Climate change, characterised by an endless parade of well dressed, bland, un-thinking, un-elected, un-known, very well-paid individuals who seem only to work for major corporations or ‘advisor’ organisations, who promote the view of eventually banning motoring. You have read articles from me and many others on this situation.
Now is the time for straight talking.
Stats and stats
Make no mistake. The global climate change movement is attached to major financial interests and has been hugely successful in forming Government policy everywhere. The movement is based on emotion sprinkled with suitably tuned ‘facts’, and debate follows the same pattern.
Position 1: Describe global pollution in terms of ‘human race extinction’.
Position 2: Position road transport is the primary source of that pollution.
Position 3: Claim radical change is required by 2050 / 2040 / 2030 / 2025 / any time soon / Now!
Position 4: Propose a solution, and debunk it as it becomes mainstream, as another ‘solution’ is proposed, which in turn goes through the same process.
Position 5: The end point – outright ban. Note, all questions are rebuffed with ‘denier!’ rather than objective answers.
Please bear with me. We need to thread our way through this mess. The death of motoring has long been proclaimed by those who dislike vehicles, and even if they don’t, live in the middle of a large city with extensive public transportation on hand 24 hours a day. Lest we forget the irony of Uber et al, where enemy No1 – the vehicle – is the primary means to deliver an on-demand service.
One inescapable fact. Remember the very first time you ever got behind the wheel of a car? Or the first time you ever rode a motorbike? In both cases, whilst probably doing no more than 20 km/h the thrill of command, control and speed was simply amazing! This was almost immediately superseded by panic, and the use of so many senses and limbs seemed to be all but impossible.
Personal transportation for the masses is inescapable. It is a level of service which bicycles cannot replace. The reports of younger generations lacking interest in vehicles is way, way off beam. The surveys are mainly carried out in large cities with extensive public transportation on hand 24 hours a day. Oh, the same places that those lobbyists come from.
This does not mean getting very excited about a ‘hot’ camshaft profile or the intricate double clutch automated manual transmission. No, the thrill is in personal mobility. The realisation that a casual drive is limited only by the time we have and the ability to pay for fuel. That freedom is more liberating than anything any political party has ever done.
Please do not forget this
Our sector is tied to that personal mobility. Yes, it might be powered by petrol, diesel, hydrogen, liquified natural gas (LNG), liquified petrochemical gas (LPG), or even St Elon Musk Fairy Dust (electricity). But however the vehicle is powered, it liberates.
Politics, or dictatorship?
In Europe we have a long-standing political motivation to alter transport policy. Inconveniently UK is still an EU member state until around the end of 2020, a detail the EU often prefers to forget. Political types who would not know one end of a catalytic converter from a particulate filter decided that CO2 build-up was the thing … so with taxation loaded appropriately for vehicles and fuel, diesel sales took off. Meanwhile another set of semi-detached Government types tightened the exhaust emission test, forcing diesel engines to run ever hotter and so produce more NOx with each new emission ‘standard’.
Hold on… did I just say but diesel? No, no, no… that’s discredited…’we’ meant electric power.
EU member state Governments promoted narrow policies with non-existent strategies, blessed by the self-interest of Brussels. The vehicle manufacturers literally did not know which way to turn.
Large trucks, for example were sold within EU member states with ‘Euro V’ emissions, even though there were three ‘extension’ packages simultaneously on offer. At the same time trucks were on offer which complied Euro VI rules (with at least two variations. The traditional introduction time for each change was simply abandoned, with the result that there was no stability. Individual EU states then nailed tax regimes to each of these emission standards, which allowed those buying new trucks to select from more than five variations to suit their requirements. An operator accessing rural areas could go with basic Euro V, whilst another accessing the centre of a major city really needed the latest Euro VI package.
That was confusing for new vehicle sales, but imagine now – some eight years later – all of those trucks are working somewhere with long forgotten specifications. Our preaching, screaming politicians have made a huge mess of engineering progress, and are not hanging around to face the music. Look over there! Nothing to see here!
With effect from January 2020, volume car manufacturers had to meet an average CO2 tailpipe result of 95g/km for all the vehicles they sell in all EU member states in any single year. Failure to keep within this limit will cause a direct fine of €95 for each gramme of CO2, per km, per vehicle sold over limit. Now that’s going to concentrate some minds. Kia Europe, for example, declared that if they got the model mix wrong for 2020, the tax bill would be €1.6 billion. For one year, for one vehicle manufacturer. You can imagine what that would look like for JLR, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
The answer my eco-friends is ‘blowing in the wind’. Yes, for the moment, vehicle emissions are only measured at the tail pipe. Hence, if the vehicle has no tail pipe or only generates steam, it is a ‘zero emission vehicle’. The fact significantly more energy and resources from the earth are required to build such vehicles counts for not one gramme of tail pipe emissions. Can you possibly tell what’s going to happen next? An outright ban. The campaign has started already.
There are many facets to this. Firstly, vehicle manufacturers do not like to build vehicles with radically different content. Secondly the mess described in Europe is going on in North America as well as the Far East, although in subtly different ways.
Quite literally, there is no escape from this huge technology wave racing around the world. It matters little that some of the ‘solutions’ don’t really work for South Africa, that they add significant cost to the vehicle, or repair cost, or that we don’t believe in this. It’s coming, ready or not.
What are the manufacturers doing?
The effect of climate change policy and the whimsical announcements of various target dates with no thought about how we get there has had a very real impact. For the past three years various models which should have been launched have been delayed, some vehicles which have missed the conversion programmes have been withdrawn, battery supplies are tight, and the ‘solutions’…
For the moment strategy No1 to No10 000 is to add electric drive to vehicles – either in addition to an internal combustion engine or as a replacement for an internal combustion engine. That ranges from:
an on-board battery system charged by an internal combustion engine (‘hybrid’ which is now dubbed ‘self-charging hybrid’ or ‘mild hybrid’ – MHEV)
through systems where a bigger battery allows the vehicle to move with electric only power as well as external charging (plug-in electric vehicle – PHEV).
to a vehicle with an immense battery pack for pure electric motoring (electric vehicle, battery electric vehicle – EV).
The cost of an internal combustion powered vehicle is still far below the pure EV. How do we know a pure EV costs more? Because a pure EV with a similar or markedly inferior range than a pure internal combustion engine powered vehicle the same size costs around two times more – and that’s at zero margin, whereas the internal combustion vehicle has profit margin. The biggest single on-cost is the battery. A PHEV, for example, has a traction battery (circa 5 to 15 kWh) which costs the same as a four-cylinder petrol engine. You can imagine what a really big pack as found on Tesla Model 3 costs…
A pure EV does indeed have zero tail pipe emissions, but has caused issues with obtaining vital raw materials (cobalt, lithium, precious metals, rare earths), energy consumption in processing those materials into usable form, transportation in getting those materials to an assembly location, and finally – energy to fill the system once the vehicle has been shipped to its destination market. The steps mentioned are in addition to those typically required to build an internal combustion engine powered vehicle.
So, the game is… to build a range of vehicles that outwardly tick the box for eco-warriors / Government policy, but to try and sell as many internal combustion engine powered vehicles with additional electric power to present the best next step in our journey to reduce environmental impact.
‘Electrification’ means adding new systems almost anywhere on the vehicle. How does this affect us? Firstly, there is a significant health hazard as more vehicles with additional or replacement electric drive systems take to the market, indistinguishable from other models in the same range that may not have such ‘electrification’. Secondly, there is a financial risk in getting the repair wrong by damaging the high voltage system. The bigger the battery pack, the bigger the cost to repair or replace. Consider too the electric drive system also has vital control modules too, which are also expensive.
This is chaos. No patterns, no single solution fits all. The only way to get through this? Model specific information to prepare and get the job done right first time.
Next time you see a suspiciously Politically Correct person talking about climate change, and that mobility must end – it’s nonsense. Ultimately, we don’t care what powers vehicles, but vehicles will continue to exist. Solutions on offer are flawed – ranging from EVs which are too costly, consume too many resources and add to the demand for electricity, through to ‘autonomy’.
Automated mass transit systems have existing in many parts of the world for decades.
The politically correct movement is called ‘woke’. For those who adopt ‘woke’ without question, they will go broke. Oddly those slick, bland, faceless, unelected lobbyists will by then have moved onto their next invented target – probably using aeroplanes / helicopters / cars to reach their next very important meeting that’s an absolute ‘must’. Now that’s the benefit of dictatorship!
uto Industry Consulting is an independent provider of technical information to the global collision repair industry via EziMethods, our online collision repair methods system. For more information please visit the website: www. ezimethods.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org