Electric cars

Laws, David (lawsd@magic.dcrt.nih.gov)
Tue, 9 Dec 1997 14:52:08 -0500

A few months ago The Learning Channel (or The Discovery Channel, watch
both, get them confused at times) had a special on the future of
automobiles. Granted, this was a TV documentary but...

1) The best electric cars developed currently pollutes more than the
new breed of internal combustion engines. This pollution is mainly from
the gases produced by the batteries. (They also noted that the disposal
of used-up batteries would be a more ecological hazard than anyone has
yet been willing to contemplate.)

2) The new internal combustion engines produce LESS pollution than
mandated as minimal by the California pollution laws. Amazingly, the
electric cars exceed or just barely reach this level.

3) 90%+ of the pollution of new internal combustion engines occurs in
the first 5 minutes of operation, before the engine/catalytic converter
gets up to operating temperature. Electric engines pollute at a
constant rate.

4) Gasoline is a by-product of oil refining. It was actually dumped
into the ground in the early days before the advent of a need
(automobiles). We will always need to get rid of gasoline somehow until
we no longer refine oil.

5) The scenario about the pollution and secondary trauma from an
electric car accident was enough to turn your stomach. Granted, I
suppose batteries COULD be developed that could survive a 60 mph
crash....or powerful enough that you wouldn't need several hundred
pounds of them.

Granted, we refine more oil for gasoline purposes today than we need
from other refinery products. Yes we should find alternative propulsion
methods. What this shows to me is yet another emotionally charged
fringe group (anti-oil, luddites, anti-technology, etc) with the power
to enact laws of the land affecting everyone without using a little
logic and common sense.

I'll be glad to purchase an alternative to my internal-combustion
propelled automobile when one is developed that is better, not just

Of course, we HAD an alternative years ago. Just about every city of
size had excellent small-rail systems. These were bought up, ran into
ruin, and ripped out. Bring back decent mass transit (busses just don't
make it as they don't go where I need when I need and pollute more than
a thousand cars) and you eliminate the need for individual transport.
We can still have our automobiles, we just won't use them nearly as


-----Original Message-----

And we will. If 90% of our oil reserves were to be
suddenly gone, I
suspect we would rapidly make adjustments.

> Yes, better to use them for plastics and composite materials.
> So how are electric cars doing? I understand Ford has a model
that is
> to be _used_.

I've always wondered if people that favored electric
cars so much realize
how toxic batteries are, and that the electric plant burns coal
to generate
the electricity to power them.

Being in tune with the auto industry (here in Detroit,
it's tough to avoid
it), Ford has a car. It carries a boatload of batteries (toxic
waste). It
hits a top speed of 10 miles an hour, and needs to be recharged
every 30
minutes. Or something, I must admit I cannot recall the exact
Generally speaking, it couldn't replace the average
smoke-belching, rust-bucket of doom.