Why Electric Cars Will Never Become A Popular Phenomenon

Kurt Cobb sees obstacles to widespread acceptance and urges we rid ourselves of our ruinous car culture.

Published: 09-Jan-2011

Many automobile enthusiasts believe that the electric car is the wave of the future that will help save the environment while expanding the availability of private transport to the world's growing middle class. They are likely wrong on both counts.

Not too long ago a dinner guest at a party I attended told me that my concern about the peaking of global oil production was misplaced. Didn't I know that the electric car was already on its way? That a lot of smart people were involved in making it a reality before too long? That the main problem of charging on long trips had already been solved with battery switching stations that could now be deployed?

I registered my skepticism that the electric car would ever become a widespread phenomenon. I cited resource constraints for key metals needed for batteries and the length of time needed to turn over the existing car fleet--around 17 years in the United States, for example. That assumes, of course, that the necessary infrastructure to produce such a fleet is already in place, which it isn't and won't be for some time, if ever.


TREV two-place electric car

Student-built vehicle can do 0-60 in 10 seconds with top speed of 75 mph. Photo courtesy of University of South Australia.

Arcimotor plans to sell the vehicle for under $20,000.

The all-electric prototype took two years and $100,000 to build and has range of 50 miles.

Front view of Arcimoto Pulse being developed outside Portland, Oregon.

Professional planner Larry Weymouth thinks our urban transportation system can be adapted to the realities of the new century.


blog comments powered by Disqus