This weekend scientists were able to measure freeway pollution when a 10-mile section was shut down for construction. The results were surprising. Within minutes of the traffic shut-down, air quality for the region improved by 83%. It also improved by 75% in the surrounding cities and 25% for the 30 miles in every direction.
The findings even shocked the scientists, from UCLA News:
“The air was amazingly clean that weekend,” Suzanne Paulson said. “Our measurements in Santa Monica were almost below what our instruments could detect, and the regional effect was significant. It was a really eye-opening glimpse of what the future could be like if we can move away from combustion engines.”
But just as quickly as the clean air came it was gone. Within a week of cars returning the pollution levels were back to normal. Still, it gives a peek into a future with electric vehicles and much cleaner air.
Read the full article - ‘Carmaheaven’: Closure of 405 in 2011 improved air quality up to 83 percent
The biggest problem with driving an electric vehicle (EV) is not driving from home to work. It’s the long trips and vacations that scare people – beyond the EV’s range of 75-150 miles per charge. They need a network of charging stations, like gas stations, placed along highway routes for all the popular destinations.
And while the major car manufacturers are content to let governments and utility companies build these – Tesla has announced they will build their own. The company has six in operation in California and plans for twelve by next year. After that, if sales continue to grow, building 100s of them nationwide – allowing you to drive an EV from Los Angeles to New York.
And like all things Elon Musk does – these will be sleek, high technology, sustainable devices. Powered by solar technology, giving a 150 mile charge in 30 minutes, and free for Tesla drivers – while giving energy back to the grid.
For comparison, the standard models on the market offer 16-31 miles for a 30 minute charge.
It’s not often you read a profile of a man fit for comic books. One whose life so closely resembles a superhero’s that a movie was made about him. In that movie genius billionaire Tony Stark builds a powerful metal suit that can fly, produce unlimited energy, and battle gods. Which nearly describes Elon Musk.
Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but Musk is flying people into space, building electric cars, running a billion-dollar solar company, and – his latest venture – trying to create a super train that’s “at least twice as fast as a plane, solar powered and leaves right when you arrive.”
Those are some achievements fit for a superhero – and you have to wonder, how can one man do all that? It’s hard to put in words but more comparisons help – from Business Week:
Friends and colleagues describe him as Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, and Howard Hughes rolled into one. “He’s a throwback to when people were doing less incrementalist things,” says Peter Thiel, the tech investor who co-founded PayPal with Musk. “The companies he’s started are executing against a vision measured not in years but in decades.”
I’m not sure what that means, but it definitely makes for an interesting profile – Elon Musk, the 21st Century Industrialist.
I propose a new way to think about the Great Recession in America. Instead of the middle class is dying, how about the dirty middle class is dying. The way of life where overconsumption and gas guzzling is more American than recycling or biking. If our energy supply can be both dirty and clean, why not our lifestyles?
Consider the average family spends 20% of their budget on transportation. That’s 10 weeks/year just to pay for car and gas. But what about the big gas guzzlers, the kind that cost $80 to fill-up. No one wants to pay $100 for gas but that is where we are headed. And yet there are plenty of them on the street. As those gas prices tick up I think they will slowly disappear and be replaced by bikes and EV’s.
Food is another area in slow decline. You might’ve heard that 69% of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s a lot of extra money spent on food, especially when times are tight. A new report shows our consumption of candy and processed foods has doubled in the last 30 years. What if a family were to save money by committing to healthy portion sizes, cutting out processed foods, and putting that savings towards college.
Last, think about the basic rule of disposable goods. They only work once and you have to buy more every week. Not only is this horrible for the environment but it costs a lot of money. Families could go broke following the jingles in commercials. And those who are pushing hard on – reduce, reuse, recycle – are again finding themselves with extra money to spend on family vacations.
After all, isn’t that what being in the middle class is about, family vacations? Being able to work, have fun, and save a little money for college or retirement. I thought so, but somehow that dream became owning an SUV, overeating, and buying something to throw out. But take solace in knowing that this dirty way of life is moving towards extinction. To be replaced by green families who ride bikes and have vegetable gardens.
It gives new meaning to the saying, there goes the neighborhood.
The plug-in epidemic is spreading:
Electric cars now primary vehicles
Nine out of 10 owners said plug-in vehicles represent their primary ride — though almost all had a second, conventional car, according to a survey with more than 1,400 respondents released this month.
Monthly mileage averaged about 800 — the equivalent of almost 10,000 miles a year.
These are not hybrids, but the plug-into your garage kind. Pretty awesome…I keep dreaming about the day I will own one!
Not only do electric cars threaten all those gas stations on every corner, but also the auto-mechanics and car parts stores:
Mechanic worries that electric-car brakes will ruin his business
Joe Ferrer says that brakes are easily 35 to 40 percent of his total business. Replacing rotors, calipers, and pads keeps his shop humming.
But on hybrids, brake jobs aren’t needed every 15,000 miles as they are on conventional cars–more like 45,000 miles, he says.
Those regenerative braking systems reduce the impact when braking and extend the life of the brake pads.
Of course, this isn’t the only thing that will change, Jiffy Lube will also be hurt. Electric vehicles (EV’s) get rid of nearly all the liquid lube in cars, so that means no more oil changes.
What is going to happen to all that land currently used for gas stations, Jiffy Lubes, and mechanics shops?
Note these specs are the most hotly contested in the industry. The price is based on MSRP excluding tax credits and all those crazy option packages (for Tesla you can get the base model for $50k and the same car with options for $100k).
Battery power and range are based on EPA estimates (though, those vary a lot too).
Ford Focus Electric
- 23 kWh
- battery range – 76 miles
- 80 kWh
- battery range – 73 miles
Tesla Model S
- 40 kWh
- 160 mile battery range (+$10k for 230 mile range)
These two cars are marketed as Electric Vehicles (EV) even though they have a gas engine. What separates them from other hybrids is a larger battery pack that requires a charge (plug-in) to function.
- 16 kWh
- battery range – 35 miles
- 1.4L 4-cylinder gas engine
Toyota Prius Plug-in
- 4.4 kWh
- battery range – 11 miles
- 1.8L 4-cylinder gas engine
Photos of each EV:
Transportation, not electricity, is the source of oil’s importance: since the 1970s, the U.S. has weaned its power sector off of oil. Today only one percent of U.S. electricity is generated from oil and only one percent of U.S. oil demand is due to electricity generation. Thus expansion of electricity generation from solar, wind, nuclear, and other power sources will not serve to displace oil in any perceptible manner. Plug in an electric vehicle today and 99% of the electricity its battery is charged with will not be generated from oil.
via United States Energy Security Council
Thx to Steven Witt
Keep reading - California launches a statewide network of charging stations for electric vehicles