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In Response to RE: Electric Cars Take Charge in 2011 by lscanlan Very good article, Leah. Thank you for sharing it with me.
My response is this. The American public is very slow in making massive changes. They have been conditions for over a century to rely on their gasoline/diesel powered vehicles. Changing to a new form of motive power is difficult to accept. Especially when costs appear to be prohibitive. And they shouldn't. Electric cars only use a few parts (accessories are another issue.) The major drawback at this time are the batteries. They don't provide sufficient distance/range per charge to impress potential buyers. No one wants to be left stranded by the roadside with not one, but a whole trunk full of dead batteries.
The hybrid is a half-way attempt to gain acceptance, but their CAFE numbers are not impressive. In 1990, the Suzuki Swift (rebadged as the Chevy Metro) could achieve 42 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway. I had to deliver one from D.C. to Florida and can testify as to the mileage. So when I hear the CAFE being raised to 38 mpg, I just hang my head and shake it "no."
I try to pride myself in "thinking outside the box" and with an emphasis on "futurist" concepts. Having been around a few more decades than you, I am more aware of what was tried, what worked, and what didn't.
The fossil fuel folks will just have to realize that it is in the best interests of this country to make the break with their products where they can be safely replaced by electrically based ones. As I outlined in my previous post, nuclear power is considerably more safe now than 30 years ago - prior to computerized controls. People had to sit and stare at gauges all day and night and keep things properly adjusted. They just plain fell asleep at that task.
We have nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines that successfully operate worldwide and have virtually an unlimited range. Battery technology has only recently received increased developmental emphasis, but is not very efficient. That is why I have suggested relying on the greater power for vehicles. Batteries would only be needed to get you from home to the gridded roads and back.
At this point, it is still cheaper to buy/use gasoline/diesel powered cars. Even the electric Tesla, which boasts a 300 mile range per charge is mainly a novelty for the well-to-do. Costing over $100k, it is not for the average driver. Plus, their production capability would not be able to keep up with demand should we make the change to electric cars overnight.
I hope this gives you some idea of the magnitude of the changeover. It will affect many jobs - at all levels - doing what I propose. Maybe Mr. Rand of AARP should speak with President Obama about the concept. It could put a lot of people to work for a very long time. Oh, if you do speak with Mr. Rand, you might remind him that we were classmates together at Paul Jr. High back in 1957! Someone needs to jumpstart the concept and finally bring it all to fruition. The idea of switching to a battery powered car has been revisited by GM in the early 1990's and for whatever reasons was discontinued.
One other thing. Batteries have two major drawbacks. One is that they don't maintain a constant level of recharge. It keeps dropping over time which will require replacements at some point - several years down the pike. That will be an expensive cost. Second, batteries don't like cold and extremely cold weather. Their ability perform is dramatically reduced as the chemical reactions don't occur when the water in them is partially frozen. So, to me, the answer is a gridded road that provides the power - which can take you across the counry - wherever roads go.
Hope this helps. If you have any other questions, go ahead and ask - or give me a phone call! I am an instructor with the AARP DSP.