If you have found your way here, you are half-way to energy efficient personal transportation. Give yourself a big eco-ego pat on the back.
Five things you should remember about electric cars:
- Efficiency - Electric vehicles (EVs) cannot carry as much energy as a fuel tank full of gas. For example the tzero has a very large capacity battery pack for an EV at 52 kwh, yet the Honda Insight's small 10 gallon gas tank is equal to well over 300 kwh. Thus EV's must be extremely efficient in order to make the best use of their limited fuel. This is why EVs commonly have a range of about 40 miles or so on just 10 kwh of energy.
- Industry Denial - Cars and trucks, and the oil industry which drives them, are this planet's single largest environmental problem, and there is pretty much a state of denial, even from environmentalists. Just look at the number of electric cars in the E.P.A. parking lot, or at Greenpeace, or the Sierra Club: Next to none!
- Availability - Electric cars are available for anyone with the vision or desire to own one. Good used ones range in price from $2,900. New conversions from $8,900, plus a donor car. Remember, to convert a gas car to electric, is the highest form of recycling.
- Environmental Impact - Even if all our power came from coal and oil, (and it does not), because EVs are three times more efficient per dollar, we would have a net gain in air quality.
- Investing in Future - An electric car bought today, will only get better over time. WIthin the next 3 years, batteries will be available which will double and triple your per-charge-range.
40 MILES A DAY
From a psychological standpoint, the largest deterrent to wide spread electric car popularity is this ever present question of RANGE on a CHARGE. Today's electric cars, the affordable ones, not the dream machines from Detroit, can easily guarantee their owners a good solid 40 miles of range. These same cars can do 80 to 100 miles under the most ideal conditions of level road, warm day, steady 30 to 40 m.p.h. Now 40 miles may not sound like a lot, but in Seattle, and King County, the average daily miles traveled (average ..that is HALF OF ALL the cars) is probably less than 28 miles, and even in Los Angeles, it has been computed to be 38 miles a day. So if literally, half the planet earth is never driving over 40 miles a day, why can't half the planet be driving efficient, quiet, Pollution reducing electric cars ?? Go figure ?? As I said, it is a Psychological barrier.
Largest Environmental Problem
Far and away, the private automobile, and its INFRASTRUCTURE, is the single largest Pollution, and environmental problem source on planet Earth. Think about it. From oil exploration, to drilling, to refining, to transport, oil spills, world politics and yes, even WAR. It's the WORST. If we were to set down today and dream up the internal combustion engine, cars, gas stations, etc. Etc. The world would revolt at the thought. And yet here we are. More oil leaks from crank cases of cars and trucks just on the road, and while parking than all the EXXON Valdese accidents annually. There are alternatives, if we have the courage to face up to our own selfishness. There is car pooling, public transportation, bicycles, telecommunications, and yes ELECTRIC CARS. It is also true that it can not be denied, that Geo-Politics is being driven by this countries "Thrust for Oil" and the control of it. Let us all hope and pray that reason will win out over greed.
Cars are Available
The talent, know-how, ingenuity, and willingness of a new and brave class of entrepreneur, stands ready to supply electric cars, in what ever shape, and what ever quantity the public would demand. And of course, Detroit, Tokyo, and Berlin would follow. How to make very affordable, and desirable electric cars exists. It is customers we need to increase sales, drive up production, and drive down cost. This is why the Clean Air Initiatives of California, New York, and Massachusetts states are so important. They are mandating that a small 2% of new car sales BE ELECTRIC starting in 1998. This is a guaranteed market, and have already brought costs down, and new technology UP. Too bad the Oil and Car lobbyists BROUGHT DOWN the California law, and put it off to a 10% mandate come 2003 !! A partial list where YOU can find an EV to buy, in your area, can be found under EVs FOR SALE, PARTS FOR SALE, OR EV INFO WANTED. Recently since 2000, hybrids built by Honda and Toyota have made good inroads into our transportation mix. Seattle and the Puget Sound area is said to be the 3rd highest urban area, second only to the Bay Area, and L.A. in Hybrid Car Registrations.
Three times more Efficient
Even in a modern fuel injected, computer driven automobile, for every dollar of fuel we purchase, 85 cents goes up in smoke and heat. That's RIGHT! We only get 15 cents on the dollar at the driving wheels. On the other hand, because of the efficiency of an electric motor, we receive about 55 cents of every charging dollar at the wheels. There are some losses in transmission of power, battery charging, etc. Because of this 3 fold advantage, electric cars make sense. Purpose built electric cars, like the cars which may come from the large auto makers later in this decade, will be even more efficient.
Next 3 Years
I want to give you a little peek over the horizon. In no way should this deter the millions and millions of motorists, who could drive electric cars for the last 10 years from buying one today. A gas car, once taken from the show room starts to deteriorate and literally wear out from the inside out, due to friction and heat, and constant up and down, in and out of the hundred of moving parts. On the other hand, a nice 2003 electric something, come 2005, or 2006 will get a new infusion of new tech. batteries, and the car will perform better than NEW. It will go farther, faster, and quicker, than originally advertised. One near term batteries to keep an eye on is the metal nickel hydride battery from Ovonic, of Troy Mich. The Ovonic Green battery is even twice as powerful as lead acid and uses less toxic materials. GM used them in their GM EV-1 Generation II.
Over the horizon just a bit further, there are lithium batteries , now being used and perfected in lap top computers and cell phones. It has been estimated that if the 800 so pounds of advanced metal nickel hydride batteries which can now power the GM EV-1 some 120 miles were to be replaced with lithium, that the range would triple to well over 300 !! .
The Big-7 auto makers are well under way developing Fuel Cell ELECTRIC Cars. The jury is still OUT on this path, compared to Battery Powered "Charge at Home" Electric Cars, for it is obvious to us, that IF Fuel Cell electric cars dominate, we will still be buying our "Fuel" from the likes of TEXACO, Shell, Standard Oil, BP and the like, al be it a cleaner more eco-friendly fuel. The overall efficiency is not quite as great as a pure battery powered car, but it IS twice or more efficient than internal (infernal) combustion engines. Sound like science fiction? Guess again, in Vancouver BC there are buses running daily, just as described, right now as you read this.