Great op-ed in the NYT from Seth Fletcher, a senior editor of Popular Science, on the road to an electric car fleet and the roadblocks along the way:
The thing is: we take gas stations for granted in this country, because these days, you really could just decide to run one as a small business if you wanted to. Owning a gas station is yet another Republican dream of America. But gas stations were not always so common and it took a lot of government money to make them ubiquitous enough for long distance travel.
When that money was being doled out, it was because making the United States the #1 consumer of oil was in our nation’s best interest: it was the dawn of an oil hegemony. Now that hegemony is in danger of crushing our economy and its time to move on. Will we invest with the same sense of purpose as we did all those years ago? My fear – and Fletcher seems to share it – is that we won’t.
There is another major hurdle to an all-electric fleet: new cars are expensive. Whereas automobiles were relatively cheap things to produce and buy back in the 50’s, the same cannot be said of our current fleet, much less the Chevy Volt. According to this Bureau of Transportation Statistics chart, nearly three out of four cars sold in the United States is a leased vehicle.
How many years do you think it will be before you can buy a Volt for $300? Because that’s how long it will take to get an all-electric fleet on the road. We can certainly encourage new car buyers with incentives and tax deductions. But this is still a long-term battle for which only escalating prices on oil are likely to produce the necessary will.