I think we all know that the sooner we can get the market saturated with electric vehicles, the better off our carbon footprint will be, especially as we continue to retire more coal plants and replace them with natural gas or renewables.
So what is standing in the way of that happening? Probably the first thing is cost. Most people feel that an EV is out of their price range right now. GM took a major step to address that last month when they announced that they were reducing the price of their 2014 Chevy Volt plug-in electric by $5,000. Coming in below $28,000 does not exactly make it a bargain, but it will bring it down into a lot more people’s price range.
After sticker price, probably the next obstacle is what has come to be known as range anxiety. That is the concern that drivers have that they could get stranded out on the road, unable to find a place to charge up their car when the battery is depleted. One way to deal with range anxiety is to do what Chevy has done with the Volt and add a gas tank to their electric car so the gas can be used to charge the battery, should it run down in the middle of nowhere. After all, one of the reasons we like cars is that they can take us into the middle of nowhere, something no bus, or train, or airplane can do.
All-electric cars do not have that option. They must rely on the good sense and planning of their drivers and, of course, the growing availability of EV charging infrastructure. So how do they deal with range anxiety among their potential customers?
If you’re Elon Musk, the mind behind Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Solar City, you’re in the habit of meeting challenges head on and taking matters into your own hands, and often setting an example along the way. Musk will set an example for range-anxious drivers by taking one of his Tesla Model S sedans on a cross country drive, from LA to NY, with no fears of getting stranded along the way.
In a tweet he sent out last week, he said that he had just finalized his route. The six day, 3200 mile journey would only spend a total of nine hours charging. That works out to only an hour and a half per day, as he mentioned in a second tweet, “we will only ever need to charge when stopping anyway to eat or sightsee, never just for charging itself.”
As to where he will charge up, that appears to be no problem at all.
When Musk first described the trip, back in May, he send he intended to pass through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Four Corners, Wyoming, Mount Rushmore, Chicago, and Philadelphia along the way. When the folks at Business Insider superimposed that route on a map of Tesla’s Supercharger Network, it was clear that he would be within driving distance of a charging stations at all times.
The announcement was originally made at the end of May, coincident with the announcement that Tesla would dramatically expand its charging network. At the time he joked, “It might end up being like some Chevy Chase movie.”
He plans to bring his five young sons along in the car, which seats seven, though he needn’t worry about their safety. The Tesla Model S was recently rated the safest car of all time.
What he might have to worry about though, is voices coming from the back seat asking, “Dad, are we almost there yet?”
RP Siegel, PE, is an inventor, consultant and author. He co-wrote the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining romp that is currently being adapted for the big screen. Now available on Kindle.
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