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Published: Thursday 01 August, 2013

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On Tuesday, when President Obama proposed the first nationwide regulation of greenhouse gases, which would set limits on tailpipe emissions for cars and trucks, he jacked up the buzz about electric cars. The new regulation requires new cars and light trucks to get on average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, which is almost 40 percent more fuelefficient than the requirements today. Automakers, which have kicked and screamed for generations about increasing fuel efficiency, stood politely by Obama, having to suck it up, as their fortunes now depend on the government.



industry is already transitioning. May 6, Ford declared it would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convert an SUV plant near Detr coach purses oit to churn out the Ford Focus. By 2011, the plant would be producing batteryelectric versions of the diminutive car. Nissan recently claimed that 10 percent of its new cars will be electric by 2016. in 2012. Toyota, which has dominated the hybrid market with its Prius, plans to launch an electric Prius by 2012. Even famed investor Warren Buffett is jumping on the buzzwagon: He bought a stake in BYD, a Chinese battery and electric car company.



The big automakers can thank independent upstarts for helping electric cars today lose their glorified golfcart stigma. The flashy, very limited Tesla Roadster goes for a cool $110,000. If that a bit steep for you, you welcome to put down a $5,000 deposit for the forthcoming Tesla Model S, which will go for around $57,000. Some 1,000 wouldbe Model S drivers already have done so. German automaker Daimler announced that it bought an almost 10 percent stake in Tesla on Tuesday. Not to be outdone on the innovation front, there the $27,000 Aptera, which looks like an insect and has three wheels.



The car in the eye of the publicity storm is the Chevy Volt, which the automaker calls an electric vehicle, which promises to travel its first 40 miles on electricity, before burning any gas. by 2015. He committed some $14.4 billion in stimulus money to an electriccar future, including $2 billion for battery manufacturing.



The buzz is intoxicating. Yet for 100 years the electric car has shimmered on the horizon, like a mirage, always fleetingly out of reach. Today, even with advances in battery technology, as the major automakers unveil their forthcoming models, they still hedging their bets that the internal combustion engine glory days aren over. have been promising better batteries for over a century. Indeed, in 1909, a magazine advertisement for Baker Electric Vehicles touted the revolutionary new cars as Aristocrats of Motordom, which would go Miles on One Charge of the Batteries. A century later, in 2009, the Mini Cooper electric cousin the Mini E, now being leased in a pilot program to 45 coach purses 0 drivers in New York, New Jersey and California, promises to go you guessed it! over 100 miles.



While electriccar enthusiasts naturally welcome the flurry of developments, Marc Geller, cofounder of Plug in America, a nonprofit that advocates electric vehicles, can help lamenting the time lost by automakers, which turned their back on the vehicles in the 1990s. tragedy is that in the this could have been done at much lower cost in every respect, Geller says. would be 10 years down the road in terms of achieving economies of scale and understanding consumer demand. At that point, you had profitable car companies attempting to do it, and at this point you have unprofitable car companies doing it essentially on the public dime. the automakers are going electric in part to win the Washington handout. They haven all of a sudden sprouted an environmental conscience or instituted unique business plans to profit from electric cars. got to do it to get money from the federal government. Talk about a loss leader. Back in 2002, the Mills College computer science professor was the happy driver of an EV1, which was General Motors zippy twoseat electric car.



In the car companies grudgingly produced a handful of electric cars, such as the EV1, Toyota EV Rav4, Ford Electric Ranger and the Nissan Altra, to meet the emissions vehicle regulations in California, the nation biggest car market. The auto lobby in turn lobbied like mad against the regulation. When California weakened its regulations, the automakers largely dumped electric cars. had a great electric car, and they didn stand by it, they didn promote it, says Spertus. took Spertus EV1 away, it charged her several thousand dollars for dents in it, despite the fact it was headed to the great autobody shop in the sky.



Today Spertus, who is now working at Google, while taking a leave from Mills, drives a Toyota Prius, which she calls a step backward from the EV1, since it only partially electric. American car company had a fantastic lead and threw it away, she says.



That not only the view of one disgruntled car driver. Says Kirsch: should have taken the EV1 and turned it into the Volt 10 years ago. It 10 years late and $10 billion short. auto sales were down 34 percent in April. auto industry is not exactly in a great position to innovate. Yet it also needs to find a way to meet the new fueleconomy standards and greenhouse gas regulations announced by Obama Tuesday.



While those plans may look good on the environmental drawing board, that doesn mean they will materialize on the roads any time soon. one thing for the government to say, is the new standard, and automakers have to meet it. It another thing to get consumers to buy the new cars. year, $4 gas found car shoppers considering hybrids and thinking twice about shelling out for monster SUVs. But as the recession has brought gas prices down, hybrids aren looking as hot. in April 2008, now they back down to around 2.5 percent of new vehicle sales.



Auto industry analysts say that for all the current buzz, it will take decades for electric cars to reach the masses and have any significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research points out that upstarts like Tesla are exciting, but they no solution. pretty easy to do a $110,000 sports car in low volume because you can put a lot of cost in it and recover that in the sale of a specialized product, he says. you get down to something that got to be $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 a lower price at high volume the complexity just blows up dramatically. That where the real challenge is. He explains it taken a decade for hybrid vehicles to get to just 1 percent of global production of new cars and trucks. By 2015, he predicts they be at 4 or 5 percent, making up about 3 million of the roughly 70 million new vehicles made each year globally.



Voelcker estimates that by 2015, electric vehicles will make up just 1 percent of new vehicles manufactured globally, even if you count plugin hybrids. of how long it takes for new vehicles to become a significant fraction of the automotive fleet, it will be two decades before plugin hybrids have much of an impact in terms of CO2, says Felix Kramer, founder of the California Cars Initiative for Plugin Hybrids, who favors retrofitting vehicles already on the road to use electricity, too. government tax rebate of up to $7,500 for buying an electric. Lithiumion batteries, which power laptops, cellphones, PDAs and iPods, are thought to hold the key for electric cars. That has battery engineers working frantically to try to improve them. cost per kilowatt is really what battery engineers all over the globe are hammering on, Voelcker says.



Electriccar historians say we been waiting for a breakthrough in battery technology for a long time. 1898, none other than Thomas Edison promised the super battery, says Kirsch. been waiting for the super battery for 110 years. Why do we think that the super battery is around the corner? Schiffer takes an even dimmer view. technology is really mature, and I expect incremental improvement. But anybody who is pinning their hopes for electric cars and hybrids on better batteries is deluding themselves, he says.



To meet the Obama administration new regulations, automakers can stop with building electric cars.



Mike Millikin, editor and founder of Green Car Congress, argues that even if automakers make good on their lofty electric car plans, it won be enough. have to step back and keep in mind what the larger goal is, he says. with the technology coming out, we not going to move quickly enough to do the kind of reduction in greenhouse gases we need absent changes in consumer behavior. Although we heard about those changes many times, he says, they bear repeating: drive less, carpool, walk or ride a bike. going to require big changes beyond going to drive an electric car rather than a conventional car, Millikin says. cars are part of the answer. But not the total answer.



For those OK with the mainstream, White River Forest welcomes more than 10 million visitors a year, making it the mostvisited recreation forest in the nation. But dont hate it for being beautiful; its got substance, too. The forest boasts 8 wilderness areas, 2,500 miles of trail, 1,900 miles of winding service system roads, and 12 ski resorts should your snow shredders fit the trunk space. If ice isnt your thing: take the tirefriendly Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway 82 miles connecting the towns of Meeker and Yampa, half of which is unpaved for you road rebels. Try driving the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway, which saw Civil War battles fought. If the tall peaks make your engine tremble, opt for the relatively flat Oconee National Forest, which offers smaller hills and an easy trail to the ghost town of Scull Shoals. Scaredycats can opt for Johns Mountain Overlook, which leads to twin waterfalls for the sensitive sightseer in you. Travel 20 miles west of Dolly Sods among the busiest in the East to find the Canaan Backcountry for more quiet and peace. Those willing to leave the coach purses car for a bit and foot it would be remiss to neglect dayhiking the White Rim Rocks, Table Rock Overlook, or the rim at Blackwater River Gorge. Rogers NRA via Hurricane Creek Road, North CarolinaMost know it as the highest country theyll see from North Carolina to New Hampshire. What they may not know? Car campers can get the same grand experience for less hassle. Drop the 50pound backpacks and take the highway to the high country by stopping anywhere on the twisting hence the name Hurricane Road for access to a 15mile loop that boasts the best of the grassy balds. Its the road less travelled, and the high one, at that. For a weekend getaway of the coastal variety and quieter version of the Florida Keys thats no less luxe, stick your head in the sand and ocean, if snorkelings your thing at any of Long Keys 60 sites. Canoes and kayaks are aplenty, as are the hot showers and electric power source amenities. Think of it as the getaway from the typical getaway. With the Colorado River still within view of this cliffedge site, Crazy Jug is a carside campers refuge from the troops of tourists. Find easy access to the Bill Hall Trail less than a mile from camp, and descend to get a peek at the volcanic Mt. Trumbull. coach purses

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