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Average Joe
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Major news keeps buzzing about Hydrogen, Flex-fuel, E85/Ethanol, Bio-Diesel and other alternative energies but when it comes down to it, I believe that only the least common denominator will be able to survive in a world of constantly changing energy sources and that thing is called electricity.

Does anyone remember natural gas lighting in houses? How about oil? They were once a big hit, just like our oil-based engines in our cars are today. They went away for one simple reason. It's easier to convert many sources from many locations into electricity and distribute via wiring than it is to try to have competing fossil-fuel based systems in different houses. I believe the current paradigm of personal transportation is much like this.

The only big problem with electric vehicles themselves today is the cost of a high-capacity battery. It's not like they don't exist, they certainly do, but with a price tag of $50k to get a pack that will haul the car 150 miles, it's not exactly something most can afford. That is not to say that they won't be affordable in the next 5 years. Battery technology specifically has been moving at such a rapid rate that I wouldn't be surprised if that same pack were halved every 2 years, leaving it at around 10 thousand dollars in 5 years from now.

What's stopping us then? Well, for one, power distribution and the great american road trip. Charging a 200kwh pack in 5 minutes will take some serious juice, no doubt. Think 3-inch cables for that one. It isn't to say that it can't be done or that it's the only way to get there. A 1L, 3-cyl turbo diesel/bio generator would be able to sustain a 80mph cruise for a 3200lb vehicle. At that point, you're only limited by the size of the gas tank, which is the same situation as today. These are planned to be added to a few 2010 model hybrids and they should be available in some form to DIY EVers.

In the US, at least, the national power grid would most certainly be saturated if 100 million electric vehicles were on the road today. I don't think it's any cause for alarm, though. Somehow we put the infrastructure in to move how many billion gallons of gas per year in place since 1950? It can be done, and I'll tell you one thing about the electricity distribution companies - if demand is there, they'll put the infrastructure in place.

I believe EVs will become the primary personal transport not because of any political beliefs I have but because of what I call the LCD (Least Common Denominator) factor. The gist of it is that all forms of energy can be converted into electricity, but not all forms of energy are interchangable. I certainly can't fill up a diesel engine with hydrogen and if the world runs out of both Oil and Corn, well, my flex fuel vehicle isn't going to go very far. On the flip side, there will always be wind, running water, temperature differences, fusable atoms, the sun (so long as I'm alive, at least), and many other sources for generating electricity. It appears to be the least common denominator.

It only makes sense that we would make the move to the most pervasive form of energy we have which would allow for real competition in the market place and peace of mind knowing that we're not totally dependent on any one source.
 
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