Reuters Spreads Electric Vehicle FUD On Behalf Of Laggard Japanese Auto


Cars


Published on April 18th, 2019 |
by Dr. Maximilian Holland





April 18th, 2019 by  


In a classic FUD piece penned by a long-term cheerleader of Japanese OEMs, Reuters — either in ignorance or in deceit — is spreading falsehoods and negativity about EVs. The piece directly quotes from engineers and managers on the payroll of Honda and Toyota, Japanese automakers both known to be unwilling to offer electric vehicles.

The Reuters article is titled “The uphill road.” Let’s inspect some of the EV-bashing quotes the piece that Reuters holds up as being authoritative:

“Chinese policymakers think EVs will become more like conventional gasoline cars as early as 2025. But that’s naive and all automaker engineers would agree with me,” said a veteran EV engineer at Honda Motor Co. “Sure, there’s an EV boom but hybrids and plug-in hybrids will be needed as bridging technologies,” he said.

This is mostly pure negativity and falsehoods. No auto engineer at Tesla, Nio, Rimac, Rivian, or many other automakers would agree, so that’s obviously false. But perhaps “automaker” here just refers to dedicated fossil vehicle maker? Nice objectivity. The claim that hybrids without a plug are “needed” is also patently false. That’s a pretty poor start from Reuters.

Let’s move on to something more concrete:

Shigeki Terashi/Toyota Press Image

“Toyota Motor Corp, which does not have a pure EV on the market currently, says it is concerned about battery durability. Battery capacity can drop by half over 5–10 years — the reason for low EV resale values, said Shigeki Terashi, executive vice president in charge of Toyota’s EV strategy.”

Let’s fact check this. Toyota indeed does not currently make any pure EVs on the market, because it is all in on non-plugged hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. Does this make the company an impartial source of wisdom about EVs? Obviously not — they are dead set against EVs.

On battery durability, solid data indicates that Tesla’s EVs retain over 90% of battery capacity after 200,000 miles of driving. That’s far superior longevity than most fossil vehicles.

How about the claim of EVs having low resale values? This claim is being disseminated by Reuters, and is in fact coming out of the Reuters UK office. In an unhappy coincidence for Reuters and its Toyota “guru,” within the past week, longtime UK auto industry stalwart Auto-Trader has published its findings on the hottest vehicles on the used car market. Auto-Trader finds that the fastest selling used car in the UK is … the Nissan Leaf.

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Having launched in 2010, the Nissan Leaf is the oldest mass-market EV in existence, and is in no way considered to be the latest and greatest in EV technology, especially battery technology. It is nevertheless evident that it is in extremely high demand on the used car market. Auto-Trader’s research also finds that there’s a “record number of low-emission cars featured on the [UK] regional top ten [fastest selling] lists.”

Auto-Trader also notes that another EV, the Renault Zoe, was the fastest selling used car in the UK in July 2018. And the website points out that its recent market research shows that “71% of UK car buyers are considering an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car.”

For wider context, Tesla’s EVs have consistently had amongst the highest resale values of pretty much any vehicle in the US market. And several other current EVs also have great resale value in most European markets. We’ve covered the topic of EV depreciation being low relative to fossil vehicles many times. The true picture is that, for the current generation of well-engineered, all-around EVs, in most markets, value retention is much better than for fossil vehicles, not vice versa. Toyota’s manager is simply wrong in making this claim, and Reuters is spreading corporate misinformation in disseminating it.

Here’s a final claim to dissect:

[Former GM Engineer, Jon Bereisa] thinks battery costs could achieve parity with gasoline cars by the late 2020s but his verdict on fast fueling parity is “maybe never”. “It’s physics,” he said, adding that to charge an EV with the same amount of energy in the same amount of time as a gasoline car, you’d need a charger powerful “enough to run a small city”.

This is more shallow FUD. We’ve shown that EVs already have far superior total cost of ownership compared to fossil vehicles. Consumers are catching on to this, which is a strong reason why EV value retention, discussed above, is so high. The terrible overall value of fossil vehicles is only getting worse as time goes on (and their value will plummet faster as EVs take more market share). Meanwhile, many of the latest EVs have long waiting lists in many parts of the world because they are in such high demand.

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And on fueling times? Wrong, because the refilling process is totally different and not comparable. Refueling an EV requires less than 10 seconds of your time — to plug-in and later unplug (often at home or work). When you come back to it, it is refilled. No fossil vehicle can match that convenience since they require a dedicated trip to a gas station, and a boring and mechanical 5 minutes holding the hand of a dirty pump and breathing toxic and flammable fumes.

The time required for “fast” mid-trip refilling is also a complete red herring, a distraction, and yet more FUD. An EV has an initial advantage on any long trip, since it can start from home with a full tank of electrons, whereas a fossil vehicle cannot start from home with a full tank (unless you have a private gas station at home). If the trip is within the range of the EV (up to 335 miles if you choose the longest range EVs and are willing to drive for that duration), that means the EV often requires less time overall.

There are many current EVs that can drive for more than 2 or 3 hours on a charge, at which point the driver and passengers — being human — want a rest break. Plugging in an EV takes 10 seconds, and it can charge whilst the driver and passengers take a break of 15–20 minutes, or more if they want to have a bite to eat. On today’s best EVs, 15–20 minutes enables another 2 or 3 hours of driving.

An EV does not have to have 5 minute charging in order to have a better energy refilling experience than a fossil vehicle. Gas station visits — even with no other function than refilling — require making special stops of 5–10 minutes every time, often every week. They often involve going out of your way to make that visit, on top of then standing there, squeezing the pump and breathing in those toxic and foul-smelling fumes. Taking less than 10 seconds to plug and unplug an EV in complete comfort, at home or at work, even if done every day of the week (2 or 3 times a week often suffice), still amounts to around 2 minutes per week, much less time than the fossil vehicle requires.

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Even if an EV did “need” to recharge most of its range in 5 minutes (which it certainly does not), for a 240 mile range EV like the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, with a gross battery pack of 55–60 kWh, this would require, at most, 720 kWh. Equating this power level to being “enough to run a small city” just shows how ignorant this former GM engineer is, and points to the un-professionalism of Reuters, which is promoting this false perspective. Homes in the US draw an average of just over 1 kWh (the EIA puts it at right around 30 kWh per 24 hour period). Thus, 720 kWh would in reality be “enough to run” around 580 homes. Is it even close to being reasonable to characterize 580 homes as “a small city?” Obviously not — it’s just more misinformation and FUD from Reuters and its vested-interest sources.

Should we be surprised that an established media outlet like Reuters is actively spreading misinformation about electric vehicles? Unfortunately, no. In a world racked by air pollution and climate change, Reuters prefers to promote the status quo. Shame on them. Unsurprisingly, the article’s lead author, Norihiko Shirouzu, also writes for the Wall Street Journal.

Check our Pravduh reports to see how common it is for established media outlets like Reuters, which purports to be a factful source of information, are instead spreading disinformation. This case is just one amongst many. 
 



 



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About the Author

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona.













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