The Setup: This was written several years ago, before the advent of Chevy's Volt and the Fisker Karma, which both carry a small engine to recharge the batteries, essentially eliminating what the engineers call "range anxiety" (will it get home if I'm caught out after dark?). And of course, let's not forget Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, which is doing frightfully well at pushing $100,000-plus electric cars to people who fly between cities on private jets. But for every one of those admittedly well engineered electric vehicles, we have thousands of Priuses with failing battery packs. With those failed packs, we not only have underpowered cars getting maybe eighteen miles per gallon, we've got hundreds of thousands of non-recyclable packs lying around and leaching contaminants into the ground water. And that's not even counting the thousands of Chinese school children poisoned by the factories churning out new battery packs without the infrastructure to recycle or renew them. To that end, when a bliffy started bloviating on a car magazine website about how we need to ban all internal combustion engined cars and go strictly to electrics, I slammed him with the note below. I do believe I was about number 43 in line to do so, so I suspect my viewpoint is not incorrect in this instance.
Yet more head-in-the-sand nonsense on electric cars? There's a reason these didn't successfully compete a century ago when automobiles first started out: they are impractical. They are overweight, underpowered, lack range, and require specialized connections to the power grid for recharging. I won't go into the "pollution-shifting" being done by charging the car with electricity generated "elsewhere" to render the car "pollution free." No, let's talk about heavy-metal pollution. If you knew what these lithium-ion batteries are doing to the environment, you would insist they be banned immediately. I for one would prefer our water supplies not be polluted with substances so poisonous that the human body cannot tolerate even the smallest amounts without debilitating side-effects. And yet, here you are, suggesting we move ahead with these purveyors of poisons, and completely ignore their highly negative effects, both now and in the future. That's right, you completely forgot about recycling the batteries, hadn't you? You can't exactly drop them off at the local Radio Shack. Who's going to take those hideously deadly, leaking, nasty, burned-out battery packs and recycle them? Today's hint: the infrastructure doesn't exist for this scale of pollution. You are trading a form of pollution that's become a minor annoyance (internal combustion exhaust emissions, now reduced to the point where it is no longer an issue in 99.8% of the country), and traded it for something that will kill our children, grandchildren, and generations to come for thousands of years. That's not just stupid, it's criminally stupid. The technology is tempting (isn't it always?), but let's take a real-world look at the costs before we throw ourselves off this particular cliff with the rest of the lemmings.