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Will your future automobile have an electrical cord?

Passionate about cars since childhood, I have been observing the development of electric vehicles for some time. And frankly, I have followed this development with measured skepticism.

Nonetheless, I had decided that it was inevitable that such vehicles would eventually take pride of place in the automotive world, if not dominate. But I didn’t think I would live to see it. Now, I’m not so sure, and I’m definitely not ready.

I realize more than ever that every day is a gift, and that tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but things happen quickly in this industry. Major automakers have announced deadlines to stop production of internal combustion engines – powered by gasoline or diesel – and those deadlines certainly (God willing) my life expectancy.

To make a long story a little shorter, I’m trying to get a feel for the idea of ​​driving electric. This will mean stopping at charging stations instead of gas stations. “Gas station” and “gas station” were the terms my father used interchangeably to refer to any gasoline retailer in the 1950s.

Two years ago, in May, I wrote a column about the potential threat of autonomous vehicles – cars and trucks capable of moving from one place to another after the proper coordinates were programmed into his computer. . These computers will allow vehicles to communicate with a network and navigate traffic. They are always a sure possibility, but it seems that arriving ahead of time will electrify many, and ultimately most, of the vehicles on our streets and highways.

You don’t have to read many auto industry press releases to know that manufacturers are scrambling to present the latest and greatest battery-powered cars and trucks.

Of course, there are many questions that need to be answered before a massive transformation of our transit system can take place. The big issues right now are (1) increasing vehicle range between charges, (2) distances between fast charging stations, (3) how much more than a traditional vehicle will cost- and (4) how long will governments be prepared to subsidize purchases?

Those first two questions were high on my mind this month as my wife and I closed an Interstate to use West Texas back roads, and a Tesla passed us before reaching the ramp. Release. If electric car drivers stay on interstate highways, they probably won’t have much trouble recharging. I have read that access to a network of charging points is offered as part of any electric vehicle purchase, but no single source for all locations and their different capacities has yet been created. They are still working out some details.

The main questions facing a car owner considering an electric vehicle remain the scope and location of charging stations, but governments also need to prepare for a future that is seemingly closer than some had thought.

Road taxes on gasoline fund a large chunk of road infrastructure in every state, so how are those revenues replaced when fuel sales plummet? What will oil-producing states like Texas do to support their economies? Oil has many important uses besides gasoline and diesel, and it will be decades before all of our internal combustion engine vehicles wear out, so fuel demand will at least stabilize before it ends. by decline.

I hadn’t even considered another major problem until someone else pointed it out to me. The power grid, at least in Texas, is already unable to keep pace with customer demands during the most severe weather conditions, including extremely hot and freezing temperatures. What does it take to prepare production capacity for a time when everyone is recharging their vehicles, let alone trying to heat or cool their homes and businesses?

Futurists predict that electric vehicles might only be a step towards even more drastic changes in the way people get from place to place. I read an article that sounded pretty extreme, but who knows more? One visionary predicted that many of the world’s environmental and overpopulation problems will ultimately have to be addressed by eliminating personal vehicles, regardless of how they are powered. This would require relying on expanded transit systems, as well as car sharing and hourly vehicle rentals.

I imagine it would work in metropolitan areas, but what will those of us in rural areas do?

Brains smarter than mine will no doubt figure all this out before long, but will it arrive in time to make the transition a smooth one? Or will these smart brains find something else – maybe an emission-free gasoline vehicle that hits 100 miles per gallon?

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. Its “TGIF” column appears on Fridays. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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