Cars that burn up the roads

Two articles appeared next to each other on the front page of the WSJ on August 18: ‘US Car Plants Shift to Top Gear,’ and ‘Decade of Drought Threatens West.’

We need to connect the dots.

The manufacture of 60 million new passenger vehicles in 2012 worldwide, 99% of them burning gasoline or diesel, guarantees us more extreme weather disasters.

With rising carbon emissions making the atmosphere warmer, increasing storm surges, floods, droughts and wildfires will destroy infrastructure, water resources, homes, and jobs.

The federal government gives tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and installation of solar panels that can be used to charge them, and also requires automakers to increase energy efficiency.  This is great, but we should do more.  A carbon fee should be imposed to make purchasers of fossil fuels to pay more of the actual costs of using those products.  Taxpayers now pick up the tab for spill clean-up, disaster aid, flood insurance, crop insurance and military protection of oil shipments.

A tax on oil, coal and natural gas at the wellhead, mine or point of entry, increasing each year, up to $100 per ton, with revenue returned to households would help level the playing field and allow more profitable production of clean energy alternatives.   With a tariff on goods from other countries not imposing a carbon fee, we could also encourage worldwide adoption of clean energy.


Electric Car with Gyroscope

Lit Motors’ C-1. Range – 200 miles on one charge. Will go 100 mph. Priced $24,000 initially, half that with mass marketing.  Gyroscope included. Launches 2014.


Electric vehicle plug in

  Nissan Leaf

50 electric vehicles parked around the fountain at Seattle center this weekend. Some owners displayed cost charts showing their savings.  Avoiding the purchase of  gasoline, with the federal tax credit and state sales tax exemption, added up to more than the additional cost of buying electric after a few years.

Comparing  expenses  of driving an electric Leaf to driving a gas burning 24 mpg car on a daily 32 mile commute, an owner could save $100/month on weekdays, and more on weekends.

18 fast charge stations allowing the Leaf and I MiEV to charge in 30 minutes or less are now available on the I-5 corridor in Washington and Oregon and more are on the way. Soon the West Coast Electric Highway will have fast charging stations every 25 to 60 miles from Canada to the California border by the end of 2012. . The number of charging stations increased by over 500% over the last year.

Electric motors are more efficient, they do not need cooling systems, or as much maintenance. A Smithsonian article reports that  in Kansas City, Missouri, the Smith Company is turning out 390 electric delivery vans this year and planning more factories around the country,. betting on a hot market for replacing the 3.3 million vans bringing socks and cheese to our neighborhood stores.