By Gary S. Vasilash
The excitement associated with electric vehicles (EVs) in some corners makes it seem as though it is a foregone conclusion that the world is going to be full of what are, at this point in time, Teslas and vehicles that want to prove that they are better than Teslas.
When Ford announced that it was going to nearly double the production of its forthcoming F-150 Lightning, an electric pickup, to 150,000 units by mid-2023, you’d think that someone announced free beer at a football stadium. Happy days are here again!
But there are still hurdles that have to be overcome before there is massive acceptance of EVs, and a big one remains the whole issue of batteries, range and charging.
Better batteries, which have been and continue to be developed, generally means more range and faster charging.
But at this point there are still comparatively few charging stations, and when you see announcements of additional stations being built out by companies like Electrify America, take into account that unlike a visit to your local Fossil Fuel Emporium: Purveyor of Fine Snacks, where you spend about five minutes, the amount of time—even for the hyperfast chargers and the vehicles that can accept that level of charge—is generally on the order of 20 minutes.
So a bit of simple math has it that four liquid-fueled vehicles can be handled in the amount of time that it takes a single EV to get a charge.
Then there is the issue of what happens when a vehicle is out of fuel.
Who hasn’t seen someone walking down the road with one of those red gasoline containers, having had a vehicle run out of gas and in need of something to get it going?
A gallon of gas weighs a little over six pounds.
But what happens if an EV runs out of electricity?
Were there something analogous, it is probably going to be something that no one is going to want to lug for much of a distance.
A regular 12-volt battery such as the one that is undoubtedly under the hood of your vehicle weighs 30 pounds or more—not the sort of thing you’re going to want to carry very far.
The massive 40-mile I-95 traffic jam that occurred earlier this week in Virginia, where people were stuck in their vehicles for more than a day, has given rise to stories about how some EVs fared, and it seems not particularly well.
Yes, liquid-fueled vehicles ran out of gas.
But here’s the thing: someone can buy a five-gallon gas cannister at Walmart for about 13 bucks. The price of gas in Virginia is an average $3.15 a gallon. So to fill that container with fuel would cost $15.75. That’s less than $30 all-in. The gas would be good to get a few cars on the side of the road running.
What is the analogous answer for a Ford Lightning or another EV that is out of juice?