Monday, August 3, 2009

Hybrid Electric Fun

As I strolled the automobile graveyard last weekend one thing occurred to me... where are all the electric cars?

Yes, I know that 2001 was really the first year for a production model to come out and granted, most of the cars in there were from the last century's last decade (i.e. the '90s). But it gets you thinking. In 5-10 years are we to see more old hybrids in the junk yard? and if so, can you "pick and pull". Would it even be safe?

The quick and dirty answer here is "NO". While you may see them in the junk yard, you will not see them picked from other then for body parts. A replacement battery for an electric car will run you (new) about $3,500. Yes, that's probably not news. But that is the equivalent to 7 (count them, seven) running 1988 Camaro's. Getting a mechanic to install it, if you can find one, will run you around $900 (according to Newsweek). You're probably thinking, "maybe, if I could get one on eBay, or possibly one slightly used?" Yes, you can. But that doesn't change the cost of install or, for heavens sake, just the shear weight of the thing (150-400 lbs.). How would you ship that if you sold it on eBay again? And how do you even know how much juice is left.

On the actual manufacture of the battery (see; I'm in manufacturing, this interests me). Prius has a battery that includes Nickel. Nickel mined from Ontario, Canada. From one of the most polluted mines on earth. NASA does test lunar landings there for Christ's sake. From there it goes to China to get put together. From there to Japan. From there to here. How is that more environmentally friendly then say a semi truck? 20 years old? From Mexico? Answer is; It's not. My conscience in my head is telling me it will be done better in the future, and cheaper. Yes, little voice in my head, I am listening. But, until batteries get better engineering, and use components not yet discovered. Anyone buying a Electric car right now with the promise of a better future is burning my britches. If GM and Ford jump feet first into this like they did with SUV's and loose everything, then my hands are clean. I've spoken my peace.

You will probably see some of these in junk yards near you soon, but you will not see anyone picking from them. You will probably see them for sale on the side of the road soon or on Craigslist for $500 soon just like any other car, but these will have a disclaimer: "$500 OBO, only needs new battery!!"

Yeah, I'll pass on that.

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