Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Electric Car

One of the other problems that I have with the global warming crusaders is that they will often paint a very bleak picture of the problems we face and then suggest very trifling solutions. I will watch documentaries, such as An Inconvenient Truth, that make a very strong case for very serious problems, and which conclude by telling us what we can do- turn off lights when we're not using them! Or, better yet, buy those longer lasting lights that are nearly impossible to correctly dispose of because most of them contain mercury! At some point, if this is a serious problem, it will require a much more serious solution.

The major producer of carbon emissions is apparently power plants; however, automobiles are a close second. So the first step will apparently be in creating a viable alternative-fuel source car. General Motors brought out an electric car in 1996 known as the EV1, but eventually shelved it, citing lack of demand. Some argue that GM never really wanted the car to succeed. And yet, it's hard for me to believe a corporation would spend $1 billion on a project without much interest in making money off of it.

I've never understood the argument that we can't have an electric car because Big Auto doesn't want it to happen. I believe that they really are short-sighted and stupid, but why don't environmental groups bring out an electric car of their own and compete in the marketplace? They claim that the automakers have bought up all of the patents. But how many schools of technology out there have students who would love to come up with new prototypes, and probably already are? The EV1 was apparently as fast as a gas-powered car and cost much less to fuel. So why don't Laurie David, Greenpeace, and other environmentally-friendly groups get together and fund research on a cheap electric car?

It seems to me that the first issue would be performance, but they claim it's possible to create an electric car that runs as well as a gas car. The second issue would be charging the car. What if you want to drive across the country? They would need to make it possible, and more importantly easy to do this. It's not hard to plug in a car overnight in order to drive to work. But, what if you wanted to drive for 20 hours straight to some distant location? Here, I think the answer might be to work with Hotels and Motels, as well as convenience stores to supply power, as well as working with solar power. It's only a shame that the driver can't fuel the car through their respiration or blood pressure. And a urine-powered car would be a dream come true!

The final trick, and the key to success I think, would be to make the electric car cheap. People buy the overpriced Prius because they save on the gasoline. In fact, I think it's one of the best-selling cars on the market. But, if an environmental group could bring out an electric car that could sell for cheaper than a Toyota Celica, it would be more likely to take off with the buying public. Most people want to do something for the environment, and more importantly, most of us are cheap. Sure, Big Oil might try to crush it, but the auto companies aren't completely stupid, and they might well bring out their own cheap lines in order to compete.

However, it seems to me that environmentalists are the only people with the incentive to develop an ultra-cheap and ultra-efficient electric automobile at present. So, are they?

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