The Future of Cars is Electric

This is a real interesting read about electric cars from the CEO of Tesla Motors, makers of all electric vehicles.

Not too long from now, most cars will be electric. Why? Two reasons: because electric cars are far more efficient than any other kind of car, and because they are the ultimate multi-fuel cars. Sound bold, maybe crazy? Read on.

The May 2006 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine got it right in its typical easy-to-understand way. The article was about biofuel, but they compared many technologies in the centerfold sidebar: gasoline, ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and, of course, electric cars. They compared the cost of a cross-country drive for each of the cars, all of similar size. The benchmark drive cost is $212 in a Honda Civic. The VW Diesel Golf came close at $230. E85 ethanol (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) came in at $425; methanol cost $619; the hydrogen fuel cell drive cost a whopping $804! Compressed Natural Gas looked pretty good at $110. And the electric car? $60. And the article wasn’t even about electric cars…

Cost per mile is a reasonable approximation of energy consumption. (I set about doing a direct energy consumption comparison in our white paper, but money is a whole lot easier to understand.)

The neat thing about electricity is that pretty much any burnable fuel can be converted to electricity efficiently. Sure, there are quite a few inefficient old power plants from the ‘50s still running, but modern, readily-available technology means that even coal can be gasified and burnt cleanly and very efficiently in a combined cycle plant. This is nice to know, considering that we are sitting on an enormous reserve of coal. If there ever was an OCEC (Organization of Coal Exporting Countries), we’d be Saudi Arabia, so to speak.

The rest of the article can be found here

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