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What is it about electric cars?

27 May, 2010

The auto companies are buying into the idea of a “green” electric car and they hope that you will too.  Why?

An electric car has to be plugged in somewhere to get that electricity.  I’ve seen electric cars at little charging stations in parking garages where they get recharged for free.  But do you really believe that there will always be free electricity?  Already there is talk of adding a smart chip to identify your car whenever you plug in to an outlet.  Maybe it’s different where you live, but in my city there are already rolling blackouts and we are told to use our appliances in “off-hours,” turn off all electric devices when they are not in use, and watch our consumption because we are overloading the grid.  New smart grids and meters, we are told, will solve these problems except that they will cost a lot of money (taxpayer’s) and take a long time to build.  My electric company asks for and gets frequent price increases; so no matter how careful I am, I still pay more for my electricity. Obviously, the more electricity we use the more electric plants we are going to need and the more improved grids we will have to pay for. What on earth makes you think that electricity will be cheaper than oil or that you won’t still be required to cut usage?

Then there’s the environment.  Electricity is so clean, cleaner than “clean” coal.  No wells to drill, no emissions, no big refineries.  I wish I could believe that electricity comes from some magical place and won’t upset the natural order of things, but that’s not how the electric plants and transfer stations I’ve seen look.   Electric plants produce electricity using coal or water.  The more electricity we use the more water has to be diverted to the power plant to generate that electricity.   We already know what happens when coal is used; mountains are leveled, water is polluted, people are exposed to toxins, miners die in preventable accidents.  “Clean” coal doesn’t even exist.

I’m not opposed to “green,” conservation, or nature.  I recycle everything I can, plant natives only in my garden, feed birds, grow fruit trees, etc etc.  In fact, our primary vehicle is a Toyota Prius and, no, we have not had a gas pedal problem.  (Let me point out that American car companies have hidden information from consumers too – Ford Pinto or Chevy Corvair, for instance).   We got the Prius for two reasons:  my family has owned Toyota cars for many years because they were reliable and long-lasting and we wanted a hybrid.

The virtue of a hybrid is that it  generates its own electricity as it is driven.   Several other companies now make hybrids.  (I would like one from Ford for myself. )  Yes we have to use gas, but one $20 visit to the gas station lasts for a month (I get 40 miles per gallon; my spouse gets 50).   That’s twice what my old Ford van gets.  If everyone cut their use in half, gas would be less of a problem.

So why the rush to make hybrids, unless it will bring big profits to both the auto companies and the utility companies.  Do you think they are looking out for you or for your environment?

The BP spill and the company’s disastrous clean-up efforts are the result of the indifference and greed of  both government officials and company executives to the effects of those spills.  Otherwise, they would have foreseen such disasters and had a plan for them before they happened.  It isn’t like they don’t what happens when there is a gas spill.

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