Heresy alert. I am daring to challenge the GroupThink, so by the time you read this I will have been fired from my job, cancelled on social media, de-banked by the financial system and airbrushed from history by the Department of Misinformation.

It seems to me that electric vehicles, once the darlings of the Chelsea set, may be losing their appeal. In the first five months of 2023, Volkswagen produced 93,000 of its ID electric range. As of today, 20,000 are languishing unsold in showrooms across Europe.

Add in those other stalwarts of the German economy, Mercedes and BMW, and between them the big three made 500,000 fewer cars than in the same five months of 2019. Remember when you couldn’t get a new car because there were no chips to drive their electronics? That was the only time in my life when I sold a secondhand car for more than I’d paid for it.

The end of Banana Syndrome caused a huge backlog of new car orders which kept the major manufacturers busy. That surge has now petered out, especially in the EV sector. According to a report in The Times, the Central Association of German Vehicle Dealers says that orders for new electric cars are down between 30% and 50% on twelve months ago.

This despite a series of substantial price cuts triggered by the eye-wateringly overvalued sector leader Tesla. In January it cut prices by up to $13,000 per vehicle. Ford, which damaged the Mustang brand by putting the legendary badge on a bog ordinary SUV, responded by lowering the price of its Mach-E variant, only for Tesla to offer further discounts on its Model S and Model X cars in March.

This week the Blue Oval has sharpened its razor again, taking between $6,000 and $10,000 off each model in its F150 pick-up truck range. They claim that these cuts are nothing to do with lack of sales and are the result of reduced battery costs and increased scale of production. The market didn’t take quite such an opportunistic view, knocking 5% of Ford’s share price, 4% off Rivian and 3% off General Motors.

The Germans and the Americans are also facing tougher competition from the heavily subsidised output of the People’s Republic. Sadly, the formerly classic sportscar brand of MG no longer has anything to do with Morris Garages. It now adorns a Chinese EV that is so bland it makes the Mustang look like it was styled by Bertone. Between them, brands like MG, Polestar (the electric arm of what used to be Volvo) and Nio now account for 7% of the German EV market but are on a rapidly upward trajectory.

The impact of this competition goes deeper than the P&L of the established players – the assembly process for electric cars is less labour intensive than their internal combustion engine siblings and many automotive jobs are leaving Germany for the Far East. It goes against the recent trend of reshoring and feels like another hostage to fortune to rival the dependency on Russian gas.  Subsidies aside, it costs 40% more to make an electric car in Europe than in China. Politicians are looking at how to rebalance the equation but are nervous of a tit-for-tat response from Beijing that could threaten one of the world’s biggest luxury car markets.

Germany has long been the economic powerhouse of the EU, and car manufacturing has been the foundation of that wealth. It cannot be taken as a given that they can maintain their market dominance as the world continues its inexorable shift to alternative energy sources.

I’ve made no secret of my challenge to the EV GroupThink on several grounds. First, it strikes me as the ultimate NIMBYism to drive an electric car with no knowledge of how the energy is being generated that you are pumping into your pride and joy. Second, it’s clear that we have neither the power generation infrastructure nor the charging infrastructure to support mass migration to EVs. If we all buy Teslas tomorrow the lights will go out at the weekend.  Welcome to Johannesburg-on-Thames. High profile owners like Nadine Dories and Giles Coren have returned their EVs to the dealer after tiring of range anxiety.

Third, there are serious shortages of the materials like lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese needed to construct the batteries that power EVs. In Europe alone, we would need 200 times the quantity of these materials if we all switched to electric cars. Mines for these rare minerals take a decade to develop and many are now under the control of China. While the West had waged unwinnable wars for the last twenty years, China has been quietly trading infrastructure investment for secure supplies of raw materials across the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Did you know that China is building airports, motorways and railways in Iraq in return for oil?

Fourth, the batteries in EVs are so heavy that the average weight of these cars is much higher than their petrol engine equivalents. Look at some of the latest offerings from Porsche and BMW – they are enormous two-ton monster trucks that need huge batteries to move their morbidly obese bulk. This is causing concern about collapsing multi-storey car parks as well as higher wear and tear on our already pot-hole ridden road systems. Inevitably, this is causing think tanks to suggest that cars should in future be taxed on weight rather than engine size or emissions.

Fifth, and I’ll leave it as five objections before I run out of paper, there’s a real risk of spontaneous combustion that is a huge risk to life and limb. These battery systems run very hot and the cooling systems are marginal. I recently invited one of our investment partners to join me at a prestigious event at the London Stock Exchange. The night before the event he advised me that he could no longer make it. Had the budgie fallen in his porridge? Was he washing his hair? No, his daughter’s electric car had caught fire on the drive, the fire jumping across to the front of his house and setting it alight. Massive damage to the house including his study, his laptop and his files.

The fire brigade struggle to extinguish these kind of fires and told him that they advise people not to touch EVs with a barge pole because of the fire risk. Not something you hear about much in the mainstream media because, of course, it doesn’t fit the Net Zero propaganda. Kudos then to Toyota for being the first major manufacturer to challenge the GroupThink and take a serious look at an alternative power source – hydrogen. They debuted the first produced hydrogen car back in 2014 and have recently released the second generation Mirai.

Hydrogen is all around us – it makes up 70% of the universe. When you use it in a car engine the only emissions are good old H2o.  They are using the hydrogen technology in fork lift trucks, lorries, buses and ships. They are even building a residential community at the foot of Mount Fuji entirely powered by Hydrogen. There are many experts in the motor industry who feel that hydrogen is a better way forward than electric vehicles but so far they are losing out to the politically lead EV faction. At the very birth of the horseless carriage, manufacturers came up with electric vehicles and steam engines. The internal combustion engine driven by oil eventually won out because of the energy density and low cost of petrol. As we head into the second century of mass transport we surely need a more informed debate about what is achievable at scale and I remain far from convinced that the race to EVs is the right decision.

I will therefore be funding a new activist organization and have already placed a bulk order for orange paint and orange confetti. Watch out for Just Stop Teslas coming to a high profile event near you.

P.S. If you think free speech is important you might like to watch this short video from the director of Big Brother Watch