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Average Joe
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Recently, I was discussing my vision of electric cars on american roads with a few different people. During the course of the conversations, I explained the limitations of range, battery life, charging and top speed. What I ended up explaining was that pure EVs are going to require an acceptance of different driving habits from most drivers. There will be exceptions, of course, but for most families there will be 2 major options: Drive hybrids or have 2 cars. Both of these options will work for most people.

Driving hybrids is a very obvious choice and is already working for many hybrid owners. As we all know, hybrids have both a gas engine and an electric motor and really take advantage of the electric motor by using it to regenerate electricity instead of braking, which gives great efficiency when used for city driving with a lot of stop-and-go action. They generally have the same range as a regular gas-powered vehicle and can fill up on gas when low.

Having a pure EV will require a little more planning by the owner as the limitations include a limited range, often times being 20-60 miles and a lengthy recharge time which can be 4-8 hours. The 80/20 rule will apply to many families as generally one or both parents commute no more than 15 miles to work, which as a 30 mile 2-way trip is very achievable with a pure electric vehicle. This fact alone has a tendency to worry the average American.

It is my belief that americans like to feel like their car enables their freedom to go wherever they'd like and do whatever they want on a moment's notice. In the 50s, cars were touted as the great enabler of the American dream: the road trip. Driving cross country in a large sedan, filling up and stopping wherever they please, americans have always been sold the idea that cars equal freedom and success. That idea doesn't need to die but it may need a little refining.

The next 50 years may bring several changes of energy sources and new modes of transportation. Experts disagree on the amount of oil left in the earth's crust. Some say 20 years, others say 60. Beyond that there are supposedly large reserves of natural gas which can power some already-in-production vehicles. The fact of the matter, though, is that these are non-renewable energy sources. If they don't run out in 10 years, they will in 100. You can't escape the fact that the earth will eventually run out of oil, gas and coal. While we can adapt our vehicle technologies to use either oil, gas and maybe even coal, I don't believe it makes sense to keep switching from one direct energy source to another. The infrastructure changes alone would be prohibitively expensive.

For that reason alone, I believe that eventually we will all have to accept and embrace purely electric vehicles at some point. For now, the big issue is range, but that doesn't have to stop people from owning an electric car.

So what's the solution for families with 2 working parents? Have 2 cars: One electric, one gas/hybrid. It may not be a perfect solution, but it does allow for road trips and travel to anywhere one would want to go in the hybrid. The electric will cover a daily commute to and from work and does apply well to some 80% of the country.

Unfortunately with the way the world is continuing to mercilessly eat up fossil fuels, we won't all be able to have our cake and eat it, too, but with a little common sense, planning and understanding, we should only feel so priveleged to be able to continue using a mode of personal transportation to get us to and from work every day.
 

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I think you are right about the idea of how a car represents freedom to go anywhere and do anything, and that an EV just doesn't allow that. EV's will probably not be the car of choice for young people exploring their new found freedoms. However, for most families who already own two cars or more, I think many will easily see the benefits of an EV.

I was recently talking to good friends of mine about this idea for their needs. She is a sales rep and has a company car which she drives all over the state. He, on the other hand, is an air traffic controller at the local airport. He drives a fixed amount of miles twice a day, five days a week. He is very open to having an all electric car for this commute. In fact, he may be interested in me building him one.

Here's another thought. My daughter will be of driving age in a few years, and I was thinking that an EV is the absolute perfect car for young drivers. It can be built that it will only go so fast (a lower voltage system), and it will only go so far! Great for young drivers who want their freedom but have yet to develop the skill and experience of too much driving. My daughter may well get a two seated 72volt EV as her first car!
 

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That's a good line of thought Patrick. Having a speed-limited vehicle for a learner-driver could be quite an advantage.
Hmmm... Got me thinking now...
 

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Yeah, Kiwi, it IS a good idea.

The Australian (or was it just in NSW) govt tried a similar thing with legislation that restricted L and P platers to certain car weights. It has been a disaster for several reasons:

1. They didn't legislate on power-to-weight ratio. So these hoons are legally allowed to drive BMWs, Imprezas and Skylines other hoon-mobiles which are manifestly over-represented in crash statistics.

2. When an under-25 male of foreign pedigree is convicted and their car impounded, guess who shows up at court the next day? His mum, pleading with the judge to show mercy since, GET THIS, "It's mah car, wegistered to me (because I'm a pensioner and get a discount) and if yoo tik it away, who will tik mah uddah chillren too skool?"

So the teenager gets his turbo RX7 back immediately, drops mum home and goes right back out and does it again. :mad: :eek:

The sad part is our judges believe them and allow it to happen. Honestly, what mum drives around in a $40,000 sports car?

So much for legislating a good idea...

As usual, we'll just have to do the right thing on our own.
 

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As someone who wants an electric battery powered car here are a few thoughts everyone should have about them.
I have a 1 way 30 mile commute 60 miles roundtrip. I am going to either need a battery pack that can go that far in one charge or an employer who is receptive to installing outlets for battery recharging at work. So if you are going to drive one you must be able to make the round trip safely.
The auto manufacturers need to realise that price sells cars. If they think the average working person can afford a $40,000.00 car, they might as well go ahead an close down shop. These vehicles have to affordable or no one is going to buy them, $12,000 to $20,000 is going to be about the range that sells. I know battery technology is the main reason cars are presently so expensive, I know the trend to make hybrids is big, but that also ads to the cost and kills them on prices. Batterys will come down in price and that will help, but until the car manufacturers get it we are left to our own devices. I have seen on You tube some very nice self converted vehicle. I know that I can make a converted vehicle work for me because I seldom deviate from a set routine. I could rent a car if I needed to go on a long trip or use a car I already have. I just wish that the prices of the parts were more affordable. I know its probably not happening, but one can always dream.:)
 

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The parts ARE affordable if you shop around. I used a rebuilt forklift motor, and a battery pack from Sam's club. The controller is the only thing you need that is custom. Sometimes you will se a used one on E-Bay. Keep trying and good luck.
 

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With the prices of lithium going down so fast, you are going to see more and more regular peoples cars using them. You will see regular electric cars with 100 mile ranges and so on. If you need to go farther, (like on a cross country trip) you could rent or buy a power boost trailer as needed.

If people only knew how much money an EV could save them they would be all over them in a heart beat. But alas the major auto makers have convinced people that they neeeeeeeeed cars with 300 mile and up ranges and that EVs are new untested technology.

Obviously both are falsehoods and we should all do our best to correct them in everybody we know.
 

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This couldn't be more true; my parents plus my siblings equal a family of five; sadly, our separate lifestyles mean three separate cars. However, the facts are these; as a family we don't travel far together almost ever, and for that an load-lugging we can keep the Volvo. The rest of the time an EV would suffice AND avoid congestion charges...
 
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