Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Russ Finley on Mar 28, 2012 with 4 responses

Electric Car Technology Upgrades, Subsidies, and the Anti-Nuke Crowd

Updated Charging Technology

An email recently came in from Blink telling me they want to install a new card in my electric car charger. New technology always involves a learning curve. If any discipline should be a science (other than science), it is engineering but even engineering involves a lot of trial and error. The first jet engines were unbelievably primitive by today’s standards.

The new Leaf will have a more efficient heating system that will extend the range in cold weather. Not sure what they are up to but hopefully it is one of these heat pumps. It will also come with a charger that is about twice as fast as the one on my car. Oh well. Obsolete already.

Subsidizing an Electric Highway

The government continues to spend money on the electric highway:

The stretch of 160 miles of Interstate 5 served by eight stations marks the next big step in developing an infrastructure … By the end of this year, DC fast-chargers will be installed along I-5 from Canada to the California border, a distance of about 550 miles. Another 22 are being installed in locations as far away as 120 miles from Portland, Oregon’s largest city.

IMHO, this is a complete waste of government money. Even if you paid the extra $2,000 to get the 440 volt option on your Leaf you still have to stop every 70 or so miles for a 30 minute charge, never mind the Nissan recommendation not to use the fast charger very often because doing so will significantly degrade the battery life. I will probably never use my 440 volt capability and even if I do it most certainly will not be worth the extra money.

Today’s state of electric car technology is adequate for urban driving. Government funded efforts to facilitate electric car road trips are …just classic.

My wife and I attended the Seattle symphony last week. The parking garage has three primo parking spots with chargers for electric cars located right next to the elevator. I never bother with the chargers because, like everyone else, I don’t need a dollar’s worth of free electricity. After the symphony we got out of the elevator to find a gaggle of people surrounding our Leaf. They were envious of our special treatment, but won’t be for long because soon enough there will be too many electric cars for that and the whole charging station thing will eventually go away once enough people realize that nobody needs or uses them.

Better to Have a Gas Guzzler?

From a lay press article titled Nuclear power undermines electric cars’ green image:

In Japan, electric car drivers are already feeling the heat. With nuclear likely to remain a major source of power, “then the green image of the electric car will get bashed to bits, maybe to the extent it will be irreparable,” Ryuichi Kino, who has written books on nuclear power and hybrid technology, is quoted as saying by the AP.

Riiight …whatever you say USA Today. And from Electric cars risk losing green sheen in Japan:

Corporate Vice President Hideaki Watanabe, who oversees Nissan’s zero-emission business, insists sales are on target and haven’t dropped after the March disaster. The nuclear crisis has highlighted that the Leaf can be a backup storage for electricity in emergency blackouts, he said.

Should this actually catch on, and it wouldn’t surprise me, motivating people to buy gas guzzlers instead of electric cars, I will chalk it up as yet another hit to the environment by the  anti-nuclear crowd.

Photo courtesy of Major Clanger via Flickr.

  1. By Herm on March 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Fast chargers on the electric highway are mostly there for physiological reasons, to remove range anxiety fears.. same thing could almost be done with fake inflatable chargers :) .  BEVs are just not practical for long distance hwy travel, unless you live in Hawaii.

    Probably all that is needed is a handful of fast chargers sprinkled around a city.. suddenly your range would double with just a quick 30 minute charge.. they would seldom be used but would come in handy occasionally, cost should be about $10 to discourage freeloaders.  Nissan does not want you fast charging a few times a day everyday.. but occasional use is perfectly ok, the car will protect itself if you abuse that.

    The $2k you paid for the fast charge port is the price of the SL package, it includes the video rear monitor, the solar panel on the spoiler, fog lights, universal garage door opener integrated in and cargo cover/organizer.

    Here is a 254 mile trip when the Electric Highway was opened up: 




    • By Russ Finley on March 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      LOL …”same thing could almost be done with fake inflatable chargers.”  Good point. Would have cost a lot less ; )

  2. By ben on April 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    My friend was offered a ride this week in Neil’s new Volt if/when he gets it Kennebunkport.  One hopes he can get a charge along the way, as it wouldn’t help the image to have Don Rhodes out there with the  ”41″  SUV with a portable generator in the back recharging the Neil-Mobile:)  

    Guess we can hope for the best and pray some other Republicans don’t view it as heretical to do/say something rational about flex-fuels and clean energy options.   Some of my best friends are interested in saving money even as they believe in helping the planet.  Perish the thought that such logic should be viewd as a political statement!



  3. By Russ Finley on April 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

    My wife got a ride in a Volt just yesterday. Saving money is a bipartisan concept.

Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!