Monday, October 11, 2010

BURN: Green Government Intervention - What Could Go Wrong?


Via Allahpundit - hot off the Hot Air Presses!  Seems the proletariat's greenishly awesome car of the future (A.K.A Chevy Volt) is…“even more lemony than thought.”  Go figure.

In days of old when chrome was gold…the titans of Motown could take some iron ore and chrome and nimbly fashion it into a marvelously magical – yet affordable phenomenon.  People wanted V8s and chrome, gas was $.19/gal and the earth needed more carbon in the stratosphere.   Detroit also had an awe-inspiring concept of the future.  Journey with me into a wondrously mystical vision of the future from the past!  Which would technically be now, I think.  Behold the future – then!  Whatever… 

Better Living Through Technology
These stunning concept cars never seemed to cross the threshold into reality because – according to the gods of Automotivia – they were simply too advanced for their time.  I might suggest another reason.  They were just, ah, what’s the word?  Silly.  Detroit in the 50’s and 60’s couldn’t build cars fast enough to meet demand and had mountains of money coming out of their exhaust manifolds– so they made silly but interesting concept cars for people to go Oooo and aaah about, but mostly for grins and giggles.

Advertising models also seem to have evolved
But now it’s different.  The government is using our money to develop the car of the future.  We have now evolved from silliness to insanity!  Seems a few glitches have popped up. This planet saver was promised to deliver 230 MPG!  But hold on...Gov Motors and Barry O may have overestimated the performance a wee bit – like about 1000%.  Via Jalopnik:
  • Popular Mechanics saw just 37.5 MPG in city driving.
  • Car and Driver  found with all-electric driving "...getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80-mph flow of traffic-basically the worst-case scenario-yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited back-road loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s."
  • Motor Trend, like the rest of the trade press other than Popular Mechanics, didn't appear to do any testing in city conditions, but did find that  "Without any plugging in, [a weeklong trip to Grandma's house] should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s."
Well that’s just spiffy.  In 1974 I had a Datsun econobox that got 35 MPG.  My, how we’ve advanced!  Another veracity challenged Voltish problem. "Since the Volt was first unveiled as a concept car, GM engineers and executives have claimed adamantly that the internal combustion engine did not motivate the wheels.  This meant that the gasoline engine was nothing more than a "range extender" designed only to charge the batteries which would allow the electric drivetrain to continue to move the car.  We're now told by Volt's engineering team that when the Volt's lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 mph the Volt's gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors."

This means that our tax funded, futuristic, cutting edge green dream machine is nothing more than a glorified hybrid.  Alrighty then.  When deciding on my next vehicle purchase, I’ll need to consider:
  • The Volt econo-box will sell at $41,000 or the same range as a mid-level Mercedes, BMW or Lexus.  But I’ll feel all green inside.
  • Serviceability, reliability, maintenance costs?  Unknown.  (But the batteries will need to be replaced eventually for about $5,000 to $9,000.  The theory is that when we all buy these, the economy of scale will kick in and the price will come down.  Heh. Right.
  • Resale value?  Unknown.  Would depend upon the previous points I expect.
  • Electric cost for plugging it in every night?  Unknown.
  • How many tons of coal will be burned to charge this puppy up?  Unknown.  (50% of electric generation in the US is coal fired)
  • Safety?  Unknown.  It seems the Lithium Ion batteries used to power this mean green machine have a rather nasty history of spontaneously exploding.  Not to worry.  Volt comes with flame-proof jump suits for the back seat kiddies - in a variety of earth tone colors!

UPS DC-8 - Spontaneous combustion of Li Ion batteries in cargo
Dude, your Dell exploded.
Good enough for me!  Put me down for an LX 4 door in the “Earthy Green” color option.  And a nice sound system.

No comments:

Post a Comment