Forget The Planet: Electric Cars Are Energy Security, Lobbying Group Says

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'Oil Barrels, 2008' (detail) by Chris Jordan

'Oil Barrels, 2008' (detail) by Chris Jordan

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Fresh off our piece yesterday looking at different motivations for buying plug-in cars comes more proof that it's not just early adopters and uber-greens who think driving electric makes sense.

Industry trade journal Automotive News (behind a paywall, unfortunately for our readers) has published a feature-length profile of Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE).

It describes the lobbying group as "little known outside the Beltway" (the ring road around Washington, D.C.) but "highly influential" in D.C. political circles.

Among other credentials, the group helped found the Electrification Coalition, a group of business leaders advocating for electric cars and associated infrastructure. It also advocated for the highest possible 62-mpg alternative for 2017-2025 fuel economy rules.

SAFE's mission is three-fold: Increase domestic oil drilling; conserve oil, especially in vehicles (which consume 70 percent of the U.S. total); and convert the United States to an "electric transportation infrastructure."

And how do electric cars increase the country's energy security?

Not only does it take less overall energy to drive a mile on grid power than it does on gasoline, but electricity can be made in many different ways--or what the industry calls "multiple pathways."

Much U.S. electricity comes from coal, true, but it also comes from other sources, including natural gas, hydropower from dams, cogeneration, solar, and wind.

"Electricity is the best alternative to petroleum," SAFE's retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence, told Automotive News.

And the distribution infrastructure is already mostly in place, unlike both ethanol and hydrogen (which have other challenges as well). It's why we suggested that the two fuels of the future are gasoline and electricity.

So perhaps energy security is the hidden "aha" moment for potential electric car buyers?

According to the article, when GM surveyed buyers of its 2011 Chevrolet Volt electric car, it found that "reducing dependence on foreign oil" was the number-one reason for purchase--above even the environmental benefits.

And that's what you might call a win-win scenario for the future of electric cars.

[Automotive News (subscription required)]


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Comments (8)
  1. as i have stated several times in the past, the "electric" age will be like the manufacturing age and the information age that preceded it.

  2. There is a full-fledged argument in the scientific community over
    global warming, despite Al Gore's attempt to stifle dissenting opinions (and there are many and very persuasive ones at that)
    but everyone can agree on what I always looked at as one of the big advantages of EVs, aside from their more efficient and reliable nature - their ability to avoid oil. Now is the question
    of whether Laser Power systems can make good on its promise of
    a Thorium based generation power plant within two years, which would essentially eliminate any need for batteries, or refueling.
    With the high cost of batteries (Tesla's Model S 300 mile pack
    runs around $40K, retail) I'm waiting for Thorium to succeed or fail.

  3. For those of us alive in 1974, we should all remember the impact of energy insecurity. For those of you not alive at that time, it means foreign governments can shut off the supply of oil any time that we do something they don't like. The result, in a word, "rationing." This is something most Americans can't even begin to contemplate as they drive their "must-have" trucks and SUVs and luxury sedans to work.

    That is why I drive a Prius, and why I want an EV.

  4. The polls have demonstrated for several years now that interest in hybrid and EVs is predominantly about energy independence, not CO2.

    Still, EVs are a relatively poor solution to energy independence if the priority is timeliness. Even if 1 million EVs were sold in the US every year starting today, it would have a very minimal impact on foreign oil dependence. Yet, it could easily be a decade or more before such sales are achievable.

    To attack the legacy effect of hundreds of millions of vehicles already on US roads, you need new car sales to be dominated by EVs for several years. That's not going to happen, possibly for at least two decades or more.

    No doubt plug-ins are a worthy goal, but much more needs to be done today.

  5. i say 10 years or less.

  6. Well, it has to start somewhere I suppose but I agree it does seem all a bit little and a bit late. I think biofuels are far easier to scale up if short term energy independency is the goal. It's weird that the carindustry is resisting this hand and foot (the E85 lawsuits). Airliners seem more interested in it than then the car industry with regular reports of test flights.

  7. Biofuels and ethanol aer not scaleable, and more importantly are not an efficient use of biomass. Studies have shown what should be rather obvious, you get more miles from biomass if you simply burn it in a generating plant to charge EV's than if you go through all the steps involved in turning it into a liquid fuel for inefficient ICE vehicles.

  8. Couldn't agree more with the article.

Commenting is closed for old articles.

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