I’ve been driving hybrid vehicles for about 11 years, and my current car is a Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid. I now have 6,200 miles on the odometer, and I have burned just 17 gallons of gas. That’s 365 miles to the gallon, folks. Hybrid mileage is 45-50 mpg.
Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to the cold, so this past winter a full charge gave me only 32 miles. The summer range, however, has topped out at 52 miles. This means that when I visit my partner in Spokane, I can drive all the way to Rosalia before charging. Coming back, I can just make it to Garfield.
Thanks to Avista, there are 220-volt charging stations, free of charge, in both towns. While my Honda is charging, I eat lunch, phone family/friends, check email/news, or walk around town. Within an hour, my range is back up to over 30 miles, and I then drive gas-free to Spokane or home.
I now have an e-car buddy. She is an art teacher at Garfield Elementary and she commutes from Potlatch. When I first met her, she was charging her all-electric Kia, and fortunate for me there was a second cable on the station.
One day I was surprised to see her in Rosalia, where she was hooked up to the fast charger to complete a trip to Spokane. I was unable to use this station because of incompatible plugs. She showed me her dual charging port, where the 440-volt charging cable was connected. I’m now suffering from dual-port envy!
I was thrilled to learn that Pullman has two electric busses (another one on order). Instead of spending $20,000 annually to fuel each dirty diesel bus, the city will pay $4,000 per year to charge each e-bus. There will be far less maintenance and, eventually, the bus routes will be pollution and noise free.
With one in every nine cars sold, Europe is way ahead of us in the number of electric vehicles (EVs). In 2020, there were 740,000 EVs sold and 1.36 million plug-ins. Comparable numbers in the U.S. are 332,000 EVs and 328,000 plug-ins.
Oil rich Norway, wisely committed to phasing out fossil fuels, leads the world in EV/plug-in sales. In 2020 they made up 74 percent of new cars off the lot. Making on average $84,171 per year, Norwegians own more Teslas than any other people in the world. General Motors ran a Super Bowl ad which featured nonchalant Norwegians responding to a crazed Will Ferrell about their EV success.
Norway will ban the sale of gas or diesel cars by 2025, and the United Kingdom and The Netherlands will follow in 2030. The European Union is set to enforce 2035 on all its 27 members, and, always the ecology leader, California’s prohibition will come the same year. UBS Investment Bank predicts that “by 2025, 20 percent of all new cars sold globally will be electric. That will leap to 40 percent by 2030, and by 2040 virtually every new car sold globally will be electric.”
Car makers are making this happen: Jaguar will be all electric by 2025; Volvo (2030); Ford in Europe (2030); General Motors (2035); and Volkswagen will be 70 percent in 2030. In China, forecasters predict that EVs will amount to 70 percent of sales in China by 2030.
The Chinese are leading the world in battery swap stations with 1,100 already installed. It takes only about three minutes to install a fully charged battery. The same company also offers a mobile charging service, sorely needed in big cities with limited home charging possibilities.
At 29 percent, transportation accounts for the largest contribution to greenhouse gases in the U.S. Industry is second with 23 percent. Transportation is responsible for half the nitrous oxide in our polluted air. Cars and trucks amount to 58 percent of transportation emissions, so EVs will go a long way in fighting our climate change battle.
At our last meeting, my e-car buddy and I were envisioning an EV future where there would be 20 charging stations to every gas pump, and when we could sit outside at our favorite downtown restaurant without engine noise and exhaust fumes.
Gier is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.