Questions, We Have Questions about Cars

The Biden administration recently announced a goal for 2030 that 50% of new vehicles sold in the US will be electric vehicles. The automaker R&D and design departments better get crackin’ because we have questions:

None of the currently available electric passenger cars have a range of more than about 400 miles per charge. Drivers won’t usually drive until the batteries are dead, so that means the effective range is 400 miles minus your comfort zone on when to stop to recharge. And when you do stop to charge your Tesla (or whatever), it may take up to an hour or more at one of Tesla’s Superchargers. Of course, that also depends on whether you can plan your route around the available network of chargers. Our last road trip involved two consecutive days of driving over 700 miles, so does this mean our elected servants want to preclude family vacations and trips to see relatives who live beyond that 400 mile range? Or just make them so difficult as to be impractical? And what if you want to go camping in the boonies, away from charging networks?

Electric cars aside (at least until the designers solve the questions of range and recharge), consider for a moment how safety standards require putting our children into a succession of car seats from the time they are infants until they reach a certain size and age. Then they switch to what amounts to an engineered booster seat for maybe another year or more, until they have finally grown large enough for an adult safety belt. Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that kids use booster seats until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and 8 to 12 years old. So, how many passenger cars have enough room for a father, mother, and two child seats? What about three child seats? Or even four seats? Unless you have the money for a minivan or a medium to large SUV, the safety regulations seem to work against having more than one or two children. Safety is certainly a good thing, but do policy makers know or care that they are working against “large” families?

Last but not least, while we are asking questions about cars, our local planners want to try cutting one of our city’s major streets from four lanes to two lanes. They say this will make space for bike lanes, but much of the street already has bike lanes. For the part of the street that is too congested for bike lanes, riders can find safe bike routes that parallel the street only two or three blocks over (I know because I used to take those routes when I biked to work). So what is the reason to narrow the thoroughfare? Maybe to get us out of our cars and into something like Uber? But Uber drives cars, too. Maybe to force us onto a bus? But the buses do not run often enough or cover enough locations for that to be practical. (By the way, I rode a bus for years to get to graduate school, and was surprised to discover things called bus schedules. Why surprised? Because I never saw a bus run on schedule, so I did not know real schedules existed. Who knew?) Back to the planner questions. Maybe they simply want us to walk? That would be good for our health and the shoe industry, but also time-consuming. All of this leaves us wondering if the impact of narrowing the street is a bug or a feature in the eyes of the planners.

OK, enough rambling questions for now. Suggestion: on this as well as so many other current events, it is always a good time to make your views known in the marketplace, in your elected representative’s mail, and at the ballot box.

4 thoughts on “Questions, We Have Questions about Cars

  1. I always think of my battery powered hand tools when considering battery powered cars. Even with light duty work around home, the life of the mechanical tool outlasts that of the battery. Then the cost of the battery (made in China by the way) is so expensive that for a few more dollars, I can buy a whole kit including the mechanical tool (which is also made in China). No one is talking about the lifetime carbon footprint of all these electric powered devices yet. Or the sources of electricity to recharge the batteries.

    Most people who invest in ev’s feel good about themselves because they believe they are making a difference in their environment but the only thing I see them doing is participating in experimental research that isn’t saving anything yet. But more power to them for their investment that will possibly return some meaningful results in the next century.

    On the present mileage, 400 miles is not the distance from home, it is the round-trip distance: 200 miles out and 200 miles back. For cross country at 70 mph, 4 hrs driving time between 1 hr meal breaks consumer only 280 of the 400 mi max distance and a one hour fast charge will get you back on the road for another 4 hours before another 1 hr meal break.


    1. Good points. The WSJ recently published an article on how China burns copious amounts of coal to make the materials for cheap solar panels. The trend is for them to burn more coal rather than less, regardless of what the CCP says to the world.


  2. With existing demands our electric supply grids are challenged. Dublin recently passed a residential building regulation prohibiting natural gas services to New construction suggesting that future cooking, heating and clothes drying will rely on electrical resources. The Livermore city council is considering a similar regulation. Add to cooking, heating, clothes drying lighting, home entertainment and other high tech luxuries the electricity to recharge your EV so you can commute the 60 miles one-way to work tomorrow by yourself in a vehicle built to carry 5 from your new 3500 Sq ft home built on a postage-stamp-sized lot covered with gradually depleting solar cells that do not work at night . . . and you have not only caused me to create a Pauline run-on sentence but you are entering a lala world that’s not going to end well for future generations in spite of your benevolent desires.

    Maybe, instead of charging off the cliff, we should slow down and look at other possibilities like more efficient lighting (Only when replacing depleted lighting, not before. Remember, whenever replacing an energy consuming device, whether a car or a light bulb, more energy resources are consumed and pollution created even if in China). A comment was made regarding the constriction of a main street. My question is what is the purpose? And, will the goal be limited by the increased traffic on parallel streets. Can public transit fit into the scenario.

    There are so many undefined, poorly thought out questions that one can only shake their head in bewilderment.


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