The loss making electric car maker Tesla has been rolling out its first "mass-market sedan" in California. The base model, which sells for $49,900 after a federal tax credit, can go 160 miles on one charge:
A crowd estimated to be in the thousands, including Tesla employees, their relatives, and a host of local politicians, cheered for the lineup of speakers that included California Gov. Jerry Brown. They roared when the first cars left the building.
“This is another example of California on the move,” Brown told the crowd. “This is a great car. You’re a bunch of great workers.”
Exactly why Brown and the others were roaring is difficult to understand:
Hybrid and electric cars are neither clean nor green according to a new environmental book, Green Illusions (June 2012, University of Nebraska Press), written by University of California - Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner. Green Illusions exposes numerous hidden side effects of new hybrid and electric cars, such as the Tesla, Leaf, Fisker Karma, and Prius. The analysis considers mining impacts, toxins, energy use, suburban sprawl and carbon footprints of production. From an environmental perspective, Zehner argues that hybrids and electric cars are no better than gasoline vehicles, a conclusion backed by a National Academy of Sciences report.Read the entire article here
Electric cars are definitively not to the future neither in the US, nor elsewhere. However, natural gas - of which there is an abundance in the US thanks to the shale gas revolution - is another matter, according to a newly published Brookings Institution discussion paper, written by MIT professor Christopher R. Knittel:
Technological advances in horizontal drilling deep underground have led to large-scale discoveries of natural gas reserves that are now economical to access. This, along with increases in oil prices, has fundamentally changed the relative price of oil and natural gas in the United States. As of December 2011, oil was trading at a 500 percent premium over natural gas. This ratio has increased over the past few months. The discovery of large, economically accessible natural gas reserves has the potential to aid in a number of policy goals related to energy. Natural gas can replace oil in transportation through a number of channels. However, the field between natural gas as a transportation fuel and petroleum-based fuels is not level. Given this uneven playing field, left to its own devices, the market is unlikely to lead to an efficient mix of petroleum- and natural gas-based fuels. This paper presents a pair of policy proposals designed to increase the nation’s energy security, decrease the susceptibility of the U.S. economy to recessions caused by oil-price shocks, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. First, I propose improving the
natural gas fueling infrastructure in homes, at local distribution companies, and along long-haul trucking routes. Second, I offer steps to promote the use of natural gas vehicles and fuels.