German Physicist On Electric Cars: “Slaying Of Beautiful Hypothesis By An Ugly Fact”

Though Vince Ebert makes his living as a prominent cabaret artist in Germany, he is in fact a trained physicist who has a good understanding of science and is thus quite able to see it when someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

Prominent cabaret artist, physicist Vince Ebert says electric cars nowhere near what they are portrayed to be. Image cropped from Facebook here.

One example is Germany’s “Energiewende” (transition to renewable energies) where Germany is attempting to wean itself off fossil fuels and to supply its energy needs almost completely with green energies such as wind and sun.

One aim Germany has is to convert all its motor vehicles on the street over the electric vehicles. In fact some green politicians have even called for banning the registration of fossil fuel cars by 2030.

So just how feasible (or absurd) is the proposal? Ebert points out in an opinion piece here, that is a lot easier said than done. Clearly the whole idea is in fact quite absurd.

First he notes that electric cars are a long way from having the over 700+ kilometer range of fossil fuel cars and that electric cars reaching that range are “dreams of the future“.

Quarter million wind turbines

Another major obstacle is the lack of charging stations. Even if Germany managed to put merely 1 million electric cars on its streets, Ebert calculates that this would necessitate the construction of 35,000 wind turbines.

However in Germany there are in fact some 6o million vehicles on the road, and “if every driver charged his car for 30 minutes every second day” and did so evenly distributed over a smart grid, “we would need 140 new power plants or 220,000 wind turbines“…which is almost 10 times more than what is already installed.

This is an enormous number — and it would only be enough for the electric cars and not even include the tens of millions of households, businesses and industry that together need even more power than Germany’s transportation sector.

Worse than fossil fuels

Another problem, Ebert points out, is the enormous size of the batteries. In order to replace the 30 liters of petrol of a conventional car, an electric vehicle needs a modern lithium battery weighing some 900 kilograms. Supplying the hundreds of millions of cars in operation worldwide with the lithium and neodymium would be nowhere near sustainable, Ebert writes. He also cites findings by Germany’s renowned Fraunhofer Institute:

Moreover the Fraunhofer-Institute for Structural Physics concluded that the manufacture and recycling of modern batteries has a negative impact on the ecological budget when compared to the fossil fuel engines.”

In a nutshell, electric cars would only make the environment much worse.

Then there are the organizational aspects of using electric car batteries, Ebert reminds us, asking readers to imagine millions of Germans all leaving at once for summer holidays on the autobahns and then all of them trying to charge their vehicles all at once along the motorway after a just couple of hours of driving. Huge traffic jams would form as cars charge up at stations at the rest areas. While a fossil fuel car can fill up in a matter of minutes, electric cars would be blocking the charging stations for an hour or more. It would be total chaos and mayhem.

Ebert summarizes his opinion on the rush to electric cars by quoting biologist Thomas Huxley:

The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”

61 responses to “German Physicist On Electric Cars: “Slaying Of Beautiful Hypothesis By An Ugly Fact””

  1. sod

    Pierre, how often have you been driving 700 km this week?

    I have never heard of Ebert before, but i like some of his stuff and other things are not that good. He is of the rare breed of rather conservatives in his branch.

    This article though is total nonsense and this has been explained by basically everyone in the comment section:

    “Die die Abends um 20 Uhr ihr Auto laden tun das aber nicht an einer dieser Schnellladestationen sondern an ihrer heimischen Steckdose mit 3,5 kW statt 350 kW und schwupps werden nur noch 350 MW benötigt also etwa 1/3 Block eines Großkraftwerks. ”

    We do not need 35 new coal plants, but rather 1/3 of one…

    “Das würde bedeuten, dass diese Fahrzeuge im Durchschnitt mehr als 400 km pro Tag zurücklegen. Der wahre Durchschnitt liegt bei 37 km also 11 mal weniger.”

    His calculations assumes people driving 400 km per day. the real number is 37 km …

    1. AndyG55

      So you need to own two cars, one for little short trips to the shops,….

      and a proper car if you want to actually go anywhere.

      Do you own just an electric car yet, sob?

      Be truthful, if you know the meaning of the word.

      We know seb doesn’t, because he is a monuMENTAL hypocrite.

      1. SebastianH

        Why would you need two cars? Haven’t you seen those reports about people driving thousands of kilometers with a tesla in one day? Almost nobody needs to drive that far on a regular basis …

        1. DirkH

          “Haven’t you seen those reports about people driving thousands of kilometers with a tesla in one day?”

          Nope. Are you hallucinating?
          BTW. A kWh through a Li Ion battery costs a Euro, if one takes the battery lifetime into account. So if they drive say… 7000 kms in one day… (you said “thousands”)…. that’s 1400 Euros they spend in one day. The Green Utopia comes with a hefty price tag.
          I did generously assume the consumption of a 100 km/h electric noddycar… Probably it’s at least twice that with a wasteful ultraheavy Tesla.

          1. sod

            “BTW. A kWh through a Li Ion battery costs a Euro, if one takes the battery lifetime into account. So if they drive say… 7000 kms in one day… (you said “thousands”)…. that’s 1400 Euros they spend in one day”

            no. This is beyond stupid!!!!

          2. sod

            “So if they drive say… 7000 kms in one day”

            That is an average speed of about 300 km/h and obviously we are talking about a miracle battery, as it could not be reloaded at all during that day

          3. AndyG55

            Do you known an electric car, sob?

            If not, please give reasons why not.

            Or are you just yapping , yet again.

          4. SebastianH

            DirkH, that was an exceptionally stupid reply.

            The cost of a kWh put through a battery is determined by battery cost and number of cycles during the usage of the battery. More usage equals a smaller price per kWh through the battery.

            If you bought an electric car and only used it once, then the kWh price will be very high. If you manage to drive the battery empty every single day for 10 years you’ll arrive at a very low price.

            Current battery price is around 250 € per kWh and you can easily get 3000 cycles out of them if not 5000. That’s 0.83 € or 0,05 € per kWh through the battery. The manufacturers estimate that 100 € can be reached in the next 10 years.

            The Tesla drove 2424 km in 24 hours btw …

          5. AndyG55

            Why are you still driving your Mercedes then, seb ??

            You must be aching to get an EV, but you know that they really will only remain a TOY for the foreseeable future.

            That is the truth, isn’t it seb.

            Lie to us, we just laugh….. but you really shouldn’t LIE to yourself.

          6. SebastianH

            I’ll quote myself from below:

            Ehm … ok. So it is possible to critize a technology without using it, but praising its pros or checking the statements of those critics is not possible if you don’t own it yet?

            I would be perfectly fine with an EV, but I can’t charge it where I park and therefor I have to wait until that’s possible or other places where I park my car have chargers installed. That’s not a problem for the majority of drivers right now. The problem is the total cost of ownership for such a car if you buy it now. It’s not economical, but so is buying a Porsche or other luxury cars.

            There is a market for that and there is a market for expensive EVs. And the later one is growing as prices come down … and they obviously are in the next decade.

      2. AndyG55

        You don’t have a Tesla.. you have a Mercedes.

        Tell us all the BIG fairy-stories once you have one.

        OK 😉

        1. SebastianH

          So? You haven’t answered the question and instead went to an ad hominem attack … same nonsense as always.

          1. AndyG55

            Your fairy-tales continue…

            Get back to us when you have sold your Mercedes and have an EV as your only car.

            Until then you are just yapping….

            …like sob does all the time.

            Put up or shut up.

          2. SebastianH

            Ehm … ok. So it is possible to critize a technology without using it, but praising its pros or checking the statements of those critics is not possible if you don’t own it yet?

            Yeah right … AndyG55, you are simply amazing.

          3. AndyG55

            Yap, yap.

            but unable to stand by your yapping.

            So sad, so seb. !!

    2. AndyG55

      I have no problem with people wanting to “feel good” and owning an electric car…

      …. but the charging stations should ONLY be hooked up to wind and solar.

      Wouldn’t you agree, sob !

    3. DirkH

      sod 22. March 2017 at 10:25 PM | Permalink | Reply
      “Pierre, how often have you been driving 700 km this week?”

      The typical rethorical bullshit.
      a) When a car is used for 10,000 km a year, the Greens will say, see, you don’t need a car, it’s idle 99% of the time
      b) When someone actually uses his car for lengthy travels like all weekly commuters across Germany do to get to their job the Greens just deny that any of these people exist. The Greens will also immediately demand that these people switch to the train; which works only in lucky cases without grave losses in time.

      The command economy of the Greens (and the CDU, which is another Green party) will outlaw or make impossible anything that the Greens will not like. That’s how they got their name of Verbotspartei. (prohibition party).

      The current CDU energy communism (forcing us to hand over 32 bn EUR a year to the owners of renewables contraptions) is of course part of this anticapitalist, anti-freedom, anti property rights dictatorship.

      1. SebastianH

        Ok, lets say you are a commuter and have to drive 100 km to your work and 100 km back … that would be the rare exception of a commuter, do you agree? With a capable electric car (nobody expects the final electric fleet to be those early 100 km range cars) you can drive that on every workday of the year only charging at home. That’s ~220 days times 200 km = 44000 km per year.

        What currently is not easily done with an electric car is weekend commute over very long distances (say you live in Hamburg and work in Munich). If a car is the best solution to this problem is another question entirely, but is the number of people doing something like that really that big? We could easily have exception for them. However it’s beyong stupid to take this as an example why electric cars can’t work.

        1. AndyG55

          Stuck with 200-300km range, then a long wait in queue to recharge. ?

          How much does your Mercedes get to a tank, seb.

          How long does it take to refill?

          When are you changing to an electric car.?

          …. or are you JUST YAPPING !!

          As always.

          1. SebastianH

            So you wait … it’s not like you have to stand next to your car all night to wait for it to fully charge. We are talking about commuters who sit at least 2 hours in their car … every single day and that’s easily doable with (some of) todays electric cars.

          2. AndyG55

            So, still the mercedes fossil fuel car ? !

            Time to stand by your mouthy yapping or keep proving yourself a hypocrite.

        2. AndyG55

          Gunna have to cancel that trip now you have the electric car, hey seb..

          ..or are you still driving a FOSSIL FUEL powered Mercedes???

          Got an order in for a Tesla to be maybe delivered in about 4 year, have you ?????

          No wonder everybody thinks you are a hypocritical yapping Chihuahua.

          1. SebastianH

            Blabla … why do you always go to attack mode when you have nothing substantial to say?

          2. AndyG55

            You really are on the defence about not being to back up anything you say with either science or ACTIONS, aren’t you seb.

            All this yapping about how good EV’s are… but still driving the Mercedes.

            So hilariously yappy !

          3. SebastianH

            So you can say something is bad without using it, but you can’t say it’s good without using it?

            That sounds like a stupid rule. Did you made that up?

          4. AndyG55

            Poor seb.. get back to us with REAL fairy-stories once you have owned an EV for a year or so.

            A friend of mine gave his away after 8 months. because it was totally and complete impractical , and no-one wanted to buy it

          5. SebastianH

            “a friend of mine” … yeah right.

          6. AndyG55

            So, none of your friends owns an EV, either.

            Is that what are saying ??

            Mercedes, BMW… petrol and/or diesel.??

            Are they as hypocritical as you are?

            Anti-CO2 wannabees and cultists, absolutely dependant on fossil fuels.

    4. John

      Sorry, dude, the article never said driving 700 km/week or even per day. It talked about a 700+ km range.
      “Die die Abends um 20 Uhr ihr Auto laden tun das aber nicht an einer dieser Schnellladestationen sondern an ihrer heimischen Steckdose mit 3,5 kW statt 350 kW und schwupps werden nur noch 350 MW benötigt also etwa 1/3 Block eines Großkraftwerks.”
      Doesn’t matter, they still need the same amount of energy. It only takes longer charging at home.

  2. pesadia

    Well, the best thing about electric cars is……err, well the good thing about electric cars is…………………err, well, look at it this way, if we all had electric cars, we would save…some fossil fuel…. wouldn’t we.

    1. John F. Hultquist

      That is “carbon based fuel” and it would be diverted to other useful products, such as fertiliser, synthetic fiber, synthetic rubber, nylon, plastics, pesti­cides and insecticides, perfumes, dyes, paints, carbon black ….
      Actual products include:
      http://www.ranken-energy.com/Products%20from%20Petroleum.htm

  3. benpal

    Beispiel Volkswagen e-Golf: Batterie 318 Kilogramm, Kapazität von 24,2 kWh, Bauraum 200 l.

    Um die Batterie mit 24 kWh Kapazität an der heimischen Steckdose mit 3,5 kW Leistung (16 A Ladestrom), beträgt die Zeit für eine Vollladung mindestens 7 Stunden.

    1. DirkH

      translation: a VW E-Golf, 24 kWh battery,needs 7 hours for full charge. Given ordinary household plug, 16 A current.

      My addendum:
      24 kWh should run the thing for 130 km. Going by the consumption of a Chevy Volt (19kWh/100km at modest speed).

    2. SebastianH

      The average is 15000 km per year or around 40 km per day. You can easily charge that up every night. Those who regularly drive more can invest in different solutions that will let you charge with 20+ kW.

      1. AndyG55

        Tell us when you have done all this..

        until then, just keep driving your fossil fuel powered Mercedes.

        Btw, is it a diesel or a petrol??

  4. benpal

    DirkH: Thank you for the translation.

  5. BoyfromTottenham

    Hi from Oz. So, if I had an E-Golf, and drove it for 390 km (3 x 130 km per 7 hour charge) per week, it would increase my current electricity usage from about 84 kWH per week to 156 kWH, or about an 85% increase. My current car would use a tank of regular petrol to go the same distance, for about A$70. And petrol stations are easy to find. I’ll stick with petrol, thanks.

    1. SebastianH

      You pay almost $1 for one kWh of electricity? I guess I would stick with petrol too in your situation.

      1. AndyG55

        Like you stick to your fossil fuel Mercedes, hey seb

        Does your mirror tell you just how much you are LACKING IN INTEGRITY !!

        1. SebastianH

          Why do you think this is about me and me driving a fossil fuel car now?

        2. AndyG55

          You’re the one yapping about how good EV’s are.. just unwilling to back up your yapping with any sort of action… I suspect because you KNOW what a lousy prospect EV’s really are.

          Just the same old unsubstantiated yapping, just like with your inability to support the basis of your scam AGW religion.

          1. SebastianH

            You are a funny guy, really. Full of contradictions … why can you critize EVs and be the one “yapping” about how bad EVs are without using one? Is that even possible? Because I just learned that you can’t check/examine statements made by critics or even tell how good they are or will be without using one.

            Would you also think that non climate scientists can’t debate over climate change or anything to do with climate? Hmm … so it’s only “yapping” coming from you when talking about climate change, isn’t it? 😉

          2. AndyG55

            Still yapping, or more like whimpering, hey seb.

            You are still TOTALLY UNABLE to produce one single paper to back up the FARCE of CO2 warming a convective atmosphere.

            You have been a monumental FAILURE, and are too dumb to realise it.

            You FAIL to back up either the very basis of the AGW scam.. and you FAIL to back up your manic support of EV’s by actually owning one.

            Such a FAILURE. !!

  6. IanR

    If electric cars are the future, how do the millions of people living in flats charge them?

    I’ve never had a straight answer to this simple question.

  7. BoE

    “How do people living in flats charge their EVs?”.
    Well – Mostly they can´t.
    And that is the not yet outspoken idea (policy) of our upcomming future.
    We have not been properly informed just yet.
    So – forget the individually owned EV, forget the private air-travel and while we are at it – forget beef-steaks too.