“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Electric Car Delusion

Barack Obama's new best buddy, Gordon Brown, knows nothing about automobiles and Obama probably less. Both however have the vision thing. They can see what is best for you, yours and your choices. They are also both beholden to the radical left greenies, and unfortunately have a strangle-hold on their automobile industries.

It seems as if both are enamored with electric cars. (Forget that our visionary preferred a Chrysler 300 when no one was looking.) That means big trouble ahead and wasted billions on cars that most people want nothing to do with now and when they do get to know them, they will hate them. Mike Rutherford gives us a preview.


Gordon Brown should realise electric cars are a battery-powered nightmare
The electric car is no good friend of the consumer or the environment, warns Mike Rutherford.

By Mike Rutherford Telegraph
Last Updated: 7:26PM BST 08 Apr 2009

After ignoring the British car industry for more than a decade, Gordon Brown has finally decided to get involved. The Prime Minister's latest – and only – message to the sector that employs almost a million of his citizens is that he intends to save it by establishing the UK as the epicentre of the electric-car industry.

Never mind that South Korea and Japan produce more vehicles than we do, and that their corporations are years ahead in terms of battery technology. The confident – if unofficial – word is that this month's Budget will create additional employment for up to 400,000 people, largely thanks to the creation of eco-friendly vehicles. In other words, you can have any colour car you like – as long as it's green.

Having driven my first electric car a quarter of a century ago, I've been following the technology for a while. But while cars that run on batteries have an important role to play in Britain, it's going to be a limited one – and they certainly aren't the answer to the deep-rooted problems with our car industry, or the environment.

True, they can be cheap to recharge (although not necessarily). But they're comparatively expensive to buy. And setting aside the £90,000 Tesla (see what I mean by expensive?), they're slow, and don't run for long before their batteries go to sleep. I once drove a battery-powered Peugeot into the country, which told me I had enough charge to drive home. Sadly, it changed its mind, leaving me no option but to park on the drive of a country house, whose owner kindly poured me gallons of tea as I plugged the car into one of her three-pin sockets for an hour or two.

Even when we can develop batteries that last longer, there's another problem: these cars do not and cannot run without emissions. True, there are no fumes from their exhaust pipes, because they don't have any. But where do you think the energy comes from to charge those colossal battery packs? Certainly not from their owners' solar panels or wind turbines.

No, it is nuclear or coal-fired power stations that provide the essential fuel for electric cars, which usually need to be plugged into the mains for many hours in order to recharge. That means countless tons of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere: not to mention the additional ecological damage done to the environment after two or three years, when the battery banks lose their juice and have to be disposed of.

Even if you don't care about the environment, are you sure that the electricity companies won't push through a massive hike in the price of power once we're all chugging around in Gordon's green machines? And as for recharging your car at the side of the road, how much do you think companies and councils will charge you for that?

In the long term, it's arguable that batteries are a dead-end technology, and that the real eco-cars of the future are the impressive, hydrogen-fuelled machines that I've test-driven in cities such as Seoul, Tokyo and Los Angeles. But there is little, if anything, happening in Britain to ensure that filling stations of the future will be able to store and sell the fuel of that distant future.

Instead, Brown is blindly backing the battery-powered car over the internal combustion engine. I can't say that I'll be doing the same. I can currently buy a conventional, 70mpg car with a range of 500 miles, running costs of pennies per mile and a price tag of about £7,000. Alternatively, I can pay £15,795 for a state-of-the-art, battery-powered G-Wiz with a top speed of 51mph and a range of only 75 miles.

Mr Brown might want us to live the electric dream. But for motorists outside the cities, it sounds more like a battery-powered nightmare.


  1. ..and MLD, do explain how you will have sex in the back seat of this car.

  2. Why feel so threatened? There's a million and one conventional gasoline car models out there. You have your Chrysler 300. Enjoy. Let others have their choice as well.

  3. BMW's Mini is in the early stages of field testing 450 of its plug-in Mini E cars. A small pool of people in the United States will be allowed to lease the Mini E for $850 (U.S.) a month.

    Fisker has its $87,900 (U.S.) Karma and the company says the signature-edition car is completely sold out. It is accepting $5,000 (U.S.) deposits for its Karma S convertible.

    No single auto maker, large or small, seems ready to break away from the pack when it comes to electric cars. It might be that some yet-unknown startup will shock the market.


  4. Why feel so threatened? There's a million and one conventional gasoline car models out there. You have your Chrysler 300. Enjoy. Let others have their choice as well.

    I agree. Let them have their choice with no rent seeking and tax eating subsidies. Let the market value the charging stations. Let the greenies' solar and wind power generation power those charging stations, and impose a surcharge on electricity used to power up the cars when garaged to cover the demand on the already thinly stretched power grid. How about no new wind farms until the transmission facilities are in place, and at that time no subsidies?

    I don't have a Chrysler 300. The '300 was mentioned by the host to emphasize the hypocrisy rampant in the new green leadership. You're a moron.

    You seem to be the one who's threatened by the truth.

  5. I don't have a Chrysler 300. The '300 was mentioned by the host to emphasize the hypocrisy rampant in the new green leadership. You're a moron.

    I was using the '300' as a rhetorical device. When I said you, it was meant in the plural, as in you Saudi oil sluts. Thanks for playing.

  6. Can a rhetorical device be battery powered?

  7. I take this car in my blog if you don't mind.

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