Donal's picture

    Blood or the Volt

    About a month ago, former GM vice-honcho Bob Lutz gave up on rational argument with Limbaugh, Hannity and the like:

    I Give Up On Correcting The Wrong-Headed Right Over The Volt

    I am, sadly, coming to the conclusion that all the icons of conservatism are (shock, horror!) deliberately not telling the truth!

    This saddens me, because, to this writer, conservatism IS fundamental truth. It only damages its inherent credibility with momentarily convenient fiction.

    So, Mr. Krauthammer joins the list of right-wing pundits I no longer take seriously. After all, how do I know they’re telling the truth when the subject is one I’m not as familiar with as the Volt?

    In, A Real U.S. Oil Security Strategy Would Boost Electrification Of Transport Sector, Maximum Bob, and members of SAFE, are taking a page from the right-wing playbook by wrapping the Volt in the flag:

    Having had the honor of serving as United States Marines, we take seriously the threats that our young service men and women face while defending our country and our liberty. When these threats exist because the United States is the protector of the world’s global oil supply lines, it is a clear illustration of how our nation’s over-reliance on a single, globally-priced fuel impacts our national and economic security.

    To liberate the United States from the immense costs of this role and the destructive effects of oil price volatility, the nation requires an oil security policy that, over the long term, decouples our transportation sector from the global oil market. The costs — in both blood and treasure to the United States — are too high not to act. ...

    Regarding electrification, the beauty of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf is that they are powered by electricity, which can be generated from many sources: nuclear, coal, natural gas, and renewables. Best yet, these are all domestic energy sources, meaning OPEC won’t be able to corner the market. And the retail price of electricity is far less volatile that the price of oil.

    While the right-wing criticism of the Volt is way off base, I think it is quite a stretch to expect that running a fleet of hybrids and electric cars will reduce America's geopolitical aspirations enough to keep the Marines at home. But Lutz's emotional argument may well resonate with the typical Forbes reader more than the facts.

    I'm also not sure if we can count on less volatile electricity prices. The US has some of the lowest electricity rates in the world, and while rates vary a lot depending on where you live, the inflation-adjusted average has been steady for a long time. But that won't necessarily continue to be the case. According to Black and Veatch's 2011 electric utility industry survey PDF, "more than 70 percent of all respondents agree or strongly agree with the statement energy and commodity prices will rise significantly in the next five years."

    Why? Aging infrastructure, lack of investment in infrastructure, water supply and effluent problems, and even loss of competitiveness. "More than 65 percent of respondents believe that the United States is at risk of losing its domestic design and construction skills, equipment manufacturing capacities and global competitive position in utility technology, ..."

    Even if electricity costs stay level, I think chargeable cars will be a niche market until prices drop. If I won a lottery, I'd buy one in a minute, but it would be a Twike—and I never play the lottery.

    In, The Promise and Problems of Electric Cars, Motley Fool asks:

    Will there be buyers for all of these electric cars?

    So far, the answer isn't promising.

    Proponents of electric cars like to say that the adoption curve so far looks like that of hybrids in the 1990s. That's true enough, but whether the technology will continue on that path -- whether it'll make the leap from gadget-geek novelty to the mass market, as hybrids have -- is still very much an open question. And there are real reasons to be skeptical.

    The secret to the success of hybrid cars, after all, was that they didn't require anything new and different from their drivers. For the most part, living with a hybrid is like living with any other car: You drive it the same way, with the same controls; you put gas in it at any gas station when the tank runs low; you take it for an oil change every now and then and have the dealer check it over once every year or so. Nothing about the hybrid-ness of it requires a major change in consumer behavior -- or in consumers' expectations.

    That's not true of electric cars. ...

    Just over 17,000 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year, which sounds like a lot -- but that's less than one-tenth of 1% of the total market, about equal to the number of F-series pickups that Ford sells every 10 days or so.
    Image icon Volts.jpg84.17 KB


     I recently rode in a CWAPSI Honda Civic. It was a cab owned by its driver who runs a one man operation in my small city. It was a factory setup for natural gas as fuel and the owner/ operator was quite proud of it. He told me that the fuel was priced in energy equivalence with a gallon of gasoline and the current cost s i$1.60 for a gallon equivalent. For the short slow speed stop and go city drive the computer readout indicated slightly over thirty MPG. He said that there are enough places available along the Wasatch Front on I-15 but that he didn't think the infrastructure was widely enough available to allow roaming anywhere/everywhere in the country. 

     Forget electricity and frac up the water table, go natural. 

    Spoken like a struggling farmer who just signed a six figure rights lease...

    I don't think there is any realistic hope of stopping fracking, or it's down and dirty cousin, tar sand rendering.

    Since that means game over, per Hansen, I am going long kayak mfg.

    As someone who had a speech impediment as a child, most notably having my "r" sound like "w", I can't say I much care for the name of the Twike. Its price is rather high, as well—it's nearly $25,000 dollars, not including the battery! (If you want the top-of-the-line battery, it'll nearly double the cost. Even the cheapest battery will set you back another $8,500 dollars.)

    Yeah, those prices—and the cost of shipping one over here—are why I'll probably never own one. The name is short for Twin Bike, but is of course a play on Trike, too.

    I hereby render unto Atheist the Dayly Line of the Day Award for this here Dagblog site; given to all of him from all of me for this gem:

    As someone who had a speech impediment as a child, most notably having my "r" sound like "w", I can't say I much care for the name of the Twike.

    This provides a laugh that is lasting for sure!

    But I thought that those 400 million cell phones on wheels were gonna store the overnight photovoltaic outp no, wait....

    At first I thought that was a picture of Ric Flair selling the Chevy Volt.  Whoooo!

    Electricity, baby!  Whoooo!

    I read your blogs all the time; I just wonder whether I can add anything of value (as if I ever add anything of value.)

    I am viewing a wonderful film:


    I of course love conspiracy theories involving gas companies and such.

    I mean I caddied at this exclusive club (read no Jews, Blacks, Women or communists) in 65 and 66 and here were these electric cars. All over the place.

    And almost half a century later, we do not have electric cars all over the place?


    I'm watching that on WETA right now.

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