I’m seeing a lot of skepticism about electric cars.
In a recent article, Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane complains that electric vehicle batteries run down more quickly in cold weather than they do in warm weather. “Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would consider buying (an electric vehicle) - especially if he or she lives north of the Mason-Dixon Line,” he writes.
And for those who do venture to purchase an electric car, Congressman Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, says the nation’s power system is not ready to meet the increased demand that electric cars are likely to place on it over the next 20 years. “We’re going to need 30 to 40 percent more electricity by the end of the next decade, and we’re not prepared,” he told an audience in Michigan.
President Obama would like to see the U.S. become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. That is an ambitious goal, considering that China expects to hit the one million EV mark by 2020. A Detroit News headline pronounced the U.S. goal “undoable,” citing a report sponsored by Indiana University.
Retired Ford executive Gurminder Bedi, chairman of the panel that produced the Indiana report, “Plug-In Electric Vehicles: A Practical Plan for Progress,” (http://www.indiana.edu/~spea/pubs/TEP_combined.pdf) says a successful national program for electric vehicles “will require an unusual degree of cooperation between industry and government, and a clear focus on the needs and concerns of consumers.” He adds, “We believe that PEVs are an idea whose time has come, but it’s clear that the technology needs a redoubled investment in time, energy and money from both government and the auto industry before PEVs become part of our automotive mainstream.”
The Washington Post’s Lane believes such an investment (another word for spending?) would be a bad idea. Last fall he wrote, “…the Obama administration’s commitment of $5 billion in loans and grants for electric cars is the biggest taxpayer rip-off since corn-based ethanol. It benefits no one but a few well-to-do car buyers and politically connected companies. Any “green” jobs these rent-seeking firms create will vanish when consumers reject their products and/or the subsidies cease.”
Should the U.S. government support the evolution of electric vehicle technology?