Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is the electric car back?

Despite my profound indifference towards cars (and racing cars in particular), based on what I have read about it, I am quite excited about the prospected Tesla Roadster. Wired magazine enthusiastically reports:
The trick? The Tesla Roadster is powered by 6,831 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries -- the same cells that run a laptop computer. Range: 250 miles. Fuel efficiency: 1 to 2 cents per mile. Top speed: more than 130 mph. The first cars will be built at a factory in England and are slated to hit the market next summer. And Tesla Motors, Eberhard's company, is already gearing up for a four-door battery-powered sedan.
Now someone from Popular Mechanics (via Instapundit) has tried driving it and seems to be equally delighted.

As I am both an oil hawk and care about the environment, this seems to be an excellent development, particularly in the face of those who inanely claim that to save the planet we must go back to live like they did in the Stone Age.
In an interesting and thorough article that appeared in the September 2005 issue of Commentary (requires subs.; see free version here), the authors of The Bottomless Well come to the following conclusion:
The trick, then, is to figure out how best to collapse our bipolar energy economy into a single market, one in which non-oil fuels can more readily substitute for oil. Happily, we are already well on the way. During the crunch of 1979-85, utilities in the U.S. quickly shifted away from oil; today we depend on it for just 3 percent of our electric power. The huge opportunity ahead is to use electricity—and thus coal and uranium, principally—to displace still more oil. Doing this will depend on the price of oil, which we cannot control; on the price of electricity, which we can; and on the evolution of technology that will bridge the divide.
Do read the whole thing. The Tesla Roadster, and the technical specs it vaunts, particularly when adapted to more functional models (as seems to be the plan), increasingly looks like a significant step towards "collapsing our bipolar energy economy into a single market." After many false starts, and decades of work, it seems the time of the functional electric car has finally come...

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