Electric cars - coming to our roads soon

Electric Cars – Coming To Our Roads Soon

By Mark O’Brien

Over the past 20 years or so there have been many false starts (see Who Killed the Electric Car dvd, now avail from the ABC Shop) in the electric car future science fiction has been promising for decades.

Finally it appears, driven by a forceful Obama holding the huevos of the US auto industry in the palm of his hand, it may become a reality fairly soon.

New [US] efficiency regulations (only slightly more onerous than those introduced in the face of the ’70s oil shock by Jimmy Carter, reversed and undermined by Reagan and the Bushes) will mean that fully electric cars will start appearing on US roads en masse in the next few years.

Nissan says that 10% of its new cars will be electric by 2016, and an all electric Prius will go on sale in 2012 as will a new electric Mitsubishi.

Electric vehicles have been in the pipeline for over 100 years. An ad for electric vehicles boasting 100 miles of driving on one battery charge appeared in a 1909 US magazine.

This mileage achievement failed to come to pass, largely because the battery technology issue was not resolved – how to store enough energy in a sufficiently small and light battery to drive a car that also needs to be light weight?

Thomas Edison in 1898 promised the super battery. Modern materials and engin efficiencies seem, however, to be finally resolving these issues.

In the ’90s due to strict emissions regulations GM produced the EV1 which they leased to many happy drivers.

Once the regulations were weakened these leases were revoked and the cars were crushed (see Who Killed the Electric Car).

Other car companies also produced electric cars, though none were quite as successful, or ultimately, as missed, as the EV1.

Original article by Katharine Mieszkowski, 20/5/2009, adapted for Byron Body and Soul by Mark O’Brien


There is a push within Australia to have electric cars but regulation is making it difficult. An electric car in WA was banned because it was deemed too light and unstable for highway driving.

A US entrepeneur has plans of 1000s of charging stations nationwide within the next 5 years.

With the potential of vast resources for renewable (and importantly, locally produced) energy, Australia is well placed to support electric cars.

Much is spoken of the difficulties that we face in trying to store electricity (we can’t, at least not efficiently or economically) so having electricity stored in car batteries may be part of the solution.

Books on this subject

The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History by David Kirsch
Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America by Michael Schiffer

GreenCarReports.com by editor John Voelcker
Green Car Congress Mike Millikin, editor and founder

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