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Why Do Some Hate Electric Cars?

Like it or not, electric cars are becoming an ever increasing part of our automobile industry, with promises of better home energy security and eventually lowering pollution emission. So what’s all the hate?

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It’s hard to image why would a car running on good old home USA made energy insight awe and hatred. What is scary about a little city car that offers people another choice and runs on American made energy? The problem is as always how it’s presented, then politically manipulated and finally sold to the mass. In reality, the electric car is a bleeding edge paradigm shift for the automobile industry that grapples with turning a conventional internal combustion engine car into a rolling computer stock.

It’s All About Energy, Stupid! In the end, we can argue until blue in the face but the biggest appeal electric cars, EV and their plug-in hybrids, PHEV cousins have is the potential to secure our local energy and diminish the drain petroleum corporations have on our economy. I felt smug recharging my last EV for free a little while back. So why are there still people bashing EVs?

Historically Speaking. Anyone who knows anything about cars knows the first internal combustion engines were dismal, at best. 12 liter engines would push out a measly 20 horsepower. Eventually it was fine tweaked over decades and billions in subsidies. These days, a 1.5L pushing in excess of 160 HP is not uncommon. Still, it wouldn’t have happened with time and money. So what’s all the hate with EVs fairly new technology?

Darn Subsidies! Last year, Congress decided to continue billion dollar subsidies to the petroleum industry while slashing education funds. To add a slap to the injury, while the U.S. suffered its biggest recession ever, the petroleum industry posted almost extreme profits, while taxpayers were hard squeezed. When gasoline went to the unimaginable $4 a gallon a year ago, there was much upheaval. Predictably so, it went down only to creep up to now $5.20 a gallon, here in Los Angeles. Do petroleum companies really need those subsidies to get harder and harder oil? So, how is that working for you?

In comparison, an electric car runs on a few cents a mile instead of double digits for a gasoline equivalent, all U.S. energy rates averaged. Yes, they are expensive and not too many have $40,000 but it doesn’t stop many from living on credit card debt buying massive TV sets and other conveniences. Somehow, a $40,000 car that runs on home made energy that brakes even in a few years at this gasoline rate is unimaginable. How many families own a second or third car that could easily be converted to electricity and relegated to short trips nearby?

More Darn Subsidies. If you consider the amount of time and subsidies the gasoline engine received throughout this past 100 years, it should make you wonder where the electric battery technology for cars would be today. If you vehemently oppose battery technology loans, then you should feel the same for petroleum company receiving your hard earned tax subsidies. So what’s all the hate about?

The Answer. Short of the obvious, educating people to understand long terms strategic planning in lowering their energy bill, electric cars need to be represented as what they are, bleeding edge technology that comes at a premium so far and works best in cities and congested highways. Unfortunately, detractors being who they are know how to easily push buttons and send a hysteric mass into a frenzy against what essentially boils down to another choice of transportation.

We are not a wimpy nation and have braved disasters, so why panic when dealing with another car choice that secures our energy home? The real question is who is benefiting from the mass hysteria? Any novel technology comes down in price with time. So what’s all the hate with electric cars when they offer another mode of commuting?

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Anonymous (not verified)    October 15, 2012 - 5:58PM

I enjoy my Plug in Prius. After six months ownership, I am still working on my second tank of gasoline and I fill at about eight gallons (since I do not let the tank get clear empty). I do need to charge the car regularly but that takes just a few seconds to plug in. The car charges when I would not be using it anyway. I am getting about 115 miles per gallon counting all of my miles driven.

They only difference from my other car is that there is virtually no cost to driving the car.

There is no compromise. The car is useful, comfortable and fine quality. There is no "range anxiety".

The original cost was more than the average new car. The savings for fuel will offset a significant part of that difference.

I like that.

Nicolas Zart    October 15, 2012 - 9:31PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

That's ultimately the point, choice, choice and more darn choice. You are happy to be able to use your car in electric mode and then, only when needed use the gasoline engine. It's really all about choice and the right car for the right circumstance, isn't it? I agree.

Anonymous (not verified)    October 15, 2012 - 6:00PM

I enjoy my Plug in Prius. After six months ownership, I am still working on my second tank of gasoline and I fill at about eight gallons (since I do not let the tank get clear empty). I do need to charge the car regularly but that takes just a few seconds to plug in. The car charges when I would not be using it anyway. I am getting about 115 miles per gallon counting all of my miles driven.

They only difference from my other car is that there is virtually no cost to driving the car.

There is no compromise. The car is useful, comfortable and fine quality. There is no "range anxiety".

The original cost was more than the average new car. The savings for fuel will offset a significant part of that difference.

I like that.

fran sullivan-fahs (not verified)    October 18, 2012 - 4:38AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

My husband owns a conversion plugin prius from back in 2007 and he loves it. It has well over 140,000 miles on it. I have a Nissan Leaf and am loving this fun and exciting performance vehicle!

Nicolas Zart    October 18, 2012 - 12:29PM

In reply to by fran sullivan-fahs (not verified)

I've noticed in my years of covering electric cars that those who speak the harshest against haven't driven one, or only spent a few minutes behind the wheel and made up a very quick assessment. Once you tale into consideration the entire picture, including energy, health, pollution, operation costs, so on, so forth, then an EV adds up and to some, even at $40,000.

Anonymous (not verified)    October 15, 2012 - 7:37PM

It's just a matter of time, when battery technology improves 4 fold, which will offer double the range for half the price you will see a lot more people switching to EV's. I have no use for a $40,000 vehicle that only has a range of 80-100 miles, but offer me a $20-25,000 car with 200 mile range and all of a sudden you get something very practical.

Nicolas Zart    October 15, 2012 - 9:32PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I can assure you that all manufacturers and battery technology leaders hear you loud and clear and are feverishly working on that. In the meantime, a car for every situation and electric cars are good for city for a certain type of household, it seems.

John Goreham    October 15, 2012 - 9:08PM

Gas costs 5.20 where you live? Is that just one store, or are they all like that? That's weird that you state that, because this website (below) says it isn't. Who do I trust? I pu the Fox news link there just to rile you up. Remember, if California decides to tax itself to death on state gas taxes, or create crazy barriers to gasoline suppliers, that really isn't the same thing as gasoline being expensive, or hard to obtain. Should I trust the rest of your points? Regular unleaded is $3.83 on average in all of New England according to AAA (I saw it on the news tonight). I pay that, so I figure it is pretty true. AAA says it is about 3.81 nationally on average. Compared to other things, here in the Northeast gasoline is really pretty stable in price. Has been for decades. The US dollar has devalued significantly. You can call that inflation, but they are not exactly the same thing. So you have to pick a point in time and then consider what a dollar would have gotten you at that point in time. My property taxes on the only house I have ever owned have gone up much more than gas over the past 20 years, and are a much more important (much larger) part of my budget. Where's the outrage? You might want to think about why LA pays 26% more for gas than Boston, Providence, etc. Both bastions of liberalism. Yet totally diffferent gas prices. Hmmm.

Nicolas Zart    October 15, 2012 - 9:39PM

In reply to by John Goreham

Well if you take into consideration what naysayers have been saying all along that electric cars are mostly found in Los Angeles, San Francisco and in some parts of NYC, then it makes sense they become even more efficient in these cities where gas is that expensive. Yes, I see regularly premium gasoline well above $5 here. And yes, California is not the greatest state when it comes to intelligently managing its deficit. Then again, I can't think of too many places that does a good job at that.

I can't say anything about Fox or CNN, too partial for my taste. AAA does a good job but I get most of my final sources from the DoE.

Contrary to appearance, not all of LA is left leaning, but that's another point. The point of the story is that we have cars that can drive on electricity or partial electricity for a fraction of the cost of gasoline. What is the problem with more choice. Final point, if we give away billions of dollars to petroleum companies, giving loans for another choice of energy is a bad thing?

And yes, mea culpa, but having lived mostly in NYC and LA, we tend to see the world in a skewed way. But again, the point is choice and home made energy. That's never a bad thing.

Aaron Turpen    October 16, 2012 - 6:00PM

In reply to by John Goreham

$3.72 here.

To address Nick's point about states handling deficits.. Currently, 44 states (I'm doing this from memory, so I might be off one or two) have "balanced budget" requirements in their constitutions. Most, however, do not have an amendment with any teeth to it. Here in Wyoming, our budget is based on the previous years' revenues and we have no state income tax or corporate income tax here. Most state level revenues are derived from sales and use taxes on both retail sales and energy production. Wyoming has never had a deficit for more than 6 months and usually posts a surplus. The people here are very leery of politicians and we have state- and county-level term limits. Even the Democrats here make Ronald Reagan look like a socialist gold digger.

The point is, many states do not have a significant deficit and many have none at all. Those states that do have heavy deficits usually have two things in common: high public:private employment rates (a large number of public employees vs private employees in the workforce) and stupid "save the world" policies - it's not a coincidence, for example, that most CARB-compliant states are also in budget crisis.

Of course, when you put a lot of people who've never had a real job or run a real business in charge of something, you can expect they'll run it in some dreamy, unrealistic fashion with no regard for the balance book. Their respective political party doesn't matter.

Nicolas Zart    October 17, 2012 - 11:26AM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

Right on Aaron. What we're witnessing here politicians and their so-called parties fighting for relevancy, when clearly the past few decades they've done nothing but make things worse. We need that right middle between centralized governments and localized decision making, something we once had. Like many here, I lean toward no party since neither one of them represent me but vested lobby interests. That Time Exchange program is sounding better and better all the time...

Nicolas Zart    October 18, 2012 - 12:36PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

LOL, the one thing all politicians do very well is make a case against them. They are well paid, have full pension, wouldn't hurt if gasoline went to $7 a gallon and in those circumstances, cannot fully appreciate what middle class American is going through. They are making themselves as obsolete as rotary phones.

Matt Griscom (not verified)    October 16, 2012 - 6:27PM

I've driven more than 19,000 miles on my 2011 Nissan Leaf, and I love it! It's a smooth, easy, quiet, luxurious ride. I doubt that any single detractor of electric cars has ever actually ridden in one, let alone drive one. No gas, no stink, and no, I've never been stranded.

Aaron Turpen    October 17, 2012 - 3:05AM

In reply to by Matt Griscom (not verified)

I've driven and ridden in almost every EV on the full-scale automotive market today, including the Leaf, the Focus Electric, the Volt, several hybrids, and even commercial vehicles that are battery, hybrid, or fuel cell electric. EVs are nice, but I "detract" from them in that I don't see them as the end-all, be-all of awesomeness that most EVangelists seem to think they are.

Nicolas Zart    October 18, 2012 - 12:38PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

When we look at Detroit, one thing should be deadly obvious. Don't put all your eggs in the same basket. Diversify. Innovate. Plan ahead on as many playing fields as we can. CNG is great and we have a surplus currently. Hydrogen can still be a good thing once we work out the kinks. Plug-in hybruds offer the best bang for your buck IF you do the math right. So on, so forth.

Matt Griscom (not verified)    October 18, 2012 - 1:01PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

So, passed 19,100 miles on my 2011 Nissan Leaf ... No, of course I'm not saying that this car is the solution to all scenarios, nor would I suggest that you try to move the contents of your house cross-town in a Ford Mustang. I'm not limited to in-city or even in-suburb driving with my Leaf. But, it does meet 99.8% of my needs brilliantly. For the other 0.2%, I swap cars with my wife, and she's very happy to drive the Leaf rather than her gas-powered car.

Nicolas Zart    October 18, 2012 - 4:09PM

In reply to by Matt Griscom (not verified)

Hi Matt, that's exactly it, the right car for the right job. I like the idea of using a Mustang to move cross-country. And last I check, 99% of all my travels are small local hops. For the rest, I can always rent. In an ideal world. We would have an electric car for everyday drives, a plug-in hybrid for longer weekend drives and a convertible hybrid high-performance. Now all I need to do is play the Lottery!

Nicolas Zart    October 17, 2012 - 11:29AM

In reply to by Matt Griscom (not verified)

Hi Matt, I was once a skeptic and then drove an AC Propulsion and "saw the light". Once you drive one, if you like torque, and we do here then nothing replaces the instant torque of an EV.

On another note, the article wasn't to bash petroleum. After all, it made the industrial revolution and has carried us far. But it has overgrown its original purpose, is too big and lobbies too much and when you add all the numbers, health issues and everything into the scope, it's time to develop other alternative energies and get caught once again with all our eggs in a basket.

Suthy (not verified)    October 16, 2012 - 9:22PM

What do you do, write this stuff in Latvian and then Google Translate? This is horrible. The intro is crap and the first paragraph reads like a fifth grader penned it.

Nicolas Zart    October 17, 2012 - 11:32AM

In reply to by Suthy (not verified)

You got it! I'm a fourth grader though, so I appreciate your warm comment. Those always seem to push things into a positive way and really contribute to the overall picture. But if you want to become my editor, please feel free to sign your name, post your picture and join the group. In the meantime, I suggest you read the BBC or the New Yorker.

Anonymous (not verified)    October 18, 2012 - 10:02PM

The US is swimming in available coal and natural gas. Our potential wind power is greater than that of most other countries. Solar power is becoming half as expensive every several years. It only makes sense to covert some of our energy sources into electricity so we don't have to buy oil from hostile countries; so we don't have to drain taxpayers to fight for that oil.

Had the move to electric cars been marketed as a national defense imperative, there would probably be a lot more Republicans on board. Instead, electric cars were marketed as Kyoto friendly, as a job incubator, and as a liberal virtue. All three of those things are probably true but if the goal was to succeed, electric cars should have also been marketed in ways that would also resonate with more conservative values.

Nicolas Zart    October 19, 2012 - 4:00PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, that's why we need more than ever an all-encompassing energy policy that includes more than one type of energy. I absolutely agree that EVs were wrongly marketed. Every time I spend money at a gas pump, I feel very, very unpatriotic, considering how many young Americans were sent to secure that foreign oil and either died or have come back severally handicapped.

Anonymous (not verified)    October 22, 2012 - 3:34PM

I'm genuinely intrigued by plug-in hybrid technology, which I see as the best current compromise as electric propulsion is reintroduced to our automotive culture, but not at a minimum $40,000 per vehicle (Volt) or 24 mpg (Karma). And, what about weather and special needs? I'm trying to be practical and economical with a mid-size SUV (for towing and snowing) and mid-size car (27 mpg), but no affordable hybrid can do either my commuting or recreation mission in sub-zero weather. I'm not willing to be the guinea pig for that. As someone else said, with more production and better battery technology = lower prices and greater range, maybe I will someday buy a Volt type automobile, with AWD and after somebody tells me how it de-ices its windows at 15 below zero! We need practical hybrids, not rolling science experiments, marketing ploys, or fair weather hanger queens.

Nicolas Zart    October 22, 2012 - 4:48PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Me too, I think PHEVs are a perfect balance that allows for freedom of choice. Drive on electricity for small distances and use the gasoline engine for the longer ones. As far as sub-zero temperatures, as far as PHEVs are concerned, battery life, range and expectancy will be effected. CODA is the only EV that actively manages its battery pack to make sure you get your range, regardless of outside temperatures.

As far as all wheel drive SUV PHEV, the only one I know is the upcoming Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The Outlander has always had a good reputation and has proven reliable in the past.

When you say practical hybrids, in many ways they already are for 90% of what people, drive form point A to B. That's why the Prius and Honda hybrids have done so well. The next step is SUVs and real all-terrain vehicles. It will happen.

I'm actually thankful for early adopters because they financially pave the way for me to eventually get what I want. I remember longing for a DVD player but couldn't fathom paying $15,000 for it. What's interesting now is to see the second wave of early mass-adopters coming along.