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Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak
Transcript of Episode 5: Electric Vehicles

Transcript of Episode 5: Electric Vehicles

This is the transcript of Episode 5: Electric Vehicles of the How to Make a Difference podcast.

Michael Tasior: We had the trips – also including a very small child back then – of 800/900 kilometres in a row, right? Driving, charging, driving charging. That’s… That’s it. That’s how you do that. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Hey everyone! 

Let me start with saying thank you to all of you for your patience. It’s been quite a while since my last episode and I really appreciate that you stuck around anyway!

Producing an episode is quite a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to research a topic, I have to think about potential guests and schedule an interview, then there’s the actual recording, the editing, and last but not least: The podcast description, social media posts and so on. If I add up all the hours, it’s probably 3-4 weeks of full-time work that goes into a single episode.

I do really enjoy podcasting, I don’t want to complain, and I also have to earn a living. So… If you enjoy my podcast and you would like podcast episodes to come out more frequently – Your support on Patreon would be appreciated so much!

You will find the link to my Patreon page in the show notes and with that let’s get to today’s topic: Electric Vehicles.

As we all know, the global automotive industry is undergoing a revolutionary transformation, and electric vehicles are at the forefront of this electrifying shift. The IEA, International Energy Agency, estimated that in 2022, there were more than 26 million electric vehicles on the road worldwide. Of the overall car market worldwide, electric vehicles made up just 4 % in 2020, already 14% in 2022 and rose to 19% in 2023.

The main reason for this increase in electric vehicles is, of course, their potential to mitigate climate change and also other environmental concerns, but also to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. According to the IEA, the Transportation sector has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of any sector and accounted for 37% of CO2 emissions from end‐use sectors in 2021. In the US, the transportation sector also has the highest percentage of greenhouse emissions with roughly 28%. In the EU it makes up about 25% of emissions. 

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization, driving an electric vehicle produces less than half of the emissions of a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle over its lifetime, even when accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation and vehicle production. This is true also in all the European countries with one exception, which is Estonia whose grid is 2/3 powered by coal. And from the perspective of an individual, a 2017 study has shown that you can save about 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year on average by switching from a fossil-fuel-based car to an electric car. And of course: the cleaner the grid, the cleaner the electric vehicle.

This reduction in emissions, of course, does not only help to reduce global warming but also protects public health by reducing air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

In addition to their sustainability, electric vehicles also offer other advantages: For example,  electric cars generally have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engine vehicles and typically require less maintenance. That’s because traditional components such as spark plugs, timing belts, oil filters are absent in electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are clearly rising in popularity and some people still have questions. And here to discuss some of the most common questions and critiques regarding electric vehicles is my friend Michael Tasior.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I’m talking to Michael Tasior today. He’s an electric driving enthusiast and a software developer working in the car industry. Michael, welcome to the show!

Michael Tasior: Hello, thanks for having me.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Why don’t we start with you just telling us a little bit about yourself and your experience with electric vehicles? 

Michael Tasior: Yeah, sure. As you said, I’m involved in the car industry. So I’m a software developer and Android developer, building software for cars, basically, user interfaces for infotainment systems. And I am doing that specific job now for five years. Have been in the industry longer before and in the beginning, it was just an interest now it’s a passion about electric driving. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Cool, thank you. And now let’s dive right in and talk about range anxiety.

Michael Tasior: It’s not a thing anymore. Okay… 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Are you sure? I mean, people are afraid, you know, about not being able to drive far enough because then their battery is empty. I do think it’s still a thing.

Michael Tasior: It depends on your circumstances and what you are using a car for. Then range anxiety might be a thing. Let’s say a European city, you don’t have a problem with public charging infrastructure. Usually, there is plenty. Of course, there are cities where there is none. But in Germany, so I’m somehow usually driving in Bavaria, plenty of Munich drives, there’s absolutely enough infrastructure. If you’re driving around in Berlin, infrastructure is not a problem at all. It’s sometimes broken, yes, and this is a problem that still persists, but it’s usually let’s say it’s bigger in the media than it’s it’s actually in reality. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: And what about driving in the countryside? So cities, I understand, it’s not a problem. What if you live in the countryside the next, you know, big city is an hour or two away? What about that?

Michael Tasior: When you’re living on the countryside, you have your own parking spot, right? Usually, you have a garage. And usually, those garages have electric cabling with a standard power outlet. Every garage usually has that. I know a few of them who simply put some concrete garage somewhere, but that’s not very usual. So usually you have a garage with a standard power outlet, so a Europe plug and with that you can charge the small little cars without any problems. I did that for three years with my I3. 

I’m driving my own electric cars now for seven years. And the first three years I had a garage with a standard plug, right? And I charged it overnight. So overnight from empty to full. It was full, right? And that means, on the countryside, you have the smallest problems. There’s actually studies about that for Germany, that most of the cars with the car drivers,… electric car drivers usually don’t have a problem in the countryside. Because when they have a garage, there is none at all, right? You just plug into a car in the evening. And in the beginning, so when you buy an electric car you get an electric car coming from an ICE, an internal combustion engine, you just plug it in every day, usually. And you do that for three weeks and say okay, well why do I charge this car? I don’t need it to charge once a week because the range is high enough, even with the small ones for the small trips.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I understand for day-to-day living. If I park my car at home then it’s fine. What about if I want to go to holidays into a different country? And then I don’t know what the infrastructure is. Is that an issue?

Michael Tasior: That depends, now.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Have you done that?

Michael Tasior: Yeah, I’ve done that. I’ve travelled Europe, or parts of Europe with my small car. So for transparency, I own two cars now. We replaced my wife’s car last year. So that’s the one with the big battery that has 500 kilometres range where we had the trips – also including a very small child back then – of 800/900 kilometres in a row, right? Driving, charging, driving charging. That’s… That’s it. That’s how you do that. 

And it’s even better with a child because the child usually just lasts two hours in the backseat, and then it wants to go out. It wants to move…

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: You have a natural break. 

Michael Tasior: Yeah, of course. And sometimes, I don’t know spouses need to pee right and the car needs to charge so the time that is spent… 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Or you need to eat.

Michael Tasior: Or you need to eat. And I think this range anxiety, to come back to the original question, is rather about the mindset. For the day-to-day drive, if you have a charging station available, right, not necessarily in your own garage, but one that is safely available for you when you need it, you don’t have a problem at all, right? If you have no access to public charging, you need to have, let’s say, different cars, bigger batteries so that you only need to charge once a week and then you go to your grocery shopping site that you chose where you have a big charging station. Those are popping up right now. So I know a charging station that has I think 22 stalls, high-power charger, yeah, then you can go for shopping for 20 minutes and the car is full again. It’s always a mindset thing. If you… if you’re off the mindset, you want to have loud engines in front of you, you won’t drive electric cars for now. Except for maybe those Dodge Chargers that are now coming up that have an artificial sound generator, that is actually… it sounds nice. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. I recently heard an article about motorbikes. And that electrification is actually quite tough in that industry because people really want that sound of the fuel engine. The noise is a thing and not in a positive way. At least from my perspective. I mean no offence to people who love driving motorcycles, you know.

Michael Tasior: It’s about the perspective again, it’s it’s always about the mindset, what you expect from a car ride if it has to be loud and dirty and has to cold roll or something like that, then you won’t drive electric. But how many people actually do that? Right. Same with, I don’t know, people who like old-timers. They usually don’t convert them to electric and that’s absolutely fine. Nobody has to do that. And especially for old cars for old timers, for heritage cars, there will be solutions later, right? We will have e-fuels that will be expensive, but they will be there and they will be available. But for the majority of people who actually just drive for commuting to work and just drive for maybe even just for travelling, in my opinion that electric cars are absolutely fine as especially the modern ones. And you also need to think about one thing, absolutely sure that public transport needs to be extended. And it can be. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Definitively. There will be a whole separate episode about that.

Michael Tasior: You will always have problems when the population is not so dense. Right? Also, if you’re looking into big Asian cities, what they are doing in terms of electrification, I mean, where do people live there? It works. China is one of the biggest electric car markets. What are they doing? I mean, people are buying cars, they’re parking them in their compound parking lots and lots of public charging infrastructure. And that’s, that’s it. That’s the thing. Right and especially in those Asian countries, I’ve been to Tokyo recently. People do drive cars because they like to drive cars. Not because they have to. Public transport in Tokyo is good. It’s really good. It’s cramped, but it’s good. It’s reliable. It’s absolutely punctual. But people still drive cars and usually very big ones and not only upper-class people, you see middle-class people you’ll see let’s say I don’t know how to call those levels. But you see small cars, you see those K-cars in Japan, really many you see plenty of Toyotas all of the range and everything and every car is being driven by people and they want to drive those cars. Usually. Especially in in cities where public transport is the thing is actually well developed. So we don’t get rid of them. Yeah, that’s just my personal statement. And also data shows that… so I’ve read a few studies as a… reading studies whenever I come upon them… and usually those studies say there are cities where you will be able to actually get rid of cars. Bottom line is maybe we can we can break or we can stop the growth of electric car numbers but we won’t get rid of them or car numbers in general and we won’t get rid of them. So we need a replacement. And for that replacement again, coming back to the mindset. What do we want from a car do we need to drive it because you have to go to work and it’s a different need as I actually like driving, maybe even driving to work and driving back. And this is again a different need for people who just have a car as a toy. Do not underestimate those. And for most of them, it’s a mixture of all.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yes, definitely. I was gonna mention charging infrastructure. You already mentioned that it’s different in different places. I have a friend who keeps complaining about the charging infrastructure. So she says that often when she tries to park the stations are marked as occupied or they don’t work. So there seems to be quite a few problems with the charging infrastructure. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Michael Tasior: Yeah. When do I use public charging infrastructure? I have a garage. I have my public charging infrastructure and my private charging infrastructure in my garage. So for every single car I own, two, everyone has its own wall box. So I can start my trip with a full battery. That is my point of view on those on this topic. That means when I do long-distance travel, I only use high-power chargers and the high-power charging infrastructure is actually pretty good. If you are considering everything, right? So you will always have old stations – five, six seven years old – they are not that reliable because they have old stations themselves, right? The plug or the stations with the plugs are old, maybe older versions of something. They are more unreliable. Of course, you have that. Well it’s growing infrastructure, you have problems in the beginning and those problems simply persist because the stations, I don’t know, cannot be updated or simply given up because they will be replaced with new versions and stuff like this. When I am doing long-distance travel and I’ve travelled a lot in recent years, I never had a problem that broke my plan. I had problems. I had problems with broken stations, right? So you are connected to a station, the station says “no, no, no”. And you just take the next one or wait for the next one to be free and then I’m coming back to the mindset right if you’re travelling for travelling to look out the window to somehow enjoy what you’re seeing and that’s not a problem because then you’re well you take your coffee and wait the next guy’s done charging. Have a nice chat. Usually, the people that charging stations are really nice because they are somehow proud of what they bought because I mean, every car, every electric car owner currently drives a new car, usually. Or you drive an old one like me. And then people ask me “Hey, this is so old, how did the battery hold up and how did you manage to do that in the beginning”. And I mean, seven years for an electric car is currently rather old.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Is old… Yeah.

Michael Tasior: I don’t have a problem with this with these breaks in my travel plan. And there are people who have, right? People who are travelling for work, they need to have a reliable infrastructure. And I see and I know that these have bigger problems. Quite recently, I went to the zoo with my family. And we chose just from the navigation system, you can, usually those stations are integrated into the navigation systems and kept updated and kept online and live available. It depends also on the car brand, right but let’s say the the ones that somehow invest in the infotainment systems, those import all of the available stations and you see your availability. So if you somehow rely on such a system, then you will see the stations that are broken are simply highlighted as broken. If you see a station occupied and you don’t have to go there because it’s occupied, the data is rather up to date, usually. Sometimes, of course, backends break. It’s still a new system. But in my experience, the data is quite good. When I’m driving somewhere, as I said I went to the zoo, we just search for a public charging station nearby, found one that was completely occupied. That was right, we just took the next one. Again, this is a maintenance problem. And then we’re now touching technical problems because we have car manufacturers who simply don’t do that with their navigation systems. They say okay, we need a basic system that doesn’t plan your charging stops on long trips. Usually, in the more lower budget range of the cars. There’s simply no money in development for that for now. Nobody says that they don’t update this.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay, so what I’m hearing is that basically for long trips, these high power chargers are reasonably reliable, also if you bring a little bit of flexibility and in the cities it depends also whether your car is basically high-end enough to give you that information which charging station is usable, which one isn’t. It’s a little bit of a software… software issue at that point.

Michael Tasior: I wouldn’t call it high-end, I’d call it “recently developed”. So my I3, for example, development started 15 years ago. The infotainment is from when I bought it. I had it updated a few times, but the data that is in there, it’s a backend and this backend is still running and they are still supplying most recent data and I… quite recently in my hometown, they added a new high power charger and this came up two weeks later in my car with live data information. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Aha, That’s cool. That’s good to know.

Michael Tasior: It depends a little bit on the brand of the car or on the company you’re actually buying. But I have seen that there are companies who try to update their cars and keep them up to date basically. I’m not talking about software updates of the full car, I’m talking about necessary data, map data for the integrated navigation systems that needs to be updated. It needs to be kept up to date to actually bring a benefit to the driver. I mean, it’s always a cost thing, right? Data costs the manufacturer. This is always, gets into the business case somehow. And for long-distance travel. What I see in Europe at least, or I mean Germany, Austria, in Italy, a little bit in France. You see huge charging stations popping up, not Tesla just opening up their superchargers you can also use them as a non-Tesla driver now. That’s a big advantage if you follow let’s say standardized charging plugs. And what you can also observe is that charging stations and huge rest areas usually double up now. Most rest areas have charging infrastructure now at least in Germany.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: You mean the rest areas on highways?

Michael Tasior: Correct. So if you look at Germany, if you look at Austria, if you look at France, quite many of those, especially in France, there are currently building up like crazy. They’re using public charging infrastructure. So I’ve seen them at charging stations and you see them double up so big charging stations coming up next to another big charging station and then if one is full you can skip to the other. If one is broken, you can skip to the other. If one charging is broken, you just wait or go to the other. So it’s getting better. It’s actually really good except for when you’re driving during rush hour. So, holiday rush hour everyone wants to go over the Brenner Pass, then you might want to choose a time when traffic is lower. But you need to be flexible a bit. But then you get benefits. This is mostly calm driving. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I’m sure that all that will also change with time like on those big roads where there’s so much traffic. I’d be surprised if that doesn’t improve over time.

Michael Tasior: And I mean in the industry, governments locked in this transition now. Charging infrastructure is basically planned with every government future plans. I don’t know how to call them in English. You’ve got the Inflation Reduction Act in the US that basically also locks in the transition to electric driving. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: One of the criticisms that I hear a lot about is concerning the batteries. That’s both in terms of the recyclability of batteries and also the huge demand for certain raw minerals. Do you have a view on this whole topic of batteries?

Michael Tasior: Disclaimer, I’m a software developer and not an expert in raw materials but I read a lot. Recyclability is… the announcements from JB Straubel, former Tesla guy who went into recycling. And they are currently ramping up their huge recycling processes and they say… depending on who you ask, they say 90 to 95% of materials can be recycled from batteries, and the remaining 5% are currently subject to investigation. So people are currently trying to find out how to actually get out more from the recyclables.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I remember when we were talking outside of this podcast you also mentioned that it’s also a matter of scale, right? That now, where batteries are actually not that many available to recycle but as electric cars get older, and more batteries come of age, let’s say, you will reach a point where scaling recycling makes business sense.

Michael Tasior: I’ve seen a YouTube video with this Mr. Straubel. He basically stated please wreck more cars because we need materials to test our processes on.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Not sure that’s sustainable though.

Michael Tasior: Maybe on the long run. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Maybe on the long run, yeah.

Michael Tasior: But that seems to be the problem, that material is currently too rare. That also might maybe even… batteries are prone to be used in second-life applications, right? So those huge batteries that are being used in cars need a high capacity and this capacity declines and from a certain point can those batteries are basically rendered useless for car applications. I mean 70-80% of gross capacity remaining. That means it’s broken and should be recycled, but that’s not what’s happening. What’s actually happening is that these batteries are being reused in second-life applications.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: For example?

Michael Tasior: They are putting those batteries into big containers and big houses and create grid stabilization batteries out of them. And that means they are, those batteries are in a controlled environment. They are basically pampered and can live very long. So I’ve seen a study that basically states if you take care of a battery well enough, based on a new model they develop they can live up to 10,000 years. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Really?

Michael Tasior: I’m not quite sure if that’s true or just a bolt statement

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: That seems long. That seems long. Yeah.

Michael Tasior: I mean, given very, very clean materials, no side effects during production right? So the ideal battery. Also with my own battery from the I3, that I own, somebody leaked or maybe they just published it, the specification diagram of the cells. So the Samsung SDI cells that are actually being used in 94 amper cells, and they’re stating that when cycling those cells from zero to 100% so from completely depleted to 100% at 1C at 25 degrees Celsius, they live up to 4600 cycles. So what does that mean? So 4600 cycles, every recycle is a range of 200 kilometres. Now we can calculate…

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Or days, you can also say if you charge it every day, once, 4000 divided… that’s 10 years. 11 almost.

Michael Tasior: Now let’s look at the boundary conditions of this test right so we are usually cycling in the full at a constant temperature and that’s something that is… I mean… cars will also be charged at negative ˚C temperatures… that has an impact on the battery but in ideal cases, this battery lives 4600 cycles until it’s… it’s broken in automotive terms, meaning any per cent of gross capacity. What those batteries are being or how those battery management systems are currently being developed to do is they are cycling those batteries within boundaries right. So usually you do not discharge them lower than a given boundary and higher than the given boundary. The upper boundary and the upper margin is subject to the manufacturer. There are manufacturers who say you can charge up to 100%. It will take a long time for the last two or 3% but you will squeeze out a few more kilometres of range. So I think Tesla does it like that. And others say 100% is full, but it’s basically I don’t know 95% in gross capacity like my I3 for example does that. That means you’re not cycling it in the full that prolongs the lifetime of the battery. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: So you only charge say up to 95% and then you let it go down to 20%. And that’s your charging cycle. What about the minerals needed to make the batteries, do we have enough?

Michael Tasior: In general, it is said that we have enough materials for replacing most of the worldwide fleet with electric cars. I mean, there are studies that basically say that there’s no problem at all. And there are studies that say there might be a problem. And there are studies, they say well, we won’t make it. You always have to look into the assumptions what they are actually doing. And many just say we want to replace them within five years. And then of course it’s not enough, but if you see it as a development slightly increasing the amount of cars or the fraction of cars that are being electric and also taking into account that not only electric cars are the only battery electric but might have other energy sources. I’m rather optimistic that this works out in terms of raw materials. I mean, there’s we could get into politics now. Right? So dependencies on the Chinese market or on the Chinese raw material market. From what I’ve read, the rare-earths, they are actually not that rare. They’re just hard to get out of the ore. Right? There is enough… enough… So quite recently, there was this big announcement we found lithium and rare-earths in Kiruma, in North Sweden, which was basically a no message because yes, they found something new and something that contains more material, but basically, there is enough of it are already lying around up there. Just nobody does extract them. Because … 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah, I think it’s an interesting point that you made about the timeline. So if you’re trying to do it, you know, within a very short time, then it’s an issue but if we have more time we should be fine.

Michael Tasior: That’s what studies say. I mean, it always depends on the ramp-up that the EU wants to have. I mean the current… look at what the current announcements are in Europe, we ban ICE vehicles for 2035 except for e-fuel driven, which is basically just Porsches being e-fuel driven. Everything else will be electric. That means up until 2035, we will still sell combustion cars. So the transition will be slow for the next 12 years. And within these 12 years, many things can actually happen and many material sources can be found. Maybe there is enough in Bolivia, maybe there’s enough in Chile, maybe we find something in Europe. I wouldn’t say that this is a huge blocker for E-mobility in general because we have to do something. So that’s for now the way to go.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I wanna switch gears slightly… see what I did there. Let’s talk about the grid. A common concern that people have is that every… if everybody switches to an electric car, then the electricity grids around the world will just collapse because there’s not enough electricity. So what would you say to that? 

Michael Tasior: Two points. Nobody switches from today to tomorrow to an electric car because there aren’t enough electric cars. So that’s again, it’s a process. Replacing the full fleet of the world will take more than 20 years. And another thing that I was looking into quite recently is: What happens if the amount of electric cars to be charged are going up? What will inevitably happen? The amount of fuel consumed will decline.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay.

Michael Tasior: And I mean what’s fuel? What’s diesel? What’s gasoline? It’s distilled crude oil or processed crude oil. So this processing of crude oil to oil derivatives is highly energy dependent. So oil refineries are most of the most energy-intensive industries we have here in Europe.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay, so basically what you are saying is that if we replace fossil fuel cars with electric cars, we need more electricity, but we save electricity because we don’t need fuels that also need electricity to be produced. Right? 

Michael Tasior: This is the train of thought that I was following. Yes.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. That’s really interesting.

Michael Tasior: Let’s just calculate. You have a diesel car with five litres of consumption. That means when you’re burning those five litres for 100 kilometres, you are additionally – to the burnt fuel and to the heat being dissipated – you’re using 1.6 times five kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. That’s eight kilowatt-hours, just by burning those five litres of fuel. But that’s the end, right? So the fuel has to be transported from the refinery to the fuel station. The fuel has to be or the crude oil has to be transported from the port to the refinery. There’s usually pipelines involved, right? Those pipelines are being driven with pumps that are being driven electrically. Usually. This crude oil from the port has to be transported there. Usually coming from oil wells somewhere or from oil platforms. Those platforms have to be produced those platforms have to be shipped out those platforms have to drill. Those platforms have to be maintained. And then getting oil out of the ground is usually 1/3 of the volume that’s coming out. Because then you have to press in water or something else. I think it’s usually seawater to get out the remaining oil which takes energy.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I was just wondering how that compares to the electric car. So if you drive 100 kilometres electrically, how much electricity are we using?

Michael Tasior: I come to the point. So six litres of diesel in the end need 42 kilowatt-hours of energy to be produced.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Oh, okay, that’s a lot.

Michael Tasior: So 6 litres of diesel. Let’s say we have a diesel car a bigger, a bigger one that’s being driven 100 kilometres usually burns six liters of diesel plus 42 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. My small car takes 13 to 15 kilowatt-hours per 100 kilometres. My larger car takes 16 kilowatt-hours per kilometre, between 16 and 17. So by driving 100 kilometres of … 100 diesel-driven kilometres burning so much electrical energy by just producing this diesel to drive let’s say 200 kilometres, 250 kilometres, 300 kilometres with an electric car and the electric car hasn’t burned this field. That means – and those are actually official numbers from the petrol industry. So if you look at if you have an holistic approach from… from the well to where you actually burn, where you fill in the fuel into the car, you’re already spending 42 kilowatt-hours of energy for each six litres of diesel. And that means if you now switch from today to tomorrow to electric cars you’re actually somehow reduce the load on the grid.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: That is so fascinating to think about because people think oh, more electric cars means we need more electricity, but actually, no one mentions that the fossil fuel cars also need a lot of electricity and even more than electric cars. So thank you for making that point because I think a lot of listeners will be surprised to hear that.

Michael Tasior: We need to restrict these thoughts a little bit, right? So usually, oil tankers are not driven electrically but with oil. But you know the gist now, half this number. Let’s… let’s put 21 kilowatt-hours of energy into 6 litres of diesel, then you are actually where you can have exactly the same range by simply not burning diesel. It’s just the half the energy and that means in the end for the grid. If this ramp-up goes slowly and basically the refineries somehow are being removed from the grid, there is no net difference in energy consumption. I mean energy consumption in total goes up. So that’s fact.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah and actually, I think there’s an… there’s a side point to this whole discussion, which is that it just shows how inefficient fossil fuel cars actually are with the energy. Like if you just look purely at energy, whether it’s electric or fossil-fuel-based, you just need so much more energy to drive a fossil-fuel car than an electric car. And with energy demand increasing, obviously, if we can be more efficient about the energy that we’re using, that will help us in the long term.

Michael Tasior: Yeah. And these are official numbers from the petrol industry. And the other thing is from… from, let’s say solar park to the wheel you have an efficiency of around 86%. So you have to count that in as well. Right? So in the end, we’re in the same ballpark of energy being used for charging those cars and driving around compared to what we’re using for creating or for actually generating fossil fuels without burning them. And if you now add the energy being dissipated into the atmosphere, in terms of heat because heat is the most basic energy and you say your six litres diesel it is 60 kilowatt-hours of heat being dissipated into the into the atmosphere per 100 kilometres plus the 42 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy approximately. So you cannot directly compare those or you cannot say all of this energy has been dissipated but it is a ballpark so we are at 102 kilowatt-hours per 100 kilometres of driven fuel cars, and we are at 16 to 21, depends on the car, of kilowatt-hours being driven with a battery electric car. let’s say 25, it doesn’t matter. if you have a big one, if you have a bus, you can say it’s 30 even. It’s still ⅓.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Plus, I mean, of course we have to take account of what you mentioned the production of electric car and so on. So there’s… there will be some addition to that, but it’s still a reasonable amount.

Michael Tasior: If you look into the new studies in Germany, they call it “CO2-Rucksack”, “CO2-backpack” that a car from production actually carries around and they were usually taking production energy being energy or electrical power being produced from old mixes, old European mixes where we have a high amount of coal power the coal power stations basically and we are now decarbonizing the grid and creating more and more renewables. That means the CO2 that is being emitted per kilowatt-hour energy produced on average is also reduced. If you take into account the newest numbers then you will see that the CO2-backpack is being I think removed after 20 to 25 000 kilometres. Depends on study. We’ll also have studies that have different boundary conditions where it’s more let’s say 80 000. But I mean look at the average distance car is driven in Europe. And you will see that even with the current cars, you will be better off in terms of CO2.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah, yeah. So basically you’re saying if an electric car takes more energy to produce but if you drive it for 20 000 kilometres, basically, you save that energy… 

Michael Tasior: Depends on what boundary conditions you actually apply there and on the energy you’re you’re using and on the grid you are using. If you’re looking to Poland, they mostly have coal in their grid, right now. There is a different approach than for example, in Norway, where they basically have just water power. It’s always it’s just, it’s no, it’s not… nothing definitive. It’s always somehow curves that we have to look at. And you find your sweet spot for every single argument in the end. So you will also find places on Earth where fossil fuels will be good or will be usable also in the future. You will also find places on Earth where you will have internal combustion engines being the best solution. Look, look at Brazil. They are currently driving the E 100 ethanol, bioethanol. So you can drive conventional cars with bioethanol. Solution for similar countries. And they won’t ditch their internal combustion engines.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: One topic I still want to touch upon is trucks. According to the International Energy Agency, in 2019, around 40% of the global CO2 emissions from the transportation sector were from trucks and about 45% from light cars, so private cars and light-duty vehicles. So all the discussion about electric vehicles it feels like it’s always about you know, personal cars, the normal cars you know, the those that I have or don’t have. So, so what’s… what’s the situation with those heavy-duty vehicles and electrifying those? 

Michael Tasior: It’s ongoing, it’s under the radar, but it’s ongoing. I mean, if you look a little bit more closely into media coverage of truck companies if you look into the statement of Traton – Traton is basically Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, so heavy-duty, all of the commercial vehicles of Volkswagen, they say they are switching to battery, right know. If you look into what Daimler is doing, they are currently switching to or they are developing a huge or a heavy-duty hydrogen truck and also battery electrics. You can buy from Renault already heavy-duty electric trucks. You can get them also from Traton. Low numbers, but they’re currently ramping up. And the bigger problem there is not the manufacturers, but it’s the infrastructure. And in this case, it’s I think a little bit different because trucking is something that is planable. So you have your fixed routes there’s nothing that the driver thinks about in the morning “Where do I go now?” and then they go but it’s usually it’s fixed routes. And for local distribution, I think it’s already done. You can get your Ford Transit, you can get your Mercedes Vito, you can basically get everything that is currently for the local distributor network. You can get it electrically already. Most of the cars. For the heavy distribution, you can also get everything electrical right now. Just look into what MAN is offering, what Renault is offering, I think, what Scania is offering, or Traton again.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Do they have a different charging infrastructure? They probably need more power, right?

Michael Tasior: That depends on the approach they are doing. So if you’re looking into local distribution they are… where you have your shifts, right? You have eight-hour shifts the car has to basically last these eight hours but then is standing around for 16 hours. You don’t need specialized charging equipment for that. 16 hours times 22 kilowatts, right? So the standard wall outlet let’s say 32 amp, three-phase outlet is enough for one truck. If you have 100 trucks it’s a different story, then… if you look into maybe for example, Deutsche Post, the bigger hubs where they actually have their local delivery trucks, they have street scooters, usually, they just charge them off standard outlets because they are driving for, I don’t know, eight hours, short distances, stop and go travel. That’s working. It seems to be feasible.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: And I wonder for long distances. I mean, truck drivers, I think, by law are required to take breaks at certain intervals. So it seems natural that they should then, you know, just use that time to charge. It feels like it should be an obvious solution. Right? I’m not sure if that’s already happening.

Michael Tasior: There’s discussions. There’s I think a Pan-European project right now – this megawatt charging project, where you can actually do quick charging of huge batteries in the megawatt range. They also currently… I think they published a new plug type for that even so the current CCS the European type two CCS is not capable…

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: CCS is meaning? 

Michael Tasior: Basically the European standard plug. And in North America, you have CCS one, type one, combined charging system plus the Tesla plug, but those are the standards, the industry standards. And those are, not, I think, not capable of actually charging the three megawatt and this is why they proposed a new standard there. But that’s currently ongoing, right. So they are currently developing new types of charging stations. I mean, they are … if you haven’t a big parking lot with many trucks that have to stop for 45 minutes and want to charge up their truck fully, you need power for that. You need transformers you, need something that is connected to the mid-level grid. So specialized equipment, and I’m not a not an expert in that at all but what I’ve seen is that there are projects currently ongoing. For the long-distance truck drivers, it’s happening, but there’s still discussion about hydrogen there. And it’s all about …

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: What is more efficient …  

Michael Tasior: No, the efficiency is not the problem, I think, because hydrogen is not more efficient than batteries. Batteries is the most efficient thing you can do. In the end, it’s money that counts. And if hydrogen can be produced cheaply in huge amounts, it can be, on the long run, equal or cheaper to batteries… then this will have a go. And as I said, Daimler is currently developing a hydrogen long-distance truck. You have Nikola who is developing long-distance trucks. It’s ongoing. It’s a huge amount of projects being executed right now.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. I think we could talk for hours and hours about this. So is there… is there anything you want to mention before we come to an end to this discussion?

Michael Tasior: I mean, we could look into the future for a few years. What’s going to happen? We’ll still have ICE cars being released… internal combustion engine cars, ICE, internal combustion engine, cars being released. We will have markets where you will see hydrogen cars popping up because they have to write boundary conditions. But in the end, for the most of the people, I think electric cars will be the cheapest option because that’s what would usually counts for people. For those people who like to have toys that is that are quick. You will have no other choice because electric cars will basically be superior in most of the aspects. they already are in some of them right so weight is a problem but weight will be something that will be reduced. 

And if you look a little bit into the future and into the past actually. How long did we now as humanity, as we might call it, how long did we now develop internal combustion engine cars? and on what level are we there? In reliability, in comfort, in efficiency? And how long do we now develop electric cars? Something like 100 years? Compared to something like, let’s say 15 to 20 years, plus those years in the very beginning of automotive where they actually majority was electric cars but then batteries didn’t hold up. So we are now in, let’s say, the second or third generation of electric cars and they have caught up so much. And we are just at the beginning of this whole development. And I think where we will end up is we will have cheaper cars then right now that have comparable performance, massively cheaper, because they have to be more performance cars than every single supercar out there right now that is being electric. So the spread will be really really huge. 

And also don’t share the points of those naysayers who actually say we will lose so many jobs due to electrification. Maybe we will lose some jobs in one sector of the industry but there was so will be so many new jobs in other sectors. I mean, just broaden your scope a bit. It’s not just automotive because all of this renewable energies industry needs to also grow with that. Bottom line is we’re on a good track there technologically and we’ll see what’s… what’s going to happen.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Thank you so much for taking the time. 

Michael Tasior: Thank you for having me. 

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: I’m sure our listeners will have learned a lot. 

Michael Tasior: Yeah and for the listeners that are ICE drivers, comments below.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yes, actually I would love to hear comments both from listeners that have electric vehicles and fossil-fuel vehicles, what your experience is and whether you’re thinking to switch.

Dr. Elisabeth Ignasiak: That’s it for today. I really hope you enjoyed the interview and this episode and if you did, I would really appreciate if you could share it with a friend, a colleague, a family member… because this is how the show grows. Thank you so much.