The Milkmaid and Her Pail

Our car has been in mothballs for months. So it was something of a novelty to sit behind the wheel once again. What struck me was the number of electric vehicles (EVs) now on the road here in Germany. My thoughts turned to carbon emissions from these cars. Does a shift to batteries make them entirely green? Well, not at first it seems.

Although EVs when actually on the road have a net-negative impact on carbon emissions, their production remains quite carbon intensive. The manufacturing process of an electric car battery weighing more than 500kg leads to the emission of ca. 70% more CO2 than during that of a conventional vehicle. Added to which, these new cars need to be driven for some 50,000km before a lifetime emission is lower than that of a conventional one.

There is a nice and commonly used expression in German: "eine Milkmädchenrechnung". It is derived from the tale by Aesop "The Milkmaid and Her Pail". It recounts how a milkmaid had been out to milk the cows and was returning from the field with the shining milk pail balanced nicely on her head. As she walked along, her pretty head was busy with plans for the days to come. We know how the story ended. The numbers on the bill (= Rechnung) did not add up.  

More anon . . .