Well, here's one guy who might not win too many popularity contests around the People's Republic of Berkeley.
A visiting scholar at U.C. Berkeley has published a book that argues that electric vehicles hurt the environment more than they help it and that EVs are more of a marketing symbol than a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Wired reported.

Author Ozzie Zehner, who titled his book "Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism," writes that the production of the copper, aluminum and rare-earth metals required to make an EV and its motor's magnets create more pollution than what would be saved after those cars hit the road, according to the publication.

Zehner, a former General Motors employee, also argues that EV prices aren't likely to fall much further because the technological advances related to their production have already been achieved. The book casts a vote for public-transportation improvements as a better way for governments to help the environment than funding electric-drive technology.

Naturally, people such as author Nick Chambers and Green Car Reports editor John Voelcker took issue with Zehner's arguments, Wired reported. Among other points, both Chambers and Voelcker predicted further substantial drops in battery-pack prices, while Voelcker said that much research is being conducted on using non-rare-earth metals in electric motors, which would further cause the environmental impact of making an EV to drop.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 145 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Months Ago
      To that pollution we should add the pollution of a second ice car for the majority of bev owners because a bev do not usually replace a dirty ice car and bev owners keep their ice car for when the bev cannot do the job. We should add too the pollution of costly tooling for making the bev that are not use to their efficiency capacity because bev factory are rolling slow, probably many bankrupcy in bev factories and battery makers ahead. To date nobody open any new rare earth metal mining because they probably think that there is no new long terme oportunity in that market. Also the pollution of a theoritical bev charging infrastructure is huge with new millions of parking spaces occupied for hours by struck cars put everywhere.
      Dominick Morin
      • 3 Months Ago
      Green Car is something very interessing. We can be less dependant of the "arabian" oil. I can NOT make oil but I can make easily some electricity (solar panel, wind turbine).
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seems like he realized he will make a lot more money being promoted by Fox News than NPR. This is essentially another flavor of the "Hummer is Greener than a Prius" argument.
      JP
      • 3 Months Ago
      Marco, I have no intention of buying and reading this book, nor do I need to. I've been on his website, read many quotes, I get the idea. There are levels of reductionism, it's not an all or nothing proposition. Ultimately the pure reductionist would argue that everyone should cease to exist, so what's the proper stopping point? The facts remain that he doesn't understand EV technology or the many potential alternatives that exist for efficient vehicle construction. Composite construction using bio based resins and laminates can create cars with much less metal content and fewer production emissions. They also won't corrode and can last much longer. Just because current cars are bad doesn't mean they can't be much better. Smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic, renewable materials, etc., all allow reduction of resource consumption. I wonder how many resources Zehner wasted writing, publishing, and promoting his book telling us how to conserve resources? I hope he didn't use a computer. He should be sitting in a cave, naked, soon to die of starvation, to be a true reductionist.
      PeterScott
      • 3 Months Ago
      BTW Hybrid is not Equal to EV. He is slamming EVs. You don't slam EVs with Hybrid construction. I went to the Wired article, to looks for actual quotes for Ozzie: "But you still don’t get away from the fact that you have to use copper and aluminum in the chassis, magnesium and rare earth metals in the magnets. There’s no substitution at this point or even on the horizon for any of those materials.” This is not a matter of opinions. It is factually wrong. Either he is baldfaced lying, or he is uninformed idiot who couldn't be bothered to research something before slamming it. I couldn't find any mainstream EVs that use magnets in their drive motors. They ALL use AC Induction motors. He claims there is no substitute for any of these materials, yet no actual EVs are using magnet motors for drive. Copper and aluminium in the Chassis?? WTF? There is no need for the chassis to be any different than an ICE car. Aluminum Use in a Nissan Leaf is probably less than in an ICE with an Aluminum Engine block. Copper? WTF is with the demonization of copper now? It isn't that energy intensive like Aluminum/Nickel. Copper is believed to be the first metal ever extracted from ore by humans thousands of years ago, because it was damn easy. It has a low melting point and fairly easy extraction. This is just FUD. In short he is just flinging FUD either from lies/ignorance, and he gets no pass for either. No I haven't read his book, but given the ill informed garbage it seems to contain, why should I?
      PeterScott
      • 3 Months Ago
      @"Why on earth would you go to 'Wired' as a source rather than read the authors own words?" I am quoting Ozzies own words from the Wired piece on him. If he didn't say those things he can force them to do a retraction. He said this BS, he deserves to be held account for it.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      I recall several blog posts here that claimed that the CO2 produced by a Prius was less than a BEV on almost all of the grid mixes available in the US. And, if that Prius were converted to run on CNG, it would no doubt produce even less CO2. And, so far, the Prius appears to require less energy and resources to manufacture than a comparable BEV. That doesnt mean we should stop developing BEVs, but we can't look at them as a panacea as long as we are relying so heavily on coal power. Electricity and hydrogen from natural gas and nuclear power will eventually allow EVs to run cleaner than the best gasoline cars, but for now, that is not always the case.
        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Dave
        Dave Hydrogen from natural gas is highly inefficient, and requires as much if not more energy than going straight to burning natural gas..
          Dave
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick
          http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/well_wheels_analysis.html
          Dave
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick
          I gave sources for my info. Your turn.
        Dave
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Dave
        Of course, if your primary concern is to wean the US off of foreign oil, running your car on the grid mix does the job just fine.
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Dave
        Before we are tempted to concede that any ICE is cleaner than any BEV, maybe some peer reviewed sources be cited raher than "some blog posts"
          Dave
          • 3 Months Ago
          "Here’s another way to look at it: if one region were completely dependent on coal for power, its electric cars would be responsible for full-cycle global-warming emissions equivalent to a car capable of 30 m.p.g. in mixed driving. In a region totally reliant on natural gas, an electric would be equivalent to a 50 m.p.g. gasoline-engine car. "
          Dave
          • 3 Months Ago
          "The U.C.S. [thats the Union of Concerned Scientists - Dave] report, which takes into account the full cycle of energy production, often called a well-to-wheels analysis, demonstrates that in areas where the electric utility relies on natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric or renewable sources to power its generators, the potential for electric cars and plug-in hybrids to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is great. But where generators are powered by burning a high percentage of coal, electric cars may not be even as good as the latest gasoline models — and far short of the thriftiest hybrids." http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/automobiles/how-green-are-electric-cars-depends-on-where-you-plug-in.html?pagewanted=all
          Dave
          • 3 Months Ago
          Here's the article on UCS's website: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/smart-transportation-solutions/advanced-vehicle-technologies/electric-cars/emissions-and-charging-costs-electric-cars.html
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess that means solar panels, windmills and electric cars are off the table then. glad he told us this
      Marcopolo
      • 3 Months Ago
      Depressing, 71 irate and indignant comments by people who haven't read Ozzie Zehner's book. I don't agree with Ozzie Zehner, but I did read his book. Most of the ABG readers who have reacted so passionately against Ozzie Zehner, would support many of his ideas. Ozzie Zehner, is basically a reductionist. He's opposed to overpopulation, over exploitation, commercial growth, etc. He sees the building of technology of most sorts as unsustainable, as he believes a fundamental change must take place to stop excessive individual consumption. His opposition to EV's is not because he prefers ICE technology! Ozzie Zehner, believes all cars should be banned in favour of public transport. His fear is that if technology provides solutions for energy requirements, we'll just go on multiplying and producing. Ozzie Zehner's, main argument is that EV should be abandoned in favour of bicycles, bicycles abandoned for walking, shoes for sandals, sandals for bare feet, bare feet for.... well, it's safe to say he's got his doubts about the merits of human evolution, and question the whole bit about leaving the trees. Instead of going and joining the Amish ( due the the hard work component), he hangs around Berkley (looking how I imagine Dan F to appear ), annoying the crap out of everyone in hopes of selling his books, and maybe scoring a guest spot on The Big Bang Theory. But, he's certainly not a friend of Glenn Beck, oil companies or the guy's at Fox News!
        PeterScott
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        It doesn't matter what his goals are. If he is telling the same kind of lies as Limbauhg/Beck to achieve them. If as reported he is making claims about Rare Earths required to make electric motors in EVs, this is a blatant lie. As no maintream EV that I have found uses Rare Earths. The same goes for Aluminium. Where is the Aluminium usage in the Nissan Leaf? How does that compare to your average car with an Aluminium Engine block? If he is telling the same falsehoods we see on Fox news, it doesn't matter if his goals are are diametrically opposed, it is these tactics that need condemnation, not the desired outcomes of using them.
          EZEE
          • 3 Months Ago
          @PeterScott
          Rush Limbaugh Glenn Beck Haliburton starving children corporations!
        Marcopolo
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        PeterScott & JP, Listen, I don't support Ozzie Zehner's opinions. But perhaps if you actually took the time to read what he actually wrote, instead of only reading what Danny King says, Wired said, about what Ozzie Zehner, wrote, you might not get it so wrong. I don't like, or agree with Ozzie Zehner, but if you are going to burn him as a heretic, at least know what it is you are burning him for ! Some EV technology, does rely on rare earth production.Dysprosium and neodymium are essential to most hybrid technology, and NiMH batteries. The Author also includes Lithium, which while not exactly a rare earth, still needs to be mined along with copper. (Induction motors need copper. ) To the vast general public, there is no distinction between EV technology vehicles, and pure EV's. Danny King's quote is deliberately provocative. Read in the proper context, the authors meaning is totally different. If you accept his mad reductionist reasoning, he is quite correct ! His logic is that all cars are environmentally harmful. It doesn't matter whether EV or hybrid or ICE, the manufacturing process is still harmful ! Now you can disagree with him, but from his viewpoint, no technology is truly green ! You can't agree with reductionism, and but want to keep the things you like !
        JP
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Getting a few things correct, the need for population reduction and less consumption, does not give him a pass for getting everything wrong about EV's. He should have stopped when he ran out of knowledge, which he obviously does not possess about EV's.
      Harry
      • 3 Months Ago
      BEV's get their electricity from coal anyway, so no BEV can be clean, they just move the pollution from the tailpipe to the coal burning states. Are you tired of that argument? Well, it turns out, it is no longer true according to the EPA and the EIA. As of last month, natural gas is now passing coal as a percentage of electricity generated. Look at graph ES1A. No kidding. American energy is changing faster than we realize. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/
        Baldur Norddahl
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Harry
        It is possible to power a car or truck by natural gas directly. It saves CO2 and other emissions. I am not sure why this is not more common. Sure it is less convenient than a fluid such as gasoline or diesel. But trucks and buses should be able to deal with that.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Harry
        You can buy 100% wind, now in deregulated markets, like PA, and it's Cheaper then PECO's pricing.
        Ryan
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Harry
        It's also possible to power EVs by solar panels on your house. That is the way I am going to do it.
      LUKAFOTO
      • 3 Months Ago
      No mention of the destruction to Bolivia's environment due to Lithium mining for LiOn Batts!
        Chris M
        • 3 Months Ago
        @LUKAFOTO
        The Bolivian lithium deposits are a large barren salt flat, all that's needed is to scoop it up and refine it. No drilling, no "fracking", no removing mountain tops, no tunneling - and no endangered species to worry about. There's hardly any "environmental destruction" to worry about, certainly nothing like we get from petroleum or coal.
      P.F. Bruns
      • 3 Months Ago
      He's assuming that we will never ever ever come up with a less expensive, more efficient, more environmentally friendly battery than we have now. Considering how far gas and diesel automobiles have come in the past 100 years, that's a fundamentally flawed assumption. Most of the EV tech that has been developed, even though EVs originated at the same time as gas and diesel powerplants, has occurred in the past 30 years. Thus, Zehner's idea would only work if the next 70 years shows no advances. There's also the tiny fact that every motor ever made technically does some environmental harm, and certainly the early gas and diesel engines did more harm than good when measured by modern pollution standards from manufacture to disposal. Don't buy Zehner's book. Save some trees.
    • Load More Comments