Guest Column: Electric vehicles and electricity in our economy

March 23, 2011

By James C. Davis

I just did a little research on electric vehicles. Government motors was a little late getting into the game.

Early 1900s.

Columbia Runabout had a car (Volt, not their name, mine) that could travel 40 miles on a single charge. Looks like government motors was about 111 years late to reinvent that car. Of course, that was before batteries and electronics were as sophisticated as they are today.

The 1914 Detroit electric car could go 80 miles on a single charge. Clara Ford (Henry’s wife) drove one; it was her favorite car, poor Henry.

The American Morrison electric car could go 182 miles on a single charge, before lithium ion batteries.

There was an electric car built (the Baker Torpedo) that was clocked at 120 mph in 1902.

What does the Tesla (car), not to be confused with the roadster at more than $150,000, have over the Baker except a $57,000 base price tag? Of course, the Tesla has a 160-mile range. In June 2009, Tesla was approved to receive $465 million in interest-bearing loans from the United States Taxpayers Department of Energy (sound familiar, GM, Chrysler?).

In June 2010, it was reported that Tesla sold a total of $12.2 million zero-emission vehicle credits to other automakers, including Honda, up to March 31, 2010; can Gore (Al) be very far behind?

Not to be forgotten is the Wood’s Phaeton, a hybrid car. For the uninformed, it has both an electric and internal combustion engine (Volt and Prius).

At one time in 1899, 90 percent of the taxis in New York were electric; they were built by Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia, and now they are trying to bring electric taxis back to New York!!! Three cheers for Bloomberg—keep trying it until you make it work.

Doesn’t anyone read or understand history anymore? Why do the car companies (government motors) think that the American people will pay $43,000 for a vehicle that was invented in the late 1800s-early 1900s?

My next question is: What is going to power 1 million electric cars that Obama says will be on the road soon? With all the improvements in lithium ion batteries and the vastly-improved electronic controls, you still need electricity to charge the batteries.

Unless you are a complete moron, you know that electricity has to be produced. The electricity that powers the United States comes from coal, oil, natural gas and some nuclear, but coal is the greatest producer of electricity.

During the campaign, Obama and Biden said they would kill coal. They said they would make it so expensive the coal producers and the coal-fired power plants could not afford to produce electricity. That leaves oil and natural gas; if you remember, after the oil spill in the Gulf, Obama suspended all oil exploration in the Gulf even after a federal judge said it was unconstitutional.

Laws don’t matter to this man. The Obama administration has stopped all oil and natural gas leases in places where there are oil and natural gases.

There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the last 30 years because of the EPA. There hasn’t been a nuclear plant built in 25 years. The Obama administration says the United States will get its power from green energy. Where is this green energy coming from, corn? For every gallon of ethanol produced from corn, it takes $4 of energy and a great deal of water to produce it. When that corn is used for ethanol, it is lost as a food source. Brazil has been producing ethanol from sugar cane for years.

The Obama administration just gave $80 billion to Brazil for future offshore oil production. Wonder why sugar cane can’t produce enough power for their needs? Brazil has been producing ethanol a lot longer than the United States, and they now need oil. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

So the great minds in Congress and the White House said “Let’s get the power from wind, sun, algae and ethanol.” I would remind you, the American people, that 90 percent of the great educated minds (lawyers) in Congress have never had a job outside government or academia.

If the Congress great minds had ever taken any science courses instead of liberal arts classes (easy courses to graduate), they would understand you cannot produce enough power from wind, sun and algae to power this great nation, not to mention the extra 1 million electric cars Obama motors has promised at $43,000 each, with the taxpayers picking up $7,000 of the price.

So I get back to my original point—heaven help us when all the vehicles on the road, in the air and on the oceans are electric. “May the Wind Blow Strong and the Sun Shine Bright and the Algae Reproduce!!!”

I would hope the American people will look at the education of the next round of people seeking to become representatives, congressmen, Supreme Court justices and president of this great nation. Maybe a few of the next elected officials would have some science sense and common sense as well as “book learning.”

James C. Davis is a resident of Byron, Ill.

From the Marcy 23-March 29, 2011 issue

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Stewart

    March 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Good article Mr Davis. What most people don’t understand (history) is that electric vehicles are hardly new. And they are not fueled by electricity (coal cars) they are fossil fueled. But have a electric drives is an obvious good idea.

  2. Paul Gorski

    March 28, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I’m glad we have residents looking into these topics. If you dig a little deeper, you find those early mileage figures were for lighter cars at slower rates of speed. Today’s cars are heavier and generally travel at faster rates of speed, demanding more of the batteries and charging systems in electric cars.

    One problem then and now with electric cars is urban sprawl. If we restrain our sprawl there would less need for cars in general and would make the electric cars more practical. That’s more common sense than science, but I don’t see too many communities actually doing anything about it.

    Expanding public transportation, which is feasible now, would immediately reduce our need for fossil (and other) fuels. But that is seen as too costly. While it may be costly in the short-term, the long-term benefits are undeniable. Again, we have politicians failing to look at the science and common sense.

    If we had more businessmen like Mr. Stewart who have chosen to locate their businesses in existing urban areas rather than green spaces on the outskirts of town, we’d be better off. There would be a natural inclination for workers to live closer to the office, curtailing sprawl.

    While I’m not necessarily against the research into alternative technologies, some other good results may come from it, we already have the means to reduce our energy needs by controlling urban sprawl and focusing on public transportation. We simply choose not to implement those plans

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