Feedback on the electric car | Perspectives on the energy transition…sometimes digital | Erik Vidalenc

Mondial de l’Auto and a few counter-examples of revisited retro models, bashing “as an expert on the subject for two weeks”, misreading various technical works, including the latest statement from ADEME, the increase in Tesla’s prices on its charging stations: bad weather on the electric car in autumn, when sales finally pick up in France (more than 13%) and when the horizon for the thermal vehicle darkens (end of sales of new thermal vehicles in 2035).

Researcher Aurélien Bigo picked up and deconstructed much of the infox about the electric vehicle in a thread on Twitter:

The electric car was at the heart of the news this week (Mondial Auto, missing at the pump…). A lot of resistance has been expressed on the electric when it is not fake news. Here are 4 biases that I think get in the way of asking the topic… ⤵️

— Aurelien Bigo (@AurelienBigo) 21 October 2022

Here is the opportunity for once to share some lessons from a personal experience of the electric car during the summer of 2022.

Sound projection, recording and electrical control panel. Jean Lefebvre, 1972.


Electric car rental therefore, 450 km of theoretical autonomy (theoretically, because after a few hundred kilometers the autonomy was recalculated on the basis of the displayed history… 544 km!), with a battery of about 60 kWh. Use with four people for three weeks over 2800 km (summing up half of the highway distribution and the rest on national and departmental). With these elements in place, let’s get to the facts and experiences.

Extraordinary energy efficiency and complementarity with solar energy

Over about 2800 km, the actual average consumption was less than 14 kWh/100 km. KWh does not speak to many people in mobility, but one liter of petrol represents ten kWh in energy equivalent. This electric car has therefore given us the opportunity to move 4 people with an energy content of less than 1.5 liters of petrol per 100 km. The very good efficiency of the electric motor (about 90% compared to 30% for the petrol or diesel combustion engine) is the key element to understand this.

Thus, even with a strong development of the electric vehicle, such efficiency is not likely to explode the consumption of electricity, as already written in this old post and confirmed by recent analyzes of the electricity company RTE. But especially in a global vision of transformation of the electrical system and the massive development of solar systems, an individual installation of 3kWp (approx. 20m2 on the roof) of a house owned by a private person, enough to travel 20,000 km all year round! And when we know that a vehicle is stationary 95% of the time, we see the significant potential of the “solar generation-electric mobility” connection. »

A little energy education

However, the electric car user will have to spend a few minutes familiarizing himself with electrical technology. Because with a thermal vehicle, gasoline, diesel or LPG, only the concept of energy is implicitly present given the ability to deliver a full tank of gasoline in a few minutes (this is linked to the significant energy density of a liter of gasoline, as mentioned above, about 10 kWh , which is more than all the electricity an average household consumes over a day for their house or apartment!).

With the electric vehicle, the user will have to understand that energy counts (kWh), but that power (kW or the ability to quickly deliver this energy) counts as much in the pricing of refueling (without forgetting the duration of the occupation of place sometimes).

Thus, between recharging at home at 2kW (equivalent to a “simple boiler”, but for several hours) and recharging on the highway at 50kW, or even more than 400kW (equivalent to several dozen households that would consume at the same time for their home), we understand intuitively that there is a world… and sacred limitations for managers of electricity networks like Enedis in France.

The price jungle

The consequence of this specificity linked to electric mobility and its recharging is that the ability to deliver a large amount of electricity very quickly: this is paid for. And sometimes expensive. Thus, tomorrow near charging stations we will not see large totems indicating the price of KWh, as we can see for gas stations. Such a display doesn’t make much sense depending on the speed at which you want and can charge (and not all cars accept the same powers… there are for example plug-in hybrid cars that only accept 2kW home charging when others accept more than 100 kW).

Specifically, this means that to recharge:

  • At home, with a kWh price of around 20 cents, you recharge 100 km for €3 (compared to around €12 at the pump, for 6 liters for €2).
  • At semi-fast public terminals from 7 to 20 kW power, you charge for 30 cents, or €4.5 for 100 km.
  • On the highway, or more generally in fast charging, it becomes more complex. Some suppliers charge per minute of connection (with power supplied by always stable), and others per kWh. But prices can vary from 45 centimes/kWh… to more than 1€/kWh (for a monstrous output of 475 kW!!!). In some cases, it is then possible to fill up electricity more expensively than a full tank of petrol (about € 15/100 km).

In short, if after reading the prices below, you understood everything during your first reading, you are probably already an electric car user. Otherwise, you understand that “a little” work needs to be done to make the tariffs more readable and understandable. But you will also have understood that between a recharge at 2kW and at 475kW, we are not talking about the same product … and therefore it is not the same price (difference by a factor of 5). But electric car users have understood this, as almost 90% do their main charging at home.

Extraordinary technology, but too much of a learning curve

It will be understood that going electric requires some effort. But to what gain! In fact, there are very few technologies that allow constant use to divide by three energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. And by using and filling the vehicles better, we can thus achieve a tenth of the emissions compared to the petrol car that is used alone.

One would then be tempted to ask all those who are suddenly invested in an ecological passion to defend the individual petrol car: who are you driving for?

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