Or: Where’s the catch?
Let’s first review the current situation. This is going to be mostly from a BusinessAdmin point of view (or somewhat close to that) – not gonna go into “Who Killed The Electric Car” (because I haven’t seen it) and won’t talk about some whacko law that California implemented or didn’t or fucked up or something (because I don’t care – that’s not what’s gonna bring change).
Okay, first of: went to the gas station today. 55 litres for the equivalent of a bit more than 100$. That works out to about 8.33$/gallon (if my calculations are correct). Yeah, stop whining about 4$/gallon. It’s beginning to hurt a little (well, not me since I’m not the one paying but at least it’s pissing me off). That’s the current situation – not gonna get a whole lot better anytime soon either.
Now, technology. Jay Leno has a Tesla Roadster. It sells for roughly 100’000$ and has pretty decent specs – go read its wikipedia page, 3.9 secs to 60 mp/h, yadda, yadda, yadda. MONEY: 0.03$/mile. Which apparently works out to about 350mpg. Don’t give a shit about the other calculations made there but this shows two things: one, it’s environmentally friendly, two, it’s financially viable. If they can sell a nice sports car for roughly the equivalent of a Porsche and it’s gonna give me 350 mpg – well, I’m sold. The rest is marketing and very doable. Sure, it’s possible that they’re not making a profit yet but it appears to be solid. With a range of more than 200 miles I don’t exactly see a terrible problem on that front either – yeah, you’re not gonna drive halfway across the US in it but 200 miles is decent.
Next. Renault-Nissan want to offer a complete range of all-electric cars by 2012. Expected price: 25’000$. Range:
But lithium-ion battery technology could push range to 200 miles, and fast-charge systems promise to provide a 70% top-up in only a little more time than it takes to fill a tank with petrol.
So, that one’s the less-than-luxury version.
Now, what might I personally be interested in? Oh, it’s Tesla Motors again! The Tesla White Star. Selling at around 50’000 – 65’000$ and competing with cars such as the BMW 5 series (which I’m currently imaging as my first purchase). Release date: 2010. If its range is in the area of 200+ miles as well – great, I’m pretty much sold.
Conclusion: it’s doable at a reasonable price (25k, 65k and 100k respectively), with decent range (200 miles) in the foreseeable future (now, 2010, 2012). Obviously, these are subject to change. Stuff might get a bit more expensive (add 10k), it’ll certainly take longer than expected (2011, 2015), it’ll take some time for gas stations to adapt to this/new ones to spring up (why not just add an additional thing for charging electric cars (“70% top-up in only little more time…”)?) – none of that changes the basic conclusion: it’s either “where’s the catch?” or “this is gonna happen”.
Not surprisingly, I’m not one to buy into the whole “oil corporations”/”car manufacturers”/”insert favourite evil corporate capitalists” will make sure this doesn’t happen argument. For one simple reason: if these numbers are legit, there are huge profits to be reaped here. Greenery is fashionable, it comes at an affordable price (it’s actually cheaper) – what’s not to love?
Here’s what I dislike:
- No noise. A car has to be noisy. Solution: IIRC Ferrari already does something like this. Add artificial sound.
- No proper acceleration. It’s too fast and I just love that feeling. Solution: they’ll figure something out. Maybe it’s not that important.
- Range. Solution: they’re already solving this. Add a couple gas stations that offer the necessary services, maybe even hybrids (even though I don’t like that).
Not a terribly long list, huh? Nothing that can’t be solved fairly easily, huh? Nothing that requires government action, huh? And that’s where the real problem is:
This doesn’t force people to suffer.
No suffering. No communism. No redistribution. No government expansion. We solve the problem of transportation just like that. Cheap. Easy. Affordable. No change of behaviour. Marketing will take care of the rest – cool cars, cheap cars, safe cars. Whatever.
However, this doesn’t give the environmentalists what they want. There’s a whole list of things that they’d want up there – and none of it will be given to them by this. Additionally, it’s not emissions-free unless you have some kind of cheap energy source. Oh, that’s right: Nuclear. Fucking. Power.
But they hate that. (cue: something happened in Slovenia, we’re all gonna die, we can’t afford any risk: listen up fuckers: yes we can afford risk. You’re constantly taking risks. There’s a price to avoiding risks. And at some point that price becomes too high – even for you – and nuclear power becomes a necessity. Kinda like how we always seem to find builders even though the risks are pretty high. I refer you to Mankiw’s introduction to economics, it’s explained a lot better somewhere in there and apparently the average human values his own life at around 10 million $).
Even if it’s not gonna be nuclear power – make it renewable energy or something. I don’t care. It’s doable. WITHOUT any government action. Government action actually fucks things up (biofuels, anyone?).
Bottom line: Unless I’m missing something, this part of “global warming” will pretty soon no longer be a problem. Sure, there’s the issue of China and India – but they don’t concern us. Seriously, they don’t. Nothing we can do about them (directly) and nothing that the lefties can make us suffer for.
Let’s run the numbers (conservatively). Let’s assume Nissan puts out their cars by 2016. Others follow. By 2020 plenty of options will be available – and on purely financial reasons, current cars won’t be attractive anymore. A cursory look at Google reveals that the average car is designed for about 10 years. Let’s raise that to 12. And let’s say this is true for 80% of all cars. What’s it mean? It means that by 2032 (that’s 24 years from now – I’ll be 44) 80% of vehicles will be electric cars. Much better than current ones. Cheaper. Longer range. With gas stations offering the necessary services. Just look back ten years and consider how much the internet changed. How much television changed. And, yes, how much cars changed.
In my opinion, as a libertarian (and possibly even as a man-made global-warming skeptic) – this is going to happen. Simply because there’s huge profits in it. End of story. Problem solved. Just like. Yay capitalism.