Electric car revolution

The struggle to convince a skeptical industry… and the world… that electric vehicles are not only technologically viable, but the planet’s only hope in the face to rising oil demand, declining petroleum  production and concerns over the environmental impact of rising CO2 levels… officially ended on January 13, 2008.

It happened in Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit when the Co-Chairman and CEO of General Motors announced to a stunned media that the world cannot produce enough oil to meet rising demand – a phenomenon known as “peak oil”.

The impact of Wagoner’s remarks at the opening of the 2008 North, American International Auto Show (NAIAS) carried around the planet. Down in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald carried the following headline on January 15, 2008: “Time’s up for petrol cars, says GM chief.”

The article opens with, “The world’s biggest car maker, General Motors, believes global oil supply has peaked and a switch to electric cars is inevitable.”

Electrically powered cars have many advantages. First of all the power train has only one moving part; the electric motor. It gets better; there is no oil to filter or change, no coolant, no water pumps to wear out, no radiators to corrode, no hoses to leak, no spark plugs to change, no cap or rotor, no coil, no timing belts, pulleys or chains, no fan belts, no fans, no alternator, no air filter, no EGR or exhaust gas sensor or exhust, no air mass sensors, no coolant temp sensors (all of which fail) and best of all no gas tank or fuel pump. All of this is gone from electric only cars, all of these things are designed to wear out and cost money to replace. Yet it gets better; there is no pollution or exhaust from these silent clean cars, no warm up time, no idling needed, and you could theoretically recharge from any standard 110volt outlet, though 220volts would be more efficient.


You could generate the electricity needed from your own Photo Voltaic collectors.

If there were electrically powered cars available today at a reasonable cost, would you buy one? I know I would.

While my Honda Insight hybrid regularly gets 60mpg from 1999 technology, I would purchase an EV in a heartbeat


Why are there no production electric cars available today? For those of you that have seen the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car”, some reasons were explained. All politics aside, the main reasons are; cost, and weight.  Right now because of limited research due to lack of funding and other political issues, and due to limited production volumes, the battery systems are not yet light enough and powerful enough for the full electric car.  On the bright side, battery technology is still maturing. While the cost for the batteries needed by most any electric vehicle is prohibitive today, it will not take long for those costs to come down, once demand goes up and economy of scale, kick in.

There is immense pressure to develop low cost lightweight batteries. As these become available, the range of production electric vehicles will go up. It may well be this year that you see “plug-in hybrids” (cars with both an electric system and a gasoline motor) where you plug them in to top-up the batteries, and next year full electrics for the masses. It is only a matter of time. We cannot afford to continue to extract oil, fight oil wars, pollute the oceans, and the air. Besides do you really think the developing countries really want to repeat the American experiment of congestion, pollution, and waste?

Already announcements for new models from Volvo, GM and Toyota will offer hybrid vehicles that can drive in electric only mode for 20, 40 and 60 miles. This is the crucial beginning, for each of these cars uses special batteries to bring about the pollution saving silent running mode. Toyota Prius owners all know what a pleasure it is to sneak up on someone in their cars, using only electricity, soon many other automobile manufactures will offer these hybrids…

I was able to ride in an electric car twice last year. A friend has an older electric pickup, which can barely make the trip from Marlboro to Brattleboro and back, (due to old batteries) and a newer Toyota Echo specially modified by a guy in Montpelier named Steve Miracle.

At any rate the Echo, was completely indistinguishable from a regular car inside the cabin and outside, except for the complete lack of engine noise as we took off. Acceleration was normal to brisk, and the handling was improved by the placement of the battery packs.

Many car companies have electric models in their line up, planned or in production.

Let’s get on with it!

Daniel Hoviss

Putney VT