ExxonMobil Executive Perspective: If I ignore electric cars will they go away?
In an article that tries to point out some pros and cons of gasoline and electrical energy as sources of power for a car, Ken Cohen uses some very subtle words and begging-the-question to overstate the benefits of gasoline.
My favorite paragraph is this:
For example, contrast the 300 to 400 miles that a gasoline vehicle can take you with what it would take to do the same in an electric vehicle. Electric vehicle batteries have just a fraction of the energy density of gasoline, meaning they would have to be charged multiple times during a 400-mile trip. There’s currently no major infrastructure for charging electric vehicles on the road, and it can take hours for an electric vehicle battery to charge.
Earlier in the post he mentions this 300-400 mile scenario to set an anchor that it's a reasonable thing for a vehicle to need to do that. It's actually not a particularly reasonable thing for a car to need to go 300 miles in between charges. Most people drive less than 100 miles per day and then park their car overnight where it sits motionless for 12 hours. So, when comparing two modes of powering cars it is a false "initial point" (begging-the-question) to use 300 miles between refuel as a metric.
However! Let's say that you really needed to drive 300 to 400 miles between refueling your car. Current production modules of the Tesla, which are on sale today, have a range of 265 miles. While not quite 300 miles it is quite close and it's totally possible that Tesla could tweak the design a bit (remove the 17 inch flat panel control, for example, increase battery size) to get a 300 or even 400 mile range if someone truly needed that.
He then points out that there is no major infrastructure for charging cars. Again, I think you have to ask if that the word "major" is an important qualifier and that a traditional definition of "no commercial refueling stations available at highway rest-stops" as a false initial point for most people's purposes. Most drivers can simply plug in their car overnight to refuel it. They don't need major infrastructure. However, most electric cars can be plugged into a traditional outlet. If you need to drive 200 miles to a building or someone's house you can bring an extension cord in the trunk and you have access to the elctrical grid (some might call that major infrastructure) where you can recharge your car.
I maintain that at this point the most environmentally sound car is a first generation Scion XB - great gas mileage, no pollution from battery factories, and a price point half electric cars that lets you invest the other half of the money in a project that has a greater environmental return on investment (i.e. improving gas mileage by 50% is not a good investment of $15k).