I agree. It's a systemic problem in which people buy every vehicle to do everything rather than using need-based criteria for selecting a wise vehicle for the vast majority of their usage. If you use a vehicle for commuting alone 80-90% of the time, buy a vehicle aimed at that use. You'll save a huge amount of money on fuel (as well as initial purchase price most likely) and may well consider an electric or hybrid vehicle as an alternative. Buying a commuter vehicle based on that one hauling job I might do every few months is foolish. Alternatively, rent or borrow a truck, SUV, or van for the special trips (i.e., hauling, vacations, etc.). You'll save even more than the prioritized use model described here for those atypical trips. If we as a nation would adopt such a model, the number of lone drivers in huge vehicles that we each see during our daily commutes would take a dive. The savings in emissions, foreign fuel, and disposable income would be immense. Do the math...
Having read all the comments I am surprized no one complained about the obvious:
Having had a Toyota Tercel in 1984 that got 34MPG HW (having chose it over a Honda that go 38), why should we be putting up with the auto makers bragging about charging us $10K more than an equivalent vehicle just to get up to 30MPG???
The numbers from the poll also do not reflect the expected results because the poll was a bad poll. It made an assumption that there is a direct connection between gas prices and replacing a vehicle and there isn't. For starters, to have any validity, the poll would have to have restricted the question to people that were already planning to buy a brand new vehicle. For those not in the market for a new car, having gas prices spiralling upward would more than likely prevent them from being able to afford to purchase a used vehicle, much less a $30,000-$40,000 new vehicle. Further, the poll would have needed to distinguish amongst types of vehicles or phrase the question with "assuming that an electric version of the vehicle you need were available..." I drive a pickup truck, furthermore, since it goes into muddy fields, I drive a pickup truck with 4-wheel drive capability. I can't replace that vehicle with an electric because they don't yet make them, having decided to concentrate on building wimpmobiles instead.
Finally, electric cars suffer from lack of infrastructure. Many people live in apartments, condos, or even homes that do not have a way of plugging in an electric car (ignoring the increased demand on the grid). Instead of trying to find ways to instantlly (over)charge batteries (15 minutes or less), a better idea would be be standardize on a removable battery pod dimensions (not the battery type contained inside), and it's connectors and computer interface and simply allow people to swap 'em at at a 'filling' station much the way we do with the BBQ propane tanks now - pay the difference between both charge state and battery cell state. In that case one could also have spare battery pod(s) being charged at home as well.
I agree battery life has been the limiting factor for EVs. But, I think performance, high sticker prices, surcharge, and unavailability of electric/battery charge stations along our popular freeways corridors are some of the other reasons. I believe, if these things(our EV's buyers' conerns) get improved, people will be able to embrace EVs more readily. How long that would take? I don’t know. If the gas prices stays high -- the way it is today, I think it could happen sooner.
Electric cars don't need that extensive an infrastructure change. They don't use that much power. If I drive my Honda del Sol conversion to work every day for a month, I will travel 1000 miles and use 250 kWh of electricity.
That 250 kWh of electricity is the same as someone:
Running 4 100W (400W) light bulbs for the month. Leaving the lights on in the garage all month could do that.
Running an electric clothes dryer (4000W) for 2 hours per day.
Running a big-screen plasma TV (500W) for 16 hours per day.
The power usage is definitely noticeable and it will require some changes, but the power companies have already seen changes of this order of magnitude as people went out and bought big-screen TVs.
Mr. Palmer has it exactly right. And given that 34% would buy an electric car, I can't see what all the wailing is on the enviro side. That is a huge market - fulfill that need first, then worry about converting the other 66% (57+9) to your dream.
Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. Our electric grid is not ready for the massive increase in power demand that mass produced electric cars will generate. And our electric generation capacity isn't ready by a few orders of magnatude to supply enough electricity for large numbers of them. After Fukushima, do you really want twice the number of nuclear power plants in our country to supply the new demand (and yes, some of them WILL be in your neighborhood)? And, with the increase in demand, be prepared for super expensive electricity.
Back when cars were a brand new invention, there was a gas vs. electric brawl, and gas won. Why? Not because of battery technology or motor technology. Because of power distribution. Gas is/was cheap, plentiful, fast to recharge, and eventually there was a gas station on every corner. Electric could not and still cannot compete.
Until there are solar cells or wind turbines on every roof to address the generation/distribution problem, electric cars are just another pipe dream of the elite (and nightmare for the rest of us). And yes, I want one (I just don't want the other 6 billion of us to have them).
My fear is that if Apple came out with an icar, its batteries would be non-standard, last half as long as do the Nissan Leaf's batteries, and the car would be twice as expensive. Would Apple folks buy it? Absolutely, but if sales of the iphone vs open source phones like those running Android and Windows 7 are any indication of overall market share, the Leaf + other super-high mileage cars like the Volt will far outsell it.
We need low cost, long battery life (at this point, no one knows what the life of lithium ion batteries is), the ability to buy those batteries from anyone, not just the manufacturer, reliability, and of course, standardization of connectors and plugs (Think USB, not IEEE).
I think many would agree that Apple would most likely fail at most of these requirements.
The concerns of the majority in this poll seem well-founded to me. The range is one of those concerns but especially what is the range over the life of the battery? Will it go 100 miles 3years after I buy it or is that just a Beginning-of-Life number? Temperature is another concern. Also, I have read that a typical battery replacement at the end of five years or so will be $8000! Ridiculous! And what about the colossal hazardous waste these used-up batteries will create. Why would anyone even consider such a purchase?
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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