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Monday, March 26, 2012

Who killed the electric car, and why they did so

Ok, I will try to keep this as succinct as possible, but there is a lot of info to go over here about EV (eletric vehicles).

Well first of all you might be asking yourself why EV's haven't been pursued in the 100+ years of the automobile. Well in fact they have been pursued. Like 100 years ago we had quite the ev market in this country. In fact just the other day I saw an antique advertisement for a GE battery charger for said vehicles. Sadly I only know of one person who was around back then an might just remember said vehicles. I will try to ask him if he does and capture it on video. Then if you go up to modern day we had the GM's EV1, Honda's EV+, Toyota's RAV4 EV, Ford's Think.

So if the automobile manufacturers have tinkered around with EV since the inception of the personal automobile why have we just recently seen them come out with them? Well first off, GM had offered the EV1 back in the 90's, and Honda, Toyota, and Ford had some ev's too. Why haven't we seen any of those-- probably because they rounded most of them up and crushed them in AZ. Those that were not crushed were disabled and given to museums.

Why would they crush them, was there a problem with them? No, there was no problem whatsoever. It seems apparent to me that they did so after BIG oil started opposing their efforts. Big oil even went so far as to start several front groups that supposedly opposed EVs, even though when checked into their membership was not as high as BIG oil reported it as. So, in short, the American people were duped by big oil and their underhanded practices.

As hard as this may seem to digest, one hundred years ago there were more electric cars on the roads than there were internal combustion driven automobiles. Why did the gas car win out over the electric car you might ask? The answer is quite simple-- automatic starters eliminated the need for hand cranking, cheap oil, and mass production (like what Henry Ford was able to do) caused the electric car to lose out to the internal combustion engine.

So what is the big problem with cars which use internal combustion engines you may ask? Well that can be summed up in one little four letter word-- SMOG Just take a trip to one of our major cities such as Los Angeles and the problem becomes very apparent.

In 1990 the California state legislature passed the ZEV (zero emissions mandate), with the help of CARB (California Air Resources Board). What the ZEV mandate said was that if auto manufacturers wanted to keep selling cars in California then a portion of them had to be ZEVs. At this point the auto makers had one of two choices: either comply with the ZEV mandate or fight it. They took a rather unique approach and decided to do both.

GM's EV1 was rather affordable to boot. It was only leased under a lease by GM's Saturn division. The car could have been had by consumers for $250 to $500 per month. And consumers were impressed by its performance. There are many stories told by leasees of going down the freeways in L.A. at 80+ mph!

Californians Against Utility Company Abuse was founded, and they fought the Californua mandate of having to put in charging stations every so often on their lines. This group was only a front for BIG oil. I can say this because when they audited the groups members they found out that many of them did not know what the groups mission was. And surprise, surprise they were funded exclusively by the oil industry! And for those of you like my friend who swears that running an electric car powered by electricity which is produced from coal it pollutes worse-- studies have shown this not to be factual at all.

Now all of this comes down to the power utilities. As I have stated on my blog before Google's rechargeit program could have substantially helped the utilities out. You see times of peak power only occur during daylight hours. With a rechargeable car you can store excess power during off peak times in its batteries and if left plugged into the grid you could then recapture that stored power during peak times. Thus seems to me like a win-win situation for both electric utilities and their customers.

Back to the ARB (Air Resources Board) in California; they signed a memorandum of understanding with the automobile manufacturers stating in effect that they only had to build ZEVs that the market dictated. What this meant in laymen speak is if they could not show a demand for the ZEVs they were making then they could stop production of such.

At this point in the story comes total malfeasance of marketing on the part of automobile manufacturers. They did not market the ZEVs like they did traditional automobiles. They did not portray a sexy woman or a good looking man driving such, as they did with traditional automobiles.

An important point should be made here about EVs-- they do not require as much maintenance that traditional automobiles do. What does this mean for automobile manufactures? Well I know this will be hard for you to understand but the majority of money that they make each year comes from parts. It is kind of like a story my grandfather told me; if you added up the cost of every part that goes into a car and added up the labor of installing them you would have a price that is much higher than just buying the total car outright. So, the automobile manufacturers were against them for this reason. See the only thing which could go wrong with an EV would be the batteries, the wiring and components, the brushes on the motor, and bearings on the motor. In other words they would be virtually maintenance free when compared to other cars on the road today.

All of this led up to a suit by auto manufacturers against the CA state law. This suit was originally brought by GM. Others soon followed suit as well. But for the life of me I am unable to determine if Ford was a party to such suit or not (anyone who knows for a fact if ford was a part to such lawsuit I welcome your comments). And what made this suit much worse was the fact that the Bush administration opposed the ZEV mandate and also was a party to such suit. What was even worse is that about this same time (2003) the Bush administration decided to focus its attention on hydrogen powered vehicles.

As was said at the time, it was more or less a bait and switch tactic used to defeat the electric vehicle. See by diverting everyone's interest to hydrogen fuel cells, interest in EVs was lost. Now what I would have to ask at this point is where would we have been at is the Bush administration has embraced EVs instead of hydrogen fuel cells at the time. What type of technology would we now have if they had spent the last decade in EV research?

California eventually killed its electric car mandate on April 24, 2003. But since that time studies have been done which say that it is better for the environment to drive an electric car powered by dirty coal than it is to drive one powered from petro.

Of course it is not surprising that the Bush administration would oppose electric vehicles, especially given the fact that both Bush and Cheney sat on the boards of oil companies before getting to the Whitehouse.

While there is no good succinct answer to the question of who killed the electric car, market forces were a good factor in the automakers decision to stop production (although this could be said to have been based on erroneous info purported by the automakers themselves); this coupled with the fact that it was going up against the absolutely huge oil companies can be said to have killed the electric car.

I will stop here for now, now that I have exposed the major players and what part they all played in killing the EV. But I would like to encourage comments and any other feedback you might have.

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