So just where ARE those Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?

I just watched “Who Killed the Electric Car?“, wow. If you haven’t seen it, you should. That’s really all I can say. It was very educational and at some points emotional, but for the most part after you’ve seen what they have to say about all the culprits they point out, it just doesn’t make much common sense why we don’t see these cars on the road today. One of the strangest things was seeing an ad for an electric car that the car companies stand behind as part of their activities to get people interested in the cars. The ad looked and sounded like a horror movie trailer, long shadows, creepy voice. There’s no way that even if anyone saw it, they’d have been game. But for me, a car with no emissions that I could charge at home and get far enough for my daily commute, errands and back? I’d be all for that.

Just like the Stop Snitchin’ movement, can I start the Stop Flirtin’ movement? I can count about 10 times in just the past week that my trip to the coffee house, cafeteria, and various stores have been completely delayed because someone’s trying to get with someone, or trying to act all cute, or worse trying to sweet talk their way into something free and it’s a pain in the ass. And sometimes this is more on the customer than it is on the employee and oddly enough in my recent experience, it’s more because of women than men.

I am not above a little mild flirtation from time to time if I think it might get me a free drink or a comped dessert or something, but I don’t do it in such a way that it directly keeps other patrons from getting service. I’m definitely of the “shit or get off the pot” attitude, give the guy/girl your phone number, ask them what they’re doing later, do whatever you gotta do — but do your thing and get the hell out of my way. And I concede that being a little extra friendly at the Starbucks is going to get the barista to remember your order and eventually make it just the way you like it. I’ve done this many times. But man, smiling and laughing at the grocery store cashier is not going to make her forget to ring up your beer or card you, move it along!

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4 Responses

  1. I have to laugh at those gullible enough (and ignorant enough about EVs) to believe the rather hilariously stupid conspiracy theories that the largely fictitious “Who Killed the …” is putting out there. If the film had honestly analyzed the EV-1 you would understand compeltely why the auto analysts at Time recently named the EV-1 to their list of the worst 50 cars ever built. It was a car that had no reason for being – you can’t really make a good argument that it was any better than the Detroit Electric that was being sold in 1907, before World War I. The film should have lasted about 45 seconds and simply said “Without a practical battery, it’s imposible to build a practical electric car. With such a battery ANYBODY can build such a car.” Instead, the film choses to advance its silly claims that EVs were “wonder cars” by infomercial techniques and careful avoidance of the exorbitant costs ($43K for the car, $21K for batteries every 5 years) and driving range that might not get you to a destination and back home even it it’s only 35 miles away, and requires 8 hours to recharge the batteries. It was a car that met the needs of practically nobody. And the film also lies about demand – GM was never able to lease all 1100 cars and they COULD not legally be sold – they failed to met Federal sfatey regs and were officially designated as “experimental vehicles,” a fact the film carefully avoids mentioning, as it does so many others.
    Chris Paine is a complete liar.

  2. shin says:

    I remember seeing Who Killed the Electric Car in the theatre. As you said, definitely educational. There’s a wacky looking Mel Gibson, who makes sense for a change. My favorite part, however, is when they show a clip from California Green and Huell Howser’s asking the junkyard guy why they’re going to destroy some perfectly good cars.

  3. Brian says:

    @shin: I thought that was great and I can’t imagine what it might have felt like if you were an owner of an electric vehicle and saw it brand spanking new sitting on the path of destruction. Even worse that the employee interviewed said, “Well that’s a bit of a mystery.”

    @Kent: It was a movie, not a college course. Just like similar films, you go into it knowing they are presenting the facts and events from their point of view. And I’m sure people can debate the information offered in the film until the cows come home. But in all of your postings all over the internet (you do get around, don’t you?), you haven’t mentioned whether you think electric vehicles are a good idea. No one expects them to be cheap, since when is buying and maintaining a car ever cheap? But it doesn’t change the fact that consumers are being sold on bigger and less environmentally sound vehicles and that anything that diverts from that model is immediately put down and in some cases has any trace of it completely erased. — I think that the conclusions online about this “Kent” identity being a shill for the oil & gas lobby is right on target.

    And just to let people know, I live in DC, so even a car that went 35 miles on an overnight charge would be extremely useful to someone like me, however I already know that electric vehicles exist that will go farther on a charge that takes less time to hit capacity.

  4. Brian says:

    Oh, I can’t believe I just saw this–you knew I would respond!

    To respond to “Kent,” “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is a very one-sided piece, to be sure. But “Kent” isn’t really right on a lot of points, either–there is demand for the EV, it’s just that GM did a terrible job of marketing and promoting them, because really, GM had no incentive for it to succeed. I don’t think GM–or car companies in general–are evil entities (like, say, the oil and gas lobbies), but they are resistant to change. That’s why they’re fighting now against higher CAFE standards–even though a true 45 MPG average would be doable tomorrow if we switched to diesel.

    Oh, and Dan Neil’s piece on the 50 Worst Cars in Time? I know Dan professionally, I like Dan personally, but that article was utter rubbish.

    As for the EV, the car is far from dead. Mitsubishi plans to market an EV version of its next “i” minicar, which may also come to the States. Tesla’s got its roadster, and there are plenty of other boutique–and mainstream–manufacturers on their way with EV, fuel-cell and alt-fuel cars. And hey, GM does have the Volt.

    If there’s one problem with all these cars, it’s that it doesn’t take care of a basic problem–the energy for them still comes from somewhere. There is no such thing as an emissions-free vehicle. If you’re plugging in a vehicle to a wall-socket at night, you’re still pulling power from a power-plant somewhere.

    On the flip side, cars today are probably beaten up more than they should be. Take a Hummer H2, for example, the postercar for bad eco-behavior. Despite its poor mileage, it would still probably take about, oh, 75 H2s to match the emissions of one classic VW Beetle in a mile of driving. And low-emissions, high-mileage cars like the VW Jetta TDI or Civic Hybrid are even cleaner.

    There’s a lot of other things we could be doing instead of just focusing on cars. Have you replaced your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents yet?

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