Saturday, May 17, 2008

Decided to just do it.

So, here's how it all started. My car was getting expensive to operate and I need a reliable transportation solution to replace it. At the time I was deciding on my next car, I was taking an automotive course on how to fix them (which I highly recommend since fixing automobiles costs quite a bit if you can't do the work yourself). During the course, I was struck by how many systems there are to correct for the failings of an internal combustion engine. In my opinion, the internal combustion engine is at the point where the whole idea should be abandoned. It's just too complex!

If you don't believe it, take an inventory of the systems needed for any present day gasoline engine powered car. First, the engines get too hot, so they need liquid coolant, oil & transmission fluid systems that all have their own reservoirs, hoses, filters and pumps. These systems, being mechanical, are all prone to failure and need periodic replacement of their toxic fluids. Four cycle engines are noisy and vibrate so they need a muffler, pipes & anti-vibration measures. They spew toxic gas so they need a computer, fuel injectors, spark plugs, numerous sensors and electric cables to deliver fuel in just the right amount to regulate proper combustion. They don't operate well at all speeds, so they also need a transmission gearing system and it wastes energy when the vehicle is at a stop. The combustion cycle doesn't even work on it's own! It needs a separate electric "starter" system with motor, wires & battery. All this extra weight makes cars very HEAVY so they need a large chassis & lots of energy just to cart the system around! If a HYBRID vehicle is considered, there is all the above, PLUS an electric system and a large battery system too! In my opinion, the approach has just become TOO COMPLICATED AND EXPENSIVE!

Even if engines weren't so complicated, there is always the fuel issue (which has turned into a blood-for-oil issue or food-vs-fuel issue). If my workplace was closer to me, pedal power would be something I would consider. I also have other energy alternatives too. I've signed up for power from a renewable power company. In addition, I could easily generate electricity (via solar panels) or possibly grow my fuel. This, in my opinion, could potentially enhance the reliability of my transport system a great deal.

I drive a regular motorcycle (Harley 883) and I've noticed that over the past few years, the savings over my summer driving season has been significant. In addition to using less gasoline (the Harley gets 50-60mpg) I've noticed the maintenance and insurance were less expensive too. What I don't like about the motorcycle is the convenience. Riding the bike is weather dependent. Because of the wind chill, I won't ride in cold weather (below 40 degrees F) nor do I like riding in the rain. I also need to wear a helmet and earplugs due to the noise and need to suit up in a rainsuit or extra leathers depending on the weather. Then, there is the issue of being covered with tiny bugs at the end of the trip. Plus, on every trip, I need to wait a few minutes for my bike to "warm up" before use and "cool down" before I cover it for the night. Of course, with a small fuel tank, I also need to find a gasoline station quite often. I don't live too far from a gasoline station but those miles out of my way do add up. All these issues should be non-issues with my EV.

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