Electric Cars: Building Hype Since 1911

With the renewed focus on electric cars as a way to cut our dependence, the greens have really renewed the drum beat for electric cars as a way to slash our dependence on dangerous foreign oil. (Never mind the fact that we import more oil from Canada than Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Combined.)

Take this example from a recent New York Times blog posting about electric vehicles:

“We are on the cusp of an historic worldwide transformation in transportation that starts in the world’s biggest cities,” Mr. Sachs said in an interview. “It’s important from a resource point of view and an environmental point of view.”

A pre-production Chevy Volt was parked on College Walk for the event. Tony Posawatz, the Volt’s line director, said the company was “on a very good glide path to deliver the car.” The first retail cars will be delivered in November, he said. The Volt plugs in and will be home charged; Mr. Posawatz said he was looking forward to “having a gas station in my garage.”

So is New York ready to charge E.V.’s? Arthur Kressner, director of power supply research and development at Con Edison, cited the electric delivery trucks that plied the city’s streets 110 years ago and answered in the affirmative. Except for relatively rare peak demand times, he said, “the grid is more than capable of meeting the demands of electric vehicles.” (emphasis added)

The interesting fact is they have been saying the same things for over 100 years. Take this example from The New Your Times in 1911.

New York Times Electric Car Article from 1911

This excerpt is from an article in 1911:

Another great advantage of the electric in years gone by was their quiet operation, as compared with gasoline cars, and this fact alone was responsible for their widespread use by women.

The designers of electric passenger carrying vehicles have made great advances in the past few years, and these machines have retained all their early popularity and are steadily growing in favor with both men and women. They are very handy for use in the cities, and numbers of the best known and most prominent makers of gasoline cars in this country use electric cars for driving between their homes and their offices.

The enthusiastic interest recently shown by the electric power companies all over the country in furthering the cause of the electric passenger vehicle assures a still greater use of these machines. In the past it was sometimes difficult to make arraignments to have electrics charged unless the vehicles wee stored in a garage where owners of electrics were catered to, but this state of affairs has been changed. Now it is possible for an owner of an electric to install his own charging plant in his stable and the electric power companies are anxious to connect their feed wires to these individual charging plants. (emphasis added)

Just like the Photovoltaic cell, scientists and engineers have been working on electric cars for over 100 years, and EV’s have failed to fulfill the promises touted in the 1911 Times article.

And, even if electric vehicles take off, we will not ‘get off of dangerous foreign oil’ any time soon. The entire supply chain required to manufacture an electric vehicle requires oil, from the light weight plastics used throughout the vehicle (even the polyester used in  seat belts are manufactured from oil) to moving vehicle components on ships, trains, trucks and aircraft.

The entire supply chain requires oil.