Charged Up About EVs
HAVING READ THE JUNE COVER STORY, I do not see the benefit of this forced rapid advancement of the electric vehicle market (see WAW — June '09, pp.24).
I am an electrical engineer with very close ties to the auto industry. While its demise is not surprising to me and many of my colleagues, the EV dream is the one that amuses us the most.
We have no doubt we can build the vehicles, but we chuckle at the thought of keeping them charged.
Electrical distribution in the U.S. is sorrowfully lacking. With the mentality of “Not in MY backyard” and the ultra-green people who will not allow new power plants to be constructed, just what exactly is the plan for states like California that have rolling brownouts and blackouts?
Getting the grid up to speed will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, not the paltry $11 billion committed. The restructuring of the power system will require monumental debt we will have to face. If we are to deploy a fleet of EVs, then we need to work on the grid.
Farmington Hills, MI
Grumpy Old Men
YOU GUYS ARE USUALLY NEGATIVE ABOUT most things. You're also a very old group, probably in your 60s and 70s, and seem out of touch. How about getting in some younger blood? You guys remind me of the previous GM, which fought every safety, emissions, and mileage standard ever proposed.
Drew Winter/June editorial: It is ludicrous to quote Ricardo (not even an American company) that the new emission standards for 2016 will add $5,000-$12,000 to vehicle prices. With regard to mileage, the '10 Prius already exceeds the 2020 standards in the U.S. and Europe, and you can buy one for less than $23,000 (89 grams of CO2/km).
John McElroy/Piston Engines Not Done Yet: Powertrain engineers who say, “Let me add just $1,000 worth of technology to my piston engine and let me show you what I can do,” have had the last 15 years to do that. Were they sleeping, or stalled by automotive management? You guys never like to talk about the advantages of hybrids. Every improved engine will work even better as a hybrid. Some form of hybrid technology will be on most new cars by 2016.
Jerry Flint/Ask Alice How to Save GM and Chrysler: Funny how he always knows so much more than the people running these companies. He's the typical football fan second guessing the coach on how to run the team.
Editor's note: Perhaps we need our photos retouched, or maybe steroids. McElroy and I are in our mid-50s. Flint indeed is in his 70s but brings a lot of wisdom to the table. He was one of the very few in 1979 who predicted Chrysler would rebound from its troubles and pay back its government loans.
Ricardo has a major U.S. presence, has participated in the development of many U.S. powertrains and knows a lot more about costs than the often-quoted Union of Concerned Scientists. Ricardo also is an advisor to NHTSA and other government agencies on fuel economy issues.
We often talk up hybrids. In fact, the Ford Escape Hybrid made it on our 10 Best Engines list this year. We also point out that hybrids are not a panacea that will solve auto makers' fuel economy troubles. The Prius is a fine car but not much good if you have a large family or need to tow big loads the way many Americans do.
Hybrid technology also adds a lot of cost, and consumers will only pay that added cost when fuel prices soar above $3.50 per gallon. Prius sales now are down worse than the market at large.
Journalists need to be skeptical. If “younger blood,” as you say, means editors who are more naïve and go along with ill-informed general media more often, sorry, that's not going to happen.
Thanks for your comments. Despite our healthy skepticism you will see all the new technologies detailed exhaustively in the coming months.
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