The Electric Cars Which Might Have Been

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Mandates and subsidies have not only distorted the market for electric cars, they’ve distorted the design of electric cars.   

Instead of being designed to emphasize their natural strengths vs. IC-engined cars – which we’ll get into shortly – they’ve been offered up as cost-no-object economic and functional absurdities whose limitations and failings everyone is supposed to pretend don’t exist or accept for reasons of political/environmental correctness.

They cost too much, don’t go far enough and take too long to get going again. They tout quickness, sexiness, style and tech – all of which makes them expensive and impractical for most people, who are just looking to get from A to B with as little hassle and expense as possible.

Teslas being the worst example but the criticism applies pretty much across the board. The electric cars currently on the market make about as much sense for most people as a 4×4 truck you can’t take out in the snow.

But what if the mandates and subsidies didn’t exist? What kinds of electric cars might the market have called forth?

For one thing, electric car design would probably cease its focus on trying to do the same things as non-electric cars, because electric cars can’t compete with non-electric cars on those grounds.

For example, being highway/road trip cars.

Even though the range of electric cars has improved, it’s still far less than the range of the average non-electric car. The longest-legged EVs have less range on a full charge than the gas-hungriest V8 muscle car – and the gas-hungry muscle car has the enormous advantage of being able to refill its gas tank in about five minutes while the electric car might be able to recharge to about 80 percent of its range in about 45 minutes – if it can be plugged in to a high-voltage (240V-plus) “fast” charger.

If only household 120V outlets are available, then it’ll take several hours – but at least you can charge to 100 percent this way. (Battery chemistry limits how much charge a battery pack can take from a 240V “fast” charger; to avoid damaging the battery pack, the limit on a “fast” charger – effectively reducing the vehicle’s range even more . . . unless you stop for hours to slow charge.)

So, it’s fundamentally stupid for electric cars to try to be highway/sustained high speed driving/ road trip cars. They are too limited – and it’s too much hassle.

It doesn’t make sense.

Who would put up with an IC-engined car that could only go 200 or less miles before it had to spend at least 30-45 minutes to refuel? No one. It would be a joke. It is a joke. But because EVs are PC, we’re not supposed to laugh.

What does make sense, electric car-wise, is city/short trip and low-speed driving. In those kinds of driving situations, the electric car has the advantage. When it’s not moving, for example, it uses almost no energy – whereas a gas-burning car is wasting it, idling its engine. Most gas-engined cars have to use fairly crude (relative to an electric car) multi-stepped mechanical leveraging – via a transmission with multiple forward gears – to indirectly translate the energy of combustion into motion. Much of that energy is lost in transmission. IC engines are very inefficient this way.

EVs, on the other hand are very efficient this way. They are direct drive. A single-speed electric motor turns the wheels, which moves the car. Very little is lost in translation relative to an IC-engined car. Stop-and-go-driving is easier on an EV than it is on an IC-engined car.

The reverse of highway driving – at which IC-powered excel.

Most people haven’t grokked this yet and still assume that a vehicle – whether IC or EV – will be most efficient on the highway, because that’s been true for most of the past 100 years and is still true – if we’re talking IC-engined cars.

It’s no longer true if we’re talking about EVs – and gas-electric hybrids.

So why try to compete with IC engined cars on the highway? It makes as much sense as a Corvette trying to compete with off-road 4x4s.

In the urban/short-trip environment, the EVs limited range is also less of an issue – and not just because you don’t have to drive as far. Because you don’t drive as fast (or consistently fast) an EVs range runs closer to the advertised maximum. Batteries drain faster maintaining 70-plus MPH highway speeds than they do in the stop-and-go.

There are also more places to conveniently charge up in the city. Out on the road – on the highway – there is little to no infrastructure to support EVs and won’t be for many years, probably decades. It will have to be built – and that won’t be cheap. But in the urban (and suburban) environment, a functionally viable infrastructure already exists.

Why not leverage that?


Think about those electric golf carts one often sees transporting people to and fro in retirement communities and so on. That is the perfect example of an economically and functionally sensible use of electric cars. They do not even try to directly compete with IC-engined vehicles – and IC-engined vehicles do not try to directly compete with them, either.

Each occupies the market niche that it better serves.

Imagine an EV that didn’t have to sweat being able to sustain 70 MPH-plus highway speeds for several hours – or apologize for not being able to. But which cost almost nothing to operate as a close-in/city car in stop-and-go driving.

And because it wouldn’t need to be a highway car and try to keep up with IC-engined cars doing 70-plus for several hours, it could get by with a smaller, lighter – and less expensive – battery pack.

It could be sold for thousands less than the current economic atrocities – and so might not need subsidies to sell it.

If designed as a city/suburban car, the EV could also leverage its smaller size, to make it easier to park and to thread-the-needle in heavy traffic. This would make it more appealing than the IC-engined car. People would be more inclined to buy it on the merits – the opposite of using government mandates to force car companies to build EVs that are severely compromised as all-purpose cars and so have to be subsidized in order to offload them onto a reluctant public.

It brings to mind the saddest phrase of them all:

What might have been. 

 . . .

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  1. ‘…Think about those electric golf carts one often sees transporting people to and fro in retirement communities and so on…’


    You know it’s funny, I was actually at one of those communities not so long ago, and as a result ended up having a discussion with some folks and was making the argument that they really should allow golf carts on the public roads — or in the least the slower moving ones. Furthermore they’ve already put these dedicated bike lanes every where (even where highly inappropriate), so why not allow golf carts to access them.

    You know the only counter argument that could be made against my idea was: ‘That would be crazy! Could you imagine if all Ethel down the road and her friends were now to start driving her carts to *Walmart!, the accidents they’d cause and how unsafe that would be?’

    My counter-counter-argument of course was: ‘If we’re concerned about safety, I find it more troubling that she’s driving her 4000+ LBS Cadillac DeVille instead.’

    *Walmart in discussion about a mile away and accessible from low traffic road.

  2. I like the idea of a highly efficient gas turbine engine powering the batteries of an electric car, best of both worlds. I wager such a vehicle could travel over 1000 miles before having to refuel and the engine could be kept at a speed that maximizes efficiency. Think Lexus was toying with this idea a few years back, shame it hasn’t happened. Electric cars have been around for over 100 years and they are still not working correctly, just sad.

    By the way Eric, did you ever read that book I sent you (Income Tax, Shattering the Myths)?

    • Hi Peter,

      Gas turbines were toyed with back in the ’50s and ’60s; various problems have kept them out of the passenger vehicle market.

      I get back to my main question: Why?

      Are EVs more economical or practical than IC cars? No. They are more expensive and less practical.

      So… why?

      What is this mania for them?

      It doesn’t make sense.

      On the book: It’s dynamite. In the sense that following its advice will lead to explosive results. For the person foolish enough to follow the advice. It does not matter whether the arguments contained therein are valid. The reality is you will be mercilessly prosecuted, your assets seized, your life ruined, if you decline to pay what is “owed” and use the arguments presented in the book.

      You may end up in prison.

      You must bear in mind that “the law” is whatever those who control the system claim it is. Not what is written.

      The obvious example is the 4th Amendment’s prohibition of searches/seizures absent probable cause/warrant. Or the 5th Amendment’s void assurance that we will not be required to provide evidence which will be used to prosecute us criminally. Etc.

      How much protection do these laws afford at a “safety” checkpoint?

      The fact is the government can and will take your money – and your choice is to either hand it over or not hand it over and deal with the consequences. The idea that you can not hand it over by telling them the tax is illegitimate, illegal – and so on – is dangerous nonsense.

      I state this for the benefit of anyone reading this who might be tempted to follow the advice in that book or any similar book.

      To be clear: This is not a defense of the morality of taxation or its legitimacy. Everyone knows my philosophical/moral stance on that. It is merely an acknowledgement of reality.

      • Very Good. See also Erwin Schiff’s “The Federal Mafia” if one needs a perfect example of a “BANNED BOOK” and a BANISHED MAN.

        Ever hear of Rod Class? The man has STEEL BALLS. He’s in the “ROD” Class of True American Man role models imho.

        As for me I have my line, but will not mention it here in a “Public Forum”

        • Would also add: They commit FRAUD in their own Fraudulent System.
          And that with seeming immunity. See for reference: Bush Family, Clintons, 0bamas etc . . . . RULE OF LAW? where? Justice and Equity are mere wishful thinking.

    • “highly efficient gas turbine engine powering the batteries of an electric car”

      Aircraft APU ???

      Some of those aren’t very big – about the size of a Honda generator.

  3. The truck does take more to license in Ohio than the sedan. And the insurance does cost more to drive multiple vehicles than just one vehicle.
    The rules governing health care and insurance also apply to owning more than one vehicle worth more than 2,000 dollars on the road. Simply put, one lady quit work when she reached the limit because it was too expensive to get off the government care system she was on. I think the number was something like 19k per year. Anything more and her kids lost their health care from the government.
    Meanwhile back in DC our representatives are 100% covered and go to Walter Reed Naval facility for their health care. Something a little bit wrong with that picture as the lazy people do not even work in the Congress full time. With recesses for this and that.
    We can learn a lot from lazy people. Especially when they rip everyone else off.
    I call them the 15% crowd and they are living high off the rest of us. Everything from banking, excessive fees on inheritance, a 1/3rd of the back pay on workman’s comp, and many more things like $30 fees if you overdraw your checking. It is cheaper for you to use money orders than it is to have a checking account in many instances.
    The rule is if that 15% gets higher then the system is supposed to balance itself out by kicking some of them off the system that legally allows them to steal from everyone else.
    The problem is in recent years that simply isn’t happening yet.
    I am for a practical vehicle cheap enough for anyone to afford and use.
    I am for keeping it simple stupid(KISS). That means a vehicle an average backyard person with average mechanical skill and continue to repair, replace, and keep a vehicle running on his or her own for a good number of years.
    The Germans tried this with the Volkswagen. It got too complicated and it didn’t really work.
    They did attempt to design a small gasoline engine without most of the expensive radiator parts.
    The electric motored vehicle is just another attempt to do the same thing.
    When push comes to shove we want a safe vehicle to get from point A to point B and however more destinations we need in a day. The horse traders do not see it that way.
    They want all the rules and regulations they can stand to keep the average person out there stuck buying or leasing every 3-7 years. That is a form of slavery. It has only gotten worse since I was a child in the 50s.
    They do not want us fixing a car. Thus they put together junk that only someone with a tech degree can actually fix in real time. Such as putting spark plugs inaccessible on a GM vehicle or hiding the alternator under an exhaust pipe and numerous other gimmicks. On my truck they put the transmission cooling through the radiator so when the pipe gives out you are into a new transmission.
    Antifreeze and transmissions should never mix.
    SO now we have an electric that will die with the batteries of 6 grand or more to replace them.
    What is right is the rest of the car is easily repaired and easily maintained. New Brushes on an electric motor never did cost much relatively speaking.
    So now you have a bunch of horse traders in the car industry desperately trying to remove this threat to their income. The best way to do that is to make the new threat unpractical to own. Such as rapid depreciation. Where they messed up is they leased these engineering failures out to the public. So when the electric is due for new batteries it is worth a lot less than people are paying on the lease. They walk away. Leaving the dealership stuck with the car. That is happening a lot in the 5 years a vehicle actually is worth more than the mortgage loan it takes to own it.
    So right now there is a glut of leased vehicles and the lease has expired and the customer has moved on to something else if the vehicle is junk.
    When a 30K vehicle in 5 years is worth about 7K to 10K then the industry is in deep trouble.

  4. Eric, what do you mean “what could have been?”. You need to get out of the house more often, and come to Arizona, and learn about the marketability of electric vehicles.
    For years now, Arizona has had laws on the books allowing golf carts to be driven on public streets as long as the speed limit on the streets is posted 35 MPH or less. Two markets emerged. The first is among retirees, and just plain folk in cities like Sun City who use golf carts (yes, even electric ones) on the public streets to get to and from grocery stores, errands, etc. People have been driving electric golf carts as private vehicles here for YEARS. Nobody bothers them. They are exempt from emission standards (probably because the feds have not caught onto them) and are exempt from SAAAAAFFFFEEEEETTYYYY standards too. A golf cart is not required to have air bags or seat belts or incoming missile point defense systems or any of that other garbage. So as intra-neighborhood vehicles, the golf carts are a perfect fit.
    The other market is in Scottsdale in Old Town–the party & night clubbing “hot spot” of the valley. Some entrepreneurs realized the legality of golf carts, realized the streets of Old Town have speed limits of less than 35, put two & two together and now there are several companies that offer service all over Old Town from pub to pub to pub. The drivers of these golf carts make decent money. They have to follow the same rules of the road as everyone else, etc. Everyone is happy.
    A third market has also sprung up among people like me who have solar power on their roof. A lot of people (and I’m considering it too) have purchased car-sized, all electric vehicles for daily driver/commuter use. These are vehicles like the Volt and the Leaf. The benefits are huge. For starters, an all electric vehicle qualifies to use a special HOV commuter lane for high occupancy vehicles. During rush hours, only cars with two or more people can use the HOV lane, making it half empty when every other lane is full & bumper to bumper. The HOV lane usually progresses at 50 MPH while everyone else is crawling at 25 MPH. If you have an alternative fuel vehicle (like my propane powered Expedition, or an electric Nissan Leaf) you get a special “magic license plate” that is sky blue in color. with this magic tag, you can drive in the HOV lane any time you want.
    Now, here is the bonus: People who have solar panels can charge up their cars for as nearly free as you can get. Free fuel & get to ride in the HOV lane any time? Good selling points for the electrics here in Arizona at least.

    • Hi Paul,

      Arizona’s still just slightly more wild and free than most other states – at least with regard to certain things (guns, for one) and also – as you note – the use of electric carts on public roads. In other states, the armed government workers will tear into your flesh for such an offense. Also, it’s just not practical given the different conditions.

      Arizona also has lots of sun – which makes electric/off-grid power much more economically feasible. In my neck, not so much!

      This is why there ought to be a “wild West” market. Let market conditions determine vehicle type succeeds, not government mandates.

  5. I always thought it would be interesting to mount a trailer hitch on a Nissan Leaf and tow a trailer with a generator. Sort of a DIY Chevy volt. I’ve never heard that trailers need an emissions test!

  6. Read a day or two back how the NE W EPA are going to be rolling back the insane CAFE standards her epretty quickly. Lots of pushback from the vested interests….. as to be expected.

    If this really DOES happen it will spell the doom of the highly touted electric vehicle insanity. I’ve long said CAFE is a piece pf psychotic propaganda diabolically designed to control WE the PEOPLE.

    If Uncle Stoopud weren’t imposing so many requirements, mandates, limitations, standards on the auto industry I believe we’d have some grat crs coming out in the next few years.
    Next, dump the ethanol mandates, AND subsidies, then most of the over the top “SSAAAAAFFFFfeetttttyyyy nonsense. I’ll take fifteen rounds in my “gun clips” (tee hee) but no way will I buy a car with fifteen airbags in it. If I ever am in a wreck I don’t want to be fighting off a bunch of pyrotechnics assaulting me from every direaction, maybe killing my kids or dog into the argain. Maybe my insurance will drop a bit once more, as when a car with 15 bags deplys half of them. that’s $7000 in repairs minimum right there. And the Eee Peee Aiyy are on a tear about reducing WEIGHT on cars? WHO do they think is insane enought o believe THAT?

  7. In a way, I hope this doesn’t get read by any government apparatchik. Because if that happens, they will find a way to outlaw living in the country, and thus force everyone into urban areas.

    I admit that’s slightly sarcastic, but in an era of big government, they keep discussing ways to nudge people into doing things they don’t want, “because it’s for the greater good.”

  8. David, I think you miss the real point here, which is that govt. interference, and especially an increase in the Highway Gestapo, is precisely what we don’t need. Although you mean well, forcing your will upon others in the name of “safety” is still oppression, and does not change the willful misconduct of inconsiderate and reckless drivers. Treating adults as children has only given them leave to behave even more irresponsibly than ever before. People have to want to behave responsibly, before they will actually do so. Do I have a one-answer solution, myself? No, but I can begin by choosing to be responsible in my driving behavior, although currently, it seems only to be rewarded with disrespect and even greater abuse from just about every angle.

  9. I know the Elio will probably go the same way as the Aptera but, darn it, a vehicle that costs around $9K, IC or Electric, does not look like a golf car, with low drag coefficent, can travel at 60mph, will work for my 35mi commute to my office.

  10. A friend of mine owns a Nissan Leaf. It is used. The depreciation is enormous! The car goes from an enormous price new to a used price of about 14K used. It can be had for a lot less. The reason? Simply the enormous cost of replacing the rechargeable batteries.
    People are restricted to a charged car of about 75 miles or 85 tops.
    I suggest the better range of a hybrid makes a lot more sense. Again the battery replacement is out of sight causing the car to lose a lot of value in 3-4 years. The batteries are supposed to last 10 years!
    On the plus side it has the equivalent of 100 mpg compared with a gasoline engine car.
    The other problem is the idiots on the road.
    Tailgating is common and police do not stop people much for tailgating. They are often guilty of it themselves as they attempt to push people over existing stupid speed limits. (Any policeman guilty of this is unprofessional and should quit the force and go do something else.)
    The real answer is engineering. Our engineers have lost the incentive to design better means of transportation and the electric car is a pathetic attempt to stay within unrealistic guidelines of the EPA.
    Back to the electric, the answer is a rechargeable battery that lasts practically forever. I suggest two solutions. One: push for cartridges that give you a fully recharged battery at a gas station at a very reasonable price. Two: Replacement batteries at a very reasonable price making the car a 20-year vehicle instead of limiting it to 10 years. Then the price will stabilize.
    Even so, anything less than a decent truck is dangerous to you and your family with the idiots out there on the highways. Even a truck is not completely safe from these people.
    Our highways are not safe, never have been, and our police enforcement is not capable of taking the bad drivers off the roads. The average speed on most roads is 5-10 miles over what is posted and the inadequate enforcement is discriminatory and more luck of the draw than actual enforcement.
    That makes a small electric car almost suicidal.

    • “The average speed on most roads is 5-10 miles over what is posted ……”

      Could that be because rational human beings determined the posted speed is 5-10 miles lower than what would not only be safe on that road but which would save them the waste of their “Lifetime Clock”.

      • Hi ARYLIOA,

        The fact that almost all speed limits are lower than routine/average travel speeds is proof positive of their absurdity. If by “speed limit” we mean something other than a mere legalism (which accordingly carries no moral weight) then it must mean the maximum safe rate of travel on a given stretch of road; in other words, the posted speed must be right on the edge of dangerous, close to the limit for man and machine. By that standard, speed limits are literally ridiculous..

    • The problem with the GEM’s is they only do 25mph and further, the “law” limits these types of vehicle to 35mph. (to avoid all the normal auto regs, like 5mph bumpers, crash testing, airbags, etc. et al)

      My opinion is the Leaf is the closest thing we have right now to a practical “around town” electric car- but it’s costs have been inflated(new). They are actually getting close to being economically practical on the used market, but the battery capacity drop off is significant and no one knows how much worse they’ll get over time…they aren’t hitting the battery life Nissan initially suggested-and a new pack runs around $6000.

      There’s room for improvement and Eric’s article is spot on. There’s no incentive for manufacturers to hit the proper “niche” because of the regulations in place and the simple fact is that right now a stripped down Ford Fiesta is running $12K out the door and makes FARRRRR more economic sense.

    • The GEM doesn’t look like it is intended for anything but dry and level surfaces….

      Would be great if it could get around in pretty deep snow. Our barn is 1/4 mile from our house and in the winter we need to haul water over there 2x a day and feed the horses.

  11. It is the Tesla vs. Edison fight all over again.

    Tesla was right. AC current for power transmission.
    Edison was right. DC in residential use.

    An electric car, that was affordable, with about 120 miles range, many a two-seater, will also for many commuters.

    • Oh, good grief! Whatever happened with what I actually typed?

      An electric car, that was affordable, with about 120 miles range, may be a two-seater, will also work for many commuters.

  12. Well, my boss came over to visit our workspace the other day in an electric golf-cart style electric vehicle that our big employer provides him for running around our work campus. It seems that, even though there is a lot of regular car traffic on campus, the EV is pretty practical if you don’t go off campus onto high speed highways.

    Oh, in this case the campus is actually a compact, but major military base, and the military is our “big employer” that provides the EV, and can make it’s own rules for what traffic is allowed on campus, or on base, as it were.

    • The car my boss was using looks a lot like a utilitarian (less stylish) version of the Twizy mentioned by Anti-Federalist. Interesting, that one branch of the government can see the utility of a proper EV in their own controlled environment, while other branches of the same government won’t let us use them for our own use even in urban environments where they would make sense.

    • most golf carts on golf courses are gas engines. amazing how they work. step on the pedal they go on take your foot off the pedal it goes off

  13. Eric,

    Once you leave the “land of the free”, your concept is the accepted norm

    They sell thousands of Twizies in Europe for example.

    Glorified golf carts essentially, but perfect for the tight streets of urban Europe, simple, cheap (relatively) and with a range of 60 miles and 50 mph top speed, perfectly suitable for a short city commute.

    And like so many other things: we can’t have them, because Uncle.

  14. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last several years, and if I were designing my perfect EV, I’d put something together that has about 40-50 miles of range, a top speed of ~65mph, (emergency freeway trips) seats 4-5, and costs ideally less than $10,000, but I can still see it competing at around $15,000. Maybe even different prices for different ranges/top speeds. ($10k for 50 miles/60mph, 15k for 100 miles/70mph, 20k for 150 miles/80mph, for example) I think such an EV makes all the sense in the world as a second car. In urban/suburban areas like where I live in Utah, people take lots of short trips in the day. It’d be a great stay-at-home mom car. Drop dad off at work, go home and plug in. Take a kid to the Doctor, go home and plug in. Get groceries, go home and plug in. Pick up a kid from friend’s house, go home and plug in. Weekend trip to Yellowstone, take the Highlander.

  15. Gotta luv the lifted 4×4 vet. Looks like something my son and I would create under the guise of perfect approach/departure angles. Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

    On a lighter note: There’s a guy that frequents the LA County Fair that makes bumper stickers with your verbiage on them. I’m going to get a couple made up to read: SAVE THE HUMANS . . . . I’ll do this as an affront to the Kali Prius owners that plaster their PC mobiles with “Save the Whales” and “Co-exist” Bumper stickers.

    My neighbors wifey is a VEGAN Prius driver. I told her so am I, sort of, in that I only eat VEGAN Cows.

  16. Pat Bedard once reviewed the GM EV-1. I remember (paraphrasing due to poor memory) him saying that to anyone attuned to driving a gas engined car, if you started out a trip (fully charged, mind you) with a driving range of 100 miles or less, your first stop would be at a gas station. Getting past that real world training was to be the biggest hurdle for electric cars. Still is.

    The Volt/Prius hybrids seem to be a cure being able to switch to gas power. Last year’s Grand Tour had May driving his own BMW i3 with an engine (“range extender”) and it did not appear to extend his range much. In that application, the engine/generator does not make enough power for highway speeds? I guess it is meant to be left running in the parking lot while you are at Whole Foods if there is no place to plug in…

    • Hi Scott,

      The Volt makes some sense to me. Because it isn’t gimped by a comparatively short leash/long recharge time. But it also begs the question:


      What is this manufactured mania for EVs and hybrids?

      Gas is $2.20 or so a gallon. IC cars are virtually emissions free and not gimped by range/recharge issues.

      Why are “alternatives” which are objectively inferior in most everyday/functional respects being force-fed to us?

      Of course, I know the answer. It’s because the public belieeeeves in “climate change,” and IC cars are the source of climate-changing C02. Which is now to be considered an “emission,” just like unburned hydrocarbons.

      Only EVs can address the C02 “emissions” problem… at the tailpipe, at least.

      • I concur! Why should be the base question and gov’t regs certainly are the driver if you will. I suspect that none of this continued push would be happening absent the ZEV-in-the-city-centers mandates in Europe. Fascinating technology that makes 0 economic sense if unsubsidized and is an outrage when subsidized.

        RE: tailpipe vs. real/total emissions. I’ve thought about buying a used and cheap Leaf or Mitsu electrons-only ride just to be able to put a “my car runs on coal and nukes” sign on the back window.

    • The i3 “REx” runs at a net deficit at highway speed in the US “gimped” chip tune from the factory. You have to slow down and limp home to get there. One has to get the Euro chip tune to make the REx function properly at all. Also, when degimping the tune, you get like a half-gallon more fuel capacity in your existing gas tank. The thing is gimped like a Lexmark printer.

  17. People haven’t even noticed the reversed MPG ratings on hybrids (and the new “combined” EPA rating further conspires to hide this fact) showing that they get much better fuel economy in the city than on the highway, again because of the nature of the electric drive and electric recovery systems. People just see “Hybrid=Good MPGs” and go buy one…and then drive it on the highway. Fast.

    That’s not necessarily saying they’re “bad” on the highway, but it’s not the best environment for them. They’ve improved recently, but in the early hybrid days they were significantly worse on the highway than they were in “city” driving (now they’re just a bit worse).

    • my local chitty bus outfit has spend upward of a half Mil$$ for each of half a dozen “hybrid” busses. yep, big (40′) heavy (with battery oack likelh close to ten tonnes) rigs. I see them mostlh ON THE FREEWAY crusing at 6oMPH in the commute lane, oblivious to the herd of cars behind them trying to get past. This is NOT the ideal work assignemt for these rigs. STUUPID people. And they are always bellh acning that they never have enough money to spend. Hah, they just two years ago begged for a new “transit tax” for property owners whitin the district….. which passed by a healthy margin. Glad they dumped the little “short bus” route out my way a few years back.. I’m no longer IN that district so no new tax for me. ONLY fifteen percent of actual costs, all in, are paid for out of rider fees. Is that socialism or what? Worst.. they put most of the stupid bus stops IN THE TRAFFIC LANES, so each tin can with four folks inside now gets to stop twenty cars or more so some can amble off and others toddle on.. for the next stop, two blocks away. Wish they’d hire ME to “economise” that ridiculous joke of a system.

      • If done properly it’s giant vehicles like buses where hybrid and battery power make sense.

        Don’t ever expect transit users to pay for their rides. Government wants that power and the anti-motoring crowd has their back. That’s where the “stupid” designs for bus stops and such come from. They are purposely acting to make using a private automobile more difficult.

        WRT city buses on the expressways, CTA buses wander out on to the expressways doing 45-50mph. Or at least they used to. It just seems that is something city buses do, hybrid or not.

        • “Don’t ever expect transit users to pay for their rides.”

          Perfect. In LA the Public Train System is subsidized to the tune of 15+ FRN’s for each ticket. Fully 1% of the LA City/County Sales tax rate is , get this, “VOTER APPROVED”. Buy a 40 thousand FRN auto in LA and 400 FRN’s go directly to subsidizing the Light Rail System.

          And that ain’t all. 1/2% also goes to house the homeless. Just add another 200 FRN’s to that tax on the average vehicle. Yeppers, VOTER APPROVED as well.

  18. It’s all part and parcel of being a not-so-well-disguised Welfare State.When a person becomes disabled, they go to the gov.t for financial aid. Now, when a corporate industry can’t support itself, it goes to the govt., too.
    The problem is, getting the govt. OUT of your business once you’ve let them in. It’s like trying to get rid of the social worker AFTER you have used their services to get a child out of an abusive household. Once you are back on your feet, they won’t go away! “Doin’ right Ain’t got no End!” is the rally cry of every bureaucrat out there. And our reply needs to be, yes you’ve heard me say it before, “Don’t piss down my back, and tell me it’s raining!”

  19. I’ll look forward to your article about how subsidies of traditional cars and trucks distort the market. Or do you have an innate bias against the superiority of EVs for 90% of the market that blinds you to those subsidies?Clover

    Every article about EVs that you write rails against subsidies, subsidies, subsidies. How many of your articles reviewing light trucks and SUVs mention the subsidies helping support those markets (the SUV deduction under Sec. 179, for instance)? As you may know, the subsidies that support EVs, unlike the ones that support SUVs, will go away this year. Will that end your anti- “anything but a internal combustion engine” diatribes, or will you just switch to a different straw man argument?Clover

    Internal combustion engines have a thermal efficiency of 30% (one prototype not yet on the market talks of achieving a whopping 40%). Large scale power plants burning oil achieve about 60% thermal efficiency, and also move the byproducts of combustion out of city centers. Even in states with the dirties of power consumption, EVs are still more efficient overall. And batteries are lasting longer than even EV proponents had predicted, with a strong market for older batteries going to non-automotive storage applications. But all that aside, as a car nut, EVs are just better and more fun.

    Eric, you were wrong back in 2011; can you still not admit it? Your arguments are quite weak.

    • Clover,

      Trucks and SUVs are not subsidized. They exist naturally, on the merits – because people are willing to pay what they cost to manufacturer, plus a profit.

      EVs exist only because of subsidies – and production mandates.

      If EVs are “superior for 90 percent of the market” then why are 98 percent of the cars on the market not EVs? Is it your contention that people are too stupid to buy the vehicles that best meet their needs and wants? Why is it necessary to subsidize and mandate vehicles that are “superior”?

      The $7,500 federal (individual) subsidy is merely one of many subsidies, at multiple levels. Tesla’s con, for instance, depends on extorted “carbon credits,” another form of subsidy.

      I note, in closing, you have no comment about my earlier correction in re the “best selling” Tesla. Which, of course, isn’t.

      Poor ol’ Clover!

      • Another point that this “ding-dong” above misses, is the on-demand versatility that the EV clearly lacks. I cannot store sufficient “potential energy, i.e. fuel, to be available 24-7 in any all-weather environment. Frankly, about the only way the EV could be any more impractical is for it to require overhead transmissions lines, or one hell of a long extension cord! Apparently he also has not noticed that electric transportation has been tried on many levels and in only one has is managed to succeed on a long term basis without govt subsidy, that being the diesel-electric locomotive. Now why do you suppose the nation’s railroads ultimately abandoned even their most efficient all-electric railroads, such as the Virginian, to name just one? The answer is that carrying your fuel supply, diesel especially, is far and away much more economical, versatile, and reliable, than to have an entire infrastructure dedicated to electrical power generation and distribution for the mere sake of transportation. Bear in mind, railroad transportation generates profit for the railroads, since they are no longer mandated by the govt. to run unprofitable passenger service, they do not operate at a loss. So why would an industry so vast with billions in profits choose diesel-powered electrics, which are essentially enormous “hybrids”, over the pure non-IC locomotive power? Financial wisdom, and necessity. Now, you and I don’t generate a profit for ourselves driving back and forth, to wherever we may need to go at a moment’s notice. So if a billion-dollar transportation industry can’t justify the economic waste of a pure EV, how in the hell are we going to? Well, we aren’t, as you have pointed out before, EVs did exist at the dawn of the automobile, but they didn’t hold a candle to the IC motor, in any form.
        The earliest IC automobiles were more versatile and fuel efficient than even the most advanced EV of today, 100 years later! That which works best for the masses as an all-around multi-use machine, is what has survived. This turkey is just like every other gimmick salesman and carpet-bagger out there. rather than trying to compete by selling what is in demand, they insist that there mere act of selling will create a demand and an increase in sales. Only, it doesn’t work that way. At the risk of repeating myself, that which is most useful and economical to use, is what flies. Speaking of which, does Uncle have fuel-efficiency demands and restrictions on airlines? Your damn right they don’t! Airlines have much more sensitive operating parameters, such as the principles of aerodynamics, and the physics required to make commercial aircraft even remotely profitable. Let Uncle fuck with that and you will be killing people, or more precisely, that shit won’t fly either, literally! The EV is destined to remain an expensive toy for those with the disposable income to play with. What’s in store for the rest of us who actually work for a living, God only knows! I still find it ironic how the Tesla emblem so closely resembles a crucifix ………….coincidence?

        • another interesting thing about railroads: you may remember, back maybe twenty years or more how the diesel railroad locomotive engines (as in the pwoer plant converting liquied fuel to kinetic energy)would emit HUGE clouds of black or dark brown smoke upon acceleration, and a noticable plume on steady state medium to high energy output for cruising. Look again…. MAYBE on first takeoff, some engines will emit faint wisps of smoke, whcih pretty well disappear as the workload decreases as the train picks up speed. WHY> Did government madate clean air standards for railroads? Cleaner exhaust, better fuel economy, less particulate out the stack…… Nope. Not at all. The folks who suppy those massive +/- 2000 HP diesels went to work to clean up the exhaust, on the premise that a dirty stack means unburned fuel. Make them run clear, they use less fuel. The engines also last alot longer, having less hard carbon running about inside.
          Today’s railroad locomotives use FAR less fuel and provide far MORE power for the same displacement powerplants than formerly. That efficiency, over the millions of miles travelled per year by a fleed, results in a HUGE savings in fuel costs.. and a better bottom line. It has also largely kept Uncle Stoopid out of the picture… EPA can’t find that much to belly ache about these days when it comes to railroads.

      • Ooops, I wasn,t referring to Eric as the “ding-dong, but rather the recent Clover commenting above Eric’s response…sorry…it was late when I wrote the rant below!

  20. I wonder what might happen if a manufacturer simply told the buyer of a useful electric car that it couldn’t be used on a limited access highway, and had a maximum speed of say 50 MPH? Much like the jeep clone you reviewed a few days ago, but with a slightly expanded footprint? If the seller informed the buyer of this, in clear and easy to understand terms that “No, it cannot be used on highways. Period.” And anyone using said vehicle on the highway would lose any claims on damage or injury if they were there. Would that hold up in court? Could there be a way to geofence or otherwise keep them off the highway? Who would decide and how would the rules be enforced (obviously Uncle would crack some skulls to keep the violators in line)?

    Ah but then there’s the problem. It would have to be discounted accordingly, since cars are sold as all purpose, go anywhere machines. One car for all uses. And now that all your eggs are in one basket, pay up for features you might only need occasionally (like towing, or fold down seats (or in my case more than one seat)). And make sure it can sustain 80 MPH because you *might* take it out to Utah over the weekend.

    And in many states there’s an annual ritual of coughing up hundreds of dollars for vehicle registration so that you don’t run afoul of Uncle. Start owning multiple vehicles that often sit and there’s another cost. And Uncle has no incentive to discount electric cars, which will probably cause less wear and tear on his roads if they’re designed for commuting on surface streets, because he’s already getting full price registration today.

    • Much of the problem with automobiles are the clovers who had laws passed that make owning multiple vehicles needlessly expensive even when they are completely paid off. Insurance, registration, and so on are all designed around picking one vehicle to do everything you want to do. Then they wonder why so many people buy enclosed trucks. Now if owning multiple vehicles was more affordable a fair number of people might choose to own multiple vehicles where each one was suited to certain tasks. Imagine if someone could own a short range electric for mundane travels and a gasoline vehicle for everything else? Nope. Too sensible and therefore it has to be punished with taxes and forced expenditures.


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