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Two Stories on Electric Cars

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RUSH: I have here two stories on electric cars. If you are an electric car proponent, I just want to warn: You're not gonna enjoy this. You're not. These are news stories in the Washington Post. We have a news story at the American Spectator. The Washington Post story, the guy speculates. There were people stuck in the snow for six hours in their internal combustion cars. They ran outta gasoline in that big blizzard. This guy started calculating: What woulda happened had he been in an electric car? He mighta died, might have suffered freezing.

He said the battery time in cold weather (we all know this) just plummets. It's interesting. To me, if you want an electric car, that's fine. You know, I'm for freedom. If you've been sold on 'em and you think it's great, great. That's just wonderful. Manufacturers are gonna pay you to drive one. The government's gonna pay you to drive one. Have at it, if that's what you want. But if you think that you're going to be helping the environment, if you think that you are going to be cleaning up the environment, if you think that you're gonna have a major impact on the climate and global warming, you are being duped big time.

Big.

And what it illustrates, both of these stories illustrate that this is simply a bunch of leftists at the top of this regime trying to force things on you based on their (and we'll be charitable here) totally ignorant, mistaken belief about the whole concept of green energy. See, the thing is, ladies and gentlemen, markets work. They do. It really is no more complicated than that. If there were something better than the internal combustion engine, it would be there. If there was something better, more economical, cleaner, it would be there. It's not. Markets work; attempts to manipulate them do not. You know, if you listened at any time last week, you know that one of the things that -- I don't know -- grates on me, concerns me is the relative ease with which people in this country are manipulated by political agendas disguised as good works.

I guess it has always been the case, and I guess it's always going to be the case that a majority of people are just sheep. But I still cringe at the notion. I can understand the notion of sheep in a totalitarian country, but I don't -- I can't -- accept easily the notion of sheep in a free country, and since I love this country and want the best for it and want the best of people and for people who live here, being sheep is not the way to get there. Here. It's a story about wind farms. When you need most, they don't work. When it gets cold, they shut down. They just don't work. None of what the left pushes works. Despite $2 billion in stimulus funds spent on wind power, there aren't any jobs. This is a story from a year ago that I'm going to couple with something that just happened last week.

RUSH: "Cold Truths About Electric Cars' Cold-Weather Shortcomings." I know you thought that I was just stringing you along, right? You thought, "He said he was gonna mention this, and he's not. He's still talking about Egypt." Nah, we're there now. This is by Charles Lane in the Washington Post. Now, I want to recall for you, ladies and gentlemen, I, your host, the lovable, harmless little fuzzball, El Rushbo, was pummeled for daring to be critical of the Chevy Volt. Remember? Even a friend of mine at Obama Motors got on board with the criticism of me saying I didn't know what I was talking about. Well, we have a critique now of the Chevy Volt, all electric cars, in the Washington Post. It's pretty brutal, warning potential buyers that driving an electric car in the cold and snow may not be a good move. You might not be able to move because cold weather wreaks havoc on batteries.

Here's a pull quote: "This subsidized market niche is just one well-publicized malfunction away from disaster. Perhaps a Volt battery will overheat and burst into flames, as some computer batteries have been known to do. Or maybe a Leaf driver will suffer frostbite while stuck in the next blizzard. Let's just hope one of his neighbors pulls over to help him out."

This by Charles Lane: "Count me among the many thousands of Washington area residents who spent Wednesday night stuck in traffic as a snowstorm sowed chaos all around us. Being car-bound in sub-freezing weather for six hours can make a guy think. I counted my blessings. The situation could have been worse, I realized: My fellow commuters and I could have been trying to make it home in electric cars, like the ones President Obama is constantly promoting, most recently in his State of the Union address. It is a basic fact of physical science that batteries run down more quickly in cold weather than they do in warm weather, and the batteries employed by vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt are no exception. The exact loss of power these cars would suffer is a matter of debate, partly because no one has much real-world experience to draw on. But there would be some loss. Running the heater to stay warm, or the car radio to stay informed, would drain the battery further." Bet you never thought of that, did you? How many of you ever calculate how much your gasoline mileage is worsened by using the radio? It's not. Nor the heater. AC is a different matter, but the heater, it doesn't affect it.

"Here's how thecarelectric.com, a pro-electric Web site, candidly summarized the matter: 'All batteries deliver their power via a chemical reaction inside the battery that releases electrons. When the temperature drops the chemical reactions happen more slowly and the battery cannot produce the same current that it can at room temperature. A change of ten degrees can sap 50% of a battery's output. In some situations the chemical reactions will happen so slowly and give so little power that the battery will appear to be dead when in fact if it is warmed up it will go right back to normal output.'" You know, I myself, ladies and gentlemen, know this from actual real-world experience. When I was a young child, single digit age, visiting my maternal grandparents in the boot heal Missouri city of Kennett, where mom grew up, I had some batteries in some kind of a transistor radio and they were dead. My grandfather said, "Here, just put 'em on top of the radiator for about five minutes." I said, "Won't they blow up?" "No, no, it will just recharge 'em and you'll get another ten minutes out of 'em."

Now, these were not rechargeable batteries, these were long before that. So I just put the batteries on top of the radiator for ten minutes -- it was wintertime -- popped 'em in the radio, bam. He was right. For ten minutes they worked. It wasn't much, ten minutes, but it proved the theory. "In a car where all power is supplied by a battery pack you can see where this would be a problem. The batteries don't produce as much power so the car has less power. The batteries also have to work harder so the effective range of the car is also significantly reduced. Charge time will also be longer. Cold has a negative impact on all aspects of battery operation." How many of you have a heated garage? Well, if you don't, all it's pointing out here is that charging your new electric car is gonna take a much longer time in the winter than it will in the summertime, unless your garage is heated. These are things people have not thought about. They also haven't thought about how much coal it's gonna take. But that's another matter.

"Alongside the negative impact on the batteries, cold also has a negative impact on the driver as well. Drivers need to be warm to operate the vehicle effectively so on top of the reduced range and power of the batteries just from the temperature they also must operate the car heater to keep you warm. This will further reduce the range of the car," because the battery is powering it, not an internal combustion engine. I know what you're saying folks, I know, and I hope you're saying it, I hope you're walking right into the trap. "But, Rush, but, Rush, the Volt has a gasoline powered engine." Right, I know. Why does it have one? Do I need to answer the question? (interruption) I don't know if the Leaf does. I don't want to harp on the Volt. The electric car as a genre, why does it need an internal combustion engine, gasoline powered engine? Remember, the average is 40 miles to a charge, but that depends on all kinds of things. What if you end up in cold weather, you get 20 miles to a charge, you haven't even gotten to work, maybe, certainly not home from work after getting there. Then you learn that the backup delivers 300 miles versus 40 on your primary engine. I mean, why is it there? You realize you're paying twice for the electric version of the same car with an internal combustion engine. (interruption) Well, yeah, if it's hot you gotta run the air conditioner and that's all gonna come off the battery. Markets work. Internal combustion engine provides electricity. A thing called an alternator in there.

"'If you live in an area where the winters get extremely cold an all-electric vehicle will have to be garaged and equipped with some kind of plug-in battery warmer for it to be effective in the coldest months of the year. Keep these thoughts in mind if you're planning an electric car purchase; we don't want you finding out the range of your car has been halved when it's five below zero and you're fifteen miles from home.' To be sure, gas-powered cars are hardly invulnerable. Plenty of motorists ran out of fuel in Wednesday night's mega-jam. But my hunch is that electrics would face similar problems or worse. And many electric-car drivers who did manage to limp home Wednesday would have been out of options the next day: You can't recharge if you don't have electricity, and hundreds of thousands of customers were blacked out Thursday from the snow. The Post reports that this will be the case for many of them for days." So even if you did get home you weren't able to recharge.

"General Motors has tested the Volt's battery in cold conditions and says it includes a margin of reserve power for such weather. Indeed, the Volt comes equipped with a backup internal combustion engine, so you need never fear, as long as the tank is full of premium gas (the only kind a Volt can use). Of course, burning gas rather defeats the 'green' purpose of the $41,000 (before federal tax rebate) four-seat car. But at least you won't die of exposure on the road. As for the Leaf, which touts a 100-mile range under optimum conditions, i.e., mild weather and no big hills --" So big hills are gonna deplete your battery. "Now, if the cars were cheaper than gas-powered cars of equal performance, these cold-weather risks might be acceptable. But electrics are substantially more expensive than cars of greater capability - and will be for years to come. Frankly, I don't know why anyone would consider buying one -- especially if he or she lives north of the Mason-Dixon Line." Charles Lane in the Washington Post. He had a job as of Friday, the 28th, when this was published.

American Spectator, Doug Bandow: "Electric Cars: Paying More for Less Performance -- The big-spending Michigan brothers Rep. Sander M. Levin and Sen. Carl. M. Levin want to increase subsidies for uneconomic electric cars. They would double existing tax incentives, costing a couple billion dollars a year. Even today that's still a lot of money. ... Unfortunately, as is typical when people spend other people's money to "invest" in their preferred inventions, politicians have come up with a product which no one wants to buy unless paid to do so. The most obvious short-coming with electric cars, other than their high cost, is their limited range. Winter exacerbates this problem. Which means that, unless global warming really accelerates, anyone living anywhere that temperatures drop below the temperate risks getting stuck with a dead battery. The latest debilitating snowstorm in Washington, D.C. caused..." and this guy then starts quoting the Charles Lane story that I just shared with you.

What's the point? The point is there are a lot of sheep out there that think buying the electric car can save the planet. It's gonna be a fashion accessory. Driving around in one of these things says I'm better than you, I care more than you do. It just illustrates the absolute idiocy of liberals and how terribly drastically dreadfully wrong they are about things. It's not an improvement, and it will not save anything, including maybe you, if you happen to be in one at the wrong time.

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