Updated: Jun 1, 2020
I bought my first hybrid 15 years ago but never made the jump to all electric. Today I spent quite a bit of time reading articles and listening to podcasts about electric cars. What I learned was illuminating. When I was finished, I determined that I would be able to step up from a hybrid to an all-electric car in a year or two. That’s right – no more than 24 months and maybe much sooner!
What would it take for you to buy one? Here is my list of what has to happen before I climb into a new electric car:
1. The darn thing has to go at least 400 miles on a charge. I take long trips and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop every 200 miles and take an hour to charge up. Going from Wisconsin to California would take longer than the train (which is a lovely trip by the way).
2. You have to be able to charge it up in about 15 minutes, maybe 20 at the most. It’s OK to charge it in your garage overnight but when you are on the road that’s a different thing.
3. There have to be enough charging stations. What's enough? I don't want to go 5 miles out of my way.
4. The battery needs to be as eco-friendly as possible. Cobalt is not eco-friendly, and the supply is limited. It’s also quite dangerous to mine.
5. Guess what! Price is a big deal. When an electric car is about the same price as one with an internal combustion engine, I’m in. All these tacked on tax credits are just a cover up for saying we’re not there yet. This has to stand on its own.
Here is the good news. Let’s take them one at a time.
1. Both Tesla and GM are touting a new battery that will run for 400 to 600 miles on a charge and last a million miles instead of 200,000. That is a game breaker. They are saying it will be in vehicles within 12 months. Nice!
2. This one is a little dicey. Today’s electric car batteries can charge up in 35 minutes of 8 hours on a 3 prong 120 outlet. That will only provide about 200 miles on their existing battery. The million mile, 400 miles to a charge battery should take a lot longer right? No, my friends it will take much less time to charge or so they say. I haven’t really been able to lock down the charging time for these new batteries. Porsche is saying their new battery will charge in 22 minutes on their new charging stations. That probably means several hours on your house current. Whatever, it’s getting pretty close to acceptable on-road charging times.
3. If you check the maps on charging stations, you’ll find them all over the place. Over 30,400 are currently in operation and thousands more are planned. I believe we are getting to the point where it will be nothing special about seeing a charging station on a block near you. Whether states and cities can keep up with demand is a problem but a good one.
4. Batteries and precious metals are a problem. Clearly, we need to develop batteries that use common and environmentally friendly materials. Tesla and GM are suggesting that cobalt is on the way out. The new batteries may soon be cobalt free.
5. Not unlike solar panels, the cost of batteries plummeting. These new babies will bring the cost of electric cars in line with the car you drive today and maybe even less since electric cars simpler. Now add to that the fact that this is very little maintenance for electric car and the battery will run a million miles. That means lower costs and less need to buy a car every 4 years.
Sure, that’s a lot of huffing and puffing. I am probably too optimistic about the ‘ready-in-twelve-month-thing’ but it isn’t far off. You will be climbing aboard your new electric car in 1-3 years. That is vital since 28% of the CO2 we are spewing into the atmosphere comes from transportation.
It costs $2.25 to run a gas powered car 100 miles (cost of gas varies) while an electric car costs are $1.15. The electrical power source infrastructure is rapidly moving to solar energy so the new cars will soon be powered for the most part by the sun which is now the cheapest source of power available.
So, what happens to all those people who make the components for internal combustion engines? Well, the same thing that happened to all those people who made their living off horses when the model T took over. Disruption and redirection. It won’t happen overnight so there will be time to move people to the jobs these new technologies will generate.
So, you can plan to buy that new electric car on June 4th, 2022 (if not sooner). That would be my birthday! I’ll see you at your car dealer. Shall we say 2:00 PM?