Simon Rockman over elektrische (sport)wagens

Beklaagt webspotter Pietel zich over een gebrek aan vinnige ecowagens, dan zijn de commentatoren er als de kippen bij om de Tesla Roadster te becomplimenteren – de eerste volelektrische wagen die zelfs octaanliefhebbers betaamt. Maar is dat wel zo’n geloofwaardige piste? En is de Tesla effectief de eerste van vele sportwagens met nulemissie die er de komende jaren aan zitten te komen? Absoluut niet volgens Simon Rockman, de nobele onbekende die misschien wel de sterkste column uit de recente autojournalistiek neerpende:

There is a lot of buzz about electric cars. Greens and Petrolheads have finally found common ground, and all those people who are painfully afflicted by fashion now have a way to conform and to enjoy fast cars. The excitement is welling up for The Next Big Thing. Boy are some people about to be disappointed.

One of the lines you often hear trotted out is, ‘The batteries are not quite there yet, but technology will fix the problem.’ We fall for this because we are used to computers getting twice as fast every 18 months. The same is not true of chemistry. Batteries only get better by about 10 per cent a year. Halving the weight of batteries needed for a sensible mileage and performance in a saloon car – about a tonne today – will take more than seven years, not one. […]

It is also excpected that increases in the volume of electric cars made will bring the price down. That may be true for transmissions and motors, but again not for batteries. There is a world cobalt shortage, a key component of lithium ion batteries. Excpect them to get more expensive, not less so.

Unfortunately those who understand batteries are ususally trying to sell them. They tend to gloss over. When Tesla says it takes ‘three hours to charge’ their car, they mean 90 per cent, which they call ‘full’ because the other 10 per cent will take another three hours. They also mean at 80 Amps at 110v. No house has an 80 Amp supply. Using a traditional 13 Amp plug at 220v it will take over nine hours. You could put in a separate ring for charging the car at home but the idea of being able to ‘just plug in with an extension lead’ if you are out and run flat isn’t realistic. Not least because batterie don’t like being constantly topped up. […]

The electric car the world is building, is the wrong kind of car. […] The near silence and linear power delivery are curious and spooky. Think back to your first taste of sushi: not unpleasant but very different to what you are used to. The right kind of car for this power delivery, high weight penalty and lack of noise is a big saloon, or maybe an off-roader. Indeed the South-African army has experimented with electric tanks (charged on-board with a gas turbine), the idea being reduced noise and heat signature near to the enemy. Those three-tonne tanks can outrun a Golf GTI on level ground.

I’m not saying that electric cars are not exciting. They are, but we are just at the very beginning of a new way of looking at powering cars and we are decades from maturity. Unfortunately by the time the cars are ready the buzz will have died down.

Blijft alleen de vraag welke vinnige ecomobiel Pietel dan wel moet hebben…