Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Electric Cars: Drive Free, Drive Clean, Be A Patriot

Every American household with a place to plug in an electric vehicle (EV), and a place to put in solar photovoltaic system (PV), should do so. We have. Now, we drive for free, we are over 100% clean, and we are defunding the terrorists. We’re also really enjoying the car.

Savings:  For $12,500, our PV system covers the electrical needs of our Nissan Leaf and our home. (The Leaf cost us $22,500, which is about the price of an equivalent car.) Our previous car got about the national average fuel economy, which meant that we would have spent about $2800 this year on fuel and maintenance. By contrast, EVs virtually never need maintenance. Therefore, we are saving all of our fuel and maintenance costs, and we are also saving about $700 annually in home electricity costs. Combined, the PV pays for itself in less than 4 years. Historically, electricity increases about 7% annually and gas increases about 12% annually. This means our total savings over the 25 year guaranteed life of the PV system is calculable to be at least $400,000 (and it is expected that these systems will last well beyond their guarantee).

But remember: even without PV, driving an EV still only costs about 20% as much as a gas car. If you own two cars, one should definitely be electric. If you only have one car, think about how you drive it: if you only drive long distances a few times a year, you should go electric.

Clean:  Even with 100% coal-generated electricity, EVs account for less pollution than a gas car: in reality, only 45% of American electricity is generated from coal, and that percentage is ever-decreasing. In California, less than 1% of electricity is generated from coal, and EV-related emissions here are only a tenth of a gas car. But the real story is that gas cars use both gas and electricity because it takes so much electricity to extract, refine, and distribute gasoline. Remarkably, an EV can travel farther on the electricity required to produce a gallon of gas than a gas car can travel on that gallon. Therefore, EVs save 100% of the emissions of a gas car and also save emissions that would have been produced generating the electricity required to make that gas. And in contrast to our ever-cleaner electrical grid, harder-to-reach and dirtier crude oil is taking ever-more energy to extract and refine and therefore requiring more electricity. An EV is the single best way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Defund Petro-Terrorism:  OPEC makes over $1 trillion annually, and over $300 billion of that goes directly to Saudi Arabia. It was Saudis who hijacked our planes on 9/11. Our defense expenditures total over $1 trillion annually -- more than all of our discretionary spending combined. It has cost us over $7 trillion (about half of our current total federal deficit) to keep an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf since the 1970’s oil embargo, and since that time we have fought three wars at a cost of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in that same region. Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn said of our oil addiction: "[Our oil money is] going to nations that wish us harm. This is an unprecedented and unsustainable transfer of wealth. It puts us in the untenable position of funding both sides of the conflict and directly undermines our fight against terror."  CIA Director James Woolsey put it succinctly: "We are paying for the terrorists with our SUVs.”  EVs only use domestic energy, produced by American workers. True American patriots drive EVs to promote national security, economic security, and American prosperity.

Drive Happy:  Here’s the secret bonus: guilt-free performance. Go ahead, mash the accelerator: you’re only burning an endless supply of the sun’s photons (I prefer to keep nuclear reactors at a safe 93,000,000 mile distance). I like to drive briskly, and even though after a lifetime of working on cars and motorcycles I kinda miss the smell of hydrocarbons, driving with electricity is simply better performance. So, go ahead, drive with a lead foot: you’ll only leave a lithium footprint!

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