domingo, 20 de febrero de 2011

The electric car, part II

In my last post, I took an overview to the electric car from the manufacturer's point of view. Those were good news, since I found no problems impossible to fix, thou batteries still need time to fit our needs.

In this post, I'll take a look at it from an economic point of view. Since it might be a little too hard -- and off topic, you may say-- I'll try to explain everything with examples rather than a theoretical sight.

Car owners in western countries live in houses where plugs are commonplace. You plug your fridge, TV set, microwave oven and many other stuff. Could you plug a car? Yes, definitely. But there are a few reasons to do it at night: you don't have many things working at night. Your dishwasher, washing machine, microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, computer (if you aren't downloading) TV set and others are usually off or on standby mode at night. So there is enough electricity avaible at night for you to plug your car. Probably. If batteries improve, and they need to or you won't have an electric car in the first place, you will require more power.

Having more electric power at home doesn't mean you have to rebuild your house. Probably, the only thing you'll need to do is ask the company to sell it to you. If you ask too much, however, you'll need some minor changes: some new wiring, some new fuses, some new holes on your walls. This isn't much since electricity is cheaper than gasoline and you'll get your money back in a few years.

But what if your whole neighbourhood buys and runs electric cars? Will current wires, stations and the like still work? Most of the time, they will. But unless the company does something about it, there will be a huge lack of electric power some day. Picture this: it's a hot summer evening, people get home from work, plug their car and turn on the air conditioning. Open the fridge to grab a beer and all the cold air on the inside is lost. Turn on the TV set, put something in the microwave oven. Check the e-mail, turn on a light here and there. And, Alas, there isn't power anymore.

At some point, need for electricity surpasses capacity to deliver it and there is a breakdown. If everybody buys and runs electric cars, more power plants will be required. And your electric bill will be higher, since you'll pay for it because you need to run your car. The electric company will have to charge you more and more so power plants, wires, stations and everything can cope with demand.

If you run your car on electricity, it's going to be cheap. If everybody does, it's likely it will become as expensive as gasoline.

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