Tag Archives: United States

Should I Buy An Electric Car

We’ve all been told that electric cars are the way of the future, but are they really? Electric cars have been around as long as reciprocating engine cars have. The technology has been around for 100-years, so this is not a new alternative energy propulsion strategy for the automobile. One thing many people don’t understand is that if everyone was driving an electric car, we’d have a severe shortage of electricity. Interestingly enough, we can’t even build enough solar and wind turbine generation to handle the increase electricity that America needs as it grows already.

So let me ask everyone; where does that leave the country on the supposed mandate for alternative energy vehicles? There were two very interesting articles in the LA times the week following the 2012 LA auto show;

1.) “Electric Vehicle Battery Firm’s Sale Raises Concern – Some Worry That a 123 System’s US Funded Technology Will End up in Chinese Hands,” by Julie Wernau, published on 12-6-2012.

2.) “Electric-car Maker Fisker Combs the World More Investors – barred from drawing down a federal loan it needs funds to launch a second model,” by Jerry Hirsch, published on 12-8-2012.

In the second article there was an interesting quote by an automotive industry analyst, she stated; “Whenever I see stories about private equity investing in auto companies, I cringe, they have no idea about how much capital they need.”

Okay, that’s a fair enough assessment, and she’s probably right. However, may I ask why that is? In other words, exactly why does it cost so much to start and automobile company in the United States? I would submit to you that the game is rigged, and it is filled with protectionism, unions, overregulation, and far too many lawsuits. Now that the United States government is backing General Motors and Chrysler, they have to make sure their investments don’t go South so they have to put up barriers to entry.

In the midst of keeping Indian and Chinese manufacturers out of our markets we are inadvertently making it impossible for us to come up with new technologies in this sector which would definitely help clean up the air with more efficient vehicles. Therefore, we are preventing innovative technologies from coming to market, and when those innovative companies fail, that technology ends up in foreign hands. In the case of the first article the A123 battery company had received huge amounts of DOE grants and guaranteed taxpayer loans to get going. Did they ever have a chance?

The better question would be; are electric cars really the way of the future? Apparently, not yet, and maybe next time we should wait for the free market to decide. At some point we need to learn our lessons and stop intervening in free markets. If something is economically viable and you can make a profit, and the people truly want and desire it therefore willing to pay the price, and if it makes sense, it will be. If not, it won’t, intervening will just prove the latter, sooner or later. Please consider all this and think on it.

New Automotive Technology

More than 100 Americans die every day in automobile accidents. In fact, over the last century, more have perished due to car crashes in the United States than in all the wars the country has fought. Although this is a horrible statistic, the 2006 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the largest U.S. decline in terms of both number and percentage since 1992. This vigorous reduction is a goal that automotive engineers are striving to continue year after year.

Innovative automotive engineering can make cars safer, but at the same time, drivers must also strive for improvements. Many motorists at one time or another can recall either almost being killed on the road, stories of road-rage or helplessly observing an accident happen right in front of their very eyes. According to a 1999 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) special, Escape! Because Accidents Happen – Car Crash, the roads are, indeed, a major threat. What’s more, an automotive magazine recently published statistics which reveal that more than 95% of these accidents involve some degree of (poor) driver behavior.

Indeed, some Americans may not rank amongst the best of the world’s drivers, but it’s not entirely due to operator error, either. Poor roadway maintenance, roadway design and equipment failure have also been referenced as top factors affecting crashes. Frequently, driving behavior interacts with at least one of these other factors to produce a grave situation.

Aside from rectifying the paradox that the majority of drivers consider themselves more skillful than their counterparts, better engineering and innovative automotive technology could help improve roadway safety. Today, it is well understood that properly deployed cushions of air (i.e., airbags) can assist in saving lives. In much the same way, in the previous generation, the advantages of good restraining devices were discovered. Car navigation systems particularly aid the directionally challenged – and, what about using those fancy “carputers” for technology to help make our roads safer? Automotive engineers are answering this need by developing “active safety systems.” These systems can help reduce the number of crashes and minimize the effects of crashes that do occur.

Automotive safety is taking on a new role as active safety components are beginning to gain ground as technology and development improve. Some suppliers are developing specialized active and passive safety systems. These include forward collision and lane departure warning, electronic stability control, pre-crash mitigation, side alert systems, active night vision and road sign and pedestrian recognition – all of which do about what they sound like they should.

Imagine how different driving could be if motorists were warned before they were about to sideswipe a fellow road warrior, alerted before missing a stop sign or even just able to see what’s ahead at night. Such technologies could prove paramount to safety as humankind steps into an era of even more cars, faster speeds and the repercussions of recent population explosions.

A European study reported that 80% of drivers involved in accidents believed the other party could have done something to prevent the mishap. But what if everybody just stopped blaming each other and became better drivers? What if existing technology was utilized and built upon to reduce the number of traffic fatalities? In the end, determining fault matters more if something can be done about it, such as discovering ways to prevent other collisions.