Saturday, October 9, 2010

Are electric cars really better for the environment?

Interesting article from here

Popular mechanics likes them

We have a chicken-and-the-egg problem

Should EV's be subsidized?
How about pushing fuel economy via command-and-control?

Read one viewpoint here, and the other here.
(Warning: strong opinions and normative content in the articles)

What do you think?

There's a much deeper issue underlying all of this: Can individuals (and nations) on the lower end of the income spectrum afford to be green? Are higher income individuals (and nations) who most certainly create more pollution in some way obligated to do more abatement?


Justin Castrati said...

I truly believe that this argument is the definition between conservatives and liberals in recent history. During Bush Jr.'s presidency the conservatives with Bush's help pushed tax breaks for the upper class and businesses while democrats strongly voiced thier opposition. And now with this contraversy concerning electric cars the roles have flipped due to a dominant democratic party. Conservatives are strongly opposing the subsidies for electric cars while democrats have pushed for these subsidies and subsidies like this for a long time. But politics aside, I tend to agree with the proponents of these subsidies. It is true that right now with these subsidies (with the leaf as the exception) these subsidies are meerely making these cars affordable to the wealthy. But if that is your main argument then I don't believe that you have looked far enough into the future. If we can continue these subsidies (as stated in the proponents article) we can eventually make these cars affordable to the general public by slowly lowering the cost of the expensive batteries. The higher investment in these components means an eventual higher supply which will in turn drop the price. As for the argument that this money could be going to better things, I believe the only way to agree with that would be to also agree that the market is more important than the value of clean air or the intrinsic value of knowing that your doing something for the environment with your tax dollars. And while some may agree that the market or economy is more imoportant, I believe that when faced with that question, a majority would accept the cost of that intrinsic value.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my economic ignorance but could it be that the car companies are for the moment considering their Production Possibility Curves and the high opportunity costs of delving full into the electric car market. The more electric cars they produce, the more resource will have to be taken away from producing gas cars which is their secure market. They could also be monitoring the market to see those barriers to adoption by consumers (other than price) from unfamiliarity with the product to being scared of running out of juice far away from a socket. It could therefore be that the car industry is being reactive, waiting until demand increases before shifting their production inputs to this new product.

David Gill