Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Leaf: the car evolves

Since 2007 I have been researching, writing about and advocating for electric cars.

These cars produce no emissions.  Since they do not need fossil fuels like oil or petrol, they are cheap and efficient to run, and provide energy security.

Now for me, finally, electric cars are real.  In Australia, this forgotten corner of the world where we are still digging coal out of the ground and shipping and burning it at a crazy rate, EV's are not just a dream.

Can you remember when mobile phones were just something that rich people in limousines used?  When they were a prop for Wall Street types, looking stylish while they flipped out their Motorola StarTac phones?

Back then we said things like "Oh, do you have a normal phone number?  I don't want to make an expensive mobile call!"

Now the idea of having to go anywhere, let alone a phone booth, to make a call is ridiculous.  Want to make a call?  You just pull your phone out right there, and call anyone.  All your friends numbers are stored right there in your phone.  Looking up a phone number in a book?  Weird!!

Cell phones.  It's the way phones should be.  Ask any teenager.  Try to explain to them how phones used to be and they'll look at you like you're a freak.

In 20 years time that's how it will be with cars powered by fossil fuels.  The teenagers of 2032 will tell you that the only people who use petrol cars are old people, cranks and freaks.

You had to drive your car to some special place - what's it called?  A gas station?  And they had these pumps where you had to queue up and pump fuel actually into your car?  No way - that's medieval.  Like lamp oil and stuff.

It's true!  And you know what?  When electric cars first came out people said they'd never catch on because you can't drive half-way across the state on one battery charge.  There was a name for it - they called it "range anxiety".

Why would anyone ever want to drive for hours and hours!  That's nuts.  If you're going to another city just catch a train or a plane and micro-rent when you get there.  You old people are hilarious.

But those old cars where you put petrol in them, they had big tanks, and so it turns out that they could go for 500 miles on one fill of gas.  People felt that gave them independence.

Independence, when you're chained to getting this gas stuff from some shop you have to find on the side of the road?  That's as weird as those phone booth things you were telling me about!!

But you know what, most of the time what it actually meant is that you were always worrying about when your gas would run out.  Because in fact you never really went for 500 mile road trips.  What you really always did was drive to work, and on the day when you absolutely did not want to be late, you'd jump in your car only to find you didn't have enough gas to get to work.  And you'd have to go to a gas station, instead.

You know what I think?  This range anxiety?  That is where its really from, right there.  I never worry about how far my car can go because its always charged up and ready to go.  Yeah - I love you old people and your funny stories.

Well I'm happy to be one of the first dinosaurs to evolve.  Why don't you join me?