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Are Electric Cars The Answer? I Think Not

Are electric cars the answer to our unfortunate dependence on refined oil to power our vehicles, and to help reduce its pollution? I honestly think not. I would just love to see a simple (but essentially complete) argument for / against using electric power to help solve this problem, realistically based on both Physics and Economics, taking into account all costs / benefits imaginable. With current and immediately-realizable technology (within, say, three years), I think the inefficiencies of converting some fuel (including even wind / water / solar) to electric power, distributing it across transmission grids, storing it in costly, heavy, inefficient, hard-to-recycle batteries, then lugging these around to power automobile electric motors just can’t be as efficient as burning gasoline, even counting the extraction, refining, and pollution costs. The only far-in-the-future answer might be wind or solar-generated electric power, sent through hugey-beefed-up grids, to hydrogen-extraction plants, and then a huge distribution network of hydrogen-refueling stations on every corner and every highway. Thus electricity, in the esoteric form of hydrogen fuel-cells, might just possibly work… Or would it, really? The costs of this hydrogen scheme seem thoroughly daunting. Can’t Click and Clack present an on-air (continuing) discussion of this vital issue? Thanks in advance.

In the one year (more or less) that I have been posting here this issue has been discussed/cussed at lenght,not that it shouldn’t,but we have really been through it on this one already.

Sorry, I guess I missed it (so far). Can you present a short summary, instead of just stating you’ve “really been through it…”?

Electric cars are the goodest answer, but you have to ask the right questions or stretch the justifications. A golf cart with 35 PSI in the tires can go thirteen miles without any high tech devices on it. Something twice the size of a golf cart with a 24 HP engine could go a long way on little bits of gasoline. We just have to be willing to dress like B-29 crew members in the Winter. There was a day when people were allowed to take risks and not have air bags, traction control and antilock brakes. You wouldn’t even need a battery to start it up, a windup starter would be just fine. Plenty of ideas here.

The plug-in hybrid, which will most of the time run on electricity will be the near and mid term answer. A pure electric vehicle would not be flexible enough for most owners. GM has been very corageous in announcing the Volt plug-in hybrid for 2010 introduction. I think it will be late, but many other manufacturers will have such vehicles on the road in 4 years. You can already buy one in China!

Hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles will first appear as city vehicles, busses, taxis, shuttle vehicles. The fuelling stations will be the main problem. Iceland and Singapore are the only 2 countries I know that have an active program to go off fossil fuels and have a carbon-less domestic economy.

The question is not if the electric car is our solution, but the electric motor. We don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the electric motors in today’s modern auto, and each year brings a new use for it.

The electric drive motor (traction motor) with gas/diesel/gasoline generation I feel is the next step.

That we ultimately would not gradually move toward total electric power is narrow minded . It’s over 90% efficient and improving vs 30% for ICE, eliminates the transmission and moves us towards a maintenance free car.

It’s used as the drive motor in nuclear powered vessels and all the major rail and public transportation. The car and truck should be next to convert. It’s just a matter of time. That it has the most flexible power source, is the biggest reason oil/auto companies and their powerful interests, are so reluctant to move even faster in that direction.

One year ago, I said on post that the price of oil would drop if the perception of alternate power were put into the mix. We must now follow through with that perception and dive head first into an “electric” solution.

I think one short term answer is to convince people like my co-worker that she (a petite woman) does not need a giant Land Rover to commute to work every day. SO many people pick vehicles that only get used near capacity 4 days a year or less. They buy a big vehicle to feel safe and selfishly don’t care that they also make it more dangerous for everyone else around them. Public transportation should be free and paid for by taxes on fuel used by non-commercial vehicles. A big chunk of the operating expense of buses and subways is collecting fares.

Electric vehicles are already available and in use. Just go to youtube and search for “electric motorcycle.” Not only are there electric motorcycles available for sale to the public, there are also electric cars just as available.

It is a little late to be saying “it can’t be done” when someone is doing it already.

Right…it’s just the traditional auto companies that can’t make a profit on service that’s not building them. Meanwhile, everyone else will.

It’s used as the drive motor in nuclear powered vessels

Not true. Nukes use steam turbines. There are some ships that are basically diesel-electric, like locomotives. I believe that the QE2 was converted from oil/steam to D-E. Third-world D-E subs are actually quieter underwater (on battery) than our nukes (steam turbines).

But can I tow my boat?

Nobody has to tow a boat. They can be stored near the lake or rented. Boat rentals may be the next big thing. Electric boats will stop a lot of pollution.

Hope “pleasedodgevan” was just kidding… We’re mostly water…why wouldn’t we want a boat in tow at all times. That’s one of the prerequisites before some buy an EV…

Nobody has to tow a boat. They can be stored near the lake or rented.

You can’t be serious.

They can be stored near the lake?? Assume you can find a storage place NEAR the lake, then what? You still have to get it to the lake and launch it! How has the situation improved by storing it near the lake?

Rented? There are dozens of lakes and ponds near where I live. Not one of them offers rentals and I’m sure the locals wouldn’t like seeing a rental shop open up either. In all the years I’ve boated, I only ran across one lake with rentals that wasn’t one of the giant, recreational waters. They only rented row boats and it was because all of the land was private and there was no public launch. The land owners around the lake were always trying to get them shut down to keep out the unwashed masses…

“It’s used as the drive motor in nuclear powered vessels”


Waterboy, how often do you tow your boat? Is it often enough that it would not be practical to rent a tow vehicle?

Do you take a bass boat to fishing tournements every two weeks or do your tow it one or two times a year?

In any case, yes, you can tow your boat. You can either keep your current vehicle or rent one when it is necessary. Hell, having a bunch of electric cars on the market will make a new truck cheaper the next time you need to buy one. There will be less demand.

Having an electric car won’t keep you from keeping your truck for towing your boat and it won’t prevent you from renting a tow vehicle for occasional towing. They might even eventually make an electric truck that can tow your boat, although it will probably be some time before your gasoline fueled truck isn’t the best tow vehicle.

Oh, brother. Check out Tesla Motors and “Who Kiled The Electric Car?” on HBO or On Demand. Sheese!

But the real question is…Did the general public take this all into consideration before they voted for Obama? Hmmmmm!
I agree with you, but a lot of people think we’re crazy, don’t they? No one takes into consideration the etire picture. They just believe liberal politicians and what members of the Once-free press tell them instead of doing their own research. Liberalism is big on feel good, but low on reality.
If the environmentalist wackos can find a way for me to tow my 32 foot trailer on battery power, can find a way to safely disgard those used batteries, and prevent politicians from exploiting any resource of powering they can get their hands on I might beleive that the wackos aren’t in the environmental craze to make a buck.
I didn’t really want to vote for Mc Cain either, but what liberal politician in recent years has had the intergrity to lead the country even if it meant political suicide Like President Bush has? The answer is still, “Drill baby, Drill.”

How does your reply help us to understand more about electric cars and their role in our future?

"I didn’t really want to vote for Mc Cain either, but what liberal politician in recent years has had the intergrity to lead the country even if it meant political suicide Like President Bush has? The answer is still, “Drill baby, Drill.”

Simple retorts to complicated situations won’t solve the problem.

Salt (for food preservation) was a strategic commodity that for years was the focus of wars and unrest. Along came electricity/refrigeration and salt was put into it’s rightful place as a benign product for the masses.

Electricity can do that to oil. Not a HUGE change. But with an already provided infrastructure of distribution, we DON"T need EV’s to provide for all our transportation needs. But it too will make oil a benign product for the masses.

After all; oil is too valuable to burn.

At least we now have a president that that can articulate a transportation vision for the future. If your vision is better (drill baby drill, only), I hope you are listen to.

That’s the real difference many will find refreshing.