Friday, February 11, 2011

Electric Cars?


I'm all for new tech and gadgets and toys and all that - probably more than I should be - but this drive for electric cars has me puzzled.

What we have is "a fledgling industry" that needs help to get its products out to the buying public.  Once the benefits of this new tech is out there for all to see, there won't be a need for tax breaks or government co-pays and the like.  At least that's what I heard an analyst tell us the other morning on the radio.
   I guess it's just like when CDs came out to replace LPs.  We all got rebates on the players and disks to help move the transition along ... oh, wait, that's not what happened.  We all got to pay for these things ourselves.
   OK, it must be more like when TV was coming out to (at least partially) supplant radio.  The government paid folks to get TVs in their houses so they could all watch MIlton Berle or whatever ... nope.  It didn't happen that way that time either.

What we really have is an industry making a product that doesn't really meet consumers' needs, and isn't really affordable.  No wonder it needs help to sell. 
   Granted, the environmental benefits of moving the emissions from the tailpipe to the smokestack somewhere else may well be worth something - at least until we have to dispose of the toxic waste in the battery packs.
   Still, who wouldn't want to pay that extra $10,000 or so for a car that can't handle the typical Detroit commute if it's cold out?  (Try running the lights and heater the whole way on your batteries in the cold - batteries really don't like constant drains or low temperatures.) 
   On a good day, I might just make it back home from work, but then I'd have to stay there until it's time to go to work again while the car was plugged in to recharge the batteries, so it's clearly not a reasonable option as the sole car for anyone.

As an extra car, it has some appeal.  It might be fine for shopping at a local store.  It might be fine for quick local trips.  It might.
However, I certainly wouldn't count on it to get me somewhere important when it takes four times as long to charge as the time it will drive.
Let's see, I can spend about four minutes filling my tank and drive 400 miles, or I can spend four hours charging my batteries (on a 220 custom charger) to drive 40 to 100 miles.

Doesn't make sense yet.  Maybe some day, but not yet.

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