1 EAGLETON NOTES: Ferries and Electric Cars.

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Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Ferries and Electric Cars.

The Havila Ferry Company in Norway (which has state of the art hybrid ro-ro ferries wandering around pristine fjords for 4 hours on electric motors) has banned carrying electric cars.

Lithium batteries burn longer and hotter than conventional car fires and require thousands of gallons of water to extinguish. That is not something you want sloshing around inside a boat any more than you want a fire in the first place.

I live on an Island 2 ½ hours by ferry from the mainland. 

This could be a problem if the same ban were to be introduced. Given that the ferry company, Calmac, is ultimately owned by the Scottish Government (with it's green ambitions) they could be between a rock and a hard place if the operators decide it's too dangerous. 

I travel from home to Glasgow through the Scottish Highlands where electric charging points are notoriously few and far between and unreliable. Because of that I have absolutely no intention at the moment of buying and electric car anyway. Indeed as they are just becoming slightly more expensive to run (according to my car magazine) and are seriously more expensive to buy, my current chariot may well see out my driving career notwithstanding the ban on new emission-emitting vehicles after 2030.


49 comments:

  1. I see lots of problems with electric cars too if you brush away the brainwashing. We could end up with no cars at all in 30 years time.

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    1. Tasker, like a lot of things governments do it seems to me that this is more a knee-jerk reaction to a problem which needs a future-proof solution.

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  2. We are with Tasker on that, we are just replacing one environmental nightmare with another, the effects of which are further away.

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  3. My daughter and her husband bought an electric car last spring. It was due in by Christmas. It has been postponed. They are hoping to have it this summer. They cannot get the componants to build them.

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    1. Debby, there have been shortages for components on all sorts of things requiring electronic gadgetry including 'ordinary' cars and even mobile phones.

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  4. First of all, I have no idea what a ro-ro ferry is. That aside, I'm with you and Tasker and everybody else in his or her right mind that electric cars are not a good idea. The reasons are too many to enumerate, but one of the most telling is that it takes a long, long time to charge them.

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    1. Anonymous is me, rhymeswithplague.

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    2. Bob, ro-ro stands for roll on roll off ie drive on and drive off. I think most cars can now be charged between 3 and 4 hours depending on the charger. If it's overnight at home that's not a problem but it can be a serious problem away from home and, in any case, regardless of the paucity of actually available chargers (as opposed to the number of chargers theoretically available) is a major problem.

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  5. It seems like cars filled with gasoline could burn on a ferry also so I don't understand that.
    I do not want an electric car as they are too expensive for me and too technically complicated for me but
    2 people in my family own electric cars and they are very happy with them. I'm hoping my little car will last as long as I am able to drive. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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    1. Ellen the difference between an 'ordinary' car fire and an electric car fire is that an ordinary car fire can usually be put out very quickly with little problem with a ship's fire fighting equipment. Once a battery goes on fire it cannot just be put out and will burn at a very much greater heat for a very much longer time. There are also problems of the massive voltages involved in an electric car battery. (Voltage is 12V for the lead-acid battery, and typically somewhere between 400-800V for the lithium-ion battery pack). Mechanically an electric car is much simpler.

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  6. There's always a new challenge to anything new.

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  7. No electric car for me either! I bought a lovely Volvo in 1994, drove it across the US from Florida to California, by myself! Someone told me that it would be the last car I'd ever have to buy, and so far, that is true.

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    1. Jill, as I've said before, you are far better off with your old reliable Volvo. I've had four or five since 1969. My last one was about four years ago. I detested it. I got rid of it very quickly. That was an expensive mistake.

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  8. Not owning a car (nor having driven one in a very long time) I'm no expert on the pros and cons, but it seems to me that electricity is a good idea in urban areas but less so in the countryside. I know one or two people who have hybrids, i.e. they can use either electricity or petrol (or whatever fuel it is they're using). But I suppose from security point of view those would be banned from the ferries as well (?)

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    1. Monica, in that they have a large high voltage battery I assume so. It's not immediately obvious from the information I have.

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  9. Until science discovers how to make an electric vehicle with a safer battery, I can see so many issues ahead for these vehicles.

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    1. Margaret, a safer battery and a less environmentally damaging battery too.

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  10. In my humble opinion, the electric car is a stupid idea. The development of safe and cheap mass travel has depended on the availability of very high energy density fuel sources (petrol, diesel), minimising the energy penalty of lugging around big chunks of inert matter all the time. The electric car represents a major backward step - why would anyone want to carry the equivalent of a full car load of passengers all the time with no way of rapidly refueling ? Also, many of the so-called green advantages are polite fiction - more particulates from the brakes and tyres dealing with all that extra weight make them dirtier than any Euro6 diesel. And a for a 50% minimum price disadvantage at purchase?

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    1. Will, I think your humble opinion contains a great deal of common sense.

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  11. Graham, have you seen those horrid videos on youtube of electric buses bursting into flames? Our local bus company here in Sydney is French-owned and the brand-spanking never-used electric buses in the fleet have been grounded for a year as they're waiting for a new type of battery to be installed to make them safer! Meanwhile, the dirty but efficient diesel buses they were to have replaced were sold to another depot.

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    1. Once upon a time in the distant past some towns and cities in England had things called trolley buses. These wonderful quiet electric buses used overhead power lines to get their electricity (think of the electrified railways - overhead wires powering the trains) meaning that they were not constrained in the same way as trams were by their rails. In their infinite wisdom the local authorities responsible for these all decided to scrap them and switch to diesel buses instead. Now we are coming full circle to electric buses, but instead of the trolley bus we have these hugely heavy, horrendously slow to refuel (recharge) mobile ignition sources trundling through our streets. And that's supposed to be progress?

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    2. Pippistrello and Will thank you for your comments. Trolley busses and electric trams were very eco-friendly in comparison to the internal combustion engine although they relied on electricity from coal-fired power stations in their day. Now they are probably the greenest form of transport after hydrogen powered vehicles. Batteries are not environmentally friendly and we're simply storing problems for the future.

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  12. Godd info here
    No electric vehicle for me.
    The electric car push feels far too similar to the rush for nuclear power. I hope the majority of folks learn from that mistake to not fall for the electric car, and hold out for real safer fuel.

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    1. Maywyn, there is a better alternative: hydrogen although it has it's problems too.

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  13. I don't know enough about the technology to comment sensibly, but many of my friends have either hybrid or full electric cars - and they are intelligent people. One of them drove his Tesla from southern Ontario to California and back without issue. He planned ahead and was able to charge the battery whenever necessary. One way or another we have to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

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    1. Is it intelligent to spend very much more money on an inferior product - unless you really, really need the insane acceleration of a Tesla?

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    2. David, obviously in the current climate an electric car has advantages if you are using sustainably produced electricity and, to be honest, intelligence has very little to do with it. If you happen to be one of the relatively few people on this planet who can afford a Tesla then welcome to the elite. Tesla has it's own charging points which (until recent proposals to increase Tesla's income by opening them up to the hoi poloi) are only available to Tesla users and are therefore less congested and more abundant - in certain places - than public points.

      I have just tried, using the Tesla planner, to get from my home to hospital in Ayr. A journey of 260 miles (ignoring the crossing of The Minch to get to the Mainland). The system is, unfortunately flawed and refuses to use the direct ferry route but, ignoring that, they have shown a huge detour off the route simply because there are no or few chargers on their chosen route. Which probably explains why I've hardly ever seen a Tesla. Planning it manually it would seem that there are three places where I could charge a Tesla using their chargers: Inverness, Perth and Glasgow.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. If the ferries are ro-ro, all electric vehicles could be last on; ready to be pushed overboard if necessary!

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    1. Cro, you obviously have forgotten what happens if you open the bow door or rear doors to a ro-ro ferry ("Herald of Free Enterprise"). However, there are ro-ro ferries with stern decks open to the elements which carry fuel tankers and the like to minimise the impact of a fire. In real life terms, though, with a cargo of electric cars you might have to push a lot overboard to get to the burning one and by then the ferry deck could well have melted anyway.

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    2. The end of the comment disappeared because I obviously used the incorrect HTML for bold. Electric car batteries burn at 1200 ÂșC

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  16. Electric vehicles are not looking exactly sustainable or problem free but the fact that we are making any progress whatsoever towards reducing emissions is a good thing

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    1. Not sure why you think CO2 emissions reduction is such a good idea? CO2 levels have been higher in the past without the oceans boiling away ( to quote Al Gore at Davis). And the Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 record shows that the dramatic fall in anthropogenic CO2 emissions during the 2020/1 lockdowns barely registered compared to the annual variation due to northern hemisphere vegetation greening during summer.

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    2. Kylie, thank you for your comment and I'm certainly in favour of reducing greenhouse gasses by whatever means we can. I'm just not convinced that electric cars are really the best way to do in at the moment especially if we are not producing ecologically friendly electricity. However that wasn't really the point of my initial post.

      Will, whilst I do not disagree with some of your points on electric cars I think the facts clearly are that the depletion of the ozone layer and continuing carbon emissions at current levels will eventually lead to rising sea levels amongst many other things. This is not the place for that argument. I would favour hydrogen power over battery power.

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  17. This is all very upsetting. I'm so green that I'm a Martian, I only cut hedges in winter and then when the fruits have gone, gorse and crap is piled up and left to rot. I really want to do my best to save the planet for the likes of Bill, Klaus, Blair and their kith and kin, be rude, if not illegal not to.
    Electric cars are fine in cities, though how one tops them up without cables running hither and thither, tripping folk up and putting additional load on the NHS I don't know. It doesn't stop there, dissuading some lefty entitled scrote unplugging yours and plugging theirs in, defending the cable from Gypos, Somalie brain surgeons and then having to time all this rigmarole for a windy day seems an awful lot of hassle and possibly more than my brain could compute.

    Not to worry, the brains of the world have it sussed, we are to live in fifteen minute zones. My Co-Op is (a) a rip off and (b) a brisk ten minute drive, more if the roads are cool and icy. I'm a good twenty minutes from the nearest cheap shops and that's at eighty miles per hour and I have to put children at risk by passing two schools with twenty limits. My nearest fuel is a similar distance. I'm very responsible I pop the hazards on, lights to full beam, I also toot my horn. Any kids mown down must be a bit slow or Special. Takes them out of the gene pool. I can see this being acceptable.
    ICE engines are brilliant now and have been for a decade or more. My current Golf 1.4TI summat is 15 years old, I've sorted the electronics and it goes like smoke in a gale. It also gives 49mpg on a run and 33mpg dodging about horseing and MXing on twisty, narrow, slippy slidey roads. Tyres not so good at £85.00p /corner and a couple of years sensible life, 10k miles and that's if I spend hours looking on E-bay for Goodrich all season and then pay the robbing bastard Sandy to fit and balance them for twenty pounds a corner. They are expensive but not as costly as being upside downy in a field. Amazing grip they have.
    It's about being sensible and canny, I like a modicum of performance so accept pads, tyres and discs take a beating.
    If you are thinking of swapping I know two folk that have bought the Mazda 6. Stunning looking, drives like a dream. Bit dear for me but they have that funny two stage dual injection engine which gives daft mpg. about thirty grand for the posh one with all leather and no doubt an air conditioned ball rest. Be better as a two door as there's sod all head room in the back but I suspect back seat room is of little consequence for either of us.
    Have fun.

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    1. Well, Adrian, what can I say? You've not lost the art of Overstatement and Controversy. Controversy does two things. First, controversy makes things more interesting to talk about. It's pretty boring if everyone has exactly the same opinion, so a little bit of dispute keeps discussion stimulating. The different sides get to air their views and the debate can encourage conversation. The thing is to remain civilised.

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  18. Kudos Adrian! I loved this.

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  19. Charging stations are just about everywhere but we don't like the electric vehicles for exactly the reasons you mentioned including the fact that the batteries cannot be recycled, to me they aren't that friendly like they think they are.

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    1. Amy, you are fortunate. Charging stations in the Scottish Highlands are relatively few and far between unfortunately. I agree with you about the problem of batteries. One hopes the industry is working on that.

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  20. As the others here have said, electric cars are not the solution. It's the entire concept of motorised individual mobile-ness that has gone out of hand, and keeps causing multiple problems. And what's at the root of it (like of almost all other big issues we on this planet have to deal with)? Overpopulation.

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    1. Nailed it in one - with around 5billion fewer people in the world most of these issues would go away. But isn't massive population reduction what Bil Gates wants, with his current missionary zeal,?

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    2. Meike and Will, the problem is that we already have this population and even if in some countries and with a few more wars and catastrophes and so on and a slowing down of the birthrate it's still likely to increase. I must explore Bill Gates' philosophy: I've not heard of that.

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  21. The move to electric cars is becoming a dilemma as the charging infrastructure is far from satisfactory. It's all a bit of a minefield. Electric cars are costly and the technology is gradually improving so you might buy an electric car only to find that two or three year's later the model's efficiency has increased as its price has reduced. The car ferry issue is also concerning... especially if you live on an island!

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    1. It always was a dilemma unless you are hard of thinking. Wind power is much the same, chopping down acres of Balsa trees in South America and then covering the wood in plastic to make bird killers that have a life span of ten years or so.
      Daft buggers are most folk, more concerned about missing a Bandwagon than thinking.

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    2. YP, so many of us are caught in the dilemma and minefield that you mention although I will probably just keep my existing car for the foreseeable future. I'm sure that the Government will try and tax diesel cars out of existence eventually anyway.

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  22. Clearly there is no choice in the matter, and with the level of traffic you have, it is probably pretty harmless using your car anyway! As for the near future, the Westminster government's actions these days are too often made for internal political reasons, and hence badly researched, careless, and possibly actively damaging. My great hope is that the UK will soon recover its mojo, look outward and grasp the huge green tech opportunities currently out there as well as dealing with the inevitable pitfalls of green technology in an intelligent and businesslike way. And, as we are currently in a pretty early stage of this technology, like cars in 1935, computers in 1990, etc, I reckon car batteries that are dangerous to transport won't be the end of the story. Do you ?

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    1. Jenny, as always your comment is the voice of reason and sense. I'm sure that batteries will have to improve despite the massive developments already. Despite it's drawbacks I still feel that hydrogen would have been a better option. If we continues to be travellers that might still be the case as a replacement or a partner to battery power.

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