I think the problem is largely down to culture - Americans won't give up their big car and drive a little EV. The other thing that's been pointed out is the cost of gas. In most other countries the cost of gas is already at $8 a gallon and hence the adoption of EV and hybrids is more popular.
It has everything to do with electric cars.
The electrical grid is not run on oil, so if we faced an oil shortage, the electrical grid would be fine.
Thus using EVs in the US directly means less oil use.
You're obviously right that they still need energy, and they could run on oil, but they don't in the US today.
This always felt like a silly argument to me.
The analogy I've heard is "The stone age did not end because humanity ran out of stones".
It seems like there are so many reasons to stop using gas, that we don't really need to consider peak oil.
I'm only talking the electricity used to refine gasoline.
If you used the electricity you would have used to refine a gallon of gas to charge a Nissan LEAF instead, the LEAF would be able to go 30 miles on that electricity.
This does not consider the car at all, things get much worse after you start burning the gas in a car to move. Just by producing the gallon of gas, you've lost.
So for every EV mile traveled in lieu of a gas mile, the total load on the electrical grid goes down (and thus pollution).
Pretty cool, huh?
Common misperceptions continue, even from bloggers in an EE magazine.
1. Half the country's electricity comes from burning coal. Even with that the other half is natural gas, nuclear, hydro and a little oil. Combined electrical production is much cleaner than burning petroleum in cars.
2. Lithium is not scarce, and there is plenty in the Western Hemisphere. There is also a pilot program to extract Lithium from geothermal plant process fluid.
3. Even if you don't buy the Global warming argument you cannot argue the political, military and economic benefit of a diverse fuel source for cars, and take control. Those of us old enough to remember the Arab oil embargo of 1973 remember it was caused by our support of Israel from multiple enemies, including USSR. Now we have to send Billions per month to the Middle east to protect our gas addiction.
4. The author is right in that EVs are too expensive and too restrictive right now for some families. So what? Our free market system allows for it. Since the Feds subsidize oil, gas, corn and Nuclear,why shouldn't they support clean EVs?
5. Motor head should support EV market penetration, because they will have gas available to them longer and cheaper if demand stabilizes or reduces.
I think what we all are saying is that the electric car has to overcome challenges such as lowering battery cost, better infrastructure for charging/swapping stations, technological breakthroughs enabling solar energy to be used efficiently for charging batteries before it is accepted as the solution to replace fuel cars. In order to make that happen "sooner" lots of actions, initiatives, changes of policies etc. etc. needs to happen around the world. I'm not sure how that is going to happen till the cost of running a fuel car doesn't reach break-even with that of an electric car or a compressed-air car.
Pixies, excellent point. People somehow forget that each piece of machinery requires energy to produce it. Energy calculations should include that fact assuming average number of years in usage. For example I bought some garden solar powered lamps. They worked so so at the beginning (Vancouver does not get that much sun at times) but after one year they are basically dead so little light comes out of them. Not sure what happened but somewhat photo-efficiency dropped to ridiculously low level. Not this is junk. I bet you there was lots of energy used to produce them...Kris
Luis, if oil can last till 2125 then we do not have to worry about running out of it. 115 years is a long time given the current speed of technology development. In addition, lithium itself is a limited resource it is more likely to run out by 2125 than oil.
The key problem is carbon dioxide, climate change, and pollution. If the entire production process of the is considered, I am not convinced that batteries, and even solar panels for that matter, are cleaner than oil.
Thanks for the data on the cost of refining petrol. I can concur with Mr. Wright that Hybrid EV's can find a place in fleet vehicles that are in more or less constant operation. Police cars are usually left to idle unless officers are on a call that take them far away from their vehicle; on a recent NPR Car Talk, the guys told a caller to double the mileage on the odometer to figure out the true age of a used cop car. Police cars and taxis idling, a large chunk of consumption can be cut as well as wear and tear with a Hybrid EV!