How intriguing to see Electric Cars, not anything new, all of a sudden really starting to make Headlines.
GM's announcement of their Volt with a 40 mile range between charges and a stunning 230 MPG comes behind most other manufacturers offering similar vehicles in the very near future.
Recent survey numbers suggest 80% of U.S. commuters drive approximately 40 miles each day for work, 77% of them alone.
As we watch with hope that the economy is rebounding and the recession fading behind us, we will face many more hurdles in the coming years.
The price of crude oil, and therefore gasoline are creeping higher and will undoubtedly continue that trend. While the likelihood of another gasoline shortage akin to last fall is somewhat remote, we have endured two in the last four years, Katrina in 2005 being the first. We have easily shown how frail the distribution infrastructure is. What happens when either a really big hurricane or some other catastrophic event takes place and prevents distribution of fuel supplies nation wide? Not a question of "if?", but likely "when".
Government is scrambling to reap any form of revenue they can and there can be no question that the Federal Fuel Tax on gasoline, currently the $0.184 per gallon we all pay at every fill-up will presumably be raised. Certainly, added to that will be a Mileage Tax and likely Toll Roads.
$5 per gallon or higher gasoline in the not to distant future is a reality (perhaps several years?) as supplies of Crude Oil dwindle and refining costs escalate. Add to those costs the increased taxes and you have the price of operating a gasoline powered vehicle double, perhaps even triple what they are today.
Think of who you know and how much they use their car in the course of a day or a week. It is a fascinating exercise, and without doubt, the majority would likely do very well if their next vehicle was electric and they just plugged it in when they got home.
Undoubtedly, the detractors will shoot holes in the merits of electric cars. These same visionaries claimed computers would be too costly for most consumers and the internet was a fad.
Indisputably, many of us will need to keep a fossil fueled vehicle for longer trips and family outings, but in time, with technology, even those may be replaced.
How ironic that as we go move into the 21st century, computers, internet and countless other advanced technologies, and yet we rely on 19th century Fossil Fuel technology to support our lifestyles. Something has to give.
Electric cars batteries have questionable longevity, but my bet is that in a few years, technology what it is, that issue will be "past tense". That is what "technology" is all about.
We will be placing added strain on the American electrical system, and our appalling coal fired power grid. However, what a magnificent point in time to bring on Nuclear Reactors, to develop Solar Systems that can be installed on warehouse, factory and even residential roofs to power lights, communications, heating and cooling.
The surplus would be redirected onto the grid itself. This is already reality, both here and abroad.
Without a doubt, there will be a issue with the higher price of these electric cars, but much as was the case with computers and so many other new technologies, as development and production ramp up, the price will likely abate. And if anything was reasonable in today's world, this is where government subsidies and or rebates should be applied.
As we move to Electric Cars, perhaps not the perfect solution, but without doubt a step in the right direction, let us also embrace a nation wide Rapid Rail system, again no doubt propelled by electricity. Running between or alongside the Eisenhower Interstate System, the ease and speed would undoubtedly reduce highway traffic and air travel.
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