Back in January 2008, I wrote a blog
about an exciting new technology for car batteries that would allow them to be charged in the same amount of time as it takes to fill a gas tank in a conventional car. The technology seemed to work, but they were having challenges with manufacturing. Six years later and it still hasn't come to fruition.
In that time, several car companies have released electric-only cars, despite the "range limitation" issue (even Harley-Davidson just revealed a new electric motorcycle
). Most cars can only go one to two hundred miles and then need to be charged for several hours. For most people, this shouldn't be an issue, as most people don't drive more than a couple hundred miles a day. It's only an issue for when people go on vacation/road trip, which is fairly rare.
The other issue is the ability to charge the car where one lives. A lot of people that live here in DC have street parking, which makes charging difficult. Municipalities could replace parking meters with combo charging stations / parking meters. Residential and office buildings could put charging stations in place for every (or most) parking spaces. They could charge for the electricity used just like they charge for use of the space.
Nonetheless, despite it being a rarity (and renting a gas car being a simple solution), the road trip would seem to preclude buying an electric car... until now.Tesla Motors
released their gorgeous all-electric cars to great fanfare. They are modern marvels with a simple direct-drive motor that is built right into the rear wheel axle. The interior is all LCD. Yes, they are expensive, more so than most people can afford. But with the 85 kWh battery, the range is 265 miles. At 60 MPH, that's almost 4.5 hrs of driving.
More importantly, Tesla has built 97 Super Charger stations
, where Tesla owners can get a half charge in about 20 minutes. They are strategically placed to cover a great deal of the continental US (go to the link - I'll wait). I could drive from DC to Atlanta in a Tesla electric car. It's possible to drive from LA to NYC - in an electric car! And (for now) it's free!
It's also true that - for now - this is strictly for Tesla cars. The critical thing is - it's possible to do this NOW
. All it takes is a little willpower and some cash (something Tesla owner Elon Musk has plenty of). That could change quickly now that Elon Musk has released all of his Tesla patents
to create a sort of "open source" environment for electric car development. This will allow other manufacturers to build cars with fast-charging batteries that can make use of the Super Charger stations that he is continuing to build.
Along with all that, he is getting into the solar panel business
in a BIG way. He foresees a big demand for them, and is planning on ramping up the manufacture of them in a big way. This means more U.S. jobs (most solar panels currently come from China). Those solar panels are used at the charging stations, so he is walking the talk.
This is our future - but it's also our present. Homeowners can put solar panels on their roofs to reduce (or eliminate) their reliance on fossil-fuel-generated electricity. They can also install a much smaller wind turbine
than was available before. This has a smaller "footprint" than the windmill designs commonly used and is more efficient.
Imagine - a house and car powered entirely by the sun and wind. It's easy to do... It's possible now
Keep driving Mr. Musk - drive us into the future we deserve, not the one the oil companies prefer.