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Forum > Renewables

Electric Vehicles

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Future Transport Solutions Will Require More Than Electric Cars

University of Vermont assistant professor Richard Watts believes policies need to be implemented that dis-incentivize car use and encourage other forms of mobility: walking, biking, public transit, car-pooling.  

It certainly is fun to slip behind the wheel of an electric car. But if we aim to build a truly more sustainable transportation system, one that reduces greenhouse gas emissions AND addresses other social, physical and environmental impacts, we have to get out of our cars and use other forms of transportation.

Electric cars should be part of the solution — but the focus should be first on reducing use, providing real alternatives to the car, building communities that enable walking and biking, and living in ways that reduce our auto-dependence.

Borrowing the electricity heuristic of “negawatts” from Amory Lovins: The cleanest, greenest, cheapest mile is the “nega-mile,” the mile not driven in a car.

Yes, electric cars are cool. I’ve spent hundreds of hours behind the wheel of these peppy, quiet vehicles as the former director of an electric car research and demonstration project in Vermont.

And the promise of solving our transportation challenges — one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, for example — by simply switching fuels is alluring. President Obama has called for 1 million electric cars by 2015.

State policymakers also have embraced the idea. Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan calls for 90 percent renewable energy by 2050, in all sectors, identifying electric cars as a core strategy: “The state considers that the conversion of Vermont’s vehicle fleet to plug-in electric vehicles, including hybrids, is the best long-term path to reduce transportation fuel consumption by light-duty vehicles” (CEP, Volume 2, page 259).

Switching fuels in our cars allows life to go on as-is, and potentially “plug in” to cleaner energy. Anything else would be a major disruption.

For example more than three-quarters of us drive alone to work every day. Of the billions of trips made every day, more than eight out of 10 of them are in a motor vehicle, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
(See the administration’s 2009 National Household Travel Survey at http://bit.ly/NHTS2009 for a data-driven look at our automobile addiction.)

Technology solutions are easier for policymakers, because they don’t require behavior change. But switching fuels does not address other issues associated with driving, such as the impacts on human health, land use and the social fabric of our communities.

For example, sociologist Robert Putnam found that every additional 10 minutes spent driving cuts community involvement by 10 percent: “The car and the commute ... are bad for community life” (“Bowling Alone,” page 213).

And what about the almost 10 percent of households that don’t own vehicles? Or the elderly who outlive their ability to drive a car? And young people, without access to activities without a car? Do we really want to endorse a car-centered world?

This is the problem with switching vehicle fuels as a central transportation strategy. You can’t endorse and fund an auto-centered system and also expect other modes — walking, biking, public transit, car-pooling — to thrive.

In Vermont, for example, we spent less than 8 percent of the total transportation budget (about $450 million in 2010) on providing alternatives to personal vehicle travel (UVM Transportation Research Center Energy Report, page 16: Table 5-2).

Imagine for a minute if we spent $400 million on providing real alternatives to automobiles? If we gave people real choices? Safe sidewalks, more frequent bus service, roads that were safe for bikers?

Instead of automobiles (whatever they run on), we should put “nega-miles” at the center of our sustainable transportation planning.

And here is the hopeful news. Even in a place like Vermont, according to an analysis by the TRC, 39 percent of all trips were less than two miles, and one-quarter were less than a mile  :o (TRC Energy Report, page 11).

Some higher percent of those trips could be/should be captured by other modes. But it will take policies that dis-incentivize car use and focus on behavior — charging the real cost for parking, for example — that will challenge the existing system.


Fuel vs Electric Cars: The Great Race Begins

 Thomas Blakeslee 
 August 26, 2013  |  72 Comments

The amazing success of the Tesla model S proves that electric cars may have a chance of replacing liquid fueled vehicles in the long run. Skeptics point out that most of our electric power today comes from coal, which is dirty and inefficient. We must change to clean, renewable energy sources but is that really practical? The Tesla has proven that we can use photovoltaic solar power to recharge pure electric cars. Let’s calculate how much land is needed to renewably fuel a car using several possible electrical and biofuel approaches.

I recently purchased a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid car. It is the perfect laboratory for this experiment because it can run on pure electricity or as a gasoline hybrid. In the electric mode it can go 38 miles on a 10.8 kilowatt-hour recharge. That’s 3.5 miles per kilowatt hour. Allowing for power transmission and charging losses, let's use 3 mi/kWh. I will compare the land use efficiency of several real approaches to renewable power using both liquid fuel and electricity. We will calculate the number of miles per year that can be driven using an acre of land to produce the power. We can then compare the miles/year/acre numbers for some real-world renewable energy approaches

Full article with knock down drag out comments war here:  :o  ;D


750 horsepower electric car

One horsepower = 0.745699872 kilowatts

This car has FOUR 138 KW MOTORS (one on each wheel with its own individual drive mechanism). The cornering ability at high speeds is beyond belief! They can alter torque instantly (without braking - something not possible in an ICE car) to improve cornering.

Way too pricey  :P but this quiet, maintenance free machine is definitely the wave of the future.   8)

The Germans are not waiting for the fossil fuelers and nuke pukes to realize that unsustanable dirty energy has to go. In the video above, everyting you see is technologically possible NOW. The video is a trip to a future when gasoline stations are part of our fossil fuel folly energy PAST.
If gasoline stations are to survive at all, they will have to be renewable energy ethanol fuel stations instead.  8)


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