The fear that electric cars will free the suburbs first

I was talking with some friends about maybe replacing my car and was promptly scolded because my choice wasn't fuel-efficient enough.  I have my back of the envelope calculations about the economics of paying a premium for a hybrid car when I don't drive very much, but I'll keep those to myself for now.  The discussion got me thinking about the just-around-the-corner all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, which in turn hit me with a disturbing thought:

Exactly where and how would I charge an electric car when I live five stories up and park on the street? Even if I could reliably park near my building, I'd need at least 50 feet of extension cord from my window just to reach the ground.  I somehow doubt that the even the People's Republic of Cambridge would grant me the right to monopolize a chunk of curb space right in front of the building for this purpose.

I guess the electric car model includes some kind of charging stations that will be rare to begin with and maybe someday more common, but while I can fill my tank with dinosaur juice in minutes, so far as I know, electric cars need hours to get even a partial charge.  So you are expected to charge your electric car overnight at home or perhaps during the day at work.   I'd definitely like to see parking lots, offices and office parks have some kind of parking with charging for these vehicles, but I personally don't drive to work and electric car or not, hope that I never do again.

So I guess I'll be just a little bit disappointed when the benefits of electric cars accrue first to those who have private garages, most likely attached to their free-standing homes in the suburbs, and last to those of us  dwelling in urban apartments.  Better late then never.

3 Responses

  1. Bishop22
    There is the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/magazine/19car-t.html" rel="nofollow">replaceable battery model of electric cars as well</a>, that would work fine in a city.
  2. @bishop22: I like the battery swap thing a lot. When I first heard about it I was a little worried that a little bump in the road could release the battery and leave me dead on the road, but knowing that they're using bomb dropping technology is a plus. On the other hand, there would still have to be enough swapping stations around town for this to work for many people. In other news, equally interesting discussion, mostly about whether electric cars are cost-effective for Zipcar, over at UniversalHub: http://www.universalhub.com/2010/why-people-who-could-most-use-electric-cars-will-p most trenchant, the last one (as of this writing) that ponders why such a dedicated urbanite owns a car at all. Good question.
  3. In yet more synchronicity, I missed a post by Alex the day before this one: http://www.yobyot.com/cars/its-ok-to-suck-a-tailpipe-or-yet-another-moment-of-jungian-synchronicity/2010/10/24/ in which he responds to a Globe piece that begins, "In this green age, automobile lovers are under siege. But demonizing people for enjoying a little luxury is a tough road to navigate." - I wonder if gasoline is like high-fat food: we know it's bad for us, but surely there's a healthy lifestyle that includes occasional indulgence?

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