Friday, October 06, 2006

Electric cars and alternatives

We saw Who Killed the Electric Car today. It's a very good documentary about what happened to the electric cars that had been introduced in the 1990s and have been off the road since. I won't spoil the ending by telling you who the movie found guilty - I strongly recommend that you see the film yourself :)

I tell you, that movie makes me want to go out and buy an environmentally-friendly car :) The electric car wouldn't be suitable for everyone - it doesn't have enough range, enough infrastructure (because of the charging stations), or enough room. Unfortunately, a 2-seater car isn't suitable for everyone. These are things that could be overcome, of course, if the car companies were willing to put research and development money into them. I don't think that they will, though - it's almost as though they're in partnership with the oil companies to keep people dependent on gasoline and oil.

The hydrogen fuel cells mentioned in the movie don't really seem like a good alternative to the electric car. There are certainly storage issues - anyone remember the Hindenburg? Another alternative that I've heard of are ethanol fuel mixtures like E85; I hope that they are actually brought to market. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that the oil companies are willing to allow alternative fuels into the market (I'm not sure how much I believe in Shell and their alternatives, even with those commercials).

I'd like to buy or lease a hybrid car when my lease for the current car is up next summer. If I could get one that could optionally take E85, I might be extra-happy :) We'll have to see whether or not the design of the cars is suitable for someone short like me. I have trouble with visibility in some cars. Also, any car I buy has to be suitable for both me and Ian - it has to be easily adjustable. If it turns out that the car design won't work, then we'll get a car that has low emissions and good gas mileage.

I can say, too, that I don't want to buy a car from the "big three" - GM, Ford, or Chrysler. It seems to me that they're trying to stifle alternatives, which I don't like at all. Their hybrid cars don't get the same mileage as a non-"big three" car, either. Until I see that these companies are actually trying to be more environmentally-sensitive, I choose to not purchase their products.

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