No matter what the electric power plant fuel source (coal, oil, diesel, gasoline, water, wind, sun, nuclear, wave action, etc.) electricity is the common output and is everywhere, almost. Hybrid cars are a stop gap measure, just something to move away from total oil/gasoline dependence.
Not all of the options for present day fuel are compatible on the small scale, the automobile, yet are totally compatible for the power plant. At a power plant, the possibility exists to make all forms of fuel safe and environmentally friendly as possible. Certainly more safe than can be made for the home consumer.
If you look at many present day car advertisements, the emphasis has shifted to comforts, not performance. GPS, instant help button, heated seats and mirrors, electric this and that. So, what moves the car is becoming less important, if it ever was ( 6 liter, 400 HP @ 6000 RPM, 400 lb. feet of torque @ 4400 RPM? – the 2007 Corvette C6) 6 liter? How many gallons is that? The Corvette is fast and powerful, the extent of what many people understand.
Most of the comforts are run from electricity. If your primary fuel is electricity …
How come electric cars are not common place?
It takes quite a while for the “present” common battery types to recharge, several hours. The charge just can’t get into the battery fast enough. There is a chemical reaction going on during the charging process, like pushing a boulder back up a hill. Another reason is that the current power plant and transmission wires are not geared up for such power requirements - infrastructure.
Nano technology has produced a new battery that will charge to full capacity in 15 minutes or less. Testing is currently underway at a small car company (Phoenix Motorcars http://www.phoenixmotorcars.com/) using just electric cars running on the Altairnano (http://www.altairnano.com/) 15 minute recharge battery, capable of going over 100 miles on a charge at highway speeds.
Think how long it takes to fill up at a gas station. Now think about not having to visit a “gas” station to recharge, not having to wait for the recharge. Charge the car while doing errands, or working. Many cities have parking meters, make them power poles as well. Plug in, swipe the debit card to pay for parking and power. Go out at lunchtime to a fast food, fast charge place.
On a thousand mile trip, you will still need to visit a recharging center (de facto gas station), and have tow trucks with extra large batteries for the person that runs till empty, then empty even on the reserve battery.
Electric cars should not scare people because of new alleged untested technology? Most people do not realize when they step on the gas pedal in their present car, they are stepping on an electric pedal with no mechanical connection to the engine. Driving by wire. The traction control and ABS take control from you during your incipient reckless driving behavior! You can’t do donuts in the snow, or peel out! The military and NASA have been using fly by wire (F16 and F22 warplanes) for years. The new Boeing planes are fly by wire, as well. Many times, the planes could not be flown relying on the pilots reaction time.
So, what is the tough nut to crack to make electric cars come about? Fast charges require immense short duration of power. It might take a battery bank to fast charge a car battery. Higher power usually means high amps, bigger wires. You can up the voltage to decrease the amps, but there is a practical limit as to how high the voltage can be.
So, infrastructure needs to be immensely rebuilt. You could probably charge the car at home, but probably have to wait for overnight. The power grid is not sized to accommodate everyone charging their car at home, it can’t handle air conditioning units in the summer, as it is.
Infrastructure is a political football, a hot potato. Who pays for this? Who gets screwed to make room for the infrastructure?
The benefit of electric cars will ultimately be that you keep on being able to afford to drive a car. No buses or trains for you, the Declaration of Independence still lives! The side benefits are reduced “greenhouse” gases and global warming.
Jump in, the water is getting warmer : )