Thursday | May 31, 2012

America's love affair with the automobile has like many relationships come with some tradeoffs. For the past 100 years drivers of conventionally fueled Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) automobiles have been comfortable with the idea of hauling around a couple of hundred sticks of dynamite in the trunk of their cars. Like having a significant-other that is perfect in every way except they smoke cigarettes or have a tendency to explode over the littlest things, we have comfortably settled into a codependency with ICEs that statistically catch fire on U.S. roads every 186 seconds.
Chinese fireworks give hope

Now with tens of thousands of US made Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the road and that number soon to grow exponentially, it's about time they catch up with gasoline fueled vehicles. In order to even approach the flammability of petroleum the electric car movement will have to step up their “burst factor” by ten or more or they will never be accepted as a viable transportation alternative. Now a recent horrific crash into a Chinese made EV shows that with a sufficiently high speed rear-ending that combustion is eventually possible.

Flame anxiety

An unnamed source at one electric car maker expressed concern by saying, "We know this is a perception problem we have and we hope thatnew car buyers will find that our smooth ride and unmatched acceleration to be enough to sway them to our more “unflammable” [sic] cars. To date we have been unable to meet the 31 fires per hour bar set by ICE cars and their combustible liquid fuel. We are working with the NHTA to come up with at stop-gap solution by presenting our pathetically low fire numbers in a new numeric format to give ICE drivers the feeling that our EV can seemingly match the fire prone statistics they are used to.”

The American hope?

Industry watchers thought that GM’s new Chevy Volt would be a contender when a recent NTSHA test car burned after a rollover but it was finally revealed the Volt event was a disappointing three weeks later. Not even close to what fire extinguisher carrying freeway Americans are used to. A recent Fisker Karma fire also looked promising but ICE makers are quick to point out that both the Volt and Karma are not true EVs since the both carry gasoline and ICE generators in them and therefore don’t count.

Man on the street

EVs clearly have some catching up to do if they want to be the new flame of ICE drivers in the US of A. As one driver in LA put it, “I won’t be buying an Electric car until I start hearing about them on the radio traffic reports. What’s a morning commute without a good ol’ American car-b-que?”

Opinion pieces denote the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of EV World.