Saturday, February 14, 2009

Electric Cars

So, ever since I saw “Who Killed the Electric Car,” I’ve been somewhat interested in this vehicle, though haven’t studied it in any depth by any means. But I find it irritating that the Chevy Volt is being touted as a new innovation, when not only have electric vehicles been around for almost as long as internal combustion engines but that there were a number of models out and about in the 1990s (which were withdrawn and scrapped without a real explanation as soon as California lifted its regulations requiring a certain number of 0-emission vehicles on the road). Anyway, that’s the thesis of the documentary.

In today’s paper there’s an article on the Volt. Costing between $30K and $40K it can go up to 40 miles on a charge. After that a small internal combustion engine kicks in. So, for local trips only.

Later in the paper, there’s a review of the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car. Now, I’m not a car guy by any means, but wow! Interestingly, this high performance vehicle can go about 200 miles on a charge (if going fast; if going slower—as if!—it can get up to 240 miles). Also for fairly local trips. This is for the very exclusive price of $109K, so I won’t be making that down payment any time soon.

But, running the numbers, if you divide car price by mileage, here’s what you get: the Volt, taking the midrange price: $35,000/40=$875/mile. The Tesla, taking the lower mileage: $109,000/200=$545/mile!

I’m not sure what to conclude from this, except I doubt that the Volt will be as impressive as it probably could be, and doubt that Chevrolet’s heart is really in it. Though I would have said that before I read these articles anyway.

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