Electric Car Fantasy Dies on the Road

Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 11:48 AM

By Michael Kling

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More than just an electric car may have broken down on I-95 in Connecticut.

A New York Times reporter taking the Tesla Model S electric car for a test drive from Washington, D.C., to Boston complained that the car kept running out of energy and ended up being towed.

Washington Post columnist Charles Lane calls the stalling-car incident a symbolic break down of the Obama administration’s electric car fantasy.

Editor's Note:
The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

The Obama administration has provided about $5 billion in grants, buyer tax incentives and guaranteed loans — including a $465 million for Tesla — to promote electric cars. President Barack Obama has said we can put a million electric cars on the road by 2015.

For all that encouragement, Americans bought 71,000 plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles the last two years, about a third as many as the Energy Department forecasted in 2011, Lane writes.

Electric cars cost more and offer poor performance, including limited range and long recharging times, he says. And they won’t really cut greenhouse gas emissions if they use electricity crated with fossil fuels.

The president had good intentions, and the effort was not strictly a Democratic project, Lane adds, noting that several Republican politicians also shared the electric delusion.

“Rather, the debacle is a case study in unchecked righteousness. The administration assumed the worthiness and urgency of its goals. Americans should want electric cars, and therefore they would, apparently.”

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk tweeted that the Times story was “a fake” and that the reporter didn’t recharge to the max and may have taken a long detour. Either way, Musk loses, Lane writes. “Who wants a $101,000 car that might die just because you feel like taking ‘a long detour?’”

Charging points in Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn., are about 200 miles apart but well with the Tesla S’s range, according to Times reporter John Broder. But he barely reached the Milford station, after turning off the car’s heat and dropping his speed to 54 mph when he saw the battery charge dropping fast. He was later forced into an emergency recharging, but still ran out of juice in Branford, Conn., where the Tesla was towed away.

Although Tesla has carved out a niche in California, the Northeast’s cold temperatures decreased the efficiency of the car batteries, Broder says.

“If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future, I thought, and the solution to what the company calls the ‘road trip problem,’ it needs some work.”

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

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