>With the introduction of electric and plug-in hybrids in the car market we are going to have to begin using a different way to measure efficiency. After all, no gallons are involved in an electric vehicle. Richard Truett in the November 16, 2009 issue of Automotive News reports on a way to measure efficiency of electric vehicles by using a $/100 miles conversion. Of course the average price of electricity varies across the country but an average price is quoted as $0.12/kilowatt-hour. If an electric vehicle uses 4.4 kwh/10 miles then the energy cost per 100 miles is $5.28 (4.4x10x$0.12= $5.28). Assuming an average price of $3.21/gallon of gasoline and a 25mpg vehicle, the cost per 100 miles for a gasoline powered car is much higher at $12.84/100 miles. Calculating the cost for a plug-in hybrid is more complicated but still averages less than a standard gasoline powered car.
Now, there are several major issues in using plug in technology. The first is that the energy produced in this country comes largely from fossil fuel sources and thus would be shifting the transportation energy needs of the country from petroleum to coal and natural gas. Coal is a particularly nasty polluter and increased demand for electricity would potentially mean more demand for coal (unless the coal lobby and those politicians who represent them suddenly drop of the face of the earth). Renewable energy output will increase but we all know the strength and influence of the fossil fuel lobby in this country is enormous. It is why we haven’t moved away from them in the past. Remember when Reagan removed the solar panels from the White House?
Another obvious issue is the cost of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. They can be prohibitively expensive even with the associated fuel savings. Nobody wants to see an $80,000 or even $300,000 price tag for the latest technologies on the market. The price has to be reduced in order for electric vehicles to be viable. Despite these concerns, electric vehicles may be the way of the future. Petroleum is a finite resource and supplies will eventually not be able to meet demand. At least people are now addressing these issues in meaningful ways. I don’t think the electric car will be killed again. Talk about something we can’t afford.