If fossil fuels are dirty and running out, and hydrogen power remains a pipe dream, electric vehicles are the way to go.
And why not? It’s not as if we aren’t used to plugging in everything else.
Earlier today, fellow Smart Takes blogger Larry Dignan wrote about Chevrolet’s new Volt hybrid electric car, which supposedly gets 230 miles per gallon. That’s an incredible feat that blows away any “hybrid” vehicle on the market today, which seem to use electricity for nominal gains in fuel efficiency.
But I’m not convinced that electric cars, which perform best in city driving, are the way to go.
Take the Volt, for example: it can ride for 40 miles on a single charge, or up to 300 miles with its fuel engine, without considering A/C and on-board weight. That’s about enough to commute to work for most (but certainly not all) people before needing to recharge.
To be sure, that takes a lot of pollution-producing vehicles off the road. But to me, it’s only a stopgap solution.
In my opinion, most work commuters within a 40 mile radius would be better served by a more comprehensive public transportation system.
To me, electric cars help solve a pollution problem but ignore other problems with the efficacy in which we move workers. The traffic congestion faced by these workers — and increased time and stress associated with it — seems to work against justifying the expense.
And who’s to say electricity companies — some of which use fossil fuels to deliver energy — won’t just raise prices?
Why not kill two birds with one stone?
If regional rail systems were bolstered, there would be a more efficient way of getting a greater metropolitan area’s workers to and from the same place: the city.
That doesn’t mean electric cars aren’t useful, of course: in the short-term, they’re still a far more efficient way to navigate the spread-out suburban communities much of America lives in.
But perhaps a comprehensive rail-vehicle plan would better address the lack of density that is a factor in everything from a town’s happiness to its crime rate.
Neither aspect of this suggestion addresses workers with significant commutes, by the way. That’s a problem for national high-speed rail to address.
But I wonder whether all this time, energy and money would be better spent addressing a solution that solves more problems. Then again, I doubt General Motors would want to cede its business to the light-rail industry.
That’s my smart take. What’s yours?