Thursday, July 21, 2022

Another EV Recall: Dangerous Defect Could Put Drivers at Risk

The author below mocks the Ford Pinto. There were 3 million of them sold over a 10 year period so I expect that his words are little more than elitist sneer. I drove a Pinto on two of my trips to America and rather liked it. It had safety issues but no more than other cars of a similar size

When Americans first began feeling the pinch at the pump, they turned to smaller cars. Ford’s answer to this was the Pinto.

Half a century later, that dumpster fire (quite literally, if you could manage to toss a Pinto into a dumpster after you rear-ended it) still remains one of the great automotive product failures of all time, an enduring symbol of the U.S. car industry’s general indifference to design, engineering and quality in the 1970s.

As we feel the pinch at the pump again, President Joe Biden’s administration wants us to turn to electric vehicles.

Ford, to its credit, has given us not one Pinto, but several. Whoever said American ingenuity was at a low ebb?

On Monday, Green Car Reports said the automaker is recalling 100,689 vehicles with a hybrid drivetrain over a fire risk.

According to Green Car Reports, the list of vehicles affected is rather extensive.

“The recall affects 2020-2022 Ford Escape, 2021-2022 Lincoln Corsair, and 2022 Ford Maverick models that have the 2.5-liter inline-4 engine as part of a hybrid or plug-in hybrid system. That includes the Ford Escape Hybrid, Escape Plug-In Hybrid, and Maverick Hybrid, as well as the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring plug-in hybrid,” the publication said.

While the recall in this case only affects vehicles with partially electrified drivetrains, the issue is somewhat different in that internal combustion plays a significant role: If the engine fails, a fire might ensue.

“In the event of an engine failure, engine oil and fuel vapor may be released into the engine compartment and accumulate near ignition sources such as hot engine or exhaust components, possibly resulting in an engine compartment fire,” Ford said in a recall notice sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on July 13.

The recall was initiated after Ford said it received 23 reports of a fire or smoke under the hood “after a suspected block or oil pan breach.”

It’s unclear whether the batteries or electrical system — which can be hot or potentially exacerbate a fire — were part of the issue.

However, the recall only affects vehicles that are powered, in part, by an electric motor. The cars remain under a delivery hold until the problem is fixed.

“The recall remedy involves the installation of modified under-engine shield and active grille shutter components,” Green Car Reports said.

“The new under engine shield contains ‘additional drain holes,’ while the active grille shutter reduces underhood temperatures during forward motion, according to Ford. If the shutters are open more often, it might potentially decrease owners’ gas mileage.”

Ford also advised vehicle owners that if “they hear unexpected engine noises, notice a reduction in vehicle power, or see smoke,” they should pull over and shut off the engine ASAP.

The company is being cagey about what, precisely, is causing the engine failures or the fires and why they’re occurring solely on the hybrid versions of these cars. That’s a problem inasmuch as Ford’s recent history with EVs hasn’t been stellar.

Last month, the company recalled 48,924 Mustang Mach-E’s, roughly half of the nearly 100,000 vehicles they had sold thus far.

According to CNBC, the issue with the company’s flagship EV was the vehicle’s main battery contactors — a switch for the car’s power circuit.

The contactors could overheat and either stop the vehicle from starting or cause it to lose power when it was in motion.

The car had previously faced other recalls. According to Ford Authority, some all-wheel-drive Mach-E’s were recalled last year after “an issue with unintended acceleration, deceleration and/or a loss of power.”

Earlier in the year, more Mach-E’s were recalled because a software glitch could cause the car to be “bricked,” requiring it to be towed to an authorized repair shop.

Of course, if a car suddenly loses power in the middle of the interstate, that’s a crash waiting to happen.

The same thing with unintended acceleration; readers of my generation will remember that Audi saw its market share virtually wiped out in the United States in the 1980s due to reports the cars would accelerate on their own accord.

What’s worse is that, in Audi’s case, this was actually a manufactured scare; the drivers involved in the accidents were unfamiliar with European cars, which generally place the brake and gas pedals closer together, and had their foot on the gas pedal when they shifted out of park.

As Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute noted, “When an idiot-proof shift was installed so that a driver could not shift out of park if his foot was on the accelerator, reports of sudden acceleration plummeted.”

But a Ford EV was apparently accelerating on its own accord for real, and the news media were pretty low-key and chill about it this time.

Thus, given the company’s not-insubstantial problems with the Mach-E, there’s certainly a bit of metaphorical smoke here regarding another major Ford EV recall, even if the problem has something to do with the internal combustion part of the powertrain.

Whatever the case, 50-odd years on from the Pinto, the folks in Dearborn still don’t seem to have mastered the art of trouble-free energy-saving.


The British government is neglecting climate adaptation

A new paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation urges a complete rethink of the UK’s approach to climate change, and a new focus on adaptation.

The GWPF calls upon policy makers to learn the key lesson from the recent heat wave and adopt policies that prioritise effective and relative low cost adaptation measures over massively expensive and ineffective renewable energy targets.

Despite previous heat waves in recent decades, the UK’s priority in dealing with climate change has been to spend nearly hundred billions on wind and solar projects, failing almost completely to prepare communities for extreme weather events that are inevitable regardless of climate change.

In the last 20 years consumers have had to hand over some £50 billion to renewable energy investors. The OBR estimates that in the next four years alone (2022 to 2025) renewables investors will receive another £50 billion.

However, none of these costly Net Zero policies will reduce the public’s vulnerability to extreme weather.

According to the report’s author, GWPF deputy director Andrew Montford:

“It’s now clear that the UK’s unilateral and vain attempt to change the weather by building more wind turbines has been an unmitigated disaster. We now seem to be facing a real possibility of rolling blackouts.

"Politicians have focused relentlessly on trying to decarbonise the economy, and have neglected simple and comparatively cheap adaptation measures that could make climate impacts in the UK irrelevant in practical terms.

"Adaptation is the Government’s road to energy and economic security, but it remains to be seen if ministers can shake off the groupthink that infests the Westminster village.”

Montford says that as well as offering a return to energy security, adaptation is much cheaper than current mitigation policies:

“Adapting to even the largest impacts of predicted climate change is orders of magnitude cheaper than trying to change the weather in 2050. You can build as many sea walls as you need for a few billion pounds. We’re spending that every year on subsidising windfarms, and we are having no discernable effect on the climate.”

The paper also points out that as well as being much cheaper, adaptation measures only need to be put in place if and when required, in contrast to mitigation measures, which require politicians to accept scientists’ predictions of the future climate.

Contact Andrew Montford e:


The Left Is About to Pay for Its Energy Insanity

Most politicians and activists have strong views on every political issue. Those views grow from their fundamental political philosophies and beliefs.

The best politicians know how to balance their political ideals with a keen watch on how they affect the lives of everyday Americans—those who voted them into office. Go too far with your ideological preferences in the face of evidence that it’s hurting the American people, and you will not go far in politics.

The Democratic Party seems poised to take a beating for forgetting this fundamental maxim when it comes to energy and climate change. They feel so strongly about the issue that many have lost touch with reality. They have entered a sort of make-believe world.

The coming election is going to bring them back to reality.

Republicans are not immune to ideological overstepping. Republicans in general believe in the private sector. They think that free markets offer more benefits for society than government spending and mandates.

The theory has proven correct far more often than it hasn’t, but not always. When a so-called private sector line of business becomes so corrupt, so dominated by Washington political favoritism, and so mismanaged that it’s offering worse products and worse prices than government options, then even limited-government free market activists need to take notice.

Those who don’t will pay a political price. The private student loan industry is a prime example. Created and supported by Republicans, it became so corrupt and so mismanaged that eventually it was impossible to defend. The few who tried paid a political price.

On climate change, the Democrats face a similar dilemma, except with politically apocalyptic consequences. Student loans are important; they affect a lot of people. Energy is different; it affects everyone.

Skyrocketing energy prices cause widespread economic disruption. In the extreme, they lead to starvation, heat stroke, freezing, and death. It’s not a policy area you can get wrong. Yet American and global policymakers have deliberately done just that. The left’s energy policies make zero sense.

Clean energy is a worthy goal overshadowed by lofty expectations that outpace the pragmatism of working people. For large segments of the left, the climate change issue has become more like a religion than a policy debate. Pesky facts like technological limitations and costs are thrown aside in favor of magic. “Ban fossil fuels and utopia will follow” is essentially the mindset.

In the real world, you have to take into account technological limitations, costs, and other trade-offs. Transitioning energy production too fast can cause real present-day harm. The rich can afford to ignore high prices, slower economic growth, and a reduction in national security.

President Joe Biden campaigned on “getting rid of” fossil fuels. If there were economically efficient alternatives that would allow this to happen without slamming American families and harming America’s national security, that would be a less radical thing to say. Those things do not exist at scale today.

America became energy-independent during the Trump years. This energy independence brought huge advantages. First, America’s fracking boom and the massive expansion of natural gas production that came with it lowered carbon emissions more than any regulation.

Second, American energy independence changed the national security dynamic with respect to huge energy-export countries in the Middle East and Russia. Finally, the lower energy prices that followed led to massive economic and manufacturing growth. Many dormant small towns in America literally came alive as a result.

Throwing all this away without an adequate and, importantly, cheaper alternative in place is almost unimaginable from a policy perspective, but that’s exactly what happened. By promoting so-called environmental, social, and governance investment standards to choke off fossil fuel investments, by canceling pipelines, and by limiting federal oil and gas leasing, the left has reduced American energy production and left America vulnerable to the rest of the world.

All this has come with very little emissions benefit to boot. It has just enabled Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others to displace American fossil fuel production with their own foreign fossil fuel production.

The result? From Biden’s inauguration to the onset of the war in Ukraine—before the much-discussed “Putin price spike,” in other words—American gas prices went up nearly 50%. Those prices are up another 15% on top of that since the war began.

There have been huge technological strides in solar, wind, and other renewable power sources, but primarily due to their intermittent nature and a still-huge gap in energy storage (battery) technology, those forms of energy are not yet ready to make up for lost fossil fuel production without massive extra cost.

Giving away a huge economic and national security advantage is political malpractice. Slowing American energy production while begging the Saudis to increase their own fossil fuel production, as Biden did last week, is a botch so foreseeable it should be disqualifying for future leadership.

Energy policy under the Biden administration has been insane. With prices booming, everyone now knows it. Those who got us in this mess should prepare to pay a massive political price.


Net-zero folly in Australia

Visiting the NSW Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain, Prime Minister Albanese recently declared that his government had altered Australia’s position on climate change ‘from day one’. Relying on that non-existent entity which politicians employ like some pagan goddess, he claimed ‘the science‘ tells us that unless we take action globally ‘on climate change, then these events, extreme weather events, would be more often and more intense’.

Meanwhile, it is clear that China, Russia and India have absolutely no intention of closing down the development of their economies to achieve net-zero emissions. In addition, it is likely that after the next presidential election, the US will again abandon the Paris diktat. Nor, to avoid the retribution of their voters, will the leading European powers actually observe its terms.

The fact is no other nation is going to commit suicide on the basis of a discredited theory and the folly of net zero. This will increase the pressure on Australia’s elites to abandon their betrayal of the people, especially of the young.

But if they eventually do abandon this folly, they will still have done enormous damage. If they don’t, it will surely be time for Australians to take back their country, by all legal and democratic means possible.

In the meantime, let us return to the Prime Minister’s comments.

Since crucial parts of climate science are clearly unsettled, citing ‘the science’ as his authority for what may be termed ‘the Albanese theory of extreme climate events’ is hardly justified.

Even the UN’s IPCC does not dare do this. This is because scientific observations, over a century, show that most types of extreme weather events across the world either do not show any significantly worsening or are less common or less severe.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology warns that we may be about to experience a La Niña event three years in a row, something rare but not unprecedented.

Indeed, flooding on the Hawkesbury-Nepean plain has been known from the early days of British settlement and apparently before by the indigenous people.

There are records of floods, several larger than the most recent, in the years 1801, 1806, 1809, 1852, 1893, 1916, 1927, 1934, 1955 and 1974. And this is not an exhaustive list.

Much of this occurred, incidentally, well before a world in which motor cars and electricity were even available, much less the norm.

The reason so many people have been so badly affected by recent flooding is not global warming. It is first, the decision by the Hawke government, curiously followed by both sides since, to block what is absolutely necessary for the future of Australia, serious dam-building programmes such as prescribed in the Bradfield, Beale and Bridge Plans. Second, it is in allowing developers to build and sell urban housing on floodplains. Consistent with calls for integrity, politicians should be accountable in appropriate cases, personally and not merely under the civil law, just as businesses are for parallel offences.

And as Senator Canavan says, what journalists should be asking Mr Albanese is when will his policy, for which we are already paying and will pay so much more for far less reliable electricity, result in no floods and no droughts? This sort of interrogation should be addressed to those members of the elites who are so curiously dedicated to what Alan Jones and Terry McCrann long ago described as ‘signing a national suicide note’.

In the meantime, was anyone delighted to hear that the Treasury is again pouring more money down the drain on modelling the effect of climate change on the economy, restarting ‘work’ sensibly abandoned for almost a decade? As the great Anglo-American mathematician, Professor George Box, once famously warned, ‘All models are wrong but some are useful.’

Dr. Steven E Koonin, a pioneer in computer modelling, is a leader in science policy in the US, serving as undersecretary for science in the Obama administration. In his magisterial exposé of warmist extremism, Unsettled (2021), he points out that while computer modelling is central to climate science, uncertainties in modelling make it impossible today to provide reliable quantitative statements about the relative risks and consequences and benefits of rising greenhouse gases to the Earth system as a whole, let alone to specific regions of the planet.

The problem is that the climate is so chaotic it is impossible to simulate it in a model. One ‘stunning’ problem, he says, is that later generations of models are actually more uncertain than the earlier ones. The proof of their inadequacy, he says, is in their failure to reproduce retrospectively the warming observed from 1910 to 1940.

Dr Koonin reveals something appalling, indeed deceitful, in IPCC Reports. Although the models can disagree wildly with each other, what we are presented with is an averaging of those models. This completely undermines the predictions the politicians and media present as accurate to a fraction of a degree. The conclusion must be that the projections of future climate and weather events, which are thrown at us daily, are demonstrably unfit for purpose.

So, thank you, Treasurer Chalmers, for wasting even more of our money.

And thank you too, Warringah MP Zali Steggall, for explaining your most curious objection to nuclear power. This is that it cannot be turned on quickly when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow. Now that uranium expert Tony Gray has demonstrated from UK experience that nuclear power is in fact significantly cheaper than ‘renewables’, and anyway emits no CO2, why would anyone rational fill in with ‘renewables’?

When will our elites in politics, big business and the mainstream media admit that there is no advantage and every disadvantage in Australia adhering to the net-zero folly?




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