Monday, January 18, 2016

Electric Cars

Watching the Tour de France, I noticed the ads for the new all-electric Nissan Leaf.  I checked it out online and it seems interesting.  You'll get about 100 miles on one charge, which means I would pretty much have to charge it every other day for my 45 mile round-trip commute, plus quick trips out for lunch.  That's ok, but you really need to install a 240v charger in your garage, which costs an extra two grand or so.  Yes, it'll trickle charge on a regular 110v socket, but will take forever for a full charge.  Not great, but at least a common way to charge.  If you don't monitor the distance on your current charge, well, you'll get stuck somewhere with no way to get back without a quick charge.  There aren't many charging stations around here (zero), but maybe if it takes off there will be plenty.  (Hmm ... not putting in money on that bet, yet.)  I think this will be the right direction towards gasoline free cars, but the cost of electricity is bound to rise more, as it is already doing so.  We just don't notice it as much.  Are electric cars really environmentally friendly?  Yes and no.  Yes, they are in a local sense, but not in the overall picture.  However, it may be better than the alternative of burning petro.  Most electricity is generated using fossil fuels, mainly coal.  So, the footprint is still there, just not as large, and indirect.  Now, if it could recharge itself while it's running to the extent that you only have to do a full charge once a week or every 400-500 miles, then this would be the idea vehicle for energy savings.  I expect it to happen in the future, but for now it's more like a suped-up golf cart.  Well, maybe more than that, but limited to commuting less than 100 miles round trip.  Kou-dos to Nissan as it is definitely in the right direction.

Now I just saw a quick overview of Chevrolet's Volt, a hybrid of sorts.  It can go 35-40 miles on electric power, then switches to the gas engine.  I'm thinking to myself, what's the point of that.

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