Tuesday, March 13, 2012
This is what's wrong with electric cars...
Different Styling, Same Performance.
Well, let's be fair. Same range. Other performance specs probably differ somewhat.
Back in the '90's, when I still had a career, I worked for a major Japanese auto manufacturer. I was their principal technical training developer for the U.S. And so when the company thought maybe it wanted to market its new electric vehicle, I got involved. You can't sell vehicles if the dealership techs don't know how to fix them, and this one would have left them scratching their heads.
It was a minivan, and I must say that in many ways it was a beautiful thing. Zero to sixty acceleration rivaled that of the best gas-powered minivan - which, okay, isn't exactly Ferrari-like, but minivans have their charms in an urban environment. Inside, you'd never have known a difference except that there was no engine noise.
Well, you'd never have known a difference for about the first forty miles. Then you'd notice a major difference - there would be no second forty miles. I was offered a chance to take it home over a weekend, and had to turn it down. The only way to get it home, other than stopping overnight for a recharge, would have involved a flatbed truck.
Oh yeah, and the battery tray cost about $100,000 to replace, and replace it you would in less than 100,000 miles. The honchos came to their senses and never actually marketed the vehicle. I suspect they lost a subsidy bid, but nobody ever came out and told me so.
This is the thing that's wrong with electric cars: The cars are ready for prime time, and they have been for decades. But the batteries are shite, and apparently plan to go right on being so.