Daily appear news about what seems to be the panacea of the decade we have just opened: the electric car. Much talk about it from the “highest level”, but do we really know what they are talking about? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the new technology? We will try to explain it.
To begin with, the great advantage of the electric car is, undoubtedly, energy used. The electricity is much cheaper than petroleum products and, unlike these, can be produced using renewable and “clean” energy. Separately, the car itself, produces zero emissions and almost zero noise.
I have no doubt that in the future, all cars will be thus: not polluting, noisy and cheap “feed”. But in what I have serious doubts at the time it will take to reach that future. And this am I referring to the large number of disadvantages as, to date, this technology poses.
The first, as it couldn’t be any other, is the starting price of these cars. The only car that is sold today is the Think City. This small utility (3.14 meters long) is 100% electric and its price is 30.114 euros! To make an idea, any model diesel or gasoline with similar dimensions and power does not reach to cost 10,000 euros. Assuming that electricity is totally free, to amortize this cost overrun, it would take the not inconsiderable figure of 350,000 miles, which, to an eminently urban car, are many kilometers.
And prices are not likely lower, since the following model to the sale (late this year) will be the Mitsubishi i-Miev, which is already on sale in Japan since last summer with a price that exceeds the 30,000 euros although it is very likely that when you arrive in Spain, its price is higher.
The next problem that we encounter is the autonomy of its batteries. The Think City, mentioned above, can go with full charge about 160 kilometers, to navigate the city, it is more than sufficient, but that at the moment we have to make an offset relatively short to another town, the mountains or the beach, will be insufficient.
Another drawback that we can meet you is recharging the battery, where to plug it? Only by this problem, we are eliminating 80% of potential buyers, since a large part of the population lives in multi-storey housing and free parking space. It is essential, therefore, always have a square of parking (with power outlet) available or live in an isolated House. Battery Exchange solutions are being explored by others charged in specialized centres (electrolineras?).
Apart from the where, there is also another problem with the recharging of the batteries: the time used to complete the load. It takes (or will take) between six and twelve hours in recharge it in a conventional power outlet. Some vehicles may be connected to a three-phase socket which will shorten the process up to 30 minutes, but, of course, who can provide easily from a three-phase socket? Anyway, half an hour is still a lot to wait in a charging station that “it fill us tank”, if someone thought this solution.
There are many other designs called “hybrids” that combine a diesel with electric engine, which gives it much greater autonomy, but it is no longer the model 100% electric which is promulgated by our Government.
The objective declared by Zapatero is to reach 250,000 fully electric vehicles in 2014. To do so, does not hesitate to subsidize this alternative with 590 million euros in 2011 and 2012 (for the other two years still no figures).
This grant is a cost to taxpayers of 8,400 euros per car. And here arises the incongruities of this plan: it is not hard to imagine that the first car manufacturer who places on the market a reliable, cheap and competitive electric car will be gold. Then, is it necessary to subsidize big brand plates for doing something which would in any case?
We will achieve this that these cars are manufactured here in Spain? Let’s hope so, because otherwise bad business will have done.