The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Plug it in!

Nissan announced the introduction of their electric vehicle. It's called the Leaf (derived, possibly, from Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car) which sounds environmentally friendly. Since it is all electric, it claims no exhaust emissions. On the other hand, what about the increased electric demand to charge it? Won't that create an increase in emissions from coal and oil fired power plants?

The Leaf claims a range of 100 miles on a full charge. That is adequate for a commuter car. There are no commercial charging stations yet. A full charge at home will take about 8 hours. You will have to have a charging "dock" installed at a cost of about $2200 with that cost offset by maybe a third by tax credits. The car itself will cost you a little over $32,780, I am sure that is for the basic model, any "frills" will jack that up. That price is supposed to be reduced by more tax credits of up to $7500.

The batteries will last about 5 to 10 years before they need to be replaced. I could find no estimate of what that will cost. Nissan has announced an 8 year warranty on the batteries.

Excited yet? Well, unless you live in certain states, you will have to wait. The rollout for Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Tennessee is supposed to take place in December, with others coming in by the end of Spring but still not all states.

When the charging stations finally get set up, you will be able to charge the vehicle's batteries to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes. Think about that... Any trip over 50 miles (round trip in excess of 100) will require at least one 30 minute stopover for re-charge.

Its primary competition will be the Chevrolet Volt. It costs about $8500 more, has a shorter electric only range (40 miles) but has a gas powered generator which will charge the batteries and increase the range by 300 more miles.

Personally, I don't think these are ready for prime time yet. I am looking for an under $20,000 all electric vehicle with a 50-100 mile range and includes the charging dock installation. And it needs a big enough trunk to hold my golf clubs.

The technology is not ready for me yet. And I still want to know what happens when people all over the country plug these in in the evening. More brownouts? And what happens to the old batteries? My bet is you won't be able to replace them yourself, there will be all kinds of rules involving the disposal of the worn out batteries, and the cost will be so high you will think seriously about buying a new car (think, "planned obsolescence"). And, of course, you will still need a conventional vehicle to take those family trips across country to reunions and family vacations.


Charlotte Ann said...

My sister owned a Ford Festiva...small car, small engine, lasted FOREVER and as she used to say, for pennies she could drive for days. Of course Ford quit making them but are supposed to come out with them again soon. I'm waiting. I would rather we all went to economical gas vehicles...junk the Hummers and gas guzzlers; suv's, all gas hogs. Europe has big vehicles for delivery trucks only...most other vehicles for transportation are a statement to economy not to excessiveness!

Steven said...

the technology isn't ready, but that's ok, our mommies and daddies in DC know what's best for us.

personally i'm going to keep flooring my sports car and getting 16MPG until I can't afford it anymore due to the politicians' forceful redistribution of my money to their favorite campaign contributors...err, eco-friendly projects.

i get ill every year when I do my taxes, and loss of my gigantic mortgage interest deduction would probably make me cry...but I'd give it up happily if we could drop every single tax or tax break meant to change behavior. it's wrong and antithetical to the spirit of liberty.

@Charlotte - Europe is also ancient, compact, and full of roads where my wife and I could reach out of our car windows and both touch buildings. It's quite a different story here, hence the different evolution of the car culture. Also, $4/gal gas did more to drive people away from their gas-guzzlers than any wishing or political programs. As oil gets harder to come by, change will happen organically due to market forces. I'm happy for my friends who have insanely long commutes and chose to get hybrid vehicles. Myself, I'm free to have my main car be a gas-guzzling convertible for my short commute and joyrides, with a sedan for trips and hauling my bicycle. Ain't freedom grand?

Douglas said...

Charlotte Ann, I want to always have that choice between comfortable and economic. When few can afford the big SUV's, the ruling class will still be chauffeured around in them. Because the rest of us will be paying for them anyway. Steven is right, we aren't Europe. Gas prices in Europe are much higher (twice or more what we pay in the States), commutes are shorter, and transportation evolved differently.

Steven, you should be blogging.