The issue is that hydrogen cars are about as expensive as battery electric cars (i.e. twice to tree times the cost of similarly sized and equipped ICE car) but BEV is much cheaper to run, while H2EV costs about as much per km as ICE car, so you get the worse of both world. Also the car is more complex - it also has to have a battery because you can't recuperate into hydrogen cell.

You can create hydrogen using electricity, but a lot of energy is lost, so it will probably always be more expensive than just using electricity.

The tech only makes sense in uses where weight is extremely limiting, like in airplanes or maybe ships? Spaceships?

Have they overcome the problems that Honda was having in colder climates?

I really love the pragmatism of the Singaporean Government sometimes. Other countries are nowhere near as pushed for resources and consequently don't do anywhere near as good a job as them of facing big, gnarly problems like this. Kind of a pity, really.

Dictatorship works great if you have a benevolent, emotionally stable, intelligent dictator. Although some of Singapore's laws are very draconian.

If you smoke weed they throw you in jail and beat you.

I'm aware of that. I was talking about their pragmatic streak that enables actually doing something about climate change, rather than their authoritarian one that thinks corporal punishment is fine.

I'll just leave this here to add a bit more background:


Not really relevant.

Singapore itself has huge financial disincentives to car ownership to begin with, they actively discourage it with huge fines. That's for gas using cars, and has been the case since decades.

It's also not that they worried that the insignificant market share of Tesla globally would live them without international buyers for their oil (which is a mere 5% of their much diverse economy). Besides, the dispute with Musk was over domestic use.

They are truly against cars, and in favor of buses and subway (which are both excellent in Singapore, which is also quite bike friendly).

From the article: City-state is pushing people to choose trains, buses over cars

It might be a good idea to read the article before attempting to add background to it.

Bicycling to work everyday is about Climate.

Edit: http://www.globalstewards.org/reduce-carbon-footprint.htm

In Singapore :-) you do know what sort of climate they have there.

One of my co-workers went out there (on a full ride expat job) and had to give it up as the climate affected his asthma to much.

Well, he ain't wrong. Nothing like a 35k base cost to show off that sweet startup money.

In Singapore, a Toyota Corolla costs you around $100k. (Seriously.) A parallel import Tesla S via Hong Kong is over $400k.


Singapore is in an interesting position, because anything they do to mitigate air pollution pales in comparison to the Malaysian fires that annually fill their air. It’s hopeless until the situation with their geographical neighbors change.

Electric cars may be a lifestyle, but electric mopeds are a solution. They reduce congestion, consume far less energy per mile traveled, and are generally a greater way to get around the city - especially if you join a club and share the devices among a group of people who are interested in maintaining them and using them effectively.

So, all Tesla really needs to do is make an e-moped. I'd sign up immediately - I love my Unu, but it needs a bit of the Tesla flair...

if you have 'clean' electricity mix e.g. France (dominant nuclear), Norway (dominant hydro) then I consider electric car as 'ecologic' (after few years lower CO2 than conventional car).

For other places around the world where electricity is more 'dirty' just drive some small car with combustion engine and maintain it as long as possible. Small car needs less energy for transport then heavy electric vehicles.

Just the battery production can take 2-4 years to offset compare to a gasoline car[1]. Then you also have to take into account that battery have to be replaced regularly and the overall production of the car pollution.

It would be more ecological friendly to just use you gasoline car until it die and then only make the switch to electric. And even then, buying a used car and also running it until it dies might still be more ecological.

The technology will get better, on production level and on the car level. But right now, its very far from a clear cut to say if electric car are more 'green' than gazoline car (that are already produced).

Overall, the main issue is personal transportation. If you really want to be ecological, you should use mass transportation (excluding planes for short travel) whenever possible and use car sharing when you really need a personal transportation. The idea of all having a car sitting idle 90% of the time is fundamentally incompatible with ecology and electric car won't solve this.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_aspects_of_the_e...

Excerpt from the source parent cites [1]:

Full life cycle assessment (well-to-wheels) comparison of four different power train technologies for production and usage. It is unclear if the usage value includes replacements and recycling. Values are in tonnes CO2 equivalent. Sorted from most to least CO2e consumed. Battery is second!

Standard gasoline engine: 5.6 + 24 = 29.6

Battery electric vehicle 8.8 + 19 = 27.8

Hybrid: 6,5 + 21 = 27.5

Plug-In Hybrid 6.7 + 19 = 25.7

edit: formatting

I am sure we have enough time for discussion as there's : ~ 1.2 billion cars in the world ~ and only 5.6milion electric cars

Even if US and EU will be fast in adoption there's still a lot of work ahead.

Power plants + EVs are much more efficient than ICE cars, even if the power plants are 'dirty', for many reasons: recuperation, the car not spending more energy warming up, thermodynamic efficiency of the engine compared to generator, etc.

Digging up liquefied dinosaurs, shipping them thousands of kilometers all over the world in huge ships, doing crazy chemical things with them, and then burning them in small batches 2500 times a minute ... how could that ever make more sense than using power grid?

However 'ecologic' electric cars may be, public transportation is more so because you don't need to produce a 500 kg battery per car.

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