Electric cars and your money

When did the electric car make its debut? You can scroll down to the bottom of this post to learn the answer, or, as a practical matter, I’d be interested in learning your guesstimate in the comments section below, before you scroll to the answer.

We all remember that the President has said he wants 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015.  To accomplish this feat, the administration is spending $7,500 of your money to provide a subsidy in that amount to every electric car purchaser in this country.  The subsidy is needed because the cost of these vehicles is beyond the reach of most Americans.

So, where do we stand today to accomplish the President’s goal?

Consumer Reports doesn’t have good early reviews for Chevrolet’s flagship entry into electric vehicles.  A top editor from the publication said the Chevy Volt, which has both a plug-in battery and a gasoline engine isn’t particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it’s not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy’.  He concluded that it just ‘doesn’t make an awful lot of sense.’

No surprise there.  The real problem is the batteries.  They are very expensive (about $20,000 for the Nissan Leaf), have a range of only about 80 miles (depending on the weather conditions), require 8 to 10 hours to recharge, and, were that not enough, are expected to last only 6 to 8 years.  So, at the end of the battery’s useful life, you can either throw another $20,000 at a 6 to 8 year old car, or, you pretty much have to throw the car away.

None of this bodes well for electric car sales.  In fact, the federal government had to give Nissan $1.4 billion dollars in loan guarantees so that Nissan would manufacture electric cars and batteries in Smyrna, Tennessee.

To meet the President’s goal we need to sell about 15,000 electric cars per month between now and 2015.  So far, Nissan has sold 87 Leaf’s in January, and 67 in February, not exactly a stellar performance.

The first electric car appeared on the scene in Scotland in 1832.  No, that’s not a typo.  So, what we have been unable to make either feasible or practical after 180 years of trying, this administration thinks we somehow will be able to accomplish in 4 short years…if we just throw enough money at it.

16 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Actually, in MA anyway, the batteries are covered for 10 years/150K miles, if I recall correctly.   Which means the cost of the batteries will be shouldered by the purchasers of normal cars.

  2. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    As a short distance commuter car, the electric works.However most people do not have short commutes.  An electric car works as a second or third car.

    The electric car does not work for the majority of Americans for three reasons, size, cost and range.

    Ekectric cars are small in comparison to what most people drive.  You cannot put six people and luggage into them. 

    Even with the tax breaks, you can buy a pickup or an SUV for the price of an electric car.

    Part of being an American is the ability to go when and where you want to go.  Try doing a cross country trip in a car with a 60 mile range. 

    In the early  part of the last century car makers were using a variety of power sources.

    They included steam and electricity.  In a three waycompetition, the gasoline engine wonn out.    It offered range, economy and ease of use.  It still does.

  3. ebh
    ebh says:

    I used to fish as a kid on the Henry Street docks, in Bridgeport Connecticut. This is where the Locomobile factory was located. I believe they were the first electric car manufacturer in the USA – did not fare any better than the Scots!

  4. Shared Sacrifice
    Shared Sacrifice says:

    How many electric cars would it take to offset presidential trips to Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore , Trinidad, Turkey, UK, Vatican; along with two trips to Afghanistan, Canada, Czk Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico and South Korea?   Oh, and Spain, Hawaii, weekends in Chicago… Oh and Pelosi's trips…  And these folks travel with an entourage, and jets carrying armored vehicles…  

  5. winnie888
    winnie888 says:

    Couldn't Obama just burn the money rather than coming up with these elaborate schemes to fund technologies that people do not want?  It would be so much less painful to watch.  Seriously, enough with the electric cars, climate change, high-speed commuter rail, etc….could he just please focus on something important for more than 5 minutes?  Get that man some Adderall and a key to the oval office.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      I think that would make unregulated (yet) smoke that would contribute to the alleged greenhouse effect, winnie!

  6. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    Some of us are old enough to remember the fiasco of Ford Motor's Edsel which came and went in a few years.  Like an electric car, it was something nobody wanted and it failed.  The difference of course is that the Edsel was not subsidized by a collectivist government hellbent on remaking us into a socialist society.


    Like the Edsel, the Obama administration was marketed as a change and improvement, when in fact it is just more liberalism in a lower quality package.  Like the Edsel, the Obama administration is being repudiated by the electorate, starting with the elections of 2008.


    Edsels are now collectors' items, a curiosity of a bygone past.  God willing, both the battery powered car and the excessive Obama administration will soon be curious memories.

  7. RoBrDona
    RoBrDona says:

    Mid to late 1890s would be my guess. There was a time when the electric car was looking to be preeminent over the internal combustion engine. That was not going to happen with cheaper, easier fuels being available.  They were always "city" cars and trucks though, as the same problems plague them today – lack of range and time to recharge.

    As for today, the only really O-Approved electric vehicle is the Imperial golf cart. 620 hours and counting…..  

  8. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    My prediction is that US drivers will be buying Chinese made electric cars. They're investing in the battery technology and we are watching. Good thing semiconductors were designed and developed two generations ago, otherwise…….we'd be watching somebody else embrace the technology.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Actually, they are stealing the battery technology, and undercutting the manufacturing costs with underpaid and slave labor.

  9. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    @Dims: I heard what is being said of the Chinese was said of the Japanese and of the Koreans. Then we had something new in our back pocket.

  10. Don Lombardo
    Don Lombardo says:

    Electric cars that lose power going up hills and lose their charge in cold weather. Should be a big seller in New England. We'll be saved – though – by tax payer funded high speed rail. PUKE!!!! 

Comments are closed.