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Zero Emission Hoax

03 April 2013, 14:00

Nissan is soon to market its new Nissan Leaf “zero emission” EV (Electrical Vehicle) car in South Africa.  The Nissan Leaf which cost about $29 650 in United States will probably cost around R300 000 once released in South African.  Well the price depends on the exchange rate and a host of other things but it would probably be more expensive than my estimate because I have only accounted for the exchange rate plus another 20% on top of that.  The 20% is about how much more expensive Nissan is in South African than in the United States.

The price is enough to cure me from EV’s but I am sure a couple of tree huggers might find the inconvenience of owning one of these are worth their descendant’s while or so they think.

There are a couple of other reasons why this type of vehicle is more of a marketing stunt than a true solution to a more breathable atmosphere.

The first is that electrical vehicles are not truly zero emission as claimed.  The vehicle itself doesn’t produce emissions that much is true, but the energy source from which the vehicle obtains its energy does!  In actual fact the energy produced on-board an internal combustion engine must now be produced somewhere else by a power plant.

What this means is that a power plant must burn extra coal apart from the usual amount, to produce that extra energy in the form of electricity to charge the batteries of the electrical vehicle.  So what has the vehicle manufacturer accomplished by releasing an EV “zero emission” car?  Very little, because the source of pollution has merely been moved from the vehicle to some coal power plant. 

The second problem is that EV’s have a very short range.  The Nissan Leaf have a total range of only 222 km on the open road when the air conditioner is not running and a miserable 76 km range in peak traffic if you dare to run the air conditioner.  This range is probably much shorter if one accounts for all the speed bumps and unsynchronized robots.  To be honest my bicycle has a longer range than this.

Finally the Nissan Leaf has a fast charge option provided your charging station are properly and correctly equipped which can recharge the batteries to 80% capacity within a whopping 30 minutes compared to a traditional internal combustion engine which can be fully replenished in less than 5 minutes.

So it is more expensive, merely shifts the emission problem, has a range shorter than Malema’s political career and takes longer to recharge than it took to prosecute Jacky Selebi.  I really don’t see much advantage here accept an intriguing marketing stunt.

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