LEAF [is named] historic European Car of the Year … The Nissan LEAF is the 2011 European Car of the Year, the first all-electric vehicle with lithium ion batteries to win the award in the 47-year history of the annual competition, and we believe a vindication of the Alliance's decision to pursue all-electric power as our vision for sustainable mobility. The LEAF was chosen from a shortlist of seven vehicles launched this year from an original list of 41. Håkan Matson, president of the 57-strong jury of leading motoring journalists whose votes decide on the Car of the Year, described the Nissan LEAF as "a breakthrough for electric cars" and "the first electric car that can match conventional cars in many respects." – Reve
Dominant Social Theme: Human genius continues to triumph.
Free-Market Analysis: We were not going to return to the subject of electric vehicles for a while, having just written about them. But elite promotional efforts surrounding electric cars are so egregious at this point that our elves simply couldn't let go – especially as the Nissan LEAF was just named "European Car of the Year." This comes on the heels of the GM electric flagship car, the VOLT, being named "2011 Car of the Year" by no less than two US car magazines – one conveniently just before the US Gov's huge and apparently successful stock offering of GM.
The LEAF encomiums are especially puzzling as this is a car that gets less than 100 miles on a single "charge" – which actually means the radius is more like 40-50 miles as one has to get home, presumably, for a recharge. How a car that can only be driven 50 miles in any single direction (at most) before it is necessary to return to the garage can be seen as a "car of the year" by any publication is beyond us. It is worth noting however that despite the drawbacks, many more electric cars are on the way, including two from a Renault-Nissan alliance – the Zoe hatchback and the Twizy city car/scooter. Here's the VOLT announcement from Wired magazine:
The Chevrolet Volt hasn't even rolled into showrooms yet, but two leading auto magazines have named it car of the year. Motor Trend and Automobile lavished praise on General Motors' plug-in vehicle, a car we've always considered an impressive bit of tech. The awards are significant validations of the Chevrolet Volt and the technology underpinning it. Both magazines hailed the car's styling, its technology and the impact it will have on the auto industry. Not bad for a vehicle that journalists have spent no more than a few days driving …
Angus MacKenzie, editor-in-chief of MT, called the Volt, "a fully functional, no-compromise compact automobile that offers consumers real benefits in terms of lower running costs." To say MacKenzie liked the Volt is an understatement. He raved about it. … Automobile was equally effusive. "On its way to becoming Automobile Magazine's 2011 Automobile of the Year, the Chevrolet Volt endured more scrutiny and skepticism than any of the nine other semifinalists," said associate editor Eric Tingwall. "It is genuinely an all-new car, in the most simplistic sense as well as in the greater notion that the Volt is unlike any vehicle we have ever driven." )
Dear reader, here's a question for you: Have any of your friends or acquaintances EVER bent your ear about the need for an electric vehicle? Has your girlfriend/boyfriend/workmate/neighbor ever whispered to you that what was needed more than anything else in life was an electric car? We didn't think so. These multinational car companies that are supposed to be so savvy about consumer demand – where are they getting the idea that the one thing that buyers want above everything else is a car that runs out of power on the way home from the supermarket?
We decided to watch some LEAF Youtube videos and they proved quite interesting – in the same way that videos of natural disasters are compelling. For the most part they seem to consist of Nissan spokespeople proposing, with increasing amounts of desperation, how ground-breaking and otherwise truly remarkable the LEAF is. The videos show the car itself as well as the driving experience and even the sound the LEAF makes.
This last point is worthy of a ten-minute discussion on Youtube during which the Nissan narrator explains at length about all the sounds that were considered and how the final noise was scientifically arrived at after several years work. It is, dear reader, a low-pitched siren that sounds a bit like an ambulance choking on an unmade bed. And when the LEAF backs up, it goes beep … beep … beep. Unusual, huh?
There's more of course. As one "drives" the Nissan LEAF a little tree icon lights up on the dashboard and commences to grow branches. This is, of course, to remind you – the proud driver – that you are doing your bit to save the environment, fir-tree by fir-tree. No carbon dioxide is coming out of YOUR back end. Of course, what seems to be escaping Nissan (and its LEAF) is that the scientific verdict regarding carbon is extremely fuzzy. In fact, at this point, there seems to be no scientific verdict at all. One can find plenty of online articles that explain the science is entirely mistaken, and that carbon may NOT have increased in the atmosphere and that even if it had, it doesn't matter.
But is that "inconvenient truth" slowing down GM, Nissan or Renault? Not a chance. Electric cars are coming no matter what. They are underpowered and overpriced, but they are coming. They are lightweight – even flimsy – and thus dangerous, but they are coming. They make no environmental sense as coal plants burn night and day to create the "zero-emission" energy that recharges them … but they are coming. Here's something on the downside of the GM VOLT from one of our previous article on Green cars:
We recently wrote about General Motors and how we believed the Obama administration was urging companies like GE (a huge government provider of goods and services) to purchase horrid, little electric "GM Volts" that have a range of about 40 miles (on battery power alone) and need eight hours of plug-in time per day. The Volt costs US$41,000 before government incentives and there are considerable questions about how long their batteries will last. The speculation is that the Volt is nothing more than a loss leader designed to bring people into showrooms where they may purchase something else.
To read the full Bell article, click here: Green Auto Sales Wilt as US Gov Dumps GM Back on Markets.
We couldn't find much that was overtly negative about the LEAF as of yet – but we did find a recent article in Pajamas Media that blasted the whole concept of the LEAF as an energy efficient vehicle. Promotional materials cite EPA statistics that claim the LEAF gets 99 miles per gallon (equivalent). This is actually down from last year's claim of 230 miles per gallon. But the Pajamas Media article makes the point that sending electricity to the LEAF from a power plant was about four times as inefficient as fueling a similar car with gas. This greatly reduces the "equivalent" MPG. Here's how the article put it:
Let's say you took your gas-guzzling engine out of your car and hooked it up to a generator in your garage. The engine has a fuel efficiency of 15 MPG. That's roughly 25% efficient (a 300 HP engine burns about 1000 HP of gas). You run the engine to generate electricity (let's assume, just for kicks, that the generator hooked up to your car engine is 100% efficient) to charge your Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt. Guess what the mileage of that Leaf is? The EPA says you will still get 99 MPG overall. But you actually used four gallons, not one, to get that far, thanks to the charging engine's 25% efficiency.
The real efficiency of the Leaf is dependent on the efficiency of the coal power plant: the Leaf gets 25 MPG, not 99. The Chevy Volt gets 23 MPG, not 93. The EPA is purposely comparing apples to oranges, conveniently hiding the fact that you are simply displacing gasoline usage with coal. The fact that you don't have to directly throw coal into your car doesn't mean you aren't using any. Indeed, the overall efficiency of electric vehicles charged on coal is no better than a car with a spark ignition engine.
This is pretty incredible stuff in our estimation. The LEAF (like the VOLT) is overpriced, underpowered, small, flimsy and greatly restricted in terms of how far it will travel without a recharge. Absent sky-high gas prices, the ONLY redeeming factor in our view (for some people anyway) is that these cars are "environmentally friendly." But now it turns out that once the inefficiency of the electrical transference is factored, the cars are not achieving any energy conservation at all! One is therefore left with the ambiguous consolation that such cars offer "zero emissions." Of course, if your car is being recharged via a coal-burning plant, you're just kidding yourself.
When one considers everything, we are hard-pressed to come up with redeeming factors as regards the current electrical cars. That these cars have been named the "best" by prestigious motor-car publications in not a testament to their quality or craftsmanship. In our view it is merely evidence of the amount of pressure that is being put on the mainstream media and car companies themselves to hype these vehicles.
The Anglo-American power-elite could care less about the non-existent environmental advantages of these cars. As we pointed out previously, the whole idea is to gradually replace gas-powered cars that can travel far and fast at high speeds with electrical cars that are infinitely trackable. As we have already pointed out, it is very easy to cut off electricity if someone runs afoul of some local, state or federal regulation.
One of the selling points of these cars is the built-in navigational equipment that is being provided by the car companies themselves. What this means in reality (eventually, if not already) is that central governments will end up with real-time access to where a given individual or family is situated while driving. On every level, these electric cars are a kind of consumer disaster. They are unsafe, inefficient and do not even provide promised environmental advantages – even if one is apt to believe in the fiction of global warming (or climate change).
The only reason these not-ready-for-prime-time cars are being foisted on a buying public is because the Anglo-American elite wants them to be, in our opinion. As to why, we would have to speculate it has something to do with the Anglosphere's ungodly hurry to consolidate control over Western populations, especially when it comes to travel. The positive news as it involves these "cars" is that unlike airport X-rays and patdowns, one still has a choice when it comes to buying a normal vehicle or an electric-powered one. And we would bet that when these vehicles are more generally available, they will not receive a great deal of interest, at least not in their current form.