Electric Cars and Electricity Supply Requirements - Toyota Warns (Again) About Electrifying All Autos. Is Anyone Listening?
BY BRYAN PRESTON MAR 19, 2021 12:50 PM ET - Story supplied by club member Rodger Anderson
Depending on how and when you count, Japan’s Toyota is the world’s largest automaker. According to Wheels, Toyota and Volkswagen vie for the title of the world’s largest, with each taking the crown from the other as the market moves. That’s including Volkswagen’s inherent advantage of sporting 12 brands versus Toyota’s four. Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bugatti, and Bentley are included in the Volkswagen brand family.
GM, America’s largest automaker, is about half Toyota’s size thanks to its 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring. Toyota is actually a major car manufacturer in the United States; in 2016 it made about 81% of the cars it sold in the U.S. right here in its nearly half a dozen American plants. If you’re driving a Tundra, RAV4, Camry, or Corolla it was probably American-made in a red state. Toyota was among the first to introduce gas-electric hybrid cars into the market, with the Prius twenty years ago. It hasn’t been afraid to change the car game.
All of this is to point out that Toyota understands both the car market and the infrastructure that supports it perhaps better than any other manufacturer on the planet. It hasn’t grown its footprint through acquisitions, as Volkswagen has, and it hasn’t undergone bankruptcy and bailout as GM has. Toyota has grown by building reliable cars for decades.
When Toyota offers an opinion on the car market, it’s probably worth listening to. This week, Toyota reiterated an opinion it has offered before.
That opinion is straightforward: The world is not yet ready to support a fully electric auto fleet.
Toyota’s head of energy and environmental research Robert Wimmer testified before the Senate this week, and said: “If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance, and affordability.”
Wimmer’s remarks come on the heels of GM’s announcement that it will phase out all gas internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2035. Other manufacturers, including Mini, have followed suit with similar announcements.
Tellingly, both Toyota and Honda have so far declined to make any such promises. Honda is the world’s largest engine manufacturer when you take its boat, motorcycle, lawnmower, and other engines it makes outside the auto market into account. Honda competes in those markets with Briggs & Stratton and the increased electrification of lawnmowers, weed trimmers, and the like.
Wimmer noted that while manufactures have announced ambitious goals, just 2% of the world’s cars are electric at this point. For price, range, infrastructure, affordability, and other reasons, buyers continue to choose ICE over electric, and that’s even when electric engines are often subsidized with tax breaks to bring price tags down.
The scale of the switch hasn’t even been introduced into the conversation in any systematic way yet. According to FinancesOnline, there are 289.5 million cars just on U.S. roads as of 2021. About 98 percent of them are gas-powered. Toyota’s RAV4 took the top spot for purchases in the U.S. market in 2019, with Honda’s CR-V in second. GM’s top seller, the Chevy Equinox, comes in at #4 behind the Nissan Rogue. This is in the U.S. market, mind. GM only has one entry in the top 15 in the U.S. Toyota and Honda dominate, with a handful each in the top 15.
Toyota warns that the grid and infrastructure simply aren’t there to support the electrification of the private car fleet. A 2017 U.S. government study found that we would need about 8,500 strategically-placed charge stations to support a fleet of just 7 million electric cars. That’s about six times the current number of electric cars but no one is talking about supporting just 7 million cars. We should be talking about powering about 300 million within the next 20 years, if all manufacturers follow GM and stop making ICE cars.
Simply put, we’re gonna need a bigger energy boat to deal with connecting all those cars to the power grids. A LOT bigger.
But instead of building a bigger boat, we may be shrinking the boat we have now. The power outages in California and Texas — the largest U.S. states by population and by car ownership — exposed issues with powering needs even at current usage levels. Increasing usage of wind and solar, neither of which can be throttled to meet demand, and both of which prove unreliable in crisis, has driven some coal and natural gas generators offline. Wind simply runs counter to needs — it generates too much power when we tend not to need it, and generates too little when we need more. The storage capacity to account for this doesn’t exist yet.
We will need much more generation capacity to power about 300 million cars if we’re all going to be forced to drive electric cars. Whether we’re charging them at home or charging them on the road, we will be charging them frequently. Every gas station you see on the roadside today will have to be wired to charge electric cars, and charge speeds will have to be greatly increased. Current technology enables charges in “as little as 30 minutes,” according to Kelly Blue Book. That best-case-scenario fast charging cannot be done on home power. It uses direct current and specialized systems. Charging at home on alternative current can take a few hours to overnight to fill the battery, and will increase the home power bill. That power, like all electricity in the United States, comes from generators using natural gas, petroleum, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, or hydroelectric power according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. I left out biomass because, despite Austin, Texas’ experiment with purchasing a biomass plant to help power the city, biomass is proving to be irrelevant in the grand energy scheme thus far. Austin didn’t even turn on its biomass plant during the recent freeze.
Half an hour is an unacceptably long time to spend at an electron pump. It’s about 5 to 10 times longer than a current trip to the gas pump tends to take when pumps can push 4 to 5 gallons into your tank per minute. That’s for consumer cars, not big rigs that have much larger tanks. Imagine the lines that would form at the pump, every day, all the time, if a single charge time isn’t reduced by 70 to 80 percent. We can expect improvements, but those won’t come without cost. Nothing does. There is no free lunch. Electrifying the auto fleet will require a massive overhaul of the power grid and an enormous increase in power generation. Elon Musk recently said we might need double the amount of power we’re currently generating if we go electric. He’s not saying this from a position of opposing electric cars. His Tesla dominates that market and he presumably wants to sell even more of them.
Toyota has publicly warned about this twice, while its smaller rival GM is pushing to go electric. GM may be virtue signaling to win favor with those in power in California and Washington and in the media. Toyota’s addressing reality and its record is evidence that it deserves to be heard.
Toyota isn’t saying none of this can be done, by the way. It’s just saying that so far, the conversation isn’t anywhere near serious enough to get things done.
This event at the Kumeu Showgrounds on the 10th of April, was unfortunately not pushed very hard and many people I have spoken to were not aware that it was taking place. Even people living in Kumeu and surrounding districts were in the dark. My elder daughter, who was aware, suggested Pat and I give our 1929 Deluxe D.A. Dodge a birthday and enter it in the Vintage section, so with help from Fiona and her family, we extricated the 92 year old vehicle from my garage and registered for the event.
W e have often dressed in period clothing for Vintage Car Club events and did so this time just for the hell of it, not for a moment looking to enter any competitions other than with the car. However, we were outnumbered by the family and entered the “Best dressed couples” category and to our astonishment won hands down. My wife Patricia has worked in the rag trade all her life and made most of our clothing, while our daughter Fiona, who was taught much of what she knows by Pat, entered in the “Western Clothing” section and she won that class by a country mile.
T he judging for the vehicles was by popular vote and we were beaten here by a very nice looking 1930 Model A Ford Roadster. Although she had a fantastic two pack paint job and had chrome work for Africa, the chrome plated items and the after-market overhead valve head and twin carburetors were not period correct.
John Campbell Snr
Saturday February 13th I decided to check out round one of the NZ Stadium Off-Road Championships being held at the relatively new track at Colin Dale Park, out by the northern end of Auckland Airport. The fact a work colleague was racing his Pro-Buggy class racer there sealed the deal.
This is the same facility that also hosts the self-drive jet-sprint boats, where you get to have a go around the pond in a jet-sprint boat. There is also a moto-cross track behind the off-road track as well. My understanding of this facility is there are plans afoot to properly develop it into a dedicated motorsport park. Of course, if Auckland Council has any input into it, the land will probably be sold off for housing developments to the highest bidder… but I digress.
For now, it’s a work in progress but frankly, coming along nicely with good access and a sizable tar-sealed carpark already laid. This round was only the third time the off-road track had been used and the organizers got a large field of racers, in all manner of very confusing categories and classes. Even the juniors were catered for, with an > 14 year old class of, I think, 250cc buggies. Good to see the young ones being encouraged.
The racing was for the most part, fast and furious, with two main heats of no less than seven races each ranging from five to eight laps, then the semi-mains comprising another seven races, accommodating up to eleven different classes. How they keep track of all that going on, beats me! To confuse matters for me, several of the races had multiple classes racing together, with the fastest classes at the back… made for some busy times on-track for sure and great for the considerable number of spectators present. Never a dull moment, as they say.
Then there were two feature races basically featuring the fastest from the semi-mains, with four categories racing in the first feature and three in the second, including the outrageous Thunder-Trucks and only slightly less outrageous Pro-Lites and including drivers like drifter Mad Mike Whiddett and former NZ Rally Champion Andrew Hawkswood. And something like 21 laps for each feature!
The event itself was very well run, with virtually no delays between races other than the mandatory track watering – to try in vain to keep the dust at bay. All it did was make the track almost un-drivable for the first cars out on it, with many a resulting spin! My colleague Vince had a shocker, as it seemed every race he was in was just after!
I thoroughly enjoyed it, you could see at least 2/3rds of the track from spectator area, there were ample food/beverage vendors, even a licensed bar if you were so inclined, as well as sponsors hospitality areas with arguably the best vantage point to watch the action. Even the Portaloos were plentiful, clean, well stocked and within easy walking distance of the track and the pits. Speaking of the pits, these too were fully open to the public and worth a wander around. Some of the rigs of the top category racers were something else! The next round at the same venue is Saturday March 6th. Worth a look if you have no other plans, for sure. Rob Milligan
Club member Bill Hohepa features cars at Muscle Car Madness Rangiora, held on January 23-24, 2021
A stunning blue sky morning saw five club members turn up at the BP Service Centre Papakura for a run down to Thames – Peter & June (1975 Oldsmobile Delta) Fred & Diana (1962 Oldsmobile Starfire) Mark & Margaret (1966 Ford Thunderbird) Greg (1969 Buick Electra) Russell & Cindy (1957 Pontiac Star Chief). Just missing out on the departure time was Kerry (1962 Thunderbird) who put pedal to the metal and turned up shortly after our arrival at Thames Airfield.
Luckily Fred had bought along a gazebo, which was most welcome as the blazing sun was relentless, although there was a nice light southerly throughout the day. The tremendous variety of cars in the display area was surely overshadowed by the range and type of aeroplanes, some of which were truly spectacular. A NZ Navy Sea Sprite helicopter flew down from Whenuapai for the day, and this was constantly surrounded by fans young and old throughout the day.
The highlight of the day though was the air displays, which were truly spectacular and varied. These ranged from mock airfights between Red Baron/Snoopy type bi and tri planes, to formation and aerobatic flights, and the Warbirds aircraft. The displays just kept coming throughout the day as per the programme, and provided spectacular viewing against the deep blue skies.
It was certainly different to the normal car focussed shows we usually frequent, and was a joy to both car and aircraft aficionados alike. Well worth the lovely drive down to the Coromandel, and one that I would highly recommend for next year. Ciao4now, regards Russell
Having just moved into the Whangarei district and joined the Classic & Sports Car Club of Northland Inc my wife Val and I were both looking forward to our first club run with them in our Chevy Camaro. Our spirits were somewhat dampened by the dire weather predictions of the evening before “D” day, but from long experience of the weather gurus being consistently wrong we made all our preparations and woke on the morning to find it not looking too bad so off we set.
We fueled up at Mobil Kamo and then on to the meeting point. Around 7:45 we all set off in convoy, proceeding at measured pace without any issues in light traffic up SH1 turning off onto SH10 at Pakaraka. Further up we passed through the nearly completed new roundabout at Puketona carrying on through the equally new and near complete one at Waipapa, and a what a godsend that one is too, having lived there for 6 years plus without it, eventually reaching Kaeo where a short stop was made.
Somewhere about 9:45-ish we arrived at the Taipa show grounds. We found we had arrived early enough to park all together in a spot that was handy to a very convenient & welcome stand of trees where we established ourselves. Welcome because by now we had proof yet again of another total failure of the weather gurus it being a scorching, searing sun boring down mercilessly on any brave enough to venture out into it with barely a breath of wind. Over the next hour or so vehicles poured in to the site & an eclectic sampling they were indeed. British, American and European of most shapes, sizes, types and ages. Classics, Rods, Customs, Vintage/Veteran and some Neo stuff (bah, humbug). There was absolutely something there to appeal to just about any taste. By my reckoning about 200 or so in all.
Val & I strolled the rows admiring this and that, taking photos and sometimes chatting with owners. I was particularly taken with a home brewed ‘62 PA Velox 2 door, sedan, convertible. Very nicely done producing an especially stylish vehicle IMHO. Actually, I’m more of a fan of mid ‘30s to late ‘40s and even some 50s American iron, they being a nostalgic throw back to my largely misspent youth, no doubt. We wiled away the time with amusing banter, chatting about this and that interspersed with food and drink and forays to inspect more of the vehicles. A very pleasant interlude. All in all a great day undisturbed by the thunderous deluges and lightning predicted.
We departed a little early having an appointment with some very special doughnuts in Kerikeri that needed our concentrated attention before 3pm. Our luck was out as it transpired although I did get the last jam one to devour with my latte. Some delinquent behind the counter had sold our pre-ordered ones.
Rain, of a light and sporadic nature, did eventually catch us up during the trip back but it didn’t amount to a hill of beans. As a day out in our “special” car it was great. We met some gracious and friendly folk in a congenial circumstance and look forward to repeating the experience often on into the future. And for those weather challenged folk who misguidedly pinned their faith on the sagacity of the weather-clots, you missed a great outing.
Onwards to next time then and thanks to both the club and show event organizers.
We had a great day yesterday at the “All USA DAY” annual event at the ‘Classic Fliers Museum’ in Tauranga. There were approximately 300 cars on show and it was well supported by the public. So busy taking pics of some of the most stunning machines that I forgot to take one of mine. Did pick up the trophy for the ‘Best Survivor’ though. LOL.
I thought that perhaps you might like to share some of these photos with the Club Members and see if there is any interest to attend this event next year. It would be great to see you all down this way some time. Cheers Dave & Tania.
Every year for the past 5 years, Wheels Incorporated HotRod club has made the homage to Stay at Pacific Rendezvous Motel Resort, at Tutukaka just outside of Whangarai, for a weekend of cars and relaxation.
This year's run, as was last years, were for me to organise along with my sister, who is a member of the Whangarei Classic Car and Hot Rod club.
We left Auckland around 10-15am Friday 30th October with 63 people in approximately 25 cars, cruising to Ruakaka to meet a small group from Whangarei Club for lunch, and then onto the motel, to relax, talk cars (how much fuel did you use?) and admire the spectacular scenery of the peninsula.
Saturday morning we left Tutukaka at 9-30 to meet around 22 members of the Whangarei club, and cruise to The Old Parakao Store for lunch, followed by a look at some sheds.
The road trip to the Store was great, driving through lovely rural country side on lovely roads. The Store is a place that needs to be seen in person rather than reading about, and I could best describe it as something you would expect to find on the old Route 66.
With over 80 mouths to feed, the kitchen was a little swamped, but the food was good and they had also arranged a band for some entertainment for the afternoon, playing well known tunes of the 60’s and 70’s. In some ways it was a shame to leave to look at sheds, with many saying they were happy listening to the music.
Saturday night was spent by many watching the All Blacks beating Australia, and chilling out after the great day we had.
Sunday morning arrived all too soon, and we had to head back home. I have to give thanks to my sister Joanne Williams for organizing the Whangarei side of our trip, and I feel ACCCA would really enjoy an overnight stay up there also, which myself and Joanne would be happy to organize.
Below are some photos from the weekend and a short video from our visit to the Parakao Store.