What if Fossil Fuel Cars Were Just Invented?


A recent slew of articles criticizing electric cars prompted me to think about vehicles from a different perspective. “What if” electric vehicles (EVs) were already common and fossil fuel vehicles were just being released on the market?

Here’s a “thought experiment” for EV critics.

Suppose the current generation of electric vehicles were in the majority of cars on the road. They’re convenient – “refueling” at home overnight for maybe a buck or two a day of electricity. They require almost no maintenance. They can drive 200-300 miles before requiring a recharge. They are fast and nimble and run silently without emissions.

Now an upstart technology comes along. It uses a fossil fuel engine that has to be refueled at smelly service stations. They require tremendous infrastructure – oil has to be pumped from the ground, refined in giant factories then trucked to “gas stations” in giant, polluting trucks that damage the roads. The oil is often located in hostile countries, requiring major military operations to “secure the oil.” The government subsidizes this new fossil fuel infrastructure proposing trillions of dollars of military protection and build-out. To pay for this, they must charge large taxes, diverting money from public services like health insurance and education.

Some of the new fossil fuel cars cost less than EVs up front. For about half the cost, you can get an “economy car”. These cars can go 250-350 miles before requiring refueling – not much different from EVs. But the inconvenience and cost! On a per-mile basis, they cost 2-3x times as much as the EVs ($0.10/mile vs. $0.04/mile according to this article). After refueling, your hands stink. Sometimes the gas splashes your clothes, soaking them with noxious chemicals. And gas is highly flammable! 

These “new” fossil fuel cars require lots of maintenance. You have to pay for oil changes, and maintenance. On Average, they cost $1,186 to maintain (ref: article). The average EV costs $982 to maintain according to the same article. Brakes wear out and have to be replaced more frequently on gas cars. They require special emissions tests to ensure that the engines aren’t spewing too much pollution. And the engines are very complicated.

From a safety perspective, gas cars a horrible. In an accident, the car can explode in an inferno. Gas stations catch on fire and kill people. People die of carbon monoxide poisoning when they forget to open their garage doors while warming up their car. 

Driveability? The EVs handle great. They accelerate like rockets and, with their low center of gravity, there’s little body roll. They’re safe. Step on the gas and the instant surge of power accelerates the car out of trouble.

The new gas cars? The typical one accelerates slowly, shifting through several gears before getting up to speed. If you’re in trouble and need to accelerate, good luck! You can buy a sporty model with better acceleration, but that will cost you. EVs in general are much peppier.

Fossil fuel cars are dangerous, polluting, perform poorly and cost more to run and maintain. And don’t forget about the government support and additional military spending required to protect the oil. Lives are lost and money is diverted from social programs at home. Fossil fuel vehicles are a complete boondoggle, with numerous strikes against them and just a few benefits.

If fossil fuel cars were released today, people would laugh. They’d be an utter failure.

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