One of the truly interesting elements of the move toward transportation electrification, electric vehicles, alternative fuels, is the iconoclastic challenge they pose to the status quo. A car seems antiquated when you consider that it was designed to burn fossil fuel, translate most of its energy into heat, and dedicate a fraction of that energy to forward momentum. You have as a result, a Hummer which weighs in at five thousand pounds transporting a woman of 100 lbs to the gym to work out and burn additional calories. Am I (are we) missing something?
Yes. In profoundly important ways.
Look at this product and tell me what you see.
This is one of my favorite new designs, manufactured by Bob Vander Woude of Conscious Commuter based in Portland, Oregon. No sweat, no grease. It is a folding electric bicycle with a lithium battery inserted into the tube, shaft driven, and lightweight. You can get it up hills at 20 mph, ride to the train, fold it and carry it on. It can be charged at home or the office for the next commute. It is an electric vehicle.
So, when you think about EVs, don’t think about cars. Instead, think about what type of transportation needs you must fill and how cost, safety and range need to be blended to fill those needs. With EV’s and the miniaturization of hardware and software, the human imagination can better able adapt the design to fit the need. Of course, we will need to have a transportation policy that makes the road available and safe for increasingly diverse modes of transportation but that is the direction we are moving in. A Hummer may make sense in Afghanistan loaded with troops and supplies. Does it make sense to go to Albertson’s for a gallon of milk using a $4 gallon of gas? Stated alternatively, even if someone can afford it, can the rest of us?