Monday, June 13, 2011

Electric Vehicle Adoption: Ready Or Not - Here It Comes

I want to rant about something before I write this post... Why one earth did this person walk into the an essentially empty coffee shop and sit across the table facing me? Now whenever I let my mind wander and look away from my screen, I am forced to make awkward eye-contact with this creep.

Annoying... but I digress.

As if it a huge surprise, people seem to be talking more and more about electric vehicles these days. Lets recap if you are having trouble wrapping your brain around this phenomenon:
  1. Gas prices are ridiculously high and continue to be relatively volatile.
  2. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have been rolled out to a highly demanded market.
  3. Ford and Toyota have announced their upcoming plugin vehicles respectively.
  4. President Obama is still aiming at the (relatively unachievable) goal of 1 million EV's on the road by 2015.
  5. Steven Chu has been sexing it up with Coulomb Technologies in California after they reached their 500th charging station in North America.
  6. Google announced the largest corporate charging infrastructure to date.
  7. Almost every day there is announcement on technology promising to make charging faster.
It would seem that there is a definite trend towards EV adoption, but there are still people that are resistent to the adoption of this technology. Putting aside the tired commentary that these people are the same as the crowd that was "against automobile adoption when horses are just fine," these people do bring up some fine points that I am going to systematically attac...I mean address now.

EV's Are More Carbon Intensive To Produce

I am not going to argue against this point mainly because there are 500 different environmental studies of what is actually going into the production of these batteries...mainly because the companies that are producing these batteries guard their intellectual property as if their lives depended on it.

However, the carbon emissions from vehicles is well documented and the numbers don't lie. They are terrible. I seriously find it hard to believe that the one time environmental impact expenditure of producing a battery for a EV is more damaging than the repeated beating of extracting, producing, and burning gasoline.

Electricity Is Just As Dirty As Gasoline

Coal is filthy. No doubt about that. However, this argument is assuming that going forward we are going to continue building more coal-fired electricity plants as we continue to maintain our infrastructure.

This simply isn't the case because the world is moving towards more renewable energy production, the most recent case being Boulder, CO who is aiming to get 90% of their electricity from clean sources. It is unrealistic that all of America is going to get all of their electricity from clean sources in the near future, but eventually we are going to have a much high percentage which will make this argument of electricity not being any cleaner than gasoline pointless.

EV's Don't Have Adequate Charging Times Or Driving Distances

I don't have a great argument here because the fact is that both of these points is true. Until EV's can get longer driving distances, there is going to be a need to charge your vehicles more frequently which is disappointing if you just think about the charging times.

However, by ramping up charging infrastructure, you can mitigate these concerns of charging because people don't drive super long distances very often and parking and charging your car while you go shopping or while you are at work becomes less of a big deal.

With that said, Steven Chu has been motivated to have cheaper, longer ranged EV's for consumers in the near future, and I am not one to bet against that guy.

Thats all for now... and you guessed it - I really just wrote this post so I could post my favorite photoshop of Steven Chu.

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