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A Timely Look At The Electric Car

With gas prices at or approaching all time highs, Stephen Bainbridge takes an extremely timely look at the history of the electric car. This one includes a good lesson on economics.


Comments (44)

There is also one little it... (Below threshold)
hermie:

There is also one little item that electric car advocates never touch on....What is the source of the electricity which these 'green' cars use?

Why, all those non-'green' coal/oil/gas generating facilities. (Let's not mention nuclear power plants yet, since the environmentalists have declared them all but dead.)

Gee...If you are already experiencing 'rolling blackouts' because there isn't enough generating capacity, how are you going to be able to recharge your electric car so you can go to the latest Greenpeace rally?

Here is what you need. A c... (Below threshold)
George:

Here is what you need. A car that gets 157 MPG.

From the article:<... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

From the article:

GM didn’t want to build the EV1, but did so to comply with the California Air Resources Board’s mandate that car companies doing business in the Golden State had to produce a zero-emissions vehicle.

GM was the company that attempted to comply with this regulation. And what they got for being the only one to attempt to comply, accusation of not being serious about electric vehicles or even trying to kill them. GM has recieved more negative press the beneficial press. I guess the great liberal activist variation of a carrot and a stick is to use a stick and a stick.

The negative experience plus the resource loss to that program delayed GM's entry into hybrid vehicles.

If my Denali hits that Lore... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

If my Denali hits that Loremo at even a slow speed, the "less than 1000 pound" Loremo will crumple down like an aluminum can!

I will gladly protect myself with a 4500 pound car, and consider the high gas price a "luxury tax" for being safe.

(I believe WSJ had an article about auto safety and the only consistent finding for "safe" vehicles was a curb weight greater than 4500 pounds.)

The electric car is nothing... (Below threshold)
krazy kagu:

The electric car is nothing new after all they came out witha electric car as far back as around before the 1920s and then there was a water power car the STANLEY STEAMER and when will they devepole the solor powerd car?

In fact, some of us wealthy... (Below threshold)
moseby:

In fact, some of us wealthy folks have enough "Eff The Environment" money to run our diesel trucks as much as we want. In fact, I like to rev the engine and send up huge plumes of black exhaust. In fact, I often see birds fly thru these plumes, fall out of the sky and splat in my driveway. In fact, as I rev the diesel I can feel the earth heating up.

The plug-in hybrid seem to ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The plug-in hybrid seem to be one of the best doable technologies available, particularly with a large competent manufacturer like Toyota behind it. Such vehicles may not meet the needs of one car families, but there are many two or more vehicle families where such vehicles will find a market. A plug-in hybrid is not just another high mileage vehicle, but one that can get you around town without using any gasoline. You simply plug it in at night and you can then drive to work and back using no gasoline just like an electric car, yet if you need to drive further, it uses gasoline to give you an indefinite range, just like a conventional car. The ability to separate mobility from a ready supply of gasoline is very attractive to many folks, some of whom remember the long gas lines of the mid 70’s.

Yes, the amount of energy used and the amount of pollution generator may not be substantially less than that of other high mileage vehicles, but electricity can be generated from fuels like coal, heavy oil, and natural gas (not the same as LP), which can’t be used to run vehicles. However, the “green” benefit of this technology would be realized by building more nuclear, solar and wind generation capacity. Nuclear and renewable power sources have the added benefit of reducing our need for foreigner oil. It seems anyone who is for a better natural, political, or economic environment would be for plug-in hybrids. The real question is, will they buy them?

They engineered and markete... (Below threshold)

They engineered and marketed the car wrong, in my opinion. The EV-1 was designed to be a "normal" small car, capable of 100 mph I believe and all sorts of other stats.

They missed the market. What if they made a simple, sturdy electric car that can't go above 50 mph or so? Call it the "little old lady" car. Little old ladies only need to go to the store and the doctor and back. They don't need to get on freeways, and they don't need range over 50 or 100 miles if they plug it in at the end of the day, every day. (That's another dumb thing; the EV-1 had a special charger.) And they'd love the low-maintenance aspects (no oil changes, no shady mechanics trying to sell you unneeded $1000 repairs).

My mom remembers back in the late 1960s an old lady driving around town in a 1910-era Edison or Detroit Electric car. It worked just fine for the lady; it did what she needed for little fuss.

The market would expand slightly if you include older retirees of all stripes. Rent a car for your once-a-year trip, and putter around town in a no-maintenace car the rest of the time.

Imhotep,(... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Imhotep,

(I believe WSJ had an article about auto safety and the only consistent finding for "safe" vehicles was a curb weight greater than 4500 pounds.)

Weight has little to do with real world safety. Sure, if you hit a much smaller vehicle, weight can be important, but unless you’re driving a fully loaded cement truck (80,000 pounds), you can’t be sure the vehicle you may hit will weigh less. Your 4500 pound car won’t do any better than a 2000 pound car when hitting a tree, bridge abutment or rolling over. In fact, a smaller more agile car may be able to avoid such accidents entirely. One of the most common accidents that causes serious injury is the intersection T-bone. Testing shows that side curtain airbags are much more important than a car’s weight (not talking about large trucks of 24,000 pound plus weight) in preventing injury.

Something like 70% of the c... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Something like 70% of the cars in the U.K. are efficient diesels including Ford and GM vehicles not sold in the U.S. because nobody wants them.

Hybrid is very good engineering but after 5+ years that large bank of batteries will need replacing and disposal. Not a good long-term consumer forecast for this technology.

Problem: Only higher fuel prices will motivate U.S. consumers to buy efficient vehicles. New higher quality diesel just now hitting the pumps in U.S. will allow higher compression ratio = more efficient mpg like in European models. It's just a question of when will the fuel prices hit $7 per gallon before we in America will be clamoring for the Loremo (technology on the mark).

By the way, Imhotep, when you roll that Denali with its stupidly high center of gravity, the window post will collapse and you'll be crushed. More deaths in big SUVs owing to rollovers with under engineered roof columns (to save on steel costs) than other common accidents. Small cars can be much safer and stronger. Watch NASCAR crash of heavier Cup cars at 200 mph versus lighter Busch cars and you may start to understand the physics lesson .... before it hits you in the head.

The whole direction of this... (Below threshold)
Dave Atkins:

The whole direction of this comment thread has been about owning a 4000 lbs vechicle and driving around in the concrete jungle like a neanderthal.

Maybe the government should give tax subsidies for Hummers ! What happened to promoting an attitude of being a considerate driver ?

I have always thought that seat belts promoted a negative effect from the standpoint of "making people feel safer" encouraged poor and aggressive driving habits. If we were all propelling ourselves around in 1100 lbs "thin walled" aluminum cans we might all drive safer and we would save energy

Something like 70%... (Below threshold)
Something like 70% of the cars in the U.K. are efficient diesels including Ford and GM vehicles not sold in the U.S. because nobody wants them.
It isn't that. American air pollution regulations are the strictest in the world. Many Euro models don't measure up.
I have always thou... (Below threshold)
I have always thought that seat belts promoted a negative effect from the standpoint of "making people feel safer" encouraged poor and aggressive driving habits.

That same unfortunate effect has occurred in some people with antilock brakes. But your thrust is wrong. There will always be bad drivers and VERY large vehicles on the road. Safer cars protects us from those hazards as well as garden-variety car-car collisions.

D-C is planning to put a 70... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

D-C is planning to put a 70mph diesel coupe on the market for '08, here in the states.
I've yet to see word on the cost, or the performance, only that it is highly effiecient and aerodynamic (looks like a box fish).

JohnAnnArbor,It... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

JohnAnnArbor,

It isn't that. American air pollution regulations are the strictest in the world. Many Euro models don't measure up.

But the Big Three don't pay attention to emission laws that gov't would be loathe to enforce to bolster Asian competitors who do follow these standards and gobbling market share. These are facts for the past 5+ years.

Moreover, because of the higher quality diesel just now available in the U.S., super efficient and clean deisels could easily meet standards here: See VW.

Hybrids, by the way, have a negative profit margin as sold in the U.S. by Toyota and, if common, would produce mountains of hazardous batteries. Battery technology is not happening. Although brilliant technology, the hybrid is only a interim solution to a more efficient combustion engine.

I don't beleive it! A real... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

I don't beleive it! A really good discussion about a serious topic without any name calling. What in the world is happening to WizBang. BTW, Mac Lorry, you made some excellent points.

Ford, by the way, has a spe... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Ford, by the way, has a special deal with the EPA -the details being worked out in John's own backyard - for a U.S. diesel car to crush Toyota big push for hybrids.

Sorry, USMC Pilot, but I reserve my slurs for Lee now.

But the Big Three ... (Below threshold)
But the Big Three don't pay attention to emission laws that gov't would be loathe to enforce to bolster Asian competitors who do follow these standards and gobbling market share. These are facts for the past 5+ years.

I've seen no evidence of THAT. Each car model must pass the EPA battery of tests--and California's tougher tests, too. There-s no way around the tests. Clean diesel is on the way (we keep hearing) but present ones put out lots of particulates, which Europe doesn't care about as much as the USA for whatever reasons.

I recently checked into ele... (Below threshold)
Tazan:

I recently checked into electric/battery cars. The numbers don't add up. Sure the cost of the electricity is only 2-3 cents per mile. But the cost of a lead acid battery pack is around 10 cents a mile putting it way higher than gas at $3.00/gallon. Nicad and lithium last much longer than lead acid but are an order of magnitude more expensive as well. Not to mention the idea of having a $15,000 wear item with a variable life span in my car would scare me silly.

So not only is it not cheaper than gas, it would have to be much cheaper than gas to pay for the extra costs and extra hassles.

With all the drawbacks of batteries I'm not sure why they're even wasting money researching them. Unless they can get the cost of nicads or lithiums down to less than that of lead acid, it seems to me even compressed air storage has more possibilities than batteries.

Red Fog:Lee feeds ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilotb:

Red Fog:

Lee feeds on your slurrs. I recommend you ignore him/her, and it will go away like a naughty child.

We might not be hearing fro... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

We might not be hearing from Lee for awhile. I heard he's pretty busy doing fact-checking and photography for Reuters...a perfect fit.

JohnAnnArbor,Clean d... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

JohnAnnArbor,
Clean diesel is here. As for "no evidence" of Big Three not following emission standards, read up on the history of CAFE and how we wound up with large trucks and SUVs everywhere.

USMC Pilot, I think I'll take you up on that recommendation to ignore Lee. Just had to vent somewhere last week.

I was speaking to someone y... (Below threshold)
Emma:

I was speaking to someone yesterday, and they said it's pretty cheap and not that difficult (if you know what you are doing) to change your car to run on vegetable oil instead of petrol...is this a better idea than electricity in the long run? I was just wondering...

Forget electric cars. Energ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

Forget electric cars. Energy is energy, and you can't get a free ride. In the long run the electric car will cost you more than your gasoline one. Weight is a big factor in mileage, and hauling all of those heavy batteries around requires a lot of energy. Not to mention the cost of replacing them, which will be more often than publizised.

The reason your starting battery lasts so long, is that it stayes full. Once you start depleating lead acid batteries on a routine basis, their life span drops dramatically. The batteries which are designed to be deep cycled are two to three time the cost of a starting battery.

BTW, I have an electric car. It's called a golf cart, and it is a royal pain in the rear to maintain.

Isn't there also an environ... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Isn't there also an environmental issue with being able to safely dispose of the batteries, which will eventually need to be replaced?

Emma,it's pretty ... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Emma,
it's pretty cheap and not that difficult (if you know what you are doing) to change your car to run on vegetable oil instead of petrol...is this a better idea than electricity in the long run?

You may be referring to biodiesel which is a good alternative for diesel technology. It's based most commonly on soy or algae. There's SVO and WVO from vegetable oil. None are produced in high enough capacity to replace fossil fuels.

Then there's ethanol used as an additive to gas. Ethanol = corn and the U.S. produces a lot of corn. Thus, there is a strong lobby on Capital Hill to get legislation supporting the use of ethanol.

All bio fuels have superior emissions qualities to pure fossil fuels. Cost is relative to who controls the resource. WVO from your fryer will be free until everybody asks for it and Ronald McDonald stops throwing it away.

I've used WVO with a diesel VW truck and is works great. If you're considering fast food fryer oil (WVO), be aware that bears are attracted to the exhaust and have been known to destroy cars for their aroma.

read up on the his... (Below threshold)
read up on the history of CAFE and how we wound up with large trucks and SUVs everywhere.

We're the only major nation with fuel economy standards at all, I believe.

But regulations always create weasel behavior. Once they defined light trucks to have a lower fuel economy than cars, it was inevitable that the definition of "truck" would be stretched dramatically. Add on top of that the inevitable decline in safety as car weights declined to meet CAFE standards, and it's no wonder people (that damned market again!) chose minivans and SUVs.

Red Fog,There's al... (Below threshold)

Red Fog,

There's also the possibility of fuel from trash. Cool technology if they can scale it up.

Funny, but I was having thi... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Funny, but I was having this same electric car debate last night with a friend who had seen the movie (I have not). My argument was that, while it's true EVs do reduce CO2 emissions, they do not necessarily save energy or the environment.

Hermie astutely points out that if we're experiencing blackouts now because there isn't enough generating capacity, imagine how taxed the capacity would become if we were to all of a sudden (and 'sudden' I mean a decade or two) to switch to EVs! Think of the environmental impact of increasing our already known energy-producing technologies:

1.) Dams. Lots of 'em. More rivers would have to be dammed in order to increase capacity, changing the breeding grounds and migration patterns of fish like salmon–quite possibly wiping out species from particular regions.

Permits to dam in the US? Gooooooood luck with getting those approved...

2.) Nuclear power. Sure, and how many of those are we going to have to build in each state or region? Currently, there are 441 on-line reactors in 31 different countries and provide just 17% of the world's power. (Source: Wikipedia). I can't imagine how many more would have to built in order to meet capacity, but I'd start at doubling the figure of 441—with a considerable chunk of those in USA.

Now, let's see a show of hands of who wants to have one of these in their backyard. That's what I thought.

I can't even tell when the last time a reactor was approved, built and go on-line in the USA. Again, goooood luck getitng those permits. And don't even think of building any where close to an earthquake fault in California.

Not to mention, where's all the waste go?

3.) Wind power. Great. Love the idea. Clean, cheap, free. Our European friends love it so much so that accounts for 23% of electricity use in Denmark, 4.3% in Germany and around 8% in Spain (source: Wikipedia). But wait a tick. Does everyone recall that the wind turbines a little problem of killing off some of our favorite predatory birds. Just 4000 windmills in Altamont Pass, CA are "chopping up tens of thousands of birds". And how many more Altamont Passes would have to build to meet demand? God only knows, but I guess in the millions somewhere, maybe less, maybe more. And that's a lot of dead predatory birds. No predatory birds=means a huge explosion of field critters, like disease-carrying mice, just to name one.

4.) Electromagnetic fields. There's more than a few folks who raise concerns over health effects of the electromagnetic fields created by existing high-tension wires. Imagine millions/billions of EVs were running around, humming with electricty like they do. I'm not a scientist, and granted an EVs electrical output is not nearly that of a high-tension wire, and not that we're not around electrical fields almost every minute of the day, but adding billions of EVs running around to that existing field can't be all that good, either.

And when the batteries run out, how do we dispose of them safely? In the same place as the nuclear waste?

None of these would please environmentalists at all.

So, while it's true EVs reduce CO2 emissions and do not contribute to global warming, they would certainly tax our environment in ways that simply have not been presented to the public.

Electrics originally compet... (Below threshold)

Electrics originally competed directly with internal combustion engines in the early 1900s.

They were quite popular then, because they were more dependable and quieter than the ICE. Their range has always been the limiting factor as well as the difficulty of recharging.

No one has ever been able to solve the limiting factors.

Maybe if we put Ed Asner on the case, he might be able to come up with a breakthrough. He is so knowledgeable about so many things, after all;>)

Red Fog:Question o... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Red Fog:

Question on ethanol: Isn't there some sort of US government ban/blockade of ethanol from Brazil that, if lifted, would make ethanol more available and thus a more viable fuel option here in the US? I thought I heard about this somewhere recently, but darned if I can remember where and in what context....

Love the bear story! I'd never go to woods...again!

Peter F:Actually, ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

Peter F:

Actually, most of the electricity for recharging the batteries would come from coal fired generating plants, which produce tons of CO2. Like I said forget EVs.

So much inaccurate info, so... (Below threshold)
mantis:

So much inaccurate info, so little time.

Why, all those non-'green' coal/oil/gas generating facilities. (Let's not mention nuclear power plants yet, since the environmentalists have declared them all but dead.)

A lot of environmentalists are are warming up to nuclear power. Not to mention that the first new nuclear plant in 30 years has just been approved. And don't forget solar and wind.

Hybrid is very good engineering but after 5+ years that large bank of batteries will need replacing and disposal. Not a good long-term consumer forecast for this technology.

Recent test by Toyota have shown no battery degredation after 150,000 miles. Even if what you said was true, and batteries needed replacing after 5 years, at current prices and technology that would run you about $2500. Consider how much you would spend on gas, oil changes, and other maintenance on an ICE car in that time.

Hybrids, by the way, have a negative profit margin as sold in the U.S. by Toyota and, if common, would produce mountains of hazardous batteries. Battery technology is not happening. Although brilliant technology, the hybrid is only a interim solution to a more efficient combustion engine.

First of all, battery technology is happening, or rather advancing. What makes you think it isn't I have no idea. Second, traditional car batteries are recycled very successfully; there's no reason to believe such programs can't work for EV batteries (plus the dangers of battery disposal pale in comparison to the hazardous nature of fossil fuel production). Third, a more efficient combustion engine, while good, will not be able to outpace the battery technology advances (read up on the new lithium ion batteries). As far as profit from hybrids, the innovators like Toyota are paving the way, and expect to turn profits on these cars within 2 years.

I do like the clean diesel proposals, but they will have a hard time competing with electrics with the current fuel market.

Forget electric cars. Energy is energy, and you can't get a free ride. In the long run the electric car will cost you more than your gasoline one. Weight is a big factor in mileage, and hauling all of those heavy batteries around requires a lot of energy. Not to mention the cost of replacing them, which will be more often than publizised.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The batteries keep getting lighter, and the weight is balanced because you no longer have an ICE in the car. The cost of replacing them is not that much, and is certainly less than the cost of gas and maintenance on an ICE car, plus the will not need replacement more often than publicized, but less, as the technology keeps getting better.

Wrong. The EU has standards, though not quite as strict as ours yet, South Korea and Japan have tough standards as well.

I just recently pulled the engine and converted to fully electric in my VW. Our other car runs on gas, and we can use it to go on longer trips and use mine for in-town driving. Let me tell you, I chuckle when I drive silently past the gas stations with $3.30/gallon prices.

A promising zero emission s... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

A promising zero emission solution is natural gas and the argument that the resource is there is strong. However, as Honda has discovered, convincing each and every fire marshal in each and every municipality in the U.S. to allow homeowners to use a connector on the side of their house without mishap and fill their compressed car tanks is a very tough job. Scratch that idea. Next.

GM is going to push ethanol. Next.

Fuel from trash like animal bio is regenerative like plant fuel. Thanks John. But no good way to ramp-up any of these technologies without weening U.S. consumer off fossil fuels through higher gas prices. Higher efficiency diesels are successful in Europe and UK owing to high cost of fossil fuels there. Biodiesels work with regular fossil diesel engines. Hmmm. Eurpean car makers already have great diesel car products. Hmmm. Ford is going to push diesel. Hmmm.

mantis,I'm with you ... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

mantis,
I'm with you on batteries if the technology proves sound. Always promising stories that never materialize.

Peter F.
Story ran in the WSJ. Corn or soy production way up in third world to take market share of the new fuel with U.S. lobby setting up embargos. Something like that.

Recent test by Toyota ha... (Below threshold)
Mvargus:

Recent test by Toyota have shown no battery degredation after 150,000 miles. Even if what you said was true, and batteries needed replacing after 5 years, at current prices and technology that would run you about $2500. Consider how much you would spend on gas, oil changes, and other maintenance on an ICE car in that time.

Mantis,

that's wonderful that they got a battery to last 150K miles. How did they do it though? I won't claim to be an expert, but I've deal with rechargable batteries quite a bit, and they just don't last long. its not a function of the amount of power they put out. Its a function of time and decay. All rechargable batteries are using a reversible process to produce the electricity. When power is drained a chemical reaction is taking place within the battery. Adding power back will reverse the process. however, over time even the most perfectly sealed battery will stop recovering when you add power back in. the process reaches a permanent state where you can no longer recharge the batteries, and with most lead/acid, nickel/cadmium, and nickel/lithium batteries that life is 3-5 years. During that time you could drain the battery completely 200, 2000 or even 20000 times and not notice a "degradation", but eventually the batter will go bad, no matter how carefully you cycle it. that is the biggest problem with EV and Hybrid vehicles. Those that push these vehicles aren't considering the fact that technology hasn't been able to overcome real life chemistry and physics and that batteries will die.

Mvargus,I understa... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mvargus,

I understand how rechargable batteries work. But consider that Toyota guarantees their hybrid batteries for the Prius at 100,000 miles or 8 years, and estimate that they will actually last 15 years, and that the Prius has been on the market for six years now without any significant battery lifespan issues.

Consider the recent 100,000 mile testing (pdf) of the RAV4 EVs (not hybrids), which have shown little degradation to their NiMH batteries, which will soon be replaced by the more efficient lithium ion batteries.

Since the hybrids and EVs are relatively young, we cannot say with complete certainty how long these batteries will last in terms of years, but the mileage tests are very promising and do not support your contentions at all. It is interesting that you say the technology isn't able to overcome "real life chemistry and physics", as if these batteries aren't being used in "real life". Of course batteries die, but they're being made a whole lot better than you think.

The reason hybrid batteries... (Below threshold)
tazan:

The reason hybrid batteries are lasting much longer than electric car batteries is simple. They don't deep cycle them like you would have to for an electric car. The gasoline engine keeps topping them off. You can't compare hybrid battery life to car battery life.

Fuel from trash li... (Below threshold)
Fuel from trash like animal bio is regenerative like plant fuel. Thanks John. But no good way to ramp-up any of these technologies without weening U.S. consumer off fossil fuels through higher gas prices.

At least a partial answer: all fuel that comes from non-petroleum sources (trash, vegetable oil, whatever) should be completely untaxed: no sales taxes, no fuel taxes, no nothing.

JohnAnnArbor,all ... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

JohnAnnArbor,
all fuel that comes from non-petroleum sources (trash, vegetable oil, whatever) should be completely untaxed: no sales taxes, no fuel taxes, no nothing

Big Three and Big Oil will not allow it. Lobbies are too strong to allow a guy with a sound trash-into-fuel idea get big tax subsidy to then usurp the Big Boys' core businesses. That's why the hybrid is really brilliant: It retains the combustion engine but introduces electric into mass production without eliminating those Big Boys and their political hacks. Honda and Toyota, the hybrid pioneers, are exceedingly savy with U.S. political strategy. This is just one example. Read Jathon Sapsford, the WSJ's guy in Tokyo, for more insight.

John F.,
You forgot tidal power. At considerable cost, England ran a conduit out into the ocean and is waiting for someone to tap it. Massive potential.

Peter F. You are also forge... (Below threshold)
Darby:

Peter F. You are also forgetting Power Sats.

We have the technology today to solve the worlds energy crisis. Just no one wants to fork over the billion dollars it'll take to get it up and running.

Not to mention the political climate which would totally resist that kind of change... I.E. The Fair Tax Bill, another thing that will never go into effect, even though it would be better than what we have now... Sorry to go O.T. like that, but I was trying to prove a parallel point.

The whole argument about bi... (Below threshold)
David Atkins:

The whole argument about biodiesel and ethanol is useless IMHO. As several people have argued you have to make (refine) the stuff ! Ethanol, gallon for gallon, is less efficient than gasoline. I can't see us all driving around to fast food restaurants and bumming their used grease to make veggie oil fuel. I know my neighbors would love for me to construct a few windmills on my property when they don't even allow big dishes for tv.

Now solar is another story. I can see charging a vehicle with solar if the cost, efficiency, and fragility could be addressed.

I also think that "envelope houses" passive heat could help but the number of people that could afford and particpate is limited. Let's face it limiting population growth would be the effective solution.

Tazan is on track. Necessi... (Below threshold)
David Atkins:

Tazan is on track. Necessity is the mother of invention. If gas goes to $5.00 a gallon somebody will start inventing.

I am a fiscal conservative of the nth level and in the last few months I have gotten to the point that the argument of popping federal gas taxes by a dollar more per gallon makes sense in some ways if the money is used in a sensible way.

Hi everybody. I came across... (Below threshold)

Hi everybody. I came across this thread, and thought you might want to hear from someone who actually drives an EV.

I bought a used one and fixed it up. Total cost, $6000. Old technology, so my range is limited. But the batteries are cheap. About $800 for the pack, and with care, they can last me nearly 8 years. That amount is about what my other vehicle costs just for oil changes. (4 X $25 for 8 years.)

My electric utility has a special 'EV rate' of 2.5 cents per KWH. I get about 4 miles per KWH, so my 1300 miles of monthly driving only costs me $8. Yes, EIGHT dollars. In my other 18 mpg car, that would cost me $224 for the gasoline.

Picture of my car here:

http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/775

Look around that site, you'll see other used EVs for sale.

Another issue brought up here is the pollution produced by EVs. Gas engines are only 25% efficient, and between idling and speed changes, efficiency often drops as low as 10%. Electric motors are 95% efficient, and have a wide powerband that puts all that energy on the road.

Batteries are 88% efficient, the power grid is 95% efficient, and coal-burning powerplants are 40% efficient. (And only half of our electricity comes from coal.) Multiply the numbers, and you see that EVs are much more efficient than ICE cars, therefore much less pollution per mile.




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