Electric Cars, a Case for the Combustion Engine

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I went into an office the other day and noticed a small car parked up front, rather stylish but the name caught my eye, “Volt.”

As an electronic gadget loving guy, not to mention one who designs circuits for one thing or another, I was rather intrigued. Walking around the other side of the car there was this device sticking out of the fender with a long thick cord attaching it to some sort of box with another cord extending from the box to the outlet outside the building.

I really don’t want to rain on the electric car parade but, I think that this technology is too immature for prime time.

When an electric car is fully charged you are going to get a maximum of 100 miles (maybe.) That most likely is predicated on perfect road condition, traffic etc. The radio, air conditioner, windshield wipers and stop and start traffic all play a role.

100 miles to empty in most peoples cars is like somewhere between a quarter and an eight of a tank of gas till empty. Put another way, the little gas light is either on, or about to come on.

Now think about this, you go to work 15 miles each way. You go to lunch maybe 5 miles to lunch and 5 miles back. So far this is good, only 25 miles used. Add to this the trip to the school or the store and then home again, you might make it happen. After work and back home now you have errands to run, but you can’t because the car has to re-charge.

Add to this that each and every night you have to get this cable out of the trunk, drag it across the driveway or what have you and plug everything in or guess what, the next day you will be calling a cab to get to work.

As these cars make more of an impact on society, office buildings and possibly stores will provide a place to hook up your car for a little boost while you are working or visiting the doctor or even shopping.

We are not there yet.

Propane powered cars never took off as there are few places to get propane. It was a natural for cities as they can house the filling station for their fleet. Propane now cost more that gasoline however; and most probably because it can be used for transportation instead of only heating and cooking. Those using propane that live in the country, know exactly how much that has changed in the last few years.

I would imagine that if and when someone makes an electric car that will go further than 100 miles, and they become more ensconced in our way of life, the price of electricity will skyrocket as well as there will be more demand it.

One other thing that the dealers don’t talk about regarding the electric car is the replacement cost of the batteries.

There is a huge difference between the batteries that goes into the Prius (Hybrid) vs. a pure electric car or EV. The Prius battery has been known to go 200000 miles. That is mainly because the Prius battery assist a gasoline engine and is charged every time the vehicle brakes.

Not only are the chemical differences something to be considered, but lets say you “kill” your batteries. That is known as a deep discharge and will in fact damage the battery over time.

Secondly let’s say your drive is only 50 miles a day. When you charge your car every night the batteries will in fact loose some of their ability to hold a charge and before long you may not be able to make it even the full 50 miles.

While GM and Nissan both offer a warrantee on them, they do consider that the batteries diminished capacity is not a warranted item.

You laptop battery uses the same technology. Does it last as long as it did on battery the day that you bought it?

The lithium ion battery which the EV uses, needs “lithium” which this country does not have in abundance. The interesting part if this equation is that Afghanistan is loaded with it. Chile also has large deposits as well as Bolivia. If this country as well as others start driving EV’s in any quantity guess what the cost of lithium will do, not to mention its availability.

Since this is earth week, are EV’s “green friendly?”

Pure Ev’s are charged from the grid. That means that the same power plant that burns coal to create electricity is now putting energy into your car. Since there are no tailpips to allow exhaust to get out and pollute the planet, remember that the “juice” in your batteries came at a carbon cost.

If I were really concerned about getting better mileage and not adding to the carbon foot print I would purchase a hybrid of some sort. No limits on miles, charges from the vehicle braking and can be charged from the grid.

If my mileage was incredibly predictable I might consider an EV at some point. The battery technology and the eventual disposal of them is still to new and since I don’t have thousands of dollars to piss away, I will stick with what I know.

If, and this is a big if, you could get an EV, charge it from your solar array or wind farm, you might have something. Alternate forms of energy producing things are way too expensive for the normal guy, not to mention take up lots of real estate.

It is a free country “still,” and your mileage may vary.

-Best to you and those that you care about.

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