Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So many questions for Electric Cars

In the 2006 movie? Documentary?  Who Killed the Electric Car, Filmmaker Chris Payne explores the many factors that played into the ultimate failure of the electric car to catch on with consumers, even as gas prices began to skyrocket.  

The thing about conspiracy theories is that many of them are just plausible enough to believe.  Others require more suspension of belief than the average Hollywood Action Adventure.  Do I think the oil industry and other institutions influenced or sped up the demise of the E1?  Yes.  Do I think it would have gone to any lengths to stop it from achieving success?  Of that, I'm not yet convinced.  I do believe that Big Auto killed the Electric Street Car so it isn't too much of a stretch.  It certainly is suspicious that they wouldn't let those hundred owners who begged, pleaded to keep their electric E1 vehicles and ended up destroying the majority of them. 

I like the idea of an electric car and am somewhat surprised that they don't exist in abundance today.  Growing up watching the Jetsons, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the electric flying car replaced the ground-limited fossil fuel polluter.

From a practical point of view, it isn't quite economical to invest in today's current fleet of electric or hybrid vehicles.  The cost is too high, especially when factoring in the extra effort required to charge the vehicles and the travel limitations.  According to some reports, the E1 was to have an improved battery that would increase its range to 300 miles.  So maybe they did engineer something too good that would have eventually ended our dependence on fossil fuel.

A year ago we were looking for a car for me.  I had my heart set on a Honda Element and we found one.  Nightingale wants something a little different.  I do think it would be cool to have an electric car since she really needs to just get from our home to Northwestern and back, and with rush hour traffic, she isn't going much faster than 30 mph on average anyway. 

I suspect there will come a day when we do have electric cars (or cars run on some other fuel source) and I also suspect that Nightingale and I will witness it at the front end with all its quirks and limitations (think pre-smartphone cell phones) and our children will experience the benefit of those early beta models.
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