171. ELECTRIC CARS, PART 1
Grid-powered electric cars are one of the most obvious, but most neglected, solutions to the oil problem. The main argument against them is their slow top speed (a little over 100 km/h), and their limited range (a little under 200 km per recharge). While this is probably an issue if you live on an autobahn or in the Sahara Desert, for the vast majority of commuters it's more than sufficient.
Plug-in cars are very attractive for a few reasons:
- Their oil dependence is zero.
- We know we have plenty of electricity to power them with. According to this article, "there is more than enough off-peak electricity available to allow the transfer of all of our driving miles from gasoline- to electric-powered vehicles.”
- Even using coal-fired electricity, they produce less emissions per kilometre driven than an internal combustion engine. Why liquefy coal into oil when you can just burn it as it is?
- They're silent and (usually) quite small.
- They cost only a dollar or two to recharge, which is about a quarter the price of driving even the Prius over the same distance.
- They're very cheap, especially compared with hydrogen.
- They are available now, with today's technology.
About 5 years ago, Toyota and GM figured this out and produced cars on limited-lease test-runs. Both the cars could go fast enough to drive on a highway and had a long enough range for an extended commute. They looked and performed like normal cars, and the customers loved them.
There was the sporty-looking GM EV1:
And the Toyota RAV4 EV SUV:
GM distributed 465 EV1 cars on a 3-year lease. But when the lease was up and GM ditched the project, they crushed the cars, shredded them and disposed of the remains – allegedly, because of pressure from part manufacturers and the oil industry to erase all evidence that plug-in cars were viable Link). The former EV1 owners are still protesting about this; you can see their website here. The few remaining EVs which GM didn't manage to destroy are now lovingly protected by enthusiasts.
Ford ditched its compact Th!nk EV and disposed of it in a similarly suspicious fashion. The Honda EV is no longer available either. Toyota axed the RAV4 trial project, but unlike other manufacturers it didn't destroy the cars. It sold 328 of them on the open market in California, where they are still driving around today (Link). You can see "The Campaign to Save Electric Cars" here.
Meanwhile, a company called the Solar Shop in Adelaide, Australia wants to sell a tiny electric car from India named the Reva. But red tape is in the way as usual:
But for over a year now, the Reva had been stranded in a customs warehouse in Melbourne. Despite soaring fuel prices, the Federal Government will not allow it on our roads because it doesn't have a classification for the vehicle.
"In Europe where it's been classified it's called a Quadracycle, whereas in Australia we don't have a Quadracycle category which is why it's been sitting customs for the last 18 months," he said.
"If the Government gave us approval, we'd start selling it today. We're ready to go," Adrian said.Source
-- by Roland