[Marxism] Electric Cars

Anthony Boynton northbogota at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 5 07:54:14 MDT 2006


In regard to David Walter's post, and I guess an
earlier discussion, there is a lot going on with
electric cars, beyond the Telsa (the silicon valley
luxury electric sports car David mentioned.)

I suggest readers check out ZAP and Obvio. ZAP is an
electric car distributor in California which has been
importing cars to the USA from China. The cars are
very small, very slow, and have a short range. Now ZAP
has invested in a Brazilian company, OBVIO which plans
to produce a much faster car, with greater range, and
significantly reduced charging times. ZAP has signed a
contract to buy 50,000 of these cars and import them
into the USA.

Brazil and China both have government supported R&D
programs to develop alternative  fuel cars, and have
put significant resources into electric car
development.

Electric cars, even with lead acid batteries, are
definitely more environmentally friendly than are any
fossil fuel burning vehicles. 

In the first place, current electric motor technolgy
is 2-3 trimes more eneregy efficient than internal
combustion engines.

In the second place electricity can be generated
without burning fossil fuels, and without burning any
carbon: wind, tidal, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar
and nuclear are all possible. (All have their
environmental prices, but none emit CO2 into the
atmosphere.) 

In the third place even thermal generation burning
fossil fuels in a large plant is cleaner than burning
fossil fuels in millions of small engines. There are
economies of scale which include the possiblity of
burning at higher temperatures, for more complete
combustion, and investing in very expensive
technololgy to clean the "exhaust".

As David said, rapid advances in battery technology
are the key to advances in electric car development.
This is not just because of environmental issues, but
because of practical issues. Lead acid batteries are
very heavy, must be recharged freqently, and take
hours to recharge.

To power a small four door sedan converted from
interanl combustion to electric power requires between
12 and 20 standard 12 volt lead acid car batteries.
The range of such a car between recharging will be
anwywehre between 60 and 200 miles, its maximum speed
is likely to be less than 60 mph (depending on
design), and it could take up to 8 hours to recharge
the batteries (depening ont he system used).  

Converting internal combustion cars to electric is a
growing trend, with more than 100,000 such vehicles no
the road in the USA and Canada.

The guy who is the key player at Tesla has been
promoting this trend for years. In fact, they even
have electric drag racers, which accelearate up to 200
mph on short runs.

Right now I have an old Mazda 323 sitting in my garage
waiting for me to get enough money to buy the rest of
the parts to convert it into Colombia's first electric
car.

All the best, Anthony






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