Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thoughts on Electric Cars

A power company in Missouri will be installing close to 100 vehicle power-up plugs in Northwest Missouri and the Kansas City area. “That’s nice,” was my thought. “Now, if I had an electric car, my home charge would (probably) get me to Kansas City, and that charge would get me close to St Louis. But there’s still a long distance between St Louis and Florida. I wonder if any other power companies will do the same? St Louis? Paducah? Nashville? And so on? And how far out of my way would I need to go for one of these power-ups?”
As an author, I’m an ideas person. I have to be. I have to come up with ideas about characters, plot, scenes, everything. When I write science fiction, I don’t know exactly how thing works, I just have to be convincing.
Why has everybody been designing electric cars that are good for running around your home town, but not for traveling? I like to travel. If I could do both in an electric car, I would be scrounging up pennies to get one. Instead, I had to opt for a car that got decent gas mileage on the hiway.
I keep hearing about ‘tweaks’ some car company has made - like when you apply the brakes, a slight charge is trickled back into your battery.
Why stop there?
Here’s some ideas I wish SOMEbody would incorporate into an electric car. 
1. Solar panels. They’re being put everywhere else, why not on the car’s roof, trunk lid, hood... even the fenders, doors, sides and bumpers! They don’t have to be big and clunky; they can be small and flexible. (I’m not in favor of alternating colors into a checkerboard, but maybe that’s just me.) Trickle that power into a spare or already-discharged battery, and you’ll get further before you have to pause and charge up all the batteries.
2. Wind power. Windmills are good enough to put in the fields, why not put some tiny ones on the car? A few unobtrusive intake slots, and again, you’ve got some electricity to trickle into the batteries. Just moving down the street, a vehicle has air sliding past it, why not use it?
3. Human power. For those times when the sun isn’t out, or you find yourself way out in the middle of nowhere with dead batteries, this would be your backup. Open up a panel - perhaps in the dash in front of the passenger seat - and out pops cycle pedals. If you could change the position of the pedals, you could either use your legs or your arms. Just pedal away to charge your batteries so you can get further down the road.
I actually use these ideas in some stories set in the not-too-distant future.

Okay, talk to me. What improvement would you like made to today’s electric cars?

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