Making the rest of your apartment building cough up the cost of your electric vehicle has rightly become a point of contention.
Energy prices are on the rise (in a catastrophic sense) and there is no sign of Labor’s promised price cuts which they took to the federal election. [bold, links added]
Socializing the energy grid, as the Victorian Premier plans to do, is likely to make the situation even worse, given the shocking mess the government made of it the last time they were in charge.
Homeowners with stand-alone buildings are welcome to plug their luxury planet-saving transport devices into the wall, but those who live in apartment buildings should do the decent thing and charge their electric vehicles at one of the many external stations provided.
Coming home and expecting all of your neighbors to front up the cost is a different matter entirely.
In The Australian last week, a Tesla owner and apartment renter claimed that his neighbors ‘didn’t mind fronting the cost to charge his Tesla’.
‘They see it as future-proofing the building. All of the major manufacturers will move toward electric in the next decade, so this is the road we’re all going to have to go down. They’re happy someone has started to put the pressure on, and they know I’m more than happy to pay as soon as the building makes it a possibility.’
That particular Tesla owner may live in the Bermuda Triangle of apartment buildings, but back in the real world, renters and homeowners are watching their electricity meters like hawks, turning off devices to save a few dollars and forking out for energy-saving options.
They’re certainly not going to cheer on the bloke in the basement racking up their collective bills with a luxury vehicle.
It is not okay for electric vehicle owners to essentially ‘fill up’ their tanks at their neighbors’ expense. Nor should it be the taxpayer’s problem to fix (although it will be, because governments are already handing out tens of millions of dollars in ‘EV-ready’ grants).
If people want to drive electric vehicles, let them install – at their own cost – charging outlets in their allocated car spaces just as you would connect a high-speed internet connection.
It should already be obvious that high-speed chargers in garages with hundreds of cars are going to cause a serious infrastructure problem. The grid doesn’t have the capability to deliver on this sudden demand (and nor do the power stations, for that matter).
After decades of ‘use less power to save the planet’ driving construction designs, politicians are now forcing the market to ‘use bloody heaps more power to save the planet’.
There are plenty of good reasons why electric vehicles are never going to be a solution to our transport problem – chief among them being that they are in direct competition with renewable energy (solar, wind, and battery farms) for vanishingly rare lithium supplies that are forcing up the cost of production every year.
Another issue is that there is no used-car market for electric vehicles. They’re like second-hand phones – no one wants them after the battery has been trashed by a former owner and, with such a high dependency on complex electronics, they ‘wear out’ in ways that make them very expensive to fix – just like the ten-year-old laptop you tossed in the trash.
These reasons pale in comparison to the issue of safety.
When Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond crashed his million-dollar Rimac electric supercar, it burned for days. The heat created by high-performance lithium-ion batteries causes intense fires that are extremely difficult to extinguish with a tendency to randomly reignite.
While these fires may be rare, when they do happen they pose a nightmare scenario for car parks and repair shops.
Ordinary sprinklers installed in underground car parks are sufficient to extinguish the blazes created by traditional cars. These fires tend to be confined to one vehicle.
Sprinklers cannot be relied upon to extinguish an electric vehicle fire (which burns at a considerably higher temperature).
If electric vehicles are parked side-by-side, they have a habit of triggering a chain reaction of intense fires belching toxic smoke far more dangerous than anything coming out of a petrol car.
What happens if a fire like this starts in a shopping center, or worse, a residential apartment building with hundreds of electric vehicles packed together?
While we can forgive electric cars for catching fire when they’re driven off a hillside at high speed and crashed into a field, most electric car fires are happening when they are plugged in to charge – which will be the default position if we install home-charging outlets in apartment complexes, as demanded by politicians and homeowners.
We know roughly what it will look like by comparing the situation to battery farm fires.
To say that they are ‘rare’ is not a valid guarantee of safety, because electric vehicles are ‘rare’. ‘Rare’ will become an exponential problem as millions upon millions of electric vehicles are run off the production line and into the real world. ‘Rare’ as the problem may be, even one such incident could have horrendous consequences.
Many recorded battery fires in electric vehicles have been put down to quality control issues and faulty batteries.
This should concern readers because legislating a transition to electric vehicles will encourage companies to rush production, cut corners, and – given the excessive cost of most electric vehicles being outside the range of ordinary consumers – cheaper cars will be prioritized by the market. History tells us that when any product hurries to reduce costs, quality is the first thing on the sacrificial altar.
Our car parks will be full of cars that pose the highest risk to safety, not the other way around. Enthusiasts cannot pretend this isn’t happening, as quite a few models have already been recalled by their manufacturers due to spontaneous combustion issues with their batteries.
In early September 2022, seven electric cars caught fire in a single day. They formed part of the 640 electric car fires in China in the first quarter of 2022 resulting in electric cars costing 20 percent more to insure.
The ‘rare’ case of electric car fires in China is an accelerating problem because of increased production and demands for cheaper products.
BYD is listed as the main culprit for the problem of spontaneous combustion. They currently produce 9 percent of the world’s market share in lithium batteries. As reported by CarNewsChina:
‘When an electric vehicle battery uses DC fast-charging under an ultra-low temperature environment, if the electronic control system fails to preheat the battery, the battery is at risk of fire. Another cause of the fire is lithium carbonate precipitation and the formation of lithium dendrites in ternary lithium batteries and lithium iron phosphate batteries. The addition of relatively cheap electric vehicles to car-hailing fleets also represents an additional risk due to high usage and more fast charging.’
And in an observation that should worry Australia, given the heat of our summers:
‘Additionally, 66 percent of the fires happen in the hot months of the year and 34 percent in the cold months. It seems that there is more risk of fire in winter when charging. In summer, there is more risk of fire due to overheating.’
Batteries News says that, in China, 27.5 percent of fires happen while the vehicle is charging and 38.5 percent while parked. Their conclusion is:
‘According to researchers, the widespread use of low-cost electric vehicles, on which the manufacturers have built the largest circulating fleet of electric cars in the world, is also a factor that should not be underestimated among the causes of the increase in electric car fires in China.’
Say what you want about traditional petrol and diesel cars, but at least you can trust them to sit quietly in your garage.
Despite other nations, who are far ahead of Australia in electric vehicle take-up, sounding the alarm on safety issues – the Australian government has chosen to ignore the problem entirely.
You won’t hear politicians sully their ‘save the planet!!!’ speeches with messy details about car fires or lithium shortages.
Read rest at Spectator AU