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This is of course the aim but I think it’ll get solved

A mass market in affordable electric cars will not happen soon because of the difficulty of producing them on a commercially viable basis, one of the largest makers of zero-emission vehicles for British drivers has warned.

Paul Philpott, UK chief executive of Kia, the fast-growing South Korean car company, said it had no immediate plans for a mass-market electric product.

Some fear there is a prospect of a society of haves and have-nots in the electric car revolution because of the sheer cost of buying or financing a zero-emission vehicle.

The Green antinomians insist that the proles shouldn’t in fact have a go anywhere, anywhen means of personal transportation. How can they be controlled if such mobility is available?

The battery pack is the costliest component of an electric car. The smaller the car, the larger the proportion the battery in its production cost.

That, I think, is solvable. In fact, I’ll make a prediction, it will be solved.

Currently lithium is of the order of $80,000 a tonne, around and about. Give it a decade – perhaps half that – and I’d expect to see lithium at $8k a tonne, perhaps below.

That won’t solve the depreciation problem, there will still be an entire absence of £500 beaters out there. But that cost problem at the front, yes, that will go away.

There’s just so much damn lithium out there. We do not have a shortage of it that can be extracted. We only have a shortage of people able to extract right now. There’s so much capital roaring into this sector that it’s going to go into gross oversupply, most of the people hoping to mine for it will go bust. This is not because I am gifted with second sight, but because I have third sight. This is just what always does happen with minerals and metals. Far from the idiot insistence of the Club of Rome and all that, minerals become cheaper the more we apply our minds to go finding them. Julian Simon was right.

As we noted just last week there’re those blokes who think they can extract, profitably, from the Red Sea. I think they’re being a bit hopeful but the next notch up, from geothermal waters (Salton Sea, Cornwall, German power stations, desalination plants) is already known to be practicable and economic.

That still leaves the issue of how to kill off the antinomians but one problem at a time, one problem at a time.

36 thoughts on “This is of course the aim but I think it’ll get solved”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    I better and quicker solution would be to line up the multiple gallows outside Parliament to encourage to scrap the net zero and end of ICE laws.

  2. I don’t think that it is solvable. Sure lithium will become cheaper, but there are too mant physical laws that stand in the way of making electric cars with the current technology viable – range and battery life being the most outstanding issues. Besides there are plenty of other components that are difficult to glean.

    The problem will remain that electric cars will be too expensive and not have a functioning second hand market for the average punter.

  3. Thought experiment: ICE cars are now sold for £5 each. Hurrah!

    But there is too little motor fuel for them, and is unavailable in all but a few places, so a tank of fuel costs £1 000.


  4. But the people who make the laws will have several cars bought for them. Kept at strategic locations, fully charged, ready for instant use. Guarded by security.

    I wonder when we’ll be back at 98% tax rates? 2029?

  5. Lithium batteries burn beautifully for a long time. Maybe there’s a use for them? Maybe there’s another Guy Fawkes, eager to demonstrate?

  6. Ottokring’s entirely correct. Lithium supply & price is the least of the problems. At root there’s insufficient reliable generating capacity or the cabling to support the energy requirements of an all electric transport fleet. Particularly if it’s intended to phase out domestic gas use. And no chance of a solution to that in the required timescale.
    One can’t help wondering if the geezer from Kia’s one of the last adults in the room. The car manufacturer that doesn’t divert into the expensive business of trying to go electric will be the winner when all-electric inevitably gets abandoned. The rest will end up with products there’s little market for.

  7. Milk floats are the answer, now what’s the question?


    We have convenient, flexible, easy to use transportation. The good old internal combustion engine – petrol or diesel – is just so much better than any touted alternative as to be almost magical.

    The mental and other gymnastics needed to justify these currently non-existent alternatives takes the breath away. Whatever might replace real cars, well it ain’t gonna be a milk float.

    Of course, there is the “no rights and be happy” cult currently driving the western world to penury, and until these lunatic entitled children can be put back in their playpen any alternative is simply a smokescreen for their hateful, anti-human agenda.

  8. The problem is the decision has already been made to go electric and it’s in full swing. Even Mr Toyoda who knew full well it was bollocks many years ago has been forced to join the party. As well as the car costs being high it also feels inevitable that we will face the horrors of smart changing aka dynamic pricing, so if you want to charge now that will be £500 or you can wait till 2am and pay only £150 etc, which also skews heavily in favour of the very wealthy (Rishi and Jeremy, for example). They will have to actively choke off petrol and diesel supplies to force people to move over to ‘leccy.

  9. Otto
    The problem will remain that electric cars will be too expensive and not have a functioning second hand market for the average punter.
    Genuine question, why will there be no second hand market? Will the replacement batteries needed in older cars be too expensive ?

  10. Yes.

    At some point – 6, 8, 10 years, depends on who you talk to – those batteries are dead. They’re also one third to one half the cost of a new car. There simply will not be 10 and 20 year old cars for £500 and £300 out there.

    Those numbers might move around a bit but that’s the basic problem.

  11. @ Ottokring

    not have a functioning second hand market for the average punter

    That is the elephant in the garage. New car sales work because there are lots of people wanting 3 year old cars at less than 60% of the price of a new one. The residual high cost and fears of battery lifetime issues is going to choke demand at that 60% price point The folks who can afford to buy new electric cars are unlikely to want to run them into the ground so will still want to sell them as will all of those car leasing companies that supply the company car market. Depreciation will soar so buying electric cars from new will be a very costly exercise.

  12. There simply will not be 10 and 20 year old cars for £500 and £300 out there.

    Of course 20 years from now £500 will buy you a loaf of bread.

  13. They will have to actively choke off petrol and diesel supplies to force people to move over to ‘leccy. And I’m sure they will. Or introduce emissions rules which no ICE can adhere to.

    The problem is, as others have mentioned, even if we assume private car ownership fell 80% (no cars for the driveway-less proles), most of the miles are done by commercial vehicles and some of the private car slack will be taken up by electric buses. That would require a doubling of current electricity generating capacity. Which we are not building and for which there are no plans.

  14. I think the smart money is in building electric wheelbarrows to carry the money required to buy some bread.

  15. At some point – 6, 8, 10 years, depends on who you talk to – those batteries are dead.

    Hmm, not sure about that. The batteries in petrol hybrid Lexus motors are lasting way longer than ten years (usefully so, too) and prices of those are still above ten grand rather than less than a thou. Maybe there’s something about the constant top-up charging cycle that keeps them alive longer than the charge-deplete of full EVs.

  16. As I’ve said many times, electric cars won’t be a mass-market vehicle until you can buy one second-hand for three months’ dole, and get 1500+ miles out of it for one week’s dole. But of course, not being a mass-market vehicle is exactly the aim. Can’t have the proles having the same freedoms as their betters.

  17. PJF

    There’s also the fast charging of full electrics. Shortens the lifespan of the batteries.

    But unless you want to spend 8hrs at a service station, you haven’t got a choice if you’re doing a longer trip, especially in winter when about 30% reduction in range seems average.

  18. “The problem is the decision has already been made to go electric and it’s in full swing.”

    As Stalin probably said, it’s easy for politicians to change their minds, when you start hanging them.

    (Just been reading ‘Modern Times’ by the recently deceased Paul Johnson, on how Lenin and Stalin got it together. Politicos are easy meat).

    Eventually the penny will drop, that every tradesman, every food delivery, and every services-repairer arrives by van or HGV. And electric HGV are pie in the sky (unless the hill is very high and the downhill straight long, as Nikola showed us).

  19. “Paul Philpott, UK chief executive of Kia, the fast-growing South Korean car company, said it had no immediate plans for a mass-market electric product.”

    Do thE Kia Niro, EV6 and Soul EV not count?

  20. @starfish

    No. Mass-market means 500k+ units per year of that model.

    Niro and Soul were “take a handful of petrol cars off the production line and shoehorn an electric drive system in.” They were made in penny numbers (compared to the regular models) and sold at a loss in jurisdictions where incentives/penalties meant that it made sense to do so.

    The EV6 is a designed-from-the-ground-up electric car — and a pretty good one by all accounts — but it’s a pathfinder, so way below mass-market volume and also selling at either a loss or a wafer-thin margin and put out there so that Hyundai-Kia can look at what went right and what went wrong and do better next time.

  21. The majority of new cars are bought on some sort of finance (eg PCPs), especially company cars (lease or contract hire). The majority of these financing methods rely on the ‘residual value’ at the end of the finance agreement. In that way, monthly payments are minimised. But what if instead of a 60% residual value after three years, it was 10% as might be the case for EVs because of the worn out battery problem? The monthly payments might be prohibitive even as company cars.

    A whole industry is in peril here: vehicle manufacturers (in the UK and Europe as we are swamped by Chinese EVs); finance and leasing companies (many owned by big banks); car dealers (new and used); aftersales networks; petrol/diesel suppliers (oil companies, extraction, petrol stations, etc) ….. even Motability (one of the biggest with 750,000 cars on lease to disabled). Or maybe that’s the objective, as others have pointed out above, the peasants walk or ride bikes.

  22. Call me a cock-eyed optimist but is there a potentially profitable opportunity in recycling old car batteries?

  23. Yes.

    But it’s difficult. Complex job, no one knows a cheap way yet. Expensive ways, yes, cheap, not yet.

  24. “but is there a potentially profitable opportunity in recycling old car batteries?”
    But you’ll have to ship the old cars to China before disassembling them and recycling the batteries.
    You’ll never get the permits to do that here. Nasty messy business.

  25. some manufacturers have said they will only offer electric cars after whatever the current zero carbon date is. As far as I can see that is mainly Tesla, which already does, and some European manufacturers, probably because of all that bribery the EU frowns upon. But given the cost of a new electric car all this will do is to turn them into niche manufacturers. There are some big markets that will not outlaw ICE cars, and by the time that date comes around the chances are the rules will change. Whatever the WEF might think, personal transport is not going away, and electric cars don’t cut it, apart from some very specific use cases, where kick-backs form part of the equation.

  26. @Dearime

    In small numbers, possibly. For example one touted use of old milk float batteries is for storage for small scale unreliable installations, which in the real world is just another massively subsidised laundering scheme. The same sort of grifters seeking gullible fools for these small scale unreliable installations will simply have another thing to dangle.

    On the scale of millions, no. It’s just a fantasy on a fantasy. Firstly there simply aren’t going to millions of milk floats. In the very unlikely event there is, trying to properly recycle these incendiaries by the million would create a huge, unsustainable resource hungry monster.

    Once the milk float bubble bursts though (and it’s looking like this will happen quite quickly), like millions of windmill blades and useless solar panels, the milk floats that have been made will just be another toxic legacy that will have to be buried somewhere.

    In some corrupt, primitive, poverty stricken third world shitehole.

    But if these vicious, hate filled anti-human monsters get their way, these incediaries won’t have to go very far.

  27. All very interesting these discussions about battery technology, but you do actually need electricity to charge them with. And there’s not the slightest sign that there will be sufficient reliable generating or transmission capability within the time period they’re intending phasing out both the ICEs & domestic gas use. So isn’t it all rather esoteric? If they go on the way they are, there simply won’t be a transport fleet anything like the current one. And since so much of the economy depends on their being one, there won’t be an economy. So electric cars won’t be being built. Horse breeding might be something worth getting into.

  28. Incidentally, I doubt if people really understand how much the production of electric cars rides on the back of the economies of scale of producing ICE cars. You can count on a fair proportion of the people work in the Tesla factories drive to work in ICE cars.
    If the demand for electric cars doesn’t happen because there’s no way of charging them, then the ones that are built are going to be damned expensive. Just take tyres, for instance. They are the price they are because there’s an enormous tyre industry. You’d lose that. Most of the tyre manufacturers go bust. Much smaller production runs & tyres start costing several hundred quid a piece. Same for all the other components make up cars.

  29. Isn’t this all rather academic, inside one’s 15 minute city prison. A scooter/bicycle/tricycle (with small battery as appropriate) will satisfy most functional transport needs.

  30. BiS: Noooo, not the shitty streets again! It’s bad enough in our village with the leisure riders around. One of the locals calls it ‘Horsiculture’ as a riff on the previous life of the village.

    Talking about electricity the National Grid here is trying to implement a ‘pay you to switch off’ scheme so if you have a smart meter and are signed up with your provider (only some of them) you may get a rebate if your consumption in the early evening period, defined day by day and only when the wind don’t blow, is less that a previous average over that period for your account by some defined percentage.

    That went into action yesterday and the reactions I’m reading is that for most people it’s a nothingburger – 5p rebate rather than a ‘promised’ £20, and many people couldn’t sign up even when they wanted to. It’s supposed to be in action again this evening as we have a large High sitting right over us. It won’t be long before we’re emulating Pakistan. I don’t suppose they’ve ever been able to test a Black Start.

  31. I’ve been looking into getting a. New car this year, and debating whether to buy a brand/nearly new one now or do so nearer to the 2030 deadline (you can prize the keys to by ICE car from my cold, dead hands!)

    After looking through the websites of most of the major manufacturers it seems most are already well on the way to dropping production of ICE cars already. Fiat, for example only sells 3 models now and the 500 is only available as an electric or a hybrid.

    More depressingly, I’ve already wanted a coupe or convertible one day and the cheaper models of these are almost extinct, Mazda’s MX-5 and Toyota’s GR-86 are the only ones still on sale for less than £30k

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