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Rudd killed electric car?

Great news, everybody! We will pay 35*10^6 bucks to Toyota so they can possibly start delivering Camry Hybrid by maybe 2010. They promising outstanding fuel economy — only 5.7 liters/100 km! Woohaa, we saved!

What a joke. You know, these days there are plenty of cars around that have about the same thirst, for instance, my Civic 2007 (not a hybrid, thanks God!) only takes 6.5-7.0/100 km (and I am not joking!), not mentioning dozens of diesel cars freely available on the today market that can run 100km on even less than 5 liters offering truckloads of torque at the same moment. I simply don’t see the point of building hybrids — they are at least as twice as complex as average modern petrol car, they still have that mistake called Internal Combustion Engine under the bonnet, what from engineer’s point of view is nothing else but a joke — several hundreds moving parts, dozens of sensors, neutralizers, computers built for the only purpose to convert less than 20% of energy concluded in fuel into the move (another 80% are simply heating the environment), in addition all this zoo of «state of art technologies» requires once-a-10K oil change, toxic coolant, timing belts, spark plugs and counting. Simply get rid of it, use the space and weight saved to put extra batteries and you get emission free vehicle that costs almost nothing to run, requires almost no maintenance and is easy and fun to drive. How about 300 N*M at zero rpm? That’s what electric vehicle (EV) is.

You say, I am a dreamer? I don’t think so — there already are plenty of people who built EV cars by themselves in their garages and who use them every day. Check this out — The Australian Electric Vehicle Association, it’s Sydney branch; EVMotors, that could supply you all the parts needed to convert ICE vehicle into EV. There is also very interesting EV Weblog by Jerry Halstead, who explains its past and current conversion projects in a very simple language. You don’t have to be a nerd to understand that there is really nothing, nothing at all really complex in EV — everything that goes in there was already invented by the beginning of XX century. No rocket science at all, in fact, resulting EV is ten times simpler than modern petrol car as it does not need most of these weird things that are required to get your ICE actually propel the car. Even gearbox is not needed. Yes, no gearbox at all, no manual, no auto, no CRV transmission.

Sounds good? Well, there is a little issue. Damned batteries! They are heavy, expensive, some require complex electronics to monitor their health and they still don’t have capacity enough to build a car which range would be comparable to petrol car. But is it really needed indeed? Put your hands up who drive more than 50 km a day! In fact, an EV that could run 50 km on single charge could be build using old-fashioned lead-acid batteries, and this is exactly what people do. You get home, plug your car into 240v socket and it is charged by the morning. That’s it. You can even plug it when you get to the office and your range magically extends almost twice (of course, you’ll need to find a parking spot with 240V outlet, which seems to remain a slight issue for at least several years 🙂 ).

In fact, I am almost sure that the reason why we still drive those weird, polluting and noisy monsters is that nobody actually cares about environment. The oil prices and limited supplies do not seem to concern those who take decisions either.

I wonder how far should oil prices go before we see a little revolution in car making? May be instead of investing into dead technology we should better use these money to encourage enthusiasts and provide more public EV charging points as well as spend a little fraction of them on battery research?

P.S. — I heard that «EVs simply shift emissions to other place», please don’t repeat that bullshit.

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