Saturday, August 2, 2014

It is Becoming Electric!

BMW's i8 Concept car - hybrid (for now)
Long time readers know well my issues with electric cars, not the concept or the idea but the government’s (state and federal) tax credits and other juicy bits that help to make the car more affordable. In other words take from you to give to me. And of course the headlong rush to promote the electric car as the savior of the world has or will lead to other unintended consequences.

Most state and federal highways in the United States are paid for out of the various taxes placed on the sale of gasoline. It doesn’t take a high school math student to understand that as we sell less gas there will be less money for the roads and highway infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels. Electric cars put as much wear and tear on these facilities as gas powered vehicles—no matter what the HOV sticker on the rear bumper of the electric car says. Look for a revolution in how we fund our highways. The tax fund will decline—decisions on how to go forward will have to be made now not later. This will be a significant change to how we fund this all-important part of the American fabric. Will there be point of sale assessments? Will there be usage fees charged through internet connections with the car talking to state and federal computer (now that will be interesting)? Will there be usage assessments made at the electric meter at you house? It will get complicated before its simplified.

With the decline in gasoline demand the urban architecture of America will change. Across the American landscape, at prime highway corners, are gas stations, tens of thousands of them. Think what will happen as they disappear, what will replace them? What new architectural gem will fill this half-acre of extremely prime real estate? The corners are too small for most land uses, access is difficult (we make allowances for service stations), and clean-up is necessary. I think that housing has a chance here.

There may be the inevitable shift to replaceable batteries. These would require a location like the gas station but would allow for the quick replacement of a standardized battery pack—thus freeing the electric car from its extension cord. It is this flexibility that will allow the electric vehicle to achieve parity with gas.

There are now eleven all-electric cars available on the American market—and maybe another dozen more coming soon from GM, BMW, and the other international brands. A significant change in the overall transportation industry is coming. And it’s coming very quickly. These cars are simpler and safer. Less moving parts, no container of high explosive fuel under the rear seat, no pollution, and no having to take the car in for 3,000 mile oil changes. You know there’s a change when Ferrari is making an electric car (hybrid of course).

And when this change reaches the tipping point when there are more electric vehicles than gas vehicles on the road—what will the environmental crowd bitch about then?

Stay Tuned . . . . . . . . . .

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