Considered musings and random commentary.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Self-driving cars? No thanks...
On the 6th, GM announced that we could have "Self-driving cars" within 10 years -- If we're lucky.

OK, what's wrong with this picture? (Skip the old sci-fi plot of humans being fined for driving themselves instead of letting the safer computer drive it) Instead of getting a self-driving car, why don't they give us a good plug-in electric car?

I am not a conspiracy buff, but I will dip my toes in the water: How many industries suffer if GM (or any other major car manufacturer) turns out a worthy electric car?

Automakers? "No," you say, "they'll sell more cars." -- but they'll lose a bazillion bux in the plants, equipment, training, inventory, etc. that they already have invested. Of course, they would get the love and respect of every eco-minded (or cheap... that's where I come in) human in the US. Other manufacturers would hate them, and their product would quickly be eclipsed by cheap foreign products (which Americans would buy, cutting their own throats in the bargain).

Unions. How many $ would be lost during re-tooling, re-training? Do you think that the automobile manufacturers would pass up the opportunity to shrug off a bloated parasite? I know that the American consumer wouldn't hesitate to shrug off Detroit, so I'm sure that Detroit would gladly do the same to the current workforce.

Part manufacturers. Not that there are many AMERICAN manufacturers left -- or more precisely, Not that there are many American companies that sell auto parts -- even tho' they're selling cheap Chinese crap. Did I say cheap, I meant "bought for nothing (figuratively) and marked up disgracefully." I'm all for making a buck, but if your product costs you 3 cents to buy, and you sell it at $2.50, when does "high" become "obscene"? Damn, I sound like some liberal, union-puke.

Parts distributors.

Fuel manufacturers (Exxon, BP, etc.).

Fuel distributors (Sheetz, East Coast, 7/11, etc..)

Marketers (Stop in for that coffee, donut, hot dog, newspaper, etc.)

Why all those? The electric cars that the leading manufacturers test-marketed were just a little too dependable... Needing less of everything is bad for the (stock) market, eh?

That gallon of gas you bought for $2.92 would buy you 35 kWH of spark if you did a one-off comparison. If you live within 25 miles of work, your two gallons of gas per day would net 70 kWH...

Now, it's been a while since engineering school, so my numbers might be fuzzy... 11 Hp to push the old bucket at 55 mph, less any lights, a/c, 200 W of stereo mp3s, etc. (actually, figures show 65 mph for the 11 hp, and 55 mph for about 7 hp, but you get the picture). So, 11 hp is about 8.2 kW, or... if my calculations don't totally choke, about 67 cents for that hour's cruising.

Wait, that can't be right, can it? 25 miles to work, 25 mpg, 1 gallon of gas each way, or $5.84 a day in gas. At 55 mph, it takes 11 hp, so that's 8.2 kW. It takes 30 minutes each way, or 1 hr total drive time (ignoring traffic). That's 8.2 kWH at 8.2 cents per kWH for a total of 67 cents.

Granted, this is all just guess and golly, but even if I'm off by a factor of 2... which would you rather pay... $117 / month in gas or $27 / month in electricity?

Next, I'll play some games with charging rates (times) and long distance travel.

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