Electric Cars Are Job Killers

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
electric cars are job killers

One of the signs that a new technology has matured is when whole industries are worried about getting wiped off the earth as a result of that new technology. If that happens, change has finally arrived.

Industries are getting worried about electric vehicles. The machine-tool sector is very troubled, writes the Nikkei [sub], and it is worried for two reasons: “Plummeting demand from recession-hit clients is threatening the industry’s very existence, as the increasing focus on electric vehicles by ailing carmakers could eventually eliminate the need to machine parts for engines.” And why would that be?

A transfer machine for instance links several machining centers, drills and other specialized tools to process engine blocks, cylinders and the like, moving work in progress from one stage to the next continuously through final processing.

An executive at one Japanese machine-tool maker nearly fainted when a Toyota purchasing manager said, “If electric vehicles spread widely, there’ll be no need for transfer machines.”

“The rise of electric vehicles will spell more than the demise of just the internal combustion engine,” says the Nikkei. “Transmissions and braking systems will likely be replaced by electric control motors as well. A gasoline-powered car consists of roughly 30,000 parts, half of them related to the engine. Electric vehicles are expected to require one-tenth of that.”

Of course, this will not happen overnight. Just like desktop publishing didn’t wipe out conventional pre-press and printing overnight, and just like digital video didn’t obsolete huge editing studios overnight. But we all know how those fared.

Politicos have shouted, “Where are our electric cars to save the jobs?” Bet they haven’t thought of the electric cars themselves devouring whole high value industries. China, India and all the low-wage countries are importing nearly all their machine tools. Soon, they won’t need them anymore.

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  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 12, 2009

    "My point was simply that the UAW might not have fought so hard to burden the Detroit automakers with unnecessary employees if those unnecessary employees had a safety net to fall back on." Well, if they were really interested in employee welfare, that would be true, but that's not how it has evolved. Planning on the reasonableness of the unions hasn't really been an option or decades now. I don't think that's just being anti-union that makes me say that either. It's the other way around. These guys will push for whatever they can get, and they are more about their own power than the longterm employee welfare. Especially since the older employees have more influence, and they just don't percieve it's possible for the cow to die. They want to milk it, milk it, milk it. The incentives in the set up are all wrong.

  • Axegrinder Axegrinder on Jan 02, 2010

    The whole post is absurd. To argue that building a less efficient car will save jobs is the same as arguing against any mechanization vs. manual labor. Don't build a backhoe becuase pick and shovel workers will lose their jobs. America needs an automaker that will build a more efficient car. The Electric car has been around for a long time. In 1906 there were more electric cars than gas powered cars in NY city. The Electric Buses on Boston's MBTA served reliably for over a half decade. The battery argument does not even factor in the new ultra capicitors recently developed at MIT. Shock absorbers turn mechanical energy into heat. Could these not become heat pumps? How about new form factors like the tango. Only as wide as a motorcycle, these could double highway and city street traffic capacity and double the number of parking spaces. No more traffic jams, no more parking tickets. No tolls for electric vehicles. Get rid of toll booths. How about a hybrid vehicle that could drive to a mass transit grid and get on board with a computer routed destination, rails or monorail, no accidents, no driving. You could eat, read or just sleep on your commute. Your vehicle would get charged along the way. None of these appoaches would waste oil, cause pollution of contribute to the bogus crap called global warming. The bodies of the cars would be carbon fiber, 60% lighter than steel, 600% stiffer. Just like formula one cars that survive crashes at 200 MPH. How many Sustainable jobs would be created in bringing all of the above to pass. This is called working smarter not harder. All of this can come to pass with only one goverment action. A floating gasoline tax. Every year the price of gasoline goes up 1$ per gallon. Anything done by OPEC is irrelleveant. In 2010 gas costs $3 per gallon. No matter the market price unless it goes over $3 per gallon. By 2015 gasoline will $8 per gallon. No matter the market price. The revenue should be distributed as matching venture capital funds for those building alternatitive methods of transportation. We can stop being jerked around by OPEC. They pump oil to lower the price whenever a competing technology starts to get traction. Whether it is solar, wind, tidal, electric cars or anything else. They gouge us until competition starts, this sucks up capital, they pump more oil and lower the price, the capital is lost. I worked for an MIT spinoff called Energy and Innovation over 30 years ago. Bright minds and solid investors lost money. This cycle repeats itself over and over. Are we insane? A chunk of the money we send off to the middle east helps fund the Jihad against America. The dollar is weekened. Our trade imbalance grows. Interest rates go higher as a result. You will see electric cars, they will be the rage, but unless we all wake up, they will all be made in China. The are lot of new fortunes that could be made in America, but we must first vote out the incumbents. Established special interests bought them, and once elected, incumbancy keeps them in power. I am semi retired, but very worried about the future of my grandchildren. You are a smart group. If you are worried, start thinking about change. Not Obama's ode to change but real change. Capitalism is about capital. America is all about innovation. Innovation requires capital. Our capital should not go to functionaires on Wall Street, nor to elected officials. It should go to innovation. This is the America I will fight and die for. This is the America I love.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that