This post on Wonkblog tries to puzzle out why people aren't buying electric cars. It seems that people are nervous about an expensive (around $40K for many models) vehicle that will only go 65 miles before needing a lengthy recharge. Most Americans drive less than 40 miles a day, advocates say. What's the problem?
For about a century we've had vehicles that go hundreds of miles on a tank and can be refueled in a minute or two pretty much anywhere. And they cost $40K only if we really really want to show off. The article implies that we have an irrational attachment to the notion we can go out of our driveway and drive across the country if we want to.
Well, it is great that we can do that if we want to. Because if we can do that, we know we can do all sorts of other things without a second thought. We can make an unexpected trip to visit a client in another city, or go to the seashore to walk on the beach, or help a friend move, or spend a day or two not worrying about whether the battery is charged. Even if we were upgrading from horses, that range restriction might give us pause.
The plain fact is that carbon compounds store a lot of energy in a compact and easily transportable form, a form that is easily converted into motion, heat, or whatever else you need. Nothing else comes close. So carbon compounds are going to make us go for a long time to come, unless someone puts electric strips down the middle of highway lanes, turning our vehicles into big slot cars. The expedient of having a backup internal combustion engine, as in the Chevy Volt, takes care of the range problem, but is what makes that car so expensive--it's a car that also has an electric motor in it.
I'm an environmentally concerned blue-stater who bikes almost everywhere. I've never even liked driving. I still think electric cars are dumb. Like most of our so-called "alternative" energy devices (there's actually not much "alternative" about the coal-plant-generated electricity used to charge these cars) they, like wind or solar, are actually devices for generating tax credits and a sense of virtue, not practical solutions to real world problems.
Just to be clear, I'm reacting more against the clueless rah rah enthusiasm such gadgets encourage than against the idea that we should investigate alternatives to carbon-based transportation and power generation.
But few people who actually need to get anywhere are going to buy the current models. So don't blame the Stonecutters.