The recent nuclear power plant problems in Japan got me thinking about electric cars and our future of electric vehicles and Hybrids. Realistically the electric cars popularity have been shot down because of a few simple facts. Electric cars themselves don’t burn fossil fuels like a conventional vehicle, therefore much better for the environment right? Well, yes as far as at the electric cars surroundings- but where does the electricity powering that motor come from? Coal burning, smoke stack filled, CO2 billowing and non-efficient power plants! The only real solution for that would be- you guessed it- nuclear power plants. Imagine you are on the 405 stuck in traffic and all the cars in front and behind you are all electric. So how would all these vehicles be powered? Would our current conventional ways of delivering power be up to the task, when we get black-outs in the summer just because of AC being turned on? What would happen when we all get home from work and plug in our cars for the night? I can only imagine that the only solution would be local power plants that would feed the grids instead of the long distance version of today’s delivery system. And in order for them to be clean they would have to be alternative power like nuclear powered. So after seeing the footage from Japan, a earthquake common location like our California, would you want a nuclear power plant at your local beach or port? Not me.
Other reasons for the Electric cars lack of popularity is that with the fewer moving parts in a drive-train, a big part of Manufacturers are left with diminishing returns. Less parts to sell, less maintenance, no oil changes etc. – just like the EV1 killed by GM. Then of course the battery. We will soon find out what becomes of all these batteries riding around town and once they don’t hold a charge what do we do with the car? Most likely the battery replacement and recycle charges will top the price of getting a new vehicle not to mention how we keep the toxic materials the batteries are made of out of our environment. Other calculations like ones made by Edmunds, also figured out that the operating cost per KW/mile of an all electric car ends up being more than a conventional car that gets 36 MPG. (http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/the-true-cost-of-powering-an-electric-car.html)
Now just to clarify, I am a car guy and love driving my gas guzzling v8 down the road on the weekends feeling the air in my hair and feeling the power of displacement at the bottom of my pants. But I also do love technology and do want to see a solution to our destructive means. I think for now the Hybrid is the more practical solution until we figure out a clean and safe way to power us from place to place. That is, if your in stop and go traffic.