Is the WWF Telling the Truth About Electric Cars?

July 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm

The World Wildlife Fund’s praise for electric cars demonstrates its profound disconnect from reality.

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A few days ago a New York Times blog post began this way:

Electric car sales have so far ranged from disappointing to dismal. [backup link]

Consumers, after all, aren’t idiots. These automobiles are brutally expensive to purchase (even with a tax credit of $7,500 from the US government) and are far less reliable. To quote an October 2011 Consumer Reports article, the Nissan Leaf:

works well for running errands and on short trips…[but the] range per charge hovers around 75 to 80 miles (65 when the weather is cold), so long journeys are out of the question… [backup link]

The same publication reported in May that electric car owners are currently coping with “long charge times” and charging stations that are “few and far between.” Moreover, standardization is lacking, so people are uncertain about whether unfamiliar charging stations will be compatible with their vehicle.

A few months back columnist Margaret Wente authored a piece in a Canadian newspaper titled The shocking truth about electric cars. Among her comments:

The fantasy that electric cars are right around the corner doesn’t survive even the most cursory reality check…consumers simply won’t pay a $20,000 premium for a vehicle that doesn’t go very far, isn’t very convenient, and runs out of juice as soon as you turn on the air conditioner.

And then, as she says, there’s another problem:

Electric vehicles require large amounts of electricity – so much that Toronto Hydro chief Anthony Haines says he doesn’t know how he’d get it. “If you connect about 10 per cent of the homes on any given street with an electric car, the electricity system fails,” he said recently.

But never you mind, the World Wildlife Fund has waved away all those concerns. In the universe in which these folks live, inconvenient truths don’t actually exist. The headline of a recent blog post on the Canadian website of that organization declares:

Electric Vehicles: Just like a regular car…but better!

According to Rebecca Spring, the Manager of Sustainable Transportation for WWF-Canada, all the other WWF staffers she gave a ride to while testing out an electric car think these vehicles are just the greatest. Well they would, wouldn’t they. Here’s how that blog post ends:

Fun! Exciting! The Future! Clean! Quiet! Smooth! Cool! Good! These were all exclamations I heard from my co-pilots on Friday. Why don’t you give an EV a chance at the dealership… [backup link]

WWF staffers really are an exceptional breed. They seem to think that ordinary families have so much money they can just throw it away on a green whim. They seem to imagine that most people won’t need to use these premium-priced vehicles for anything other than brief commutes to work.

Wente is an unimpressed as I am:

Please don’t blame me for this splash of cold water. Blame the greens, whose grasp of basic consumer behaviour, energy economics and political realities are shockingly inadequate…just because the facts are unwelcome doesn’t make them untrue. Time and time again, the greens have harmed their cause with their uninformed fervour and simplistic thinking.

That sums up the situation nicely.

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I’m off to the airport in a few hours. The first leg of my journey will take me from Toronto to Los Angeles. At what will be 2:30 am back in my time zone, I’ll lift off on a 16-hour flight to Melbourne, Australia.

The next time you read a post on this blog it will have been uploaded from glorious Down Under. Happy Canada Day weekend – and happy Fourth of July to my American cousins.

See you soon, Australia!

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Entry filed under: NGOs, World Wildlife Fund. Tags: , , .

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