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View Diary: Old Cars: Early Steam and Electric Cars (Photo Diary) (28 comments)

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  •  Electrics were popular early on (7+ / 0-)

    Women especially liked them because hand cranking a gasoline engine was difficult and dangerous.

    The engine could kick back and break your arm/wrist. If you'd forgotten to take the car out of gear, it would run you over after it started.

    The invention of the electric starter was what, for better or worse, made internal combustion the default power plant.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 09:54:21 AM PST

    •  See my other comment... (4+ / 0-)

      ...energy density and transfer rate.

      Think about it this way: why aren't there electric airplanes? Because they'd be way too heavy and their range would be way too short. This is not a different problem than electric cars; it's the same problem, amplified.

      I suspect this problem will be overcome with cars via:

      (a) Self-driving vehicles. Most people will subscribe to a taxi service instead of owning cars. Economies of scale and the fact that most trips are short-range will allow fleet owners to optimize fleet composition with mostly electrics and a small % of fossil-burners.

      (b) Battery-swapping. A car with a near-dead battery will return to fleet HQ and swap it out for a fresh one, then immediately get back on the road. Again economies of scale will allow the fleet operator to have the most efficient ratio of cars to extra batteries, and battery-swapping robots, allowing cost savings over individual ownership.

      (c) Grid power is cheaper than liquid fossil fuels. This is not as much a consideration with airplanes, since people are willing to pay extra to fly long distances in a hurry, once in a while. But it's not in the budget to fly every day for commuting, grocery runs, and dropping the kids off at school and soccer practice.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 10:14:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Electric airplanes are in the works (7+ / 0-)

        Cessna has flown an experimental version of the 172 with electric power.

        As the price of Avgas goes up and battery technology improves electric power may be competitive for light aircraft.

        Greater reliability and lower maintenance would be big advantages. That would take the very expensive 3000 hour TBO out of the equation.

        An electric motor would produce the same output at all altitudes, versus a gasoline engine that loses horsepower at higher altitudes.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 10:23:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  oddly enough, none of those solutions are new (4+ / 0-)

        All of them existed with the original electric vehicles back in 1900.

        (a) self-driving fleets of short-trip vehicles.  We call those "trolleys". At the turn of the century, every city had its fleet of electric trolleys, before they were replaced by internal-combustion buses.

        (b) battery-swapping. As I mentioned in my other comment, this was common in 1900, mostly because so many homes back then were not even wired for electricity and could not charge their batteries at home.

        (c) grid-powered vehicles.  That would be those "trolleys" again. They ran right off the plain ole ordinary municipal electric grid.

        There's nothing new under the sun.  ;)

        Had Henry Ford's economic breakthrough economically-viable car been electric instead of gasoline, all of these things would have been expanded way back then, and we would not have needed to wait until now to do it.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 10:37:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Trolleys (6+ / 0-)

          a consortium led by G.M, B.F. Goodrich, and the oil companies purchased about 100 trolley systems and shut them down so that they could be replaced with GM buses. This led to the demise of public transportation in  many cities. The consortium was found guilty of violating a number of laws and fined an insignificant amount.

          •  This is exactly what happened to a lot of the .. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest

            ....British canal system. Canal companies were bought up by railway companies, who transfered the canal's profitable freight business to themselves - and then shut them down (see diary)

            http://www.dailykos.com/...

            Today, however, canals are making a comeback in the UK, not just as a leisure source, but as a 'low energy use' method of transport for items which a) are not 'JIT' critical b) are fragile or easily disturbed by the heavy vibration of road or rail transport, e.g. bottled wine (see OTHER diary!)

            http://www.dailykos.com/...

            'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

            by shortfinals on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:02:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  We also had interurban rail (6+ / 0-)

          Ohio had an extensive network of interurbans.

          They were like an electric trolley car on steroids that ran between cities.

          There are places in Ohio where you can see some of the old tunnels.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:28:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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