Claremore Daily Progress

State/Nation

April 26, 2013

5 myths about electric cars

The troubles of electric-car-maker Fisker Automotive have fueled another round of debate about whether plug-ins can live up to their promises. The California start-up, which had already halted production and laid off most of its employees, missed a federal loan payment Monday and told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that it may not be able to avoid bankruptcy.

This is probably the end of the road for Fisker. But definitely not for electric cars. Let me dispel some of the myths.

 

1. The electric car is dead.

This myth is partly my fault, perpetuated by the title of my 2006 documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" The signs back then weren't promising. Under pressure from car companies and other lobbyists, California rolled back its Zero-Emission Vehicle mandate, which had helped get nearly 5,000 electric cars on the road. The change in the regulation freed carmakers to round up the cars they had leased - and then surreptitiously crush them.

Thankfully, it takes more than a crusher to kill a technology. Today, almost all the major automakers, along with a cast of new players, are investing in and building plug-in cars. California's mandate has also made a comeback, and other states are considering similar rules.

Fisker's struggles can be attributed, in part, to the fact that start-ups in any industry have a high rate of failure, and launching a start-up in the automotive sector is especially expensive. That makes it all the more impressive that Fisker's rival Tesla turned a quarterly profit this year.

A new report from IEE, part of the Edison Foundation, projects that between 5 million and 30 million electric cars will be on U.S. roads by 2035. "The electrification of the vehicle fleet is a foregone conclusion," says former GM vice chairman (and former electric-car-basher) Bob Lutz.

Economics, politics and technology all played a role in the turnaround. Soaring gas prices in 2008 got everyone complaining. U.S. manufacturers, stuck with large inventories of low-mileage SUVs and facing bankruptcy, watched with envy as Toyota rode the buzz from its Prius hybrid to become the world's No. 1 carmaker. The chief executives of Detroit's Big Three further reassessed after being chastised for flying corporate jets to congressional bailout hearings in November 2008. When they returned to Washington two weeks later, they arrived in electric hybrids. Since then, partly with the help of government loans (some already repaid), electric-car technology has made big strides.

       

2. Electric cars can't get people where they need to go.

Text Only
State/Nation
  • Perry: Texas plans to send 1,000 guardsmen to border

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to South Texas to bolster security along the Mexico border, a local lawmaker confirmed Monday.

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA renames building for Neil Armstrong

    NASA has honored one of its most famous astronauts by renaming a key building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    July 21, 2014

  • New arrivals worry some in the Oklahoma panhandle

    A family who says they were excommunicated from Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect has moved to a small city located in the Oklahoma Panhandle, raising concerns among some residents.

    July 20, 2014

  • Celebrate 45 years since man's first steps on the moon

    Now's the time to get moonstruck.

    Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on another world. Armstrong's "one small step ... one giant leap" on the dusty lunar surface July 20, 1969, still stirs hearts.

    July 20, 2014

  • US outlines case against Russia on downed plane

    Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.

    July 20, 2014

  • Oklahoma Capitol renovation project previewed

    State officials have previewed preliminary plans for renovating the century-old Oklahoma State Capitol amid a display of artifacts from groundbreaking ceremonies for the structure.

    July 17, 2014

  • House passes tax breaks to boost charitable giving

    The House passed a package of tax breaks Thursday designed to boost charitable donations by seniors, private foundations and procrastinators.

    One provision provides tax breaks to people over 70 who make donations from their individual retirement accounts. Another reduces excise taxes on private charitable foundations.

    July 17, 2014

  • Should online accounts die when you die?

    Should your emails, web albums and other online accounts die when you do? Or should you be able to pass them down to a family member much as you would a house or a box of letters?

    July 17, 2014

  • Obama, Putin discuss Malaysia Plane incident

    The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have discussed the Malaysia Airlines plane incident over eastern Ukraine.

    July 17, 2014

  • Microsoft cutting 18,000 jobs

    Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its history Thursday, saying it will cut 18,000 jobs or 14 percent of its workforce as it streamlines its Nokia mobile device business to focus on using the Windows Phone operating system.

    July 17, 2014