Electric cars (aka: why are people so stupid)

So I just read this article about this company called a better place, where they’re going to make money not by selling electric cars, but building and servicing the battery trading and recharging infrastructure.

Brilliant, I say.

But some of the premises are not.

Despite what anybody says, it seems to me that burning fossil fuels to make a car run is more efficient (or rather, less inefficient) than burning fossil fuels to create electricity to be transported over lossy power lines to be stored in a battery (the transfer of which also loses energy in converting to a chemical storage mechanism) only to be reconverted back into mechanical energy to make the car go.

It’s just simple physics.

But oh, they’re smarter than me, they’re going to take advantage of cheap electric rates at night to charge their batteries, and sell the power back to the grid during the day.

Maybe nobody knows this dark little secret, but the reason power is cheaper at night is because nobody’s soaking any of it up. Guess what. You start drawing lots of power at night, the electric company is going to start raising the rates at night. There goes your business plan.

Am I the only one who sees this? Maybe it’s just me.

The only way I can see electric cars even slightly working out is if you have a fleet of electric trucks parked at some huge dam. You charge the electric truck’s batteries (and the batteries they’re carrying) from the dam, and you transport the batteries to electric filling stations where the batteries are traded and brought back to the dam. It sucks, but at least there’s no fossil fuel emissions.

The problem is, there’s only so many dams in the world, people get upset when you want to dam up their river. People flip out when you want to put up wind farms, and let’s face, solar isn’t here yet, and it takes up a lot of surface area for the amount of power you get, and it only works in the sunny dry places.

Now some people point out that electric cars are a win, you just have to change your definition of winning.

If the goal is reduce car exhaust emmissions in urban areas where cars sit and idle all day, yes, electric cars are a win. But if you think you’re actually creating fewer emmissions overall (remember the loss in converting and transporting electricicty here) you’re terribly mistaken.

One Response to “Electric cars (aka: why are people so stupid)”

  1. Tom Lefebvre says:

    One other thing that hasn’t been discussed much is battery replacement.
    How much is it gonna cost when those puppies have to be replaced?
    In my little mind I’m not even thinking of an electric car – just seems
    like a real expensive nightmare. Makes those old, antiquated fossil fuel
    jalopy’s seem like a real good deal.

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