World Slow to Adopt Electric Cars

I have hoped for quite a while that internal combustion-powered cars would start to be replaced in a significant way by electric ones, but it seems that for now at least that is not happening. I hadn’t realized just how poorly electric vehicles were performing until I looked at the numbers presented in an article, “Far From Electrifying” by Vaclav Smil on the American web site. He begins:

Exactly two years ago, in November 2010, the Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn assured reporters that his auto alliance would sell half a million electric vehicles a year by the end of 2013. In 2011, it sold just short of 10,000 electrics, but in April 2012 Ghosn still claimed that the 2012 sales would double to 20,000. On November 15, he had to give up and admit that, after selling less than 7,000 vehicles, the 2012 target cannot be reached.

The article continues with other illustrations of how electric vehicle sales and production has been consistently lower than projections across a number of companies, and it states that Toyota abruptly cancelled plans to mass produce the eQ, an all-electric vehicle. Toyota vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada explained the reason behind the decision saying, “The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

Smil states that the main reason behind the failure of the EV to take off is the limitation of lithium-iron battery technolovy, the current choice for electric cars. They are heavy, take a long time to charge, have limited range, and lose performance power in extreme temperatures.

As we consider the possible impact of LENR technology on transportation, it’s not obvious how an E-Cat (or another technology) would be incorporated into a car. Direct thermal to electric conversion could be one approach, but there are efficiency problems with the current state of this technology. Some people suggest the E-Cat could usher in a new generation of steam powered vehicles. Andrea Rossi believes it will be decades before E-Cat cars could be approved by regulators. It could be that cheap LENR-generated electricity will make current electric cars much cheaper to run and therefore increase demand, despite their limitations.

If LENR becomes widely accepted as a superior source of power there will certainly be auto makers that will try to find ways to incorporate it into vehicles — and if that is the case the current slow adoption of electric cars may be just temporary.