by Nick Gier
I’ve been driving hybrid vehicles for about 11 years, and my current car is a Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid. I now have 6,200 miles on the odometer, and I have burned just 17 gallons of gas. That’s 365 miles to the gallon, folks. Hybrid mileage is 45-50 mpg.
Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to the cold, so this past winter a full charge gave me only 32 miles. The summer range, however, has topped out at 52 miles. This means that when I visit my partner in Spokane, Washington, I can drive 60 percent of way before having to charge.
On the scenic bye-way to Spokane there are, amazingly enough, two 220-volt charging stations nicely spaced. While my Honda is charging, I eat lunch, phone family/friends, check email/news, or walk around town. Within an hour, my range is back up to over 30 miles, and I then drive gas-free to Spokane or home.
I now have an e-car buddy. She is an art teacher at Garfield Elementary and she has a 20-mile commute from Idaho. When I first met her, she was charging her all-electric Kia, and fortunate for me there was a second lead on the station.
One day I was surprised to see her at the charger 30 miles from Spokane, where she was hooked up to the fast charger to complete a trip to Spokane. I was unable to use this station because of incompatible plug-ins. She showed me her dual charging port, where the 440-volt charging cable was connected. I’m now suffering from dual-port envy!
I was thrilled to learn that Pullman, Washington has two electric busses (another one on order). Instead of spending $20,000 annually to fuel each dirty diesel bus, the city will pay $4,000 per year to charge each e-bus. There will be far less maintenance and, eventually, the bus routes will be pollution and noise free.
With one in every nine cars sold, Europe is way ahead of us in the number of electric vehicles (EVs). In 2020, there were 740,000 (est.) EVs sold and 1.36 million plug-in hybrids. Comparable numbers in the U.S. are 332,000 EVs and 328,000 plug-ins.
Oil rich Norway, wisely alert to the necessity of phasing out fossil fuels, leads the world in EV/plug-in sales. In 2020 they made up 74 percent of new cars off the lot. Making on average $84,171 per year, Norwegians own more Teslas than any other people in the world. GM ran a Super Bowl ad which featured nonchalant Norwegians responding to a crazed Will Ferrell about their EV and social welfare successes.
Not surprisingly, Norway also has the most charging stations: 16,000 for 5.5 million people; 140,000 in the European Union (448 million); 25,000 in the U.S. (333 million); 2,554 in Washington State (7.6 million), and 205 in Idaho (1.8 million).
Norway will ban the sale of gas or diesel cars by 2025 and the United Kingdom and The Netherlands will follow in 2030. The European Union will soon enforce 2035 for all of its 27 members. Always the ecology leader, California’s prohibition will come the same year.
UBS Investment Bank predicts that “by 2025, 20 percent of all new cars sold globally will be electric. That will leap to 40 percent by 2030, and by 2040 virtually every new car sold globally will be electric.”
Car makers are making this happen: Jaguar will be all electric by 2025; Volvo (2030); Ford in Europe (2030); General Motors (2035); and Volkswagen will be 70 percent in 2030. In China forecasters predict that EVs will amount to 70 percent of sales in China by 2030.
The Chinese are leading the world in battery swap stations with 1,100 already installed. It takes only three minutes to install a fully charged battery. A company also offers to charge cars at the customers’ residences, most needed in big cities with limited home charging possibilities.
Officials in Paris will ban all diesels in the inner city by 2024, and electric van producers are rushing to provide the vehicles. UPS, FedEx, DHL, Amazon, as well as local delivery services are eager to sign contracts with over a dozen firms start-up firms.
Environmentalists are outraged that the new contract for replacing postal delivery vans was not exclusively electric. This is just one of many reasons why Trump-appointee Louis DeJoy must be fired.
At 29 percent, transportation accounts for the largest contribution to greenhouse gases in the U.S. Industry stands at 23 percent. Transportation is responsible for half the nitrogen oxide in our polluted air. Cars and trucks amount to 58 percent of transportation emissions, so EVs will go a long way in fighting our climate change battle.
At our last meeting, my EV buddy and I were envisioning an EV future where there would be twenty charging stations to every gas pump, and when we could sit outside at our favorite downtown restaurant without engine noise and exhaust fumes.
Nick Gier of Moscow is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho. Email him at ngier006∂gmail.com.