Thursday, September 15, 2011
As I recently noted (and, to set aside the validity of the goal), electric cars are a such a ridiculous way to reduce the burning of fuel that even children could figure this out. But that little detail is hardly where the risibility of the idea ends. Adults who actually drive could, with some knowledge of how electric cars work vis-a-vis their own needs, easily anticipate any number of the other difficulties Louis Woodhill of Forbes discusses. My favorite is "range anxiety:"
On Wednesday, Jan. 26 a major snowstorm hit Washington D.C. Ten-mile homeward commutes took four hours. If there had been a million electric cars on American roads at the time, every single one of them in the DC area would have ended up stranded on the side of the road, dead. And, before they ran out of power, their drivers would have been forced to turn off the heat and the headlights in a desperate effort to eek out a few more miles of range.I guess "thought experiments" are okay if you intend to scare yourself silly about how your "emissions" are dooming "the planet," but they are taboo when considering the problems you need to solve in order to live your own life.
The short and highly variable range of a BEV [(battery-electric vehicle)], coupled with its very long recharging time, creates the phenomenon of "range anxiety". The car takes over your life. You are forced to plan every trip carefully, and to forgo impromptu errands in order to conserve precious electrons. And, when you are driving your BEV, you are constantly studying the readouts worrying about whether you are going to make it through the day.
Reviews of the [Nissan] Leaf are filled with accounts of drivers turning off the A/C in the summer and the heat in the winter. Some drivers even decided that they couldn't risk charging their cell phones, using the radio, or turning on the windshield wipers.
I saw an electric car -- it might have been a Chevy Volt -- at a car show, once. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about global warming I keep hearing, I expected the person showing the car to have some idea about its operating costs and capabilities, but she was unable to give me a coherent answer about how it would stack up, cost-wise, against a gas-powered car in an urban setting. Perhaps the automakers who go along with this trend realize on some level that it's all about getting government loot, and parting fools from their money. In the face of such massive stupidity, that would actually be comforting in a perverse way.