People vs. EVs

Maybe you've heard that on September 15, tens of thousands of United Auto Workers members started what the media calls "the biggest strike in the auto industry in the last 90 years." And yes, among other issues, it's got to do with the transition to EVs.
Why we should not ditch the ICEs 6 photos
Photo: Image by aopsan on Freepik
What's a car for? To roam around wherever you want, whenever you want.The UAW members fear that the transition to electromobility will also mean many layoffsAn MIT study found that road transport is to blame for nearly 60,000 premature deaths yearlyBYD Dolphin is one of the most affordable Chinese EVs globallyThat's why ICE is the best bet for the future. Right?
I was wrong to think the ICE age is finally ending, and it was foolish of me to joke about "the ICE is dead; long live the ICE!" Because the internal combustion engine is not going out without a fierce fight.

When is an animal the most dangerous? When it's cornered and cannot flee, the only alternative is to put all its energy into fighting its way out, even if it will kill it. The prey has everything to lose, but the predator could also lose a lot. So, if there's a slim chance for the prey to escape, it will become surprisingly dangerous.

Maybe it's not the best metaphor for ICEVs vs. EVs. The truth is that it's more like a dinosaur vs. mammal surviving race because global warming looks a lot like the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, remember?

But enough with all this small talk. Let me convert back into a petrolhead and check why we should not ditch the ICEs.

Fear of change

What's a car for? To roam around wherever you want, whenever you want. As kids, we quickly learn that a car's heart is its engine, and the fuel is its blood. When the car runs out of fuel, you just have to find a fuel station to refuel quickly, and then you continue your long journey.

It doesn't matter if the fuel is based on oil or made out of corn; if it's clean-burning hydrogen or if it's made out of thin air, like the CO2-based e-fuels. What matters is that we're used to refueling and traveling hundreds of miles between refueling.

This is what we are comfortable with, so changing this habit almost overnight is close to a shock to many of us.

What's a car for\? To roam around wherever you want, whenever you want\.
Photo: Image by aleksandarlittlewolf on Freepik
Replacing the roaring, low-efficiency internal combustion engine with a silent, high-torque electric motor is a sacrilege only for hardcore petrolheads. The vast majority of drivers have no issues with better technology, and they wouldn't weep over ICE phasing out.

But replacing the fuel tank with batteries, which provide lower mileages and longer times for "refueling," is unacceptable for most drivers. Only hardcore electroheads can accept the compromises of carefully planning longer journeys and the risks of charging stations not working when you really need them.

When you put things in the balance, the comfort you're used to prevails. And keeping ICEs alive, despite their downsides, seems the right choice for many. When you add some EV fake news and myths to the picture, and at the same time cast a shadow of doubt on pollution and climate change, the ICE suddenly becomes a victim of the devilish EV conspiracy.

So, basically, ditching the ICE is giving up my right to freedom. This is what all the mass-media articles, all the social media debate, and all the online memes point out: ICE is freedom. Everything else is of little or no importance.

Fear of poverty

Anyone out there wants a good life, which implies earning money. In our modern society, you get rewarded for the work you do. If you work, you get paid and can enjoy your freedom. Forget about the paradox that, to be free for a bit of time, you must spend much time working.

It's just a detail, like the one that you cannot roam free with your car if there are no fuel stations or charging points. But, hey, let's not waste precious time philosophizing about the true nature of freedom. Don't pervert the "ICE is freedom" undeniable truth we concluded earlier.

Likewise, "working is having money" must be the basis of our debate. It's only natural for the UAW members to fear that the transition to electromobility will also mean many layoffs. For years, public opinion was flooded by strong opinions that manufacturing EVs requires less workforce and more automatization than ICEVs.

While the main requests of UAW focused on a 40% wage increase and better working conditions, somehow, the elephant in the room became the electromobility. Basically, it all turned into "EVs are stealing our jobs!" in mass media and social media.

The UAW members fear that the transition to electromobility will also mean many layoffs
Photo: Image by standret on Freepik
I mean, the Biden administration poured billions of dollars out of taxpayers' money for the car industry to massively shift to EVs. And now there's a high risk of collateral damage in tens of thousands of workers losing their jobs.

Of course, automation is making those jobs obsolete because natural selection rules also apply to technological evolution. And the new kinds of jobs require new types of skills and education. But only idealistic morons hope for a better world tomorrow.

Down-to-earth people live in the present, and they are right to fear they could lose everything. That's why we can't kill the ICE. We cannot abandon tens of thousands of people whose jobs depend on ICE cars. Therefore, we cannot shift to electric vehicles.

Of course, it's of little or no importance that the World Health Organization recently issued a warning stating that 98% of the eight billion population on Earth is breathing polluted air. The fine particle (PM2.5) levels greatly exceed WHO's recommendations, and researchers estimate they are accountable for more than 10 million premature deaths yearly.

An MIT study found that road transport is to blame for nearly 60,000 premature deaths yearly because of tailpipe pollution produced by burning fossil fuels in internal combustion engines. But, hey, this is just an estimated number, and we all die at some point in the distant future, no matter why.

An MIT study found that road transport is to blame for nearly 60,000 premature deaths yearly
Photo: Image by Freepik
In the present, or at least in the near future, switching to EVs will produce tens of thousands of layoffs. Those are people, but they are also voters, right? It's up to you to do the math; I won't go into politics right now. I just hope no one will use the "Let's make ICE great again" slogan. It's kind of stupid.

Fear of fear

There are many uncertainties these days, and our lives are more stressful than ever. It's like we need something familiar to hold on to and not go crazy. The internal combustion engine was born over a century ago, so it's the solid pillar we need, right?

Okay, maybe global warming and climate change are not trivial, as the "There is no climate change!" 45th-president-sermonizer used to say back in the day. But you can't put all the blame on the ICEs, can you?

The industry is very confident in the e-fuels made from CO2 and renewables. Why spend all that money on batteries – which are polluting to produce, didn't you hear? – when we have this carbon-neutral miracle just waiting to happen under our eyes?

There is also that war in Eastern Europe where the US is helping Ukraine with billions of dollars against Russia's invasion. It's not at all a good time for Biden's transition to electromobility, that's for sure. We should keep up with the ICE car manufacturing for now.

BYD Dolphin is one of the most affordable Chinese EVs globally
Photo: BYD
Oh, don't forget about China and their cheap electric cars! Are we really going to fall for their EV propaganda? Get serious, people; there are more than 1.3 billion cars worldwide, and we simply cannot replace all of them with EVs.

That's why ICE is the best bet for the future. Right?
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About the author: Oraan Marc
Oraan Marc profile photo

After graduating college with an automotive degree, Oraan went for a journalism career. 15 years went by and another switch turned him from a petrolhead into an electrohead, so watch his profile for insight into green tech, EVs of all kinds and alternative propulsion systems.
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