Plug-In Hybrids and Electric Vehicles--Lots of Talk, Little Action
For all the talk and excitement about plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs), it is still extremely rare to come across one of these cars on the highways. Despite the fact that "every auto company in the world is developing all-electric or plug-in hybrids," only a handful of models are actually available for purchase. These include the Tesla Roadster and the ZENN, as well as a number of individuals who have paid to have their current cars converted to PHEVs or EVs. These early adopters are clearly ushering in a future transportation system that is primarily electric, but for now they face a dilemma: many of their vehicles have limited battery range, and there are very few places where one can re-charge an electric car. According to Yahoo news, as a result, many PHEV and EV owners have to get creative about finding outlets. The article notes that while "California has more than 500 public charging stations at parks, malls and grocery stores to serve electric vehicles that rolled out in the last decade, the network is still thin across the rest of the country, forcing drivers like Bernheim to get creative." Much as drivers of diesel cars who use veggie oil as fuel have to get creative about finding restaurants willing to donate or sell their oil to them, PHEV and EV owners have to use their people skills and persistence to find places willing to let them charge up while at work, the mall, etc.
Some cities are trying to address what they anticipate will become a bigger problem in the coming years as more of these vehicles--including the Chevy Volt--hit the roads. For instance,
In Oregon, Portland General Electric put five free charging stations in downtown Portland, Salem and suburban Lake Oswego and plans to add more.
At the end of the year, Coulomb Technologies plans to roll out five curbside charging stations in downtown San Jose that drivers can access through a prepaid plan. The company is working with entities in New York and Florida to do something similar there, president and founder Praveen Mandal said.
Which Comes First--the Vehicles, or the Charging Stations?
The question of installing more charging stations for electric vehicles raises a chicken and the egg issue, much as hydrogen cars do; which should come first, the infrastructure or the vehicles? Fortunately, electric charging stations are extremely simple--after all, they simply consist of an electric outlet!--and inexpensive to build and operate. The real issue is twofold: how soon will PHEVs and EVs start hitting the roads in significant numbers, and how soon can we green our electricity generation so that these vehicles can truly produce zero emission? (it's worth noting however that even if an electric car uses coal-fired electricity to re-charge, it is significantly more efficient, and results in far less GHG emissions, than burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine.
More on Plug-in Hybrids
Pork-Laden Senate Version of Bailout Bill has Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Credits
Plug-In Hybrids Address the OTHER Energy Security Issue: The Grid
Plug-In Hybrids Might Not Need New Power Plants
Plug-In Hybrid Campaign in Austin, Texas
More on Electric Cars
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Electric Cars and Vehicles: Who Killed 'Em, New Batteries and More
3 of the Fastest Electric Cars Meet for Lunch at Buck's
Electric Car Revolution Only Three Years Away (Maybe)