Electric Cars – are they better than Petrol?

The car has arguably been both the best and the worst invention of the last 100 or so years. While it has allowed our cities to expand, our countries to patrol far off frontiers, and granting untold personal freedom to people around the world, it has also mostly ruined all those said cities with traffic jams, allowed those countries to mobilize for war in a massive manner, and locked people into tiny personal bubbles that can’t communicate well and cause carnage on the roads.

While the car started off as steam powered, and then electric, it moved quickly through diesel as a propellant and then onto petrol, where it has stayed pretty much king of the fuel line until recently. Diesel seems to be making a comeback now, selling massively in Europe and now in the US too. But there is an alternative that’s coming soon: Electric cars.

Mercedes Benz Smart cars are rumoured to be working with electric car maker Tesla Motors to power a range of Smart cars
Mercedes Benz Smart cars are rumoured to be working with electric car maker Tesla Motors to power a range of Smart cars

While we welcome the use of electric cars to lessen the levels of pollution in our city, if we replaced all the petrol and diesel cars in the city with electric cars, would we be any better off? There are still going to be just 1 or 2 persons per car, as most of the 4 seater cars carry (at least the Smart car is honestly portraying the size of car needed, with just 2 seats). If our cars were smaller, it doesn’t mean that we can do with less tarmac (although the footpaths could do with being enlarged a little). Perhaps what is needed more is electric trains and electric buses, to lower the total traffic load on the road. Perhaps then more people will want to move into the city.



6 responses to “Electric Cars – are they better than Petrol?”

  1. Good point re: electric congestion – but do we have the population (and even the public transport culture?) to support electric trains etc?

  2. actually, we already have electric trains, for the most part: and are one of the few places in the world left with electric buses – trolley buses. They may get their juice from an overhead wire or two, instead of a large battery pack, but they’re still electric.

  3. “Are electric cars better than Petrol?” – Hell Yes ! I want one, and I want it NOW! They’d be quiet as a mouse, cool as f—, and go like the clappers round town. Plus they’d recharge by day under the big blus sky, or recharge at night off a gentle low-cost trickle feed. Sounds a bargain to me! Where can I buy one? and When?

  4. Electric heaps better…. but the cars will still dominate our city…. lets get a people friendly environment, where we can move seamlessly amongst green urban space – walking, talking, enjoying the ambience of clean air and beautiful people. I have an electric scooter, much more convenient than a car, but the bicycle is the preferred mode of transport, fastest, always fun and parking at the door!

    And I vote for electric light rail, as the 140 buses per hour in the CBD is too much, and modern light rail is the only mode that has the capacity to shift those numbers through the centre to Newtown, and significantly reducing congestion with increased speed, but at the same time enabling more space for people

  5. I guess we’d be dreaming for National to even think about funding light rail as part of its infrastructure money-fest.

  6. Curiously, there is an article in the paper today, saying that an electric car is being launched today. Not the Smart you show, but still a fully pluggable EV:

    New generation electric car trial launched
    Tuesday, 10 February 2009

    A trial which could lead to the first mass-produced new generation electric vehicle in New Zealand was launched by Environment and Climate Change Minister Nick Smith in Wellington today. The Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (iMiEV) is a four-door hatchback with a maximum speed of 130kmh and a driving range of up to 160km, but with fuel cost only a third of that for a petrol-driven car.

    Mitsubishi is working with Meridian Energy on the first joint venture in New Zealand between a car company and a power company. The iMiEV evaluation programme will run until late March, with demonstrations around the country.
    “The iMiEV is a whole new way of thinking about transportation,” said Mitsubishi New Zealand chief executive John Leighton at today’s launch at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.
    “It’s a new and exciting car that challenges convention, and embodies the latest developments in technological innovation. The high-power, low-noise electric engine, delivers a drive unlike any vehicle on New Zealand roads.”

    The project’s goal was to get New Zealanders excited about electric vehicles, so that New Zealand was one of the first countries to adopt them once they went into mass production, he said.

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