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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for March 12th, 2012


Electric cars – no progress in 115 years

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Greenies, including Our Dear leader, have been pushing electric cars for quite awhile. Much hot air and even more ink has been expended in extolling the virtues and benefits to the environment and everything else.

As it turns out, electric cars are nothing new, and the 35-miles-per-charge limit the Chevy Volt boasts is no better than was was achieved way back in 1896. That’s not a typo — 1896. Check out the following short piece I founded today on the Daily Caller.

115-year-old electric car gets same 40 miles to the charge as Chevy Volt

Meet the Roberts electric car. Built in 1896, it gets a solid 40 miles to the charge — exactly the mileage Chevrolet advertises for the Volt, the highly touted $31,645 electric car General Motors CEO Dan Akerson called “not a step forward, but a leap forward.”

The executives at Chevrolet can rest easy for now. Since the Roberts was constructed in an age before Henry Ford’s mass production, the 115-year-old electric car is one of a kind.

But don’t let the car’s advanced age let you think it isn’t tough: Its present-day owner, who prefers not to be named, told The Daily Caller it still runs like a charm, and has even completed the roughly 60-mile London to Brighton Vintage Car Race.

If you didn’t know there are electric cars as old as the Roberts, you aren’t alone. Prior to today’s electric v. gas skirmishes, there was another battle: electric v. gas v. steam. This contest was fought in the market place, and history shows gas gave electric and steam an even more thorough whooping than Coca-Cola gave Moxie.

But while the Roberts electric car clearly lacked GPS, power steering and, yes, air bags, the distance it could achieve on a charge, when compared with its modern equivalent, provides a telling example of the slow pace of the electric car.

Driven by a tiller instead of a wheel, the Roberts car was built seven years before the Wright brothers’ first flight, 12 years before the Ford Model T, 16 years before Chevrolet was founded and 114 years before the first Chevy Volt was delivered to a customer.

As the New York Times reported September 5, “For General Motors and the Obama administration, the new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid represents the automotive future, the culmination of decades of high-tech research financed partly with federal dollars.”

Like “green technology’s” most powerful proponent, President Barack Obama, the 1896 Roberts was made in Chicago. Obama, who supports the $7,500 tax credit for the Volt, is not fazed by its 40-mile electric limit — he only drove the car 10 feet.

Interesting, eh? The car of the future gets less mileage-per-charge than the car of the long-past. Unless, of course, you do as Chevy has done and build-in a gasoline generator.

For someone who lives in a city and never ventures very far outside its borders, the Volt might be a good choice…if it really doesn’t spontaneously catch fire sometime after an accident. But I would bet most of us regularly need to travel significantly farther than 40 miles when we hop in our vehicles. So you are still going to regularly be burning gasoline. And you’re going to pay $40,000 for a Volt instead of $16,000 for, say, a Toyota Corolla, the car my wife is very happy driving. Of course, if you buy a Volt, the taxpayers will help pay for some of it via a $7500 tax credit.

In a free society, shouldn’t it be up to the people to decide what they want? Shouldn’t it be the government’s job to make sure nobody tries to force citizens to make choices they don’t want to make. Shouldn’t it be government’s job to ensure a level playing field for business where each is free to compete and free people making free choices in a free market will determine the winners and losers?

The answer, of course, is yes, unless you are the American government. Then, because politicians and bureaucrats are so much smarter than the rest of us, it’s your job to decide what you think is best and use the power of government to force the rest of us to toe your ideological line.

We’ve reached the point in America where government no longer even pays lip service to the idea of freedom. It spends all it’s time picking winners and losers and taking from those who produce and giving to those who do not.

Is it any wonder that so many long for a new American Revolution, one way or another?

What do you think?

Do you own or would you consider a Chevy Volt?

And what do you see as government’s job?

By the way, Discovery has a History of Cars timeline on their website, if you’re interested.



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