*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Tesla Roadster!

Saw a Tesla Roadster outside my station today, on display by the Tokyo Automobile University School.  Very cool.

Do I think this is the future?  Not really.  Gasoline is such a good fucking energy-storage medium that a wack of batteries don't beat it, and won't for some time.  Even this premium car has only a 200-400km range, and refuelling is not as simple as for gas, yet if ever.  Your average car will get 500km highway, and refuelling is simple.  Were I doing high-mileage I'd go for a good hybrid, maybe plug-in.  That way you can always refuel.  Anything less than high-mileage though, you're still better off with an efficient all gasoline car.  Do your own research if you don't buy it.  Most of all, since a huge portion of a car's footprint is in its manufacture, don't get an electric or a hybrid as a replacement unless it is to save money on gasoline.

The idea of high-mileage hybrid car, or low-mileage efficient gasoline car, makes sense from a financial and environmental point of view.  Electric-car boosters forget that: batteries are very dirty to make and dispose of, wear out in five years, and you probably charge your car with carbon fuel via the power plant*.  The best thing to do is buy a hybrid if you commute by car, and buy none if you do not commute by car.  You can rent a newer car every weekend and still have extra money for beer, not to mention saving the costs of building another car.

On the other hand, in a perfect world... which could not include personal vehicles, but never mind... an all-electric car would be the most efficient, financially and environmentally, because all of the externalities** of oil would be factored into the cost of gas.  Gas would be several times as expensive as it is.  Electric cars wouldn't be any cheaper.  Commuting by car sucks anyway, as it does on bad transit.

Regardless, the Tesla is highly impractical, but it is fucking cool that someone's making it.  Anything that challenges the status quo is a good thing.  Sure, I'd love to try outrunning Japan's 'keystone cops' with it!  Fast cars are cool I cannot deny, even though I don't think the coolness is anything close to worth the costs financially, environmentally and socially (they ruined many N.America cities, lives, and asses).  I'd see nothing wrong with a world where you didn't have to spend a third of your money on transportation, or gum up the atmosphere doing so, but you could be a member of a racing club where members co-owned and drove the hell out of a few fast cars on closed tracks.

*Yes, night-charging tends to include a far higher percentage of hydroelectric and nuclear (problematic itself).
**Pollution; collisions; pavements' effects on drainage, farmland, suburbanization; oil-wars and foreign policy...


  1. "Anything that challenges the status quo is a good thing."

    Agree 100%.Even when I don't support the cause I support their freedom to pursue it.

  2. Mr. S: If you have the time or inclination to share, what are your thoughts on electric bicycles? I've looked at conversion kits in the past...

  3. I think it depends on your reasons for electrifying. Handicapped? Hauling kids, groceries, or such? Go for it. Sloth? Not so much. For myself though, since I'm fortunate not to be handicapped, I don't like them: neither fish nor fowl and gasoline powered is still less trouble and more power.