Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Electric Cars -- The Cart before the Horsepower

Batteries were invented about 200 years ago. Since then they have improved in many ways. But not enough to make them an energy source for motor vehicles. Unfortunately, the relatively primitive state of batteries has deterred exactly no one in Congress or Detroit from throwing money at car companies to build vehicles powered by an energy supply that does not exist.

If batteries were passing through a development phase that suggested they were close to obtaining the qualities needed to make them good sources of power, we would be in great shape. But car batteries are still primitive and there is no battery technology promising to pack in the energy found in a tank of gasoline. If this isn't putting the cart before the horse, what is?

Government to lend Ford, Nissan, Tesla money to develop fuel-efficient vehicles

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Energy Department is expected to announce Tuesday it is lending money to the Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc from a $25 billion fund to develop fuel-efficient vehicles.

Dozens of auto companies, suppliers and battery makers have sought a total of $38 billion from the loan program. Ford has asked to receive $5 billion in loans by 2011, but it was unclear how much money the automaker would receive. Nissan has applied for an undisclosed amount of assistance, while Tesla has sought $450 million.

Congress approved the loan program last year to help car companies and suppliers retool their facilities to develop green vehicles and components such as advanced batteries.

The loans were designed to help the auto manufacturers meet new fuel-efficiency standards of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a 40 percent increase over current standards.

Ford has said it intends to bring several battery-electric vehicles to market. The automaker has discussed plans to produce a battery-electric vehicle van in 2010 for commercial use, a small battery-electric sedan developed with Magna International by 2011 and a plug-in electric vehicle by 2012.

Nissan is developing an all-electric car with 100 miles of pure battery range for release in late 2010. The car will be made in Japan initially but company officials have said they eventually want to build the vehicle at Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

Tesla is seeking $350 million in loans for an assembly plant to build its Model S four-door sedan, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2011. The San Carlos, Calif.-based company is also seeking $100 million to finance an advanced battery and powertrain manufacturing facility.

Tesla spokeswoman Rachel Konrad referred questions about the loan program's timing and approval to the Energy Department.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

1:22 PM  

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