Daily Archives: July 23, 2010

Is this really the “future?”

(Chevy Volt – plug in electric car – soon to be on the market.)


This is not a “gearhead” column, (so you non-gearheads can continue reading) but rather a thread about oil dependency.

The thread photo is of the prototype Chevy Volt electric car. The version that will be available in November is a conventional four door sedan.

The Volt is not a true electric car, nor is it a hybrid in the normal sense. It is a “plug in” car that does not need a special charging station. It has a “battery only” range of forty miles, at which point a small, four cylinder gasoline engine will kick in, acting as a generator and providing electricity to the motors.

Tesla Motors, a So-Cal based company, produces an all electric model that has an effective range of over 200 miles, but does not have a secondary source for electricity. It can also be charged at home, although it does need a special docking station.

By the time you read this, BP may have capped the gushing well in the Gulf – then the clean up will be the greater issue as million of gallons of oil have fouled the waters and beaches.

True energy independence will take a collective effort by all Americans – an effort that seems unlikely given our divided society. While polls show that Americans greatly favor alternative energy sources, we don’t really want to pay for them.

Americans in are in love with gas-guzzling mega-cars, SUV’s and trucks. We could postpone the inevitable end of the gasoline fueled vehicle if we were to go to higher mileage cars, but most don’t want to give up the space and presumed (wrongly) safety of our large vehicles.

Are vehicles like the Volt and the two Tesla models the “future?” Definitely maybe.

If we were truly, honest-to-God serious, we would be immediately moving towards hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, while using Compressed Natural Gas powered cars as an interim solution.

But we’re not serious.

The oil spill will be cleaned up, gas will hover around $2.50 a gallon, the economy will improve and more folks will have cash to drop at the gas station.

And we will kick the can down the road, once again.

Until the next crisis.


William Stephenson Clark

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