Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Electric Vehicles Driven On Wind Power & Nuclear Power

Greenhouse gases (GHSs), and thus global warming, can be reduced by using more hybrid electric and all electric vehicles in combination with increased use of wind and nuclear as power sources. These are facts. The hard part is getting wind projects approved over local NIMBY opposition, getting expensive nuclear power plants built, getting enough electric-powered vehicles on the road and providing enough recharging stations to conveniently service the vehicles. And can an all electric handle a creeping 2-hour beltway traffic back-up? Of course, promoting electric vehicles as hot rods could be the key to making "alternative" cars mainstream.

General Motors Company plans to launch the Chevrolet Volt late in 2010. The Volt uses a small gasoline engine to recharge its batteries after the first 40 miles of all-electric travel. The Volt is expected to cost approximately $40,000, which makes it comparable on a price basis to a luxury car such as a BMW 3 Series sedan.

Toyota will offering a "plug-in" version of its Prius hybrid by 2011. Owners will be able to recharge the car's batteries by plugging it into a wall socket or a recharging station, allowing it to go further on electric power alone. Conventional gas-electric hybrid cars use a combination of battery power and fossil fuels, which proponents say overcomes one of the big objections to all-electric vehicles: Namely, that if you run out of electricity, you could be stranded.

The Tesla Roadster Sport, with a sticker price of $109,000 (or $101,500 after federal tax credits), is a product for an elite few. Tesla has a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy awarded to help develop a seven-passenger electric sedan. The company says it will be assembled in the U.S. and sell for about $49,900, after federal tax credits. The Tesla uses electric motors and software instead of pistons and displacement to generate its super-torquey, race-car performance. The regular 2010 Roadster claims a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds; the Sport will get to 60 mph 0.2 seconds faster.

The Nissan Leaf will cost "in the range of other typical family sedans." In the world of electric cars, that's "affordable." In promoting the Leaf, Nissan has focused on the fact that it is a "zero emission" vehicle—a traditional environmental pitch. (WSJ, 12/16/09)

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