Interesting article, no doubt. But like Rob says, don't count the ICE cars out just yet. A lightweight ICE driven vehicle with a good stop-start system could easily cut fuel consumption in half for average city driving. That much would not be difficult at all. The two big enemies are power steering and air conditioning. Pwer steering is the reason that my engine does not drop back down to idle when I shift into neutral and coast up to a red light. Some idiot has decided that it needs to hold 1500RPM for me to be able to steer. A small hydraulic accumulator would be a much better way to handle that. And for the other enemy, air conditioning, it would take a revision of the entire concept to include much better insulation so that cars would not heat up so very rapidly. And it may well be that a lot of people would much prefer that all fuel be burned up in the next few years to giving up their air conditioned vehicles. That 5 to 7 horsepower driving the compressor and fan is about equal to the power needed to drive a modern car down the road at a constant speed. But it does not seem that this unfortunate fact is given much attention, probably because the backlash would bve a show-stopper.
@ioconnor thanks for your post re. my decision on what car to buy - and yes, it's complicated and you highlighted many of the issues and concerns that I have (that weren't in the article b/c of space requirements). Thanks for the reality check!
ChriSharek: I looked at the article you mentioned, and there are some good points there. One is in my comment. The sources of electricity can become cleaner over time. There is no guarntee of that, but I would expect the trend to continue. Assuming that an industry would become as efficient as another industry over time, just becuause of increases in scale, is not a good assumption. The components of an electric car are, in many cases, the same as an ICE vehicle. Electric motors have been used in transportation for a long time (locomotives) and electric motor production will not become more efficient just because of scale in the automotive industry. The only real differentiator is the battery. That is NOT guarnteed to get better at a sufficient rate over time. I believe, without any special knowledge, that there will be another technology that will power our cars in the future.
On the other hand, considerinf the source, I wouls take the IEEE article over a NRDC article on a technical matter. If you had read the IEEE article, you would know that the author did not expect to get the answer he did. I don't believe that the NRDC would have published an article if their results were the same as the IEEE article. The IEEE has no incentive to put down electric vehicles. Their main focus is electrical. They are also a professional organization, not an advocacy group. So, I wouldn't count articles as a way of trying to find the truth.
@naperlou thanks for the feedback on the weight of the Tesla! I guess I bought into their marketing hype that the engine is of lower weight. Whoops. And also thank you for pointing out the IEEE Spectrum article on weighing the costs/benefits of EV vs. ICE. I also know that my almater, Carnegie Mellon Universitiy, did a similar study and found out that ICE had less of an environmental impact (based on today's technology for energy sources). But as you can tell from the posts that have followed yours, it's a complicated issue!
@Vimalkumarp thanks so much for being the first one to comment on the blog and thanks for your appreciation of my writing style too. I figured this topic was important for all of us on a personal level, so I wrote it as such. And I totally agree with you - we need more engineers working on the issue of smarter battery technology!
The ICE technolgoy is older than you are, Rob. It's clearly not a sustainable solution for the planet. Despite the estimates, fossil fuels are FINITE. Think of your kid's future, or your kid's kid's future!
Stupidly in Florida, we have started buying Full-Sized SUV Yukons for our Sheriff vehicles. Then our governments complain about how the Ad Valorem taxes are down and they need to "do more with less". What a joke.
Battar, you are spot on. If we would only purchase what we NEED rather than what we WANT or can afford, we would ALL be better off.
Debera, the "pollution" you're referring to that is emitted from limited number of STATIONARY, FEDERALLY REGULATED power plant stacks has more air pollution controls than you can imagine. In an Air Pollution course, we visited a coal burning plant in Orlando so we could see first hand the controls on top of controls that scrub the emissions from this plant. There is no comparison with the millions of MOBILE tailpipes some of which aren't even STATE-regulated any longer (Florida included).
With the addition of more and more solar and other renewables along with the tightening air pollution requirements, the grid is getting cleaner every day. Electricity is the ONLY correct answer.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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