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The Electric Albatross


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American Spectator:

Electric cars make sense at amusement parks and golf courses -- and on the road, if the road is mostly flat, it's nice and warm out (but not too warm) you've got money to waste, don't have to go very far (especially in winter) and don't mind waiting a couple hours before you can go someplace else.

Otherwise, they're marvelous.

The hype about electric cars is still years ahead of the actuality. If by actuality you mean an electric car that isn't more compromised than Arnold's political career. I remember covering the GM Impact/EV back in the early '90s, almost 20 years ago. Most of the press swooned; a few Californians bought (well, leased) them. Some even liked them (that's California for you and also because California doesn't have winter; more on this below). The car was a money pit for GM, despite all the hoopla and the government kickbacks.

And today?

Cut through the farrago of Happy Talk and the real-world boondoggle's still the same. The range of the latest electric cars is said to be better. But it is always couched in the ubiquitous marketing con, "up to." And under ideal conditions.

Your actual mileage will vary.

Consider the Nissan Leaf. On a full charge, Nissan touts a 10- mile range. It doesn't tout what the range will fall to when it's 16 degrees outside and the capacity of the Leaf's battery declines by "up to" 20-30 percent, which it will as all batteries do when it is very cold out. Now add the additional load on the battery to power things like the heater/fan -- and the lights, which you will probably need when it's dark outside.

There are other forms of loading, too. Passengers and Stuff. Everyone knows that a gas powered car goes slower and burns more fuel the more it's loaded down with passengers and cargo. The electric car is not immune from the same physical laws. Add a few hundred pounds of weight and it's going to need more energy to do the same work and that means more draw on the battery, which will mean reduced range as well as reduced performance.snip
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