EV Basics VI - Roadmap to an EV World
EV: Electric Vehicle – Any vehicle that uses electricity to provide some or all of the power to its wheels.
HEV – Hybrid electric vehicle, a car or truck that uses both an ICE and an electric motor.
ICE: Internal Combustion Engine – The smog-belching, globe-warming automobile powerplants used in the dark ages of the 20th Century.
PHEV – Plug-in hybrid vehicle, a hybrid vehicle with a battery pack that can be charged from a wall socket.
At this point, many of you have read the first five articles in the EV Basics series [see links at end of article]. Many of you are now convinced that EVs will be more convenient and cost effective than ICE-powered vehicles, once they are in mass-production. You understand that EVs are much better for the environment, despite millions of corporate dollars spent trying to convince you otherwise. You see the connection between our dependence on foreign oil and increased threats to our national security. Now, you want to know how to make EVs a reality as soon as possible.
We can get there in a reasonable time frame if we follow the guidelines I list below.
1. Do what you can, when you can
If you have roughly $100,000 of dollars to spare, you can order a wonderful electric car, the Tesla Roadster, today. They have already started delivering vehicles, so your wait should not be too long. For $30,000 less, you can order an eBox from AC Propulsion. Still too rich for your blood? Vectrix is now selling a wonderful, freeway-legal electric scooter for $11,000. Or, you can buy one of many electric bicycles available, starting at less than $1000.
Right now there are already electric vehicles available at almost every price point. If you cannot figure out how to fit one of them into your life, you can buy a new HEV, such as a Toyota Prius, for a bit more than $20,000 or a used one starting at about $10,000. Gasoline-powered HEVs are not the ultimate answer to our energy problems, but they do provide an excellent platform for developing EV components such as electric motors, batteries and transmissions. They also use much less gas than their ICE-only brethren.
More good news – there is a wave of EVs and PHEVs under development from companies such as Phoenix Motorcars, AFS Trinity, and a host of others. Additionally, Toyota recently announced that it is developing a plug-in version of the Prius with substantial electric-only range. The future of EVs is bright, so keep your eyes open and follow developments as they unfold.
Even if you cannot find an HEV that meets your needs, and you cannot wait for the new models to become available, you can help the cause by buying the most fuel-efficient car that will fit everything and everybody you need to haul. Doing so will show the car companies that you care about our over-use of oil, and that you do not care about having a car with as much power as a Formula One racer.
2. Be a voice for change
Write to the car companies and let them know you are going to hold off on buying a new car until they make an EV or PHEV. Addresses can be found in the third article in this series. Let your elected officials know you want EVs available ASAP. Speak out on blogs, e-mail lists, and at cocktail parties. Spread the word to all who will listen, and maybe even some who do not want to. Be polite but firm. Counter the misinformation that is being spread by those who do not want to see EVs succeed.
3. Keep an open mind
Some folks choose one favorite type of EV drivetrain layout, battery chemistry or body style, then start treating EV-enthusiasts with alternative ideas as though they were the enemy. Don’t do that. Encourage others to think of new solutions to our transportation problems. Even if an idea seems silly at first, analyze it critically and discuss it with others to determine its merit.
Do not assume that companies which have made mistakes in the past, such as General Motors, cannot make important contributions to EV progress in the future. Encourage them to invest in EV development. Let GM know that you will buy a Volt if it turns out to be everything they say it will be. If the big automakers meet a brick wall of skepticism from potential EV buyers, they will use this resistance to try to convince lawmakers that EVs are not economically viable. If we greet their EV programs with hope and enthusiasm, their bean-counters will take note.
4. Don’t just talk, act
Discussion is great, when it is a preamble to action. So, talk about things, develop a game plan, then go execute. Buy an EV or a PHEV. Find a job developing EVs or other alternative energy products. Move closer to work so you can commute on an electric bicycle. There are a million different things you can do to help make EVs a reality. Go pick a few and start doing.
5. Never, ever give up
Corporations are spending millions of advertising and PR dollars trying to convince you that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. People who seem completely rational look at you like you are nuts when you tell them we must give up gasoline-powered cars. You are not nuts. It would be so easy just to stop fighting the tide, to give in to the allure of “the easy life.” Do not give in.
The easy life is an oil-fired illusion. We are like microbes on a Petri dish, consuming everything we can before our resources run out. However, unlike bacteria, we can recognize our situation and start conserving now, before it is too late. We can start using the energy the sun blasts down on this Petri dish called Earth so that we never run out of resources. Those of us who understand this have an obligation to keep trying to spread this understanding. Doing so can be an exhausting, frustrating, thankless job, but our planet – our children’s planet – is depending on us to keep trying.
EV Basics Series:
- EV Basics I – A Tale of Two Hybrids
- EV Basics II – An Electric Vehicle Primer
- EV Basics III – Why Drive Electric?
- EV Basics IV - Electric Vehicles and the Environment
- EV Basics V - Are EVs the Ultimate Weapon Against Terrorism?
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