PHOTO CAPTION: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid similar to that driven by Professor Shapiro.

Michigan Academician: Electric Cars Make No Sense

Retired Wayne State professor of Mechanical Engineering Howard Shapiro writes that hybrids make more sense than do all-electric cars.

Published: 30-Jan-2013

I am neither a politician nor an economist. I am an engineering professor. So, I know how things work and what we can and cannot do technically. I also know that no matter what we try to do through public policy, the laws of thermodynamics cannot be repealed. Based on these natural laws, all-electric cars just don't make sense. Objective analysis shows that gasoline hybrids fare much better than electric cars.

Lately we hear a lot about electric cars that can free us from using foreign oil. Much attention has been focused on hybrids that combine conventional gasoline engines with electric technology in creative ways to minimize the use of gas and stretch the distance we can travel between fill-ups or re-charging. We tend to use the word "hybrid" to cover the gamut from gasoline hybrids to all-electric cars, but most people need us engineering geeks to explain the difference.

We want to believe that hybrids will bring jobs back to Michigan, reinvigorating the automobile industry while stimulating allied industries like advanced battery manufacturing and development. We are investing in the future of Michigan to help create a green economy that will be more environmentally benign and make us energy-independent; free from reliance on multi-national corporations, hostile groups or governments, or a shaky world economy for our energy needs. The answer to our prayers, right? Well, maybe not.


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