Will We Ever REALLY get an EV?

Well, the Detroit Auto Show started Sunday. The Chevrolet Volt was just named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 2011. And I’m getting really really cynical. I know the picture for this post isn’t a Chevy Volt. But more on that a little later.

When I was a teenager, I subscribed to Motor Trend. I loved looking at the latest cool ideas coming out for cars. My first car was a 1974 Chevy Nova. Bright Red. SS. 350 4-barrell 4-speed. Mag wheels. White letter tires. 8 miles to the gallon. Then gas went to 75 cents a gallon and I felt the pinch. So I bought a sports car: a baby blue Porsche 914. 23 miles per gallon in town and 32 mpg on the road. That was 1975.

I had that car for a long time. Actually until we had our daughter. Then, in 1985, after 10 years and 120,000 miles, I traded it off. Three people and a two-seater car just wasn’t practical. So we got a Toyota Corolla. A lot less sexy. But it got about 23 mpg in town and about 30 mpg on the road. And we could all go places as a family.

Fast forward to 2003. I now have a Volkswagen Beetle. An awe-inspiring 23 mpg in town and about 28 to 30 mpg on the road. Do you see where this is going?

In the last 35 years, small car gas mileage has realistically stayed pretty static. Even a Hybrid Prius (the best mileage car out there) only gets about 50 miles per gallon (most small cars get about 23 mpg in town and 30 mpg on the road at best). So in 35 years, we’ve managed to increase gas efficiency by about double in the best case scenario. While gas prices have quadrupled.

The concept of electric cars has intrigued me. I watched the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and was maddened and was tempted to become cynical. I was hopeful when I heard about the Chevy Volt. Finally, an all-electric car made in the good old U.S. of A. The original media on the Volt was it would be all-electric.

Then, my cynicism returned: The Volt would end up with a gas generated back-up. My heart sank. Did Chevy cave to “range anxiety?” Or is there some sort of conspiracy? (GM actually wants to trademark the term “range anxiety”… now THAT makes as much sense as Apple wanting to trademark the lower case letter i). The Nissan Leaf EV is coming soon (we hope). Maybe. Still in the reservation stage. But it’s actually kind of ugly. Sorry, Nissan.

So I turned to the Th!nk City, a Norwegian car that has been throughout Europe for years, is ALL electric and has a range of about 100 miles. And it’s pleasing to the eye. Please bring the Th!nk to the USA! They say they’re going to. I’m on “the list.” But, honestly, I’m not holding my breath.

Which leads me to the Ford Focus EV shown above. All electric (as of today). Coming to showrooms near us this Fall (we hope). Made in the USA. Please, Ford, don’t cave to range anxiety (GM may own the term anyway…).

Be bold and go for it. I think I’d sell my Beetle for one.

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