Alex Kent: The downside to electric vehicles

Published: 5/6/2022 10:45:18 PM
Modified: 5/6/2022 10:43:48 PM

I do not share Sen. Adam Hinds’ enthusiasm for electric vehicles (“Driving EV growth in Mass,” April 16). True enough, EVs produce no tailpipe emissions. They are quiet, fast, and no doubt fun to drive.

But the power to charge those battery banks must be generated somewhere. Much of that power is generated by burning fossil fuels. The much-vaunted explosive growth in EV ownership will mean that power grids everywhere will continue to be challenged to recharge all those batteries. Solar panels and wind turbines will never be sufficient.

Don’t get me wrong: I am very much in favor of EVs — small EVs, not the behemoths that American drivers are so fond of. For example, a standard gas engine Ford F-150 which, at roughly 725,000 trucks per year makes it America’s most popular vehicle, has a curb weight of between 4,021 and 5,014 pounds. A 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup weighs in at an astonishing 6,171 pounds, over 3 tons. A Rivian R1T “light pickup” tips the scales at over 3.5 tons. There is absolutely nothing “green” about these vehicles.

There’s another hidden cost to EVs: At the end of a vehicle’s useful life, its batteries and all its electronic components will need to be disposed of. Lithium-ion batteries contain such toxic materials as lithium, nickel, and arsenic compounds, along with dimethoxyethane, a severe irritant. Electronic components contain beryllium, brominated flame retardants, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. These materials are toxic and hard to recycle.

Sen. Hinds should instead support alternatives to the way people live: Americans need to turn away from a suburban lifestyle that encourages excessive use of motorized transportation. Rather than a proliferation of hulking EVs, people need to live in denser towns that encourage walking, cycling, and the use of public transportation. Subsidize e-bikes, not EVs.

Alex Kent

Amherst


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