Paul Crowe, over at the Kneeslider, addresses one of my personal hobby horses: electric motorcycles, and makes a key point.
The engineering expertise available today made short work of the obvious, designs began to make the bikes look good, powerful electric motors were built, the suspension is just adapted from standard models, nothing unusual there, it’s those pesky batteries. We need a small, light, fast charging, long lasting battery with big capacity. That, definitely, is not one of those easy parts, that’s a real head scratcher and, though there is a huge reward waiting for anyone who can design one, we’re just not there yet, which, itself, tells us a lot. Anyone who takes a cursory look at electric vehicles quickly sees the potential and monetary windfall waiting and still, no battery that takes the performance leap has been developed.
That last phrase is the key point. No matter how much we might want or need electric vehicles–or some other zero-emissions technology–it will not magically appear simply because we want it…or because politicians mandate it by fiat.
Back in the 90’s, when I was hosting The Business Day on KMNY in Los Angeles, the state of California approved a mandate that required something like 40% of all vehicles be zero-emissions by 2006. I spent an entire week talking to the big electric and alternate fuels execs at GM, Chrysler and Ford, and they all told me the same thing. The technology to make electric vehicles with range and performance similar to internal combustion engined vehicles does not exist.
It didn’t exist in 1995. It doesn’t exist today. And despite the Olympian pronouncements of politicians in Sacramento, the zero-emissions mandate was superseded by that reality. And even if you get the range and power, there’s still the inconvenient 8-hour wait for the battery to recharge.
Somewhere, there’s a breakthrough in zero-emissions technology waiting to be found. Until it is, though, all this electric motorcycle stuff is pure, feelgood, hype