Electric Car Patriots

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted November 29, 2010

It was a short drive to my in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving this year. Roundtrip, we logged about 68 miles — not bad, considering the distances some travel every year to break bread with family and friends.

And at 50 miles per gallon in our Prius, we burned through about $3 worth of gas… Much better than my cousin, who traveled about the same distance, but drives a Honda Accord, which he tells me gets about 30 miles per gallon.

Of course, next year, my 50 mpg will pale in comparison to those who pre-ordered their Nissan LEAFs this year.

The LEAF, as many of you now know, has just been given an EPA rating of 99 miles per gallon.

Granted, this is an all-electric car, so some fine-tuning was necessary in order to come up with a proper rating.

Essentially, the EPA’s calculation is based on a formula of 33.7 kilowatt hours being equivalent to one gallon of gasoline energy. And after the completion of five-cycle testing, the EPA rated the vehicle with an MPG equivalent (MPGe) of 106 city/92 highway, for a combined 99 MPGe.

Now, I’m not going to get into a big debate over the particulars of these calculations. Because the truth is, these calculations will always vary…

For instance, someone lead-footing a LEAF up a series of hills and mountains with the air condition blasting is not going to get the same results as someone maintaining a slower speed on flat surfaces without a constant blast of arctic air shooting out of the vents.

It’s really no different from what happens with a conventional vehicle. Certainly you’ve seen what mountain driving and maxed-out air condition can do to your fuel economy.

Nonetheless, I suspect we’ll get a better idea of what the “average” miles per gallon equivalent will be after we have 20,000 new LEAF drivers reporting their results next year.

But in the meantime, don’t expect electric vehicle critics to turn it down a notch.

A patriotic endeavor

Last week, Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves and blasted Motor Trend magazine for naming the new Chevy Volt as its “Car of the Year.”

The over-the-top political commentator fired off:

Folks, of all the cars, no offense, General Motors, please, but of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold.

For the sake of clarification, not one has been sold because it’s not on sale yet!

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not here to bash Limbaugh. I get it. He’s got a good thing going. His rants and diatribes put the asses in the seats. That brings ratings, and ratings equal big bucks.

I just wish this guy — and most of those who follow him like lost sheep begging for validation — would stop equating electric cars to a left-wing agenda.

We all talk a good game about wanting to end our reliance on Middle East oil. But what are we really doing about it? Slapping a Gadsden flag bumper sticker on your car doesn’t slow the flow…

But electric cars — these represent a very important tool in our tool shed; something that can help us end our reliance on Middle East oil.

My friends, supporting the development of electric vehicles is a patriotic endeavor. And there’s nothing I like better than participating in a patriotic endeavor!

Rhetoric rallies the masses

Over the past few years, electric cars have gone from being labeled as nothing more than glorified golf carts to award-winning technological breakthroughs.

Tesla’s all-electric Roadster dominated the news for months after showing off its 245-mile all-electric range and enough torque to take you from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

Nissan and GM ran the rounds this year, showing off their electric and plug-in hybrid electric offerings. As you know, Nissan actually stopped taking pre-orders in September after 20,000 consumers reserved their all-electric LEAF. And just a couple of weeks ago, GE announced that it would be purchasing 12,000 Chevy Volts in 2011.

Ford’s all-electric Focus is set to go on sale next year, and Toyota’s electric RAV4 will hit showrooms in 2012.

At this point, pretty much every major auto manufacturer has an electric vehicle in the works. And this is on top of the dozens of new fuel-efficient hybrids that’ll be flooding the market over the next three to five years.

In fact Toyota claims it will have a full 20 hybrid models in its global vehicle portfolio by 2012…

The way I see it, every electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or conventional hybrid vehicle on the road is one more vehicle that lessens our dependence on foreign oil. And that’s a good thing — no matter your politics.

Sure, bashing electric cars will get you big ratings on certain conservative talk shows, just as bashing tax cuts will do the same on certain liberal talk shows. Both are great for keeping the couch potato zombies hypnotized long enough to help generate some serious advertising revenue.

But both also do a great job facilitating our ride on this downward spiral into a second-rate nation.

It’s all empty rhetoric and should not dissuade us from doing what’s in the best interest of our country — especially these days, when we have a lot of very tough decisions to make.

As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.”

From Obama to Boehner and Limbaugh to Maddow, rhetoric continues to rally the masses. But only action will enable the change we need to get back on track.

We must do everything in our power to responsibly end our reliance on Middle East oil. It can’t happen overnight; but if we use that as an excuse, it’ll never happen at all.

And if we’re not willing to start now, when will we be?

The clock is ticking, and there’s just no more time to entertain the selfish interests of media blowhards and bureaucratic buffoons.

To a new way of life, and a new generation of wealth…

Editor, Energy and Capital

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