Who Killed the Electric Car?
I haven't blogged in a week, so it really pains me to come back and bash a left-leaning environmental documentary, especially one I haven't even seen. But that's what I'm going to do.
So I saw A Prairie Home Companion over the weekend, enjoyed it quite a bit. But before the movie there was a preview for Who Killed the Electric Car?, a movie that seems to accuse the auto industry and oil tycoons of conspiring to deep-six the battery electric vehicle because it doesn't run on gas.
Now, I'm no fan of greedy oil tycoons. Like Al Gore, I think traditional gasoline vehicles and the traditional internal combustion engine are major problems. And I support raising CAFE standards. I just wanted to get that out there before I bash the electric car documentary I haven't yet seen.
Here are a few reasons why I think battery electric vehicles were a monumentally bad idea. Let's start with the big one....
They're almost as bad for the environment as the internal combustion engine.
Yes, you read that right. But wait, you might be saying.... They have no tailpipes. So they're zero emmissions vehicles. Well, that's true if you're talking about pollution coming straight out of the car. But you're ignoring the big picture.
I've blogged before about how Whole Foods isn't as enviro-friendly as meets the eye, because their products aren't typically locally grown, and the environmental impact of transporting the products is high. I advocate life-cycle assessment when measuring environmental impact.
The same has to be done with electric cars. So what if there is no environmental impact on the road itself? That's because the cars were charged at home, and when you plug them in, you use, um, what's it called.... Electricity! And let's see, electricity comes from.... fossil fuels! (Unless of course, you're powering the electric car by windmill or solar panel)
So battery electric vehicles, for the most part, replaced the use of fossil fuels with the use of fossil fuels. Not much progress, unless they use less fossil fuels than internal combustion engines.
So lets, see. ILEA did a comparison. Just as I suspected. Powering a car with coal leaves almost as much of an environmental footprint as powering a car with gasoline.
Using electric cars would be extremely inconvenient.
Production EVs with lead-acid batteries are capable of up to 80 miles (130 km) per charge. NiMH chemistries have high energy density and can deliver up to 120 miles (200 km) of range. Lithium ion equipped EVs have been claimed in press releases to have 250-300 miles (400-500 km) of range per charge
Doesn't sound great for road trips, does it? And you have to recharge every night even if you're at home? And good luck convincing the business community to build recharging stations, espcially to the capacity that would be required to make electric cars convenient.
So electric cars are much less convenient and have almost the same envrionmental impact. What's not to love? But wait.... What if someone came up with some sort of car that not only left a much smaller environmental impact than either a traditional car or an electric car? And what if it used the same gas station infrastructure that already exists?
That's right. This is the real reason the electric car is dead. Going back to ILEA's analysis, hybrids have a smaller environmental footprint than electric cars. And they're WAY more convenient. Heck, they're more convenient than TRADITIONAL cars because you don't have to refuel them as much.
And they're selling like hotcakes. Maybe American car companies have been a little late to the game, but to their credit, Ford now has an SUV that gets the same gas mileage as my Mazda 6.
Don't get me wrong. I love tearing into Republicans in general and oil tycoons in particular. But if you're going to make an environmental documentary, do your homework. We don't need to manipulate facts to win arguments with Republicans. That's their game. We can win with honesty.