The Gasoline Car will be History before you Know it

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The world transportation sector is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, heat trapping gas that warmed up the Caribbean and contributed to the ferocity of the 2017 hurricane season. Puerto Rico, St. Martin and other islands have been wrecked and Houston suffered a major flood. This situation will only worsen if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels like coal, gasoline, and natural gas immediately. Imagine a hurricane season 10% worse than this year’s!

Worried about Chinese competition (and remaining competitive in the growing Chinese and Indian markets), worried about quotas like those being imposed by California, and worried about the mood of the consumers after this year’s hurricanes, some auto executives are going green.

Already, in the first half of 2017, 5% or 1 in twenty new car sales in California has been electric.

General Motors has announced that they will have 20 electric car models on the road by 2023! And the company will introduce two new EVs in the next 18 months. GM is an aristocrat of the old order but it has decided to play the role of a revolutionary.

Ford is also developing the Edison group of EVs for its buyers.

Nissan has brought out a new Leaf EV with a range of 150 miles, and Toyota and other Japanese auto manufacturers are planning electric cars (see video below).

Of course China and Elon Musk and Tesla deserve a good deal of the credit here. Without their ambitious plans and the prospect that the Big 3 would be stuck trying to sell dinosaurs to the environmentally conscious Millennials, maybe Detroit would not have swung into action so quickly.

China’s EV sales are up 68% this year, and some canny observers don’t expect purely gasoline cars to have a market in China after 2029.

General Motors already has the Bolt, which is in the same class as the Tesla 3– an electric car for people who can spend $35,000 on a car. But this generation of EVs gets more like 220 miles to the charge, and charging is faster, rather than the 40 miles to the charge that was common 4 years ago.

Can an even cheaper and better EV be far off, given the incredible rate of technological innovation in this field? We are just waiting for the electric Model T, the $10,000 compact that goes 500 miles on a charge and charges in 15 minutes.

Inventor James Dyson is throwing his hat into the ring. That is a $2 bn hat.

Of course, electric vehicles only save the world if you generate electricity for them with wind and solar and hydro. In California, Iowa, Texas and Colorado, that transformation is advanced. But families don’t have to wait for the government in this regard. We can put solar panels on our roofs if we own a home, and lobby our utility for green energy if we don’t. (But even in dirty coal states like Pennsylvania, studies have shown that electric vehicles are less polluting than gasoline cars).

The transformation is coming, and coming quickly. Remember, in 2004 there were no iPhones or really smartphones. Now there are billions around the world. Electric vehicles will be like that.

The world is going to heat up. But we have a choice whether it heats up 4 degrees F. or 12 degrees F. You wouldn’t like a 12 degrees F. increase. Ask any Puerto Rican.

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Related video:

WION: Toyota Motors to venture into developing electric vehicle technology

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7 Responses

  1. According to one source…. For every $50 fill-up, $33 goes into the coffers of Chevron, ExxonMobile or BP, while very little of the remaining cash goes into the local economy or even back to oil company investors.

    Though Exxon contest these numbers the oil companies cannot be happy with the gaining momentum of EVs and the potential savings to the consumer.

    • Well dsmith, over here in the UK 80% of the cost of fuel is government tax. The filling stations get only a few cents (pence uk money) per gallon and the producers get a bit more, but I don’t know exactly how much. The filling stations make most of their money selling produce, sweets, newspapers etc. If it wasn’t for government tax UK fuel would be very cheap. At least we gasoline users over here in England do contribute towards the county’s needs. The car driver, smoker and drinker all heavily taxed, all but keep the UK economy going!!

  2. I would like to see more attention given to solar powered vehicles and nano collectors in paint. Maybe we could throw out some disinfo that China has it so “they” would all scramble to compete!

    • You can do the math on the limitations of solar powered vehicles yourself. Find out the mean insolation (average solar energy that falls on the ground) in your part of the world, then divide by 5, because solar cells are at most 20% efficient. Then figure out the surface area of your roof, hood and trunk lid, because cells mounted on the side of your car won’t be worth the trouble.

      What you will find is that it is hard to generate more than maybe 800-1000 watts this way when it’s parked. If you collect 8 kw/hours in a day, that can get you around in normal daily driving, but not very far on a highway. And you have to park in the sun, which is hard on the car. Now there are circumstances where that is useful. If you’re getting that much sunlight, you need power to run the car’s air conditioner to be able to live with the car.

  3. Amen to that.

    We already lease a Leaf (and put solar panels on our roof 3 years ago.) Our other car is a 2012 Ford Focus. When that one gives up the ghost, we’re not replacing it. Will either use Uber/Lyft or one of the services that allow you to rent vehicles by the day. Hopefully, their fleets will either be hybrid or electric by that point.

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