Thursday, July 29, 2010

Electric Vehicle news

Not good. Kenneth P. Green, at The American Enterprise Blog, crunches some numbers on the $41,000 Chevy Volt. Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:
[The Volt is] more than twice as expensive as a comparable gasoline-driven car. ...[T]he government will give each ...[buyer] a $7,500 subsidy, and another grand if they install their own charger at home (apartment owners ... get to subsidize homeowners with this one). President Obama wants a million electric cars on the road by 2015, ...[so], it’s safe to assume the subsidy would remain, sucking only $8.5 billion dollars out of taxpayers coffers...

Of course, that’s only the direct subsidies... 80 percent of vehicles aren’t parked in the garage of the person who owns them, which means there are going to have to be a lot of public charging stations built at taxpayer expense. And the gasoline that electric owners don’t consume also takes tax revenue out of the Highway Trust Fund, meaning that if there is massive penetration of cars that don’t use gasoline, some other way will have to be found to maintain transportation infrastructure.
Skyrocketing electricity rates, maybe?

Summary: There will be a Synfuels-like perpetual subsidy for a few hundred jobs. The Feds bought GM, forced it to bring the Volt to market ASAP and are propping up the experiment with your tax dollars throughout the manufacturing and sales cycle. You pay to build them and you pay people to buy them.

Meanwhile, technology marches on. Toshiba has announced it will begin production (in Japan) next year of a competing type of battery for Electric Vehicles, the SCiB (Super Charge Ion Battery). It has some advantages over the batteries planned to be built in Michigan by LG Chem and A123.
The battery's specs claim 6,000+ charge/deep-discharge cycles with minor capacity loss, safe rapid charging to 90% in 5 minutes, and enhanced safety regarding overheating or shorting out. It could make its way into electric vehicles before long.
Is this a battery that can be built, without retooling, in the Michigan plants being subsidized by government? Will the innovation have to be licensed from Toshiba? I don't know, and I'm sure neither our Governor nor the President do either.

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