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April 8, 2009
More Electric Car Follies
Isaac Martin pointed out in yesterday ’s American Thinker some of the problems with the new technology behind the proposed switch to electric cars -- there are many other issues as well.
A few of a multitude of problems are the high cost of the batteries, $25,000.00 for the Tesla’s (6,831 batteries) pack, the pollution problem of replacing and disposing the packs, and the relatively short life span of the batteries. (For example, the life of a lithium ion cell phone battery seems to be about a year and a half. Finding exact information on the actual useful battery life is difficult.)
Let's give the battery manufacturers the benefit of the doubt and say the useful life is four years. The cost per year is $6,500.00 before the cost of charging the car. Add to this, four dollars per charge. Let’s say you use the car to commute to your job and tool around on Saturday matching the mileage in Martin's article of 100 miles per day. This equals 31,200 annual miles. That is $24.00 per week times fifty-two = $1,250.00 in additional costs. Therefore the annual fuel and amortization cost is $8,000.00.
Battery packs are very susceptible to temperature extremes both high and low, thus making their use impractical in the northern and southern halves of the country. This limits their use in these areas to spring and fall when temperatures are moderate. So, you will need another (evil gasoline) car for cold winter and hot summer days. Another problem with the batteries is that the charge/ length of their use cycle gets shorter and shorter with every charge/use cycle.
Next it the problem of heating and cooling the passenger space. This will significantly affect the range of the vehicle. Lithium ion’s energy density is significantly degraded in hot weather and air conditioning uses 7 times the energy per degree to cool space as opposed to heating it.
Do you think that the electricity generated by the utility company to power the electric car is cleaner than just burning fossil fuels in gasoline powered vehicles? Depends on how the utility company generates its power. Coal is an obvious loser (if one believes the MMGW hype). Just because coal powered electricity is not generated in close proximity to you doesn’t mean that it isn’t being generated somewhere. The only way an electric car can benefit the climate is if the electric power generated is nuclear or hydro. Good luck with the Greenies and NIMBYs on getting permission to build those sorely needed nuclear power plants. And don't forget that the cap and trade scheme is going to raise these generating costs too.
We haven’t discussed the state’s interest in figuring out a way to replace the road use taxes that are now paid at the gasoline pump. This is another cost omitted from the Greenies’ rosy scenario. These road use taxes pay for the infrastructure that the state is supposed to be repairing. I say “supposed be repairing” because the Highway Trust Fund has been invaded to pay for bike paths and lightly used rail commuter train lines.
Now, let’s compare the electric car to a similar but gasoline powered car. According to Lotus the Elise should get 21mpg city/27 highway or 24 mpg average. Spending the same $8,000.00 the gasoline powered Elise has a range of 48,000 miles @ $4.00 per gallon gasoline. At $3.00 per gallon for fuel the range is increased to 64,000 miles and, by paying the taxes for the gasoline, you have also paid the state for the right to use its roads. The Obama Administration will fix this mathematical flaw by making sure that gasoline returns to a minimum of $4.00 gallon.
This is why electric cars are not feasible economically. Despite the fact that the government is giving buyers $30,000.00 tax dollars to make the Tesla more attractive, reducing its initial cost to $79,000.00 from $109,000.00. These cars cost more to operate, they pollute more than a Hummer when you figure in the costs of mining, recycling, charging, transportation, replacement, etc. of the battery pack.
The last negative fact that makes these electric cars extremely dangerous is: accidents. What happens if you have a wreck that compromises the battery pack? How many emergency personnel are trained in dealing with the electrical bomb that you may now have on your hands. What about clean up and disposal of the leaking batteries?
We know, anecdotally, that the cost of cleaning up a fluorescent light bulb in Maine is around $2,000.00. What do you suppose the costs are going to be of cleaning up the mess when a Tesla meets a semi head on? In addition, hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, are potentially more dangerous because they have two bombs, the battery pack and the gasoline tank.
I don’t want to end on an entirely negative view of the green car technology that President Obama will use to destroy GM and the U.S. economy. I want to thank Albert Gore III for his demonstration of the fact that a Prius can do over a 100 miles per hour on a California freeway.
Now, that’s progress!