You may have read that GM killed the electric car. This isn’t true.
The government did.
The practical electric car, at any rate.
By imposing car design edicts that have made it impossible (so far) to build an economical electric car.
An economical electric car would have to be, above all, a very light car. Under 2,000 pounds, at least.
Ideally, under 1,500 pounds.
A 2016 Tesla S electric sedan weighs in at 4,647 lbs. — which is about 600 pounds more than a current full-sized pick-up truck like the Ford F-150 (4,049 lbs.).
A 2016 Nissan Leaf electric sedan — which is only slightly larger overall than a 1970 VW Beetle — weighs about twice as much as the old Beetle: 3,243 lbs. vs. about 1,600 lbs.
Because they are so heavy, electric cars are not very economical. They cost a lot money.
And they can’t travel very far, either.
Which makes them not very practical.
Impractical — and expensive. Now you know why it is necessary to heavily subsidize their manufacture — and pass laws requiring manufacturers to build them, even if they can’t sell them.
It’s crazy — and it’s a shame.
Electric cars — electric batteries — are very sensitive to weight. The heavier the car, the greater the load on the battery; it depletes faster. A heavy EV requires a larger — heavier — battery pack. A Tesla S model’s battery pack alone weighs 1,200 lbs. — only about 400 pounds less than the weight of an entire 1970 VW Beetle.
More weight, less range.
The motor must also be more powerful, in order to get the heavier car rolling. The more powerful motor is usually larger — and so, heavier.
Less range, again.
You see the problem.
Unfortunately, the government does not.
Or, it just doesn’t care.
Cars generally (not just EVs) are heavier today than they have ever been, notwithstanding the now-widespread use of aluminum for engine blocks and plastic/composite body panels — in order to meet the government’s numerous “safety” requirements dictating the impact forces a vehicle must be able to withstand in a crash, including in particular its ability to roll onto its roof without the roof crushing.
The only cost-viable way to accomplish this is by adding structure (steel) to the vehicle. Which makes it heavier. Which makes it less efficient — whether electric or gas (or diesel) powered.
It’s a Catch 22.
You can have “safety” (as defined by the government)… or you can have efficiency.
It is hard to get both together.
Particularly in an electric car.
Getting 1,200 pounds of batteries rolling makes that challenging.
But a 1,500 pound electric car would not need 1,200 pounds of batteries. It could probably get by with a pack that weighed half that. It would also not need a heavy motor (the Tesla’s weighs almost 400 pounds, about the same as an aluminum V8 engine) because less torque would be needed to get a light-weight car going.
Imagine an electric car that weighed about what a 1970 VW Beetle weighed. Imagine how far it could go in between recharges. Imagine how inexpensive it would probably be.
But such cars do not exist because of the government fatwas that do exist.
So, instead of very light-weight, simple and inexpensive electric cars designed for maximum efficiency and maximum economy, we get hugely heavy and hugely expensive electric cars laden with electronic features and creature comforts to make the buyer feel better about their economic insensibility.
It’s their luxury and “tech” — and in some cases, like the Tesla, their performance — that is touted.
In which case, what’s the point?
If an electric car costs more (much more) to buy and operate than a non-electric car, there’s no economic case to be made for the thing.
It’s like admiring the beautiful singing voice of an obese girl competing for Miss Universe.
Because they are very expensive — the “cheapest” of them being the $30k Nissan Leaf — it’s more than slightly ridiculous to talk up how much money you’ll “save” by purchasing one.
Generally, people in a position to spend $30k-plus for a car can do basic math.
And the math doesn’t add up.
Hence, the need to sell electric cars on the basis of things other than their economy.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S is quicker than many exotic high-performance sports cars. It has a beautiful body and a sumptuous interior with all the bells and whistles, plus the box they came in.
It also starts at $70k.
In part because it has a panorama sunroof (150 pounds) and four (front and rear) leather-covered, heated and powered (draws electricity) electric seats (200 pounds) plus 400 pounds of “safety control units” and air bags. See here.
As economic proposition, it’s like the obese girl in the Miss Universe pageant.
No one but the blind guy in the back row is wolf-whistling for her.
Well, and perhaps Uncle.