Now might be a good time to talk again about the promise of the electric or fuel-cell vehicle. Given the Gulf of Mexico disaster, one would hope that it must start to penetrate, sooner rather than later, that it is past time to leave the internal combustion engine behind. The naysayers talk about the “romance” of this approach to propulsion. The public won’t embrace the technology, they tell you. Well, the internal combustion engine is as fossilized in this day and age as the fuel from which it derives its power, and people are starting to realize it.
One of the leaders in rolling out the electric car has been Nissan-Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn. He’s predicting global sales of 500,000 to one million vehicles per year within four years. This recent Reuters article notes the construction of new plants and Ghosn says “We have enough capacity to start the mass marketing of electric cars, but if we see when December comes that the hand-raising and pre-orderings transform fully to sales, we are going to have to make a decision about adding additional capacity.”
Very importantly to all of this also is the key driver of federal policy. Electric Car Bills in Congress Seen As Route to Oil Independence is the story from SolveClimate. This is good public policy, embraced by energy and environmental wonks, and is definitely what the doctor ordered. Let’s see how it plays out.
Meanwhile, in China, they’re going to support the industry with subsidies. Reuters also reports here that the government has a pilot program in a number of cities for EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles to get the ball rolling. The FT’s “Energy Source” echoes that story here in that analysts at JBC Energy “…expect 9 per cent of Chinese passenger fleet to be electric by 2020.”
In California, the ground-breaking Tesla Motors is going to re-open a recently closed car-manufacturing facility, according to this story at “EERE Network News.” Toyota is going to take a stake in this project. It’ll still be a high-end car, but Tesla thinks it will sell.
Oh yeah, where are you going to charge that thing? They’re working on that. See this item about Coulomb Technologies. They’re building out close to 5,000 charging stations now – just for openers. (See also Project Better Place for another model of how to service the EVs of the future.)
I noted the other day here the carbon reduction bang for the buck you get with EVs and biomethane vehicles. Another advantage to electric vehicles is the capacity to store electricity and feed it back to the grid when it’s needed. This is called ‘vehicle to grid’ power, or V2G. The good folks at the University of Delaware, among others, have been developing this concept.
Given what we know, it is imperative to move from a fuel-based energy economy to the Technology-Driven Economy. Can you say now? Louder! I can’t hear you. That’s it. (Tell your friends.)
See also this interview with Steve Heckeroth of Plug-In America.