Old Cars Versus New Cars

There’s a lot of debate going on about the practicality of switching the world over to electric vehicles. Of course, a lot of the resistance to this is coming from the right, where the vested interest in preserving the status quo mainly lies.

Their basic argument is that the amount of energy burned to find, process, and manufacture the minerals and metals needed to make the batteries and the electric cars themselves is 5 or 6 times more damaging to the environment than sucking oil out of the ground and refining it to make fuel for internal combustion engines.

That would be a good point except for one little thing: The simple fact that while the creation and manufacture of most vehicles, electric or internal combustion, is close to a wash in terms of energy usage, the real damage that combustion engines do is after they have been created, and for years and years over the life of the vehicles.

Of course, taking the argument to the manufacturing of the vehicles themselves does one critical thing for the fossil fuel and automotive industries. It diverts attention from the real issue here.

Seldom do you find any ‘industry’ conversation about why car makers and oil companies are doing virtually nothing to create engines that burn fossil fuels more efficiently or fuels that burn cleaner than they do now.

Because this is the Achilles’ heel of both the automobile manufacturers and the oil producers of the world. And it’s a pretty damn big one at that.

I would venture a wild-ass guess that these companies, all of them, would not be willing to invest even a small percentage of their gargantuan profits into working on these two critical pieces of the energy puzzle.

I’m reasonably certain they have thought about it.  And I’m also reasonably certain that there are literally dozens of alternative technologies in both of these industries. But corporate greed being what it is these days, these ideas are being stifled. Why? Because they would, purely and simply, reduce profitability. And that, of course, brings us to the bigger economic issue and a bunch of pretty serious questions about the damage that market capitalism is doing to the world.

Oil companies and vehicle manufacturing companies seem to be getting a free ride here when it’s their technologies and their profound lack of commitment to the human race that are at the root of the environmental crisis the world is experiencing.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that they have pretty much bought off all the politicians required to stifle any serious pressure from governments that would force them into being environmentally responsible.

And why bother when you can keep on making barrels of money, (pardon the pun), by doing absolutely nothing, other than supporting the politicians who are greedy enough to make sure they never have to actually do anything that will affect their own bottom lines? Things like demanding research and development into more efficient engines or new refining processes that create cleaner burning fuels.

This is the world we have created. And right now, it’s quickly approaching totally f__ked. And it’s all because of corporate greed and the failing of the market capitalist system that only rewards things that are growing and kills anything that is not.


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. Early on in my writing career, I discovered advertising. While the other media have drifted in and out, communications writing and art direction have been the constant through a 20-year career senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource to direct clients, design companies, marketing consultants and boutique agencies. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and opened MurMarketing which is a freelance strategic development/copywriting/art direction service for businesses working to make a positive difference in the world. I currently write long format blogs in 4 different streams, encompassing, entertainment, marketing, and communications, life in general, and the renewable energy and recycling industries. These are currently published on I have, over the years, created more than 1500 blog posts. I live with my wife Heather in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life. I am currently recovering from spinal surgery and learning to walk again.

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  1. Yes, we are desperately in need of an energy policy. But until the corporate influence (money), gets taken out of politics, that’s simply never gonna happen. Thanks for the detailed response, Alan. In the meant time, the smaller, more enlightened countries, esp in Scandinavia, will continue to set the example that the rest of the world needs to follow.

  2. Hi Jim
    In my consulting career, i worked for both auto manufacturers and oil & gas companies. In my experience these firms are filled with good people who would like to do more to protect the earth. They are also on the short-term profit hamster wheel.

    You call out free market capitalism and the inherent greed as the source of the problem. We also have to call ourselves as a part of that system. We all want individualized transportation, which is one of the reasons why The US has underinvested in public transportation. (I think you Canadians have better rail than we do, but you still have a lot of roads.)

    We support legislation and regulation to make cars safer, so cars are more expensive. We want everything to be cheaper but we still want to go fast and to sit up high so we have a lot of big engine SUVs. Americans’ hair is perpetually on fire about the price of gasoline and we pay about as much per gallon as Eurpeans pay per litre.

    You are right to call out the different time horizons for cost. Extraction and manufacturing cost, maintenance and running costs, long term environmental damage cost. You are right that the last two running and LT damage are higher for fossil guel vehicles than for EVs, even if the first is higher even including the infrastructure cost of charging stations and the eventual likely experience curve reductions in battery production and replacement coasts.

    In the mid-term we will have to get our energy from a mixture of sources.

    Here in the US roughly twenty percent of our electricity comes from burning coal, 38% from Natural gas (with its leaky wellheads spewing almost as much methane as cars spew CO2), 18% nuclear (with its waste that lasts for 600 years), and the rest – wind solar and hyro. Demand for electricity with all our computers and electronic geegaws is through the roof.

    So we desparately need an energy policy that includes improvements in existing sources (Includoiong conservation) and innovation (Fusion, hydrogen, carbon capture, etc.). That doesn’t seem to be on the horizon and yes -part of the reason is that corrupt politicians are in the pockets of the fossil fuels indistry who don’t want to lose today’s profits, and the banks who might finance a change, and the unions who are dealing with eopple who don’t want to give up today’s job to feed their kids so their kids might be able to breathe in forty years.

    But. . .

    It’s also US. . . who want to turn on our hairdryer. . .watch NetFlix. . . get online responding to BizCat360. . . plug in ou EV or if we can’t afford one or drive more than 300 miles on a regular basis. . . we want that cheap petrol. . . natural gas to heat our home. . . or “just get in a big car and drive he said and for crissakes look out where you’re going.”