PRICE ON Elec­tric cars

Shades of a fam­ily trip with the chil­dren — ‘Are we there yet?’ would be the plain­tive cry from the back seat about 10 min­utes into any ex­cur­sion. One could ask the same ques­tion in re­la­tion to the is­sue of elec­tric cars

New Zealand Classic Car - - PRICE ON - By Greg Price

Some time back, I wrote a piece on the demise of elec­tric cars in the US, hav­ing watched an in­ter­est­ing doc­u­men­tary en­ti­tled Who killed the Elec­tric Car? The 2006 doc­u­men­tary made this tan­ta­liz­ing com­ment by way of an in­tro­duc­tion: “In 1996, elec­tric cars be­gan to ap­pear on roads all over Cal­i­for­nia. They were quiet and fast, pro­duced no ex­haust and ran with­out gaso­line. Ten years later th­ese cars were de­stroyed!”

You will, no doubt, re­call that around 1996 there was un­rest in the Middle East lead­ing to ris­ing petrol prices, global warm­ing, and pol­lu­tion. The doc­u­men­tary claimed that there was an al­ter­na­tive — the elec­tric car, known sim­ply as ‘EV1’. The thrust of the doc­u­men­tary was sim­ply that the oil in­dus­try, to­gether with the au­tomak­ers, had con­spired to de­feat the elec­tric car con­cept.

How­ever, not all car man­u­fac­tur­ers were con­tent to con­sign the elec­tric car con­cept to the scrap heap — Toy­ota [to name but one — Ed.] says that hy­brid-elec­tric ve­hi­cles com­prise 10 per cent of its global sales, which amounts to ap­prox­i­mately 1 mil­lion ve­hi­cles.

For those who are not fa­mil­iar with the hy­brid con­cept, the the­ory is sim­ply this: once the car has reached the end of its power cord (and the plug is yanked out of the socket) the driver switches to petrol. Though, of course, an ob­vi­ous prob­lem with elec­tric cars oc­curs when the car reaches the end of its cord — it can be quite dan­ger­ous to per­sons nearby when the cord au­to­mat­i­cally re­tracts, pulling the car back­wards at a great rate of knots. I’m kid­ding, of course. And there is ab­so­lutely no truth in the ru­mour that the cost of ex­ten­sion cords was the driv­ing force in mak­ing elec­tric cars un­prof­itable.

Vested in­ter­est

What has caused me to res­ur­rect this topic is that some­one with an ob­vi­ous vested in­ter­est has gone pub­lic in main­tain­ing that the New Zealand Govern­ment should be the driv­ing force (no pun in­tended) in push­ing for New Zealand to power all its cars with elec­tric­ity. No sur­prises that this per­son was the CEO of a ma­jor power com­pany. This CEO claims that New Zealand has enough wind farms and hy­dro and geo­ther­mal power sta­tions to power ev­ery car in the coun­try.

As I un­der­stand the sta­tis­tics at the mo­ment, there are some­thing like around 4 mil­lion ve­hi­cles known to the NZTA. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of th­ese would ei­ther need to be re­placed or con­verted to meet this aim of hav­ing the en­tire New Zealand fleet run­ning on elec­tric power.

Well, I have per­son­ally checked all our ve­hi­cles, and there is sim­ply no room any­where on them (mo­tor­cy­cles) or in them (cars) for any kind of elec­tric mo­tor — with the ex­cep­tion of our old Bed­ford am­bu­lance.

And, on the sub­ject of con­vert­ing the ex­ist­ing na­tional fleet to plug-in power, where on earth would we find up to 4 mil­lion suit­able elec­tric mo­tors and 4 mil­lion suit­able bat­tery packs? And, any­way, just who would han­dle all those con­ver­sions and who would pick up the tab for in­stal­la­tion costs? Or per­haps this is this yet more sub­terfuge to get rid of old cars.

An­other prob­lem would be pro­vid­ing enough fa­cil­i­ties through­out the coun­try at which peo­ple could recharge their elec­tric car, and yet an­other prob­lem would be the price of power. Re­mem­ber when a for­mer en­ergy min­is­ter claimed that ‘pri­va­tiz­ing’ the en­ergy in­dus­try would re­sult in more com­pe­ti­tion? The only com­pe­ti­tion we ever saw was which com­pany could in­crease its charges the quick­est! When I lived in Auck­land years ago, I used to baulk at pay­ing around $90 per month for my power ac­count. This time last year, my av­er­age win­ter monthly ac­count was in the vicin­ity of $400 to $500! Per­haps that for­mer govern­ment min­is­ter can ex­plain just when I can ex­pect to see the types of power price re­duc­tions he was promis­ing?

I think that some CEOS sim­ply have far too much time on their hands be­tween board meet­ings, or per­haps they con­sume too much wine at lunch?

I’m not say­ing that there isn’t room in the coun­try’s ve­hi­cle fleet for elec­tric cars (we have some 750 in our na­tional fleet at the mo­ment), but don’t im­pose an un­work­able, un­re­al­is­tic con­cept on the ma­jor­ity of us who are not on six-fig­ure CEO re­mu­ner­a­tion, thus are in no po­si­tion fi­nan­cially to re­place our ve­hi­cles with elec­tric cars — that will serve no use­ful pur­pose other than to fur­ther in­flate some power com­pa­nies’ prof­its and, pre­sum­ably, their CEOS’ per­sonal bank ac­counts.

Must go — I have to buy an­other ex­ten­sion cord, or three, just in case!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.