Sturdy, silent, safe and emission free. This variety of transportation lingers above my generation in the 'spectral promise' of future greatness such as the 'flying car' or
pack'. Seemingly attainable yet just beyond reach.
But what has become of electric motoring? Decades have passed and still no electric ride. Sure we have golf carts and 'segways' and 'scooters' but nothing so rigorous as to venture onto the highways of America.
We know that GM fabricated some 100 vehicles ( the EV1 ) back in the 90's. Those vehicles were test driven and marketed in California and then abruptly recalled and
destroyed ( crushed ) despite good reviews. The EV1 was a very handsome vehicle and in many ways more attractive than some current offerings. Only one or two survived demolition but they were disabled and are now on display in museums.
Apparently the EV1 answered a mandate to meet State of California zero emissions standards. That legislation was reversed when the Bush administration joined the fray in 2006. Petroleum companies and parts manufacturers were put off by the low maintenance requirements of an electric vehicle and feared an industry wide decline. The final determination was that there was no market for an electric vehicle.
So what is the case for an electric vehicle today?
To my knowledge not one among us can pump fuel into their gasoline tank at home. We must visit a filling station that is licensed and taxed and inspected and approved for the safe handling of hazardous materials.
The same cannot be said for an electric car. We can connect our vehicle to an outlet at home and proceed to lounge on the sofa ( or over night ) as the batteries are recharged.
But how do fueling stations engage in price competition for the sale of a commodity that is widely available at home? Electricity prices per kilowatt hour are regulated by the regional public service commission.
That brings us to time requirements. My cell phone battery is only about 2 inches square and perhaps one quarter inch thick. None the less it takes every bit of 3 hours to do a complete charge. How much time is required to charge the contingent of batteries necessary to power a vehicle? A car weighs more than a
). Then you have to add bodies and all the personal gear and that makes a weightier ride. It will likely be a very long while before electric vehicles can accommodate commercial trucking.
Nearly everything on a vehicle is electric... windows, door locks, fans, audio / video, wipers, headlights, fuel and of course power steering pumps. All of that creates a great demand on battery capacity.
A fully charged vehicle has a range of 60 to 80 miles. I guess there won't be any lengthy road trips! Can you imagine pulling into a filling station only to be told that the next charging facility will be available in 2 hours knowing that it takes 3 hours to charge your vehicle? That would really knock the fun out of your
day! Although it does give rise to a variety of cottage industries and a great deal more opportunity to use our other battery powered devices.
some 'Whole Foods' locations do
offer recharging facilities for electric vehicles
in the parking area.
And that brings us to batteries. Certainly there is
room for improvement in every form of battery in current use. Perhaps it is
little known that even the vaunted Toyota Prius ( a hybrid ) sports a hefty compliment of
batteries. The batteries are warranted for
3 to 5 years
and then need to be replaced ( about $10,000 ). Chances are
we won't be seeing a proliferation of used Prius' in the marketplace.
Tesla Motors has
and is now marketing an electric roadster that is very impressive. They purport that recharge time is a mere
mins, and also that you can achieve a distance of some 300 miles depending upon your driving habits. The faster you drive the faster your battery life is depleted. The Tesla Model S ( starting at $53000 ) is so quiet that the vehicle is
equipped with external speakers to broadcast engine sounds.
There are many challenges to continued electric motoring success.