Resurrecting the Electric Car

Despite oil industry efforts to kill the electric car, it looks like the inevitable will finally happen once the forces of capitalism are firmly lined up behind it. In what sounds a little too good to be true, a company is claiming that their electric car will get you 500 miles for 9 bucks. Can these guys deliver? Well, they’ve got Business 2.0 along for the ride:

Forget hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. EEStor, a stealth company in Cedar Park, Texas, is working on an “energy storage” device that could finally give the internal combustion engine a run for its money — and begin saving us from our oil addiction. “To call it a battery discredits it,” says Ian Clifford, the CEO of Toronto-based electric car company Feel Good Cars, which plans to incorporate EEStor’s technology in vehicles by 2008.

EEStor’s device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it’s supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today’s gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.

And we mean power a car. “A four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari,” Clifford predicts. In contrast, his first electric car, the Zenn, which debuted in August and is powered by a more conventional battery, can’t go much faster than a moped and takes hours to charge.

The cost of the engine itself depends on how much energy it can store; an EEStor-powered engine with a range roughly equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered car would cost about $5,200. That’s a slight premium over the cost of the gas engine and the other parts the device would replace — the gas tank, exhaust system, and drivetrain. But getting rid of the need to buy gas should more than make up for the extra cost of an EEStor-powered car.

Sounds too good to be true, right? But technology is always advancing, even when it appears to be standing still — as in the case of combustion engines, which haven’t gotten much more efficient in the last 20 years. The oil companies are really only succeeding in prolonging their reign for a few more years while simultaneously ensuring their eventual obsolescence. Once the electric/hydrogen/whatever technology matures it will be a no-brainer to switch away from oil-based engines. Would you rather pay $3.50 a gallon or 50 cents a gallon? I’ll take the cheaper and more environmentally friendly option, thanks. It could’ve been a hard decision, but with hybrids and a retardedly obvious cost/benefit ratio, alternative fuel sources are poised to take off, leaving oil companies in the dust.

So, uh, why are we fighting a war for oil in the desert again?


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