Tuesday, September 6, 2011

11 Days Til PA Energy Fest! Updates & a bit of a Rant

Okay, so some years it has been a challenge just arranging to get one EV out to the PA Energy Fest's Alternative Transportation Tent -- this year we have two!  Saint Bill has been very busy making sure both the e-Van and our red-hot newly-converted Miata are ready to go ... including adding some informative bling ..


In addition to its lovely new magnet sign the e-Van has a working controller in it and is totally good to go.  Bill has been plowing through mechanical fixes on the Miata down to the last detail (horn, airbag light, new gear shift boot) and the charger has been relocated from its original nifty concealed spot behind the seats to one that makes it possible to monitor the apparently-more-important-than-we-thought LED readouts.  It now resides in the trunk along with the spare tire. 

Our biggest issue -- the last driveability tweak for the Miata before it can hit the road -- is the DC-DC converter.  Happily John Yecker has generously loaned us an old one of his, which will be brought by Brandon "Yes I Do Provide Technical Support for my Designs"  Hollinger  tomorrow.  (I just got a text from the gentleman in question reporting that the original electric Miata that he built made it today from Lancaster to Philadelphia, a 75-mile trip with real highway involved, with 27% of charge remaining.  Since his car is the older cousin to our newly-built 50-mile car, we are bursting with family pride here.)

Speaking of being able to go 75 miles between major cities on between, say, a buck-fifty and three dollars' worth of electricity depending on where you live, in a car that you can basically build (and therefore fix) yourself, and which you fuel at your house, thereby immediately liberating yourself from enslavement to

a) foreign oil
b) domestic auto manufacturers & their dealerships
c) all the gas pumps: the kind with televisions blaring pseudo-news and advertising & the more run-down, less-automated sort where you have to line up behind lottery addicts in order to pay at least twice as much for every mile
d) oil changes, exhaust repairs, replacing ruptured hoses & leaky gaskets & all that other stuff that wears out or (alarmingly & generally expensively) suddenly breaks in your average internal combustion engine, at least in my experience
e) guilt over really wanting to drive a car with extremely rapid acceleration, which is obviously fun, especially when you are faster out of the tollbooth/starting lane than like basically ALL gas cars on account of how electric motors have instant torque and that growly sound you hear when an ICE is trying to rev up super fast is the sound of it attempting to suck its way up the torque curve.  See you later sucker!

Anyway SPEAKING OF ALL THAT, this week a friend of mine tried unsuccessfully to lure me into commenting on a Facebook thread by emailing me the following:

 Care to respond to this?
Dans La Lune

Please don’t blame me for this splash of cold water. Blame the greens
4 minutes ago · ·

    • Now you've done it. I have to sic Jenny on you. She is not on FB, tho, so it might take a while....
      2 seconds ago

      Jenny Responds (A Lot More Than 2 Seconds Later): 

      I'm not especially tempted to engage in internet squabble on this topic, & you know why?  It's not just because I avoid pointless conflict on the grounds that is addictive (much like high-fructose corn syrup & Facebook), it's because I am totally for viral social media republishing of opinion pieces abjuring people to stay away from EV's because they are some kind of green scam.  Go right ahead, folks!  Object!  Foam at the mouth!  Buy a Hummer, or propagate the notion that it's more environmentally sound than a Prius!  Use up  all the fossil fuel already, ladies & gentlemen-- it's blindingly obvious that it will be easier to change our ways once the intoxicatingly energy-dense stuff is totally gone.  Please help yourselves to more oil.   It would be a public service.

      Meanwhile me and a few of my friends will be driving around in EV's saving money on gas.  Who knows whether the dying dollar will persist into the post-petroleum era (maybe we will end up rich in carbon-credits who knows, it's possiblebut I speculate that with a considerable amount of actual cash unspent on turning valuable oil into pollution  in order to commute 30-100 miles per day 5 days a week, accumulation of savings will permit our not-at-all-hypothetical cadre of actual present-day EV drivers to acquire what is known in the social sciences as "an economic advantage" over the folks who,  well past the tipping point, maintain a desperate grip on the steering wheels of their precious ICEmobiles.  In the not-too-distant future gas prices may double & cities may begin to levy pollution/mpg tolls, but I'm sure there will be some drivers who'll hang on till they're practically bankrupt rather than succumb to the EV-il tide.

      But many of the present-day haters will probably end up buying an electric car.  And because we, the smug & thrifty-when-it-counted greens, will at that point be super-rich in dollars or carbon-credits or social capital or what have you, we will  all be zipping happily around in fabulously satisfying high-tech & very very  fast electric sports cars with awesome range & power.  The likes of Margaret Wente and her propagators will be reduced to shooting us envious glances from their poorly-constructed, unaesthetically-designed, economical but unfortunately kind of crappy EV imported from India or China or some other crowded country with an eye on the US market for tiny, cheap electric cars.  Too bad they are so tiny their range is limited and you really have to eke out those miles!  Goodbye fun driving, watch your acceleration!

      To sum up, my prediction for the future is that the current anti-EV opinionmongers will mostly end up driving little electric shitbuckets because that will be all they can afford, while we here at Bucks County Renewables and our friends who hold the long view will be a) super-rich and b) driving futuristic electric cars of such awesomeness that they will make the Tesla seem both dowdy and underpowered.   We must try not to regard our defeated opponents pityingly; nor should we gloat, even though this whole outcome will secretly be very satisfying.  Zooming out of tollbooths well ahead of them with that slight I-was-an-early-EV-adopter grin on your face is permissible, of course.  

1 comment:

Dan said...

Hi Jenny,

Nice rant ;). The "shocking" article (if I hear that pun one more time I'm going to TASER somebody!) is full of comments from people explaining, mostly rationally, why they article is all wrong.

As one who drives an EV that is slow and lacking "conveniences", I would argue, like the first comment to the article: regardless of fuel type, over time we will be squeezed to drive smaller, less powerful vehicles, shorter distances. I love my EV, but thinking I can drive as fast, far, and as long as an ICE and have dramatically lower impacts is NOT a reality. Maybe you've heard of, even read, Kunstler's "Long Emergency"? It's a bit dire, but I think he convincingly debunks the myth of alternatives replacing fossil fuels ... and that the spiral down the fossil fuel depletion curve is going to bring serious consequences, even with renewables. Yes it means we should have a case for aggresive conservation and renewable policies (I protested the XL pipeline last week - if it makes a difference, who knows). But the political will to do something is somewhere lost in our backwards thinking consumer driven society (not to mention our corporately owned government and an apathetic citizenry), unfortunately.

A far as EVs go, I'd rather underpromise and overdeliver on the hype, than the other way around. I think the EV crowd, however, is hyped up and the article is one reaction to that. I don't know how to improve the situation, other than tell people that climate change, pollution, and global wars for oil will ruin our country and perhaps the world. Wise up, do something, and that means YOU and NOW!

Hope to see you in Kempton, I'm planning to be there Sunday (albeit EV-less) - Dan