Friday, December 17, 2010

Electric Cars are Back in Action

Nissan Leaf - Photo Courtesy - Nissan Japan
There was a time when the countries were forced to reduce their expenses and stock markets crashed whenever the ‘horrible’ news of oil price rise comes to the market. For decades oil and gas remained as the most important item in the exports basket of many countries - which resulted in rapid development in some countries and in many others it become an oil curse - and important import item for many other countries. Even now these facts remain the same. World still can’t suffer another oil shock.

One of the prime consumers of the oil is transportation industry. Both private and public transportation and utility vehicles still use oil as its primary fuel. It was and still is a curios question in front of us - why world is heavily dependent on oil and gas? Why not it’s replacing oil with electricity? If a handful of laboratories in US can overcome many critical challenges in Science and engineering during the development of Atom Bomb in record time, it will not be a mistake to think that, root cause of the problem lies more in the absence of a strong political will than scientific and technological barriers.

Any one saw the 1996 documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?”

But the necessity for embracing green technology and reducing carbon footprint the concept of electric cars are back again. In a recent announcement the cash strapped UK government is ready to offer subsidies of up 5000($7935) for nine selected electric cars models (Mitsubushi iMiEV, Daimler Smart, Peugeot iON, Citroen's CZero, Nissan Leaf, Tata Vista, Toyota Prius, Vauxhall's Ampera and GM Chevrolet's Volt) under low carbon transport plan. Along with these companies other majors like BMW, Chrysler, Ford etc. are also on the race to capture the electric car market. GM alone spends around $700mn for ‘Volt’ excluding its R & D Cost.

But still the price for the batteries, not so abundant plug in points (In US there is only around 1000 charging points - this may increase once electric car become popular) raise the range anxiety problems among customers like; when it will stop? Viability of long drives etc. Long charging hours is another turn off for these cars. Range is slowly improving, the new battery powered Nissan Leaf has an EPA certified battery only range of 120 km (Leaf will cost you around $33,000, tax credits may bring down the cost).

In the coming days as world is more eager on cutting the emissions, there may be more investments in this sector along with future technologies like Hydrogen fuel cells, electrically powered heavy vehicles etc. Until then we have to adjust ourselves with the rising costs of Oil & Gas, pollution etc. Other viable alternatives like bio fuels may sounds interesting. But the problem here is, if bio fuels become the primary source of fuel then large swaths of lands will switch their crops from edible food items to that of bio fuels. Which may results in lower per capita food availability.

Once electric cars become popular then it may not take much years to implement the same in heavy vehicles. Governments can bring down the cost by giving initial subsidies on tax to these vehicles or giving incentives to the companies who are ready to spend money on environment friendly vehicles. But the million dollar question is will the automobile companies and governments show continuous interest in these areas? What is waiting for them in the future, a market domination or premature death?


1 comment:

  1. That's great....
    I think it's popularity is growing high to high.
    This cute Nissan has already been booked in so many areas of the world. I like this Nissan.
    But due to some reason I want to buy one used car. Please tell me is there any used Nissan model and where can I be able to get it?