It's Time to Face Facts: The Petroleum-fueled Car Has Its Limits

By Bill Moore

Posted: 29 Jan 2010

David Booth, a columnist for the Financial Post in Canada, recently took a swipe at electric cars in an article entitled, It's time to fact facts: The electric car has its limits. In addition to citing the usual skeptics in the auto industry, the very folks who have a vested interest in the status quo, he makes what he considers the coup de grace comment...

Which leads us directly to the most spurious counterargument made by advocates of the BEV. Depending on the constituency surveyed, goes the mantra, the typical daily commute is between 28 and 40 km, well within the range of even the balkiest of purely electric vehicles.

The problem is that very few of us buy vehicles for such a singular purpose. A single, solitary vehicle must serve all our motoring needs -- we don't buy cars just for what we typically do, but what we sometimes do.
Now this observation is largely true. Every once in a while, most of us want to drive further than 30 or 40 miles, generally for some special event: a holiday vacation, a sporting event, an emergency trip for a family funeral. But it is also true that a sizable share of Canadian households own more than one motor vehicle: 45% to be exact; and 58% of those households "drove trips over 100 km at least once during the past 30 days..."

How many trips, the study didn't say. But it also doesn't rule out the possibility that one of those two vehicles couldn't be a Nissan Leaf or Think City. And, of course, this is precisely why General Motors -- with the help of both the U.S. and his own Canadian government -- decided to develop the Volt instead of the EV II. It's also why Better Place has developed its under-two minute battery exchange technology and others are working on 15- minute fast charges.

But leaving that issue aside for the moment, let's talk about the limits of the internal combustion engine motor vehicle, including his vaunted Bemmer. Here are at least seven reasons why Mr. Booth's petroleum-fueled automobile also has its limits.

So, Mr. Booth may have his issues with the electric car, but he should also take a minute to realize that his high-maintenance, petroleum-dependent, pollution spewing, inefficient air-burner, has its limitations as well, limitations that cast a long shadow over its future.

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