ColumnistsGolden Years

Are Electric Vehicles Ready for Big Time?

By Harold Miller    Email:

Nearly a decade ago, I road tested one of the first electric vehicles for our local Syracuse utility, Niagara Mohawk. I remember the feeling was quite different. No gearshift, no clutch — smooth (and fast) acceleration.

The handling was a bit stiff because of high pressure tires (to minimize road friction) but there was no exhaust smoke.

Today, every major automobile manufacturer is developing electric vehicles, but currently only 2% of cars on the road are electric.

Our government is strongly promoting and subsidizing EVs. The most obvious advantage is eliminating pollution — particularly in major cities along both coastlines. Pollution can take the form of any substance, solid, liquid or gas.

Another variation of electric vehicles is plug–in hybrids.

A combination of a gasoline internal combustion engine and plug-in batteries (EVs), However, according to JD Powers the hybrids have about 40% more problems than simpler EVs at this time.

The person who is the biggest factor for the future of electric vehicles, without a doubt, is Elon Musk.

He recently gathered his management team together (he called them his investment team). Usually his cars are the stars of Tesla Inc.’s management team —even if Wall Street wanted an update on their efforts to develop a new cheaper electric car.

Investor day’s message is that the company is bigger than just Elon Musk. His goal is to boost deliveries of Tesla cars to 20 million next year from last year’s 1.3 million. However, in order to achieve this he will have to extend their range. My five-passenger BMW with a 350 horsepower, dual turbo engine, has a range of 550 miles. I have not encountered an electric car of equal performance that has a range of more than 300 miles.

General Motors has pledged all of its vehicles will be electric by 2035. All of U.S. carmakers will probably fall in line.

Toyota, the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer, is silent about its plans for the future. But you can bet that Asian car makers will not let the world go by — and neither will European vehicle manufacturers.

I have a couple of thoughts about the future of vehicles.

There are several forms of non-polluting energy such as nuclear and hydrogen which can be applied to vehicles and does not pollute.

I have read that a miniature nuclear plant could be applied in your vehicle and a tablet could energize it for a year or so, like the tiny battery in your electric watch.

The ‘waste’ from hydrogen is water.

Sooner or later our planet will run out of fossil fuels, so we might as well start using renewable ‘green’ energy now.