Reader & sometimes poster Brian Compton put a couple of links to prototype/production electric cars, and I figured that it might be a public service to give a little opinion on them. Now as a EE myself, I ought to love the idea. You have a flat torque curve, very few moving parts, no emissions from the vehicle, no "bomb" below the back seat (gas tank), and you can dispense with both an engine and transmission with multiple gears. There is a reason we use electric drive for things like golf carts and forklifts.
When it comes to passenger automobiles, however, I'm yet to be convinced--though as Brian's links showed (look in comments past couple of posts), there are certainly a lot of smart people working hard to prove me wrong.
Why will it be difficult? Look at a periodic table of the elements, and view the atomic weights of hydrogen, lithium, and nickel. Hydrogen is the main energy source in gasoline, ethanol, and natural gas. Lithium and nickel are the main energy sources in high tech batteries--and given that lithium is the lightest metal, it's extremely unlikely that we'll find a way of making a battery that's much lighter than lithium ion technology. Lithium is also fairly rare, and is electrolytically isolated from solutions "rich" in the element--it's really quite a difficult element to get, and cost $38/lb back in 1998, according to Wiki.
The end result is that when you use batteries instead of gasoline for energy, you need about ten times the weight for your power source. Hence, any vehicle that needs to go a serious distance is going to need hydrocarbon fuels, and it's also likely that any vehicle that needs to be inexpensive will be using ordinary, hydrogen based fuels for the foreseeable future.
Don't get me wrong; I wish those developing these vehicles all the best. I just don't know that physics and chemistry are likely to cooperate.
Sudden Death: Hotdog - CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban teacher and avid Cubs fan has died following a choking accident while at the game on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Read the rest here.
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