On Mobility (part 1)
As we enter 2022 there are many challenges out in front of us, and they can be overcome. These challenges are not completely unique to our generation. We are going to introduce some information about the automobile you may not have heard before. What are the challenges to mobility, speed, range, utility and freedom of movement in 2022 and how can they be overcome.
Before we enter into some of the more practical items, lets take a brief look at the early electric vehicle and other modes of fuel and power in the development of the automobile industry. This history brings up some questions which we will address as best we can in forthcoming articles.
What if I told you that you can run your car on Tequila? Well, that was just one of the many fuel types the Chrysler above was tested on. Now we don’t all have the car collection of Jay Leno, but most Americans have a car, truck, van, moped or motorcycle. The difference is that today in 2022, your car isn’t made for a number of fuel types, at most two. Can you imagine a vehicle that could take natural gas, diesel or Tequila?
When is the last time you and your family made a road trip together? How many miles while hearing, “Are we there yet” did your car or truck make on one tank of gas? What did you see along the way? Did you stop for something to eat or shop at a local store? Driving is part of our common experience here in America, the landscape is vast, the cities spread far apart and our nation is one of such beauty in many places, that a long drive can be enjoyable.
Did you know the very first was made in 1828 by Hungarian Ányos Jedlik? He invented a small-scale model car powered by an electric motor that he designed. Think about this in 2022, that about one-hundred and ninety-three years ago the electric vehicle (EV) was created and yet by the advertisements, you would think EVs were as new as the latest model i-Phone.
How many electric vehicle models do you know of the top of your head? Can you name three or four? If you are really informed, maybe you are in the industry, can you name twenty?
Think about this fact, in the beginning of the 20th century there were hundreds of different models and not just electric vehicles, all kinds of vehicles. So what happened to this diversity of locomotion, of mobility?
We went from many different forms of vehicular mobility to the current trend which appears to more favor electric vehicles.
Different people can find utility in different vehicles, and it appears that was the way things were in the early 20th century. There is a very well made movie called “Who Killed The Electric Car” which came out in 2006. This movie covers a few items, but appears to pit one industry against the other, almost a blame game. This article seeks to look at the issue from another angle. We may be conditioned to like simple answers, it is heuristic, but that doesn’t mean the facts are ever so simple.
Practicality and Variety
Looking at the advertisements, there is a very strong encouragement toward electric vehicles, but does it make sense? Are current electric vehicles overcomplicated? Can anyone do the basic repairs? Are these modern electric vehicles really practical? If I am a small business utility worker in a storm, do you really want to be relying on me if I am in an electric vehicle? If I am two hundred miles from the nearest charging station, in a lightening storm and the only guy to repair the damaged high line on the power pole that just went down causing power outages all over the city, is an EV truck the best tool for the job? Is it really the best idea for municipalities by fiat declare ALL city vehicles be electric, green or “earth safe”?
What if there is real mess on the road, and a truck with a 3 foot clearance, powered by diesel makes life a whole lot easier. In those situations, would you rather be mobile, or immobilized with thousands of desperate people on a highway. How great will you feel about that “green decision” when your life is at risk or at the very least, very inconvenienced?
In whose interest are these initiatives? What about commuters, how safe do they really feel about that environmental decision they made if they are seeing the EV model just went into debt for, up in flames on the evening news. Do we call this progress?
I know, I know . . . a little late to the party eh? You’ve heard all of this at dinner parties, on the golf course and commuting to work with friends. We’ve talked about it, it didn’t make sense. By all practical reasoning, the people leading society should have stopped in their tracks and asked the very same questions, but they didn’t . . . right?
Within the past 193 years, there were all kinds of mobile vehicles utilizing all kinds of fuel. Were you taught about gas turbine engines from the 1940s like that of Rover? Have you ever heard of environmentally friendly “wood gas”?
Woodmobiles were vehicles that used wood gas, an early alternative fuel utilized during the World War periods. Woodmobiles were not just in Europe, but also appeared in the U.S., Asia, and, particularly, Australia, which had 72,000 vehicles running on wood gas. Altogether, more than one-million producer gas vehicles were used during World War II. After the war, with gasoline once again available, the technology fell into oblivion almost instantaneously.
Just the fact that you have not heard of such technologies, might lead you to a number of questions, and that is where our story begins.
Why purchase a vehicle which severely limits your range? When you shorten your range from 800 miles in a compact truck with an extra fuel tank to 250 miles in a small engine electric vehicle, we are talking about a VERY large change in mobility and utility.
Did you know there are even movements now on social media exclaiming why one should NEVER own a car. Why stop there? We then may arrive at Claus Schwab’s infamous quote, “You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy about it”.
Millennials Love Zipcar Because They’ll Never Own a Car
Let’s take a step back. Don’t worry motor heads, I will be returning to the father of the modern EV movement Stanford R. Ovshinsky and ECD Ovonic in later segments.
Can Great Electric Vehicles be Manufactured?
Looking at the historical record, the answer appears to be “Yes”. The basic premise of electric vehicles has been around since the early 1800s. Yes, 1828, the first electric vehicle was developed by Hungarian Ányos Jedlik. More practical and more successful electric road vehicles were invented by both Thomas Davenport and Scotsman Robert Davidson around 1842.
In 2020, an article was posted titled “1909: Ditch Tesla, buy Babcock Runabout”. In this article, the author cites factual historical technical papers and essentially asks the reader, “Why would you pay exorbitant prices for technology that has been around since 1909, oh and by the way it worked better in 1909!”
This article juxtaposed with current events tangentially brings up questions, very uncomfortable questions like:
- If this electric vehicle technology goes back 200 years, are you telling me in the early 1990s they could make smart bombs and track you everywhere you went using you cell phone, but in the 2020s they can’t make a car that gets much better range than a car in 1909? No I’m telling you the range of some current electric vehicles is less than that vehicle in 1909 which were sold at a fraction of the cost (factoring inflation). This would be true if the above Babcock advertisement is to be believed.
2. If a 1982 Volkswagon Jetta Diesel was able to get 50 miles per gallon, why can’t my vehicle in 2022 get up to 42 miles per gallon?
3. Why was a mandatory “kill switch” in new vehicles part of the 2021 infrastructure bill?
4. In the 90s through early 2000s Ford Motor Company had problems with Ford Explorer, the NHTSA began studying the problem of Firestone tires after approximately 4 complaints, later over 68 deaths were attributed to the issue. As of this article’s publishing on Medium, Tesla has over 231 deaths, why are these vehicles still on the road?
Not surprisingly, Elon Musk has been dumping Tesla shares, to the tune of over 1,000,000,000 (1 Billion) USD.
How in the world do we as a species go from a world of choices regarding a variety of vehicles, fuels and utility choices as early as the 1920s; to a world where vehicles spontaneously explode killing the passengers, and do we call that progress, or “good for the environment”? It appears absolutely insane unless our premise is significantly misguided. What if, what we are being told about environment, social responsibility and good governance is just soft spoken language to lull us into a false sense that where we are being taken, is where we want to go? Lets leave that question here until next week.