Electric cars not good for the environment after all
July 31, 2002 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Electric cars not good for the environment after all (well, not the immediate environment surrounding them)? Thanks to a glitch in the electrical system of a charging Chrysler Gem, supermodel Veronica Webb's home burnt down, taking her dog and almost her husband with it.
posted by mathowie (24 comments total)
That horrible woman is a supermodel? And what an inappropriate photo to put right next to the paragraph about her dog dying.
posted by interrobang at 3:45 PM on July 31, 2002

The London police could at least have responded to the emergency in kind. (Hercules, r.i.p.)
posted by liam at 3:46 PM on July 31, 2002

Oh good lord. This is no more an indication that all electric cars are dangerous than a Yugo exploding is an indication that all fuel-consuming cars are dangerous.

But hey..
posted by xmutex at 3:46 PM on July 31, 2002

Hello, xmutex? Did you read the article?

"'They said they see this kind of thing with electric cars all the time,' she says. 'Electric cars and golf carts are always overloading their chargers and burning up, but no one knows about it.'"

See? They said so! It must be true.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:08 PM on July 31, 2002

boo-hoo, i don't want my car to turn into a fire-spewing-death-machine. sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the environment people.
posted by rhyax at 5:02 PM on July 31, 2002

Well, if what Veronica Webb says about the batteries is true, it sounds like there's also a glitch in the owner's manual. Then again, it's not like we actually read them now, is it?

Oh, Hercules, Hercules!
posted by fredosan at 5:18 PM on July 31, 2002

Gasoline-fueled cars catch on fire all the time, and almost always when there are people in them!

In this case, I would tend to place the blame on the lack of smoke detectors in the house, but it's much more fun to laugh at the stupid tree-huggers....
posted by electro at 6:01 PM on July 31, 2002

but it's much more fun to laugh at the stupid tree-huggers....

Yeah, you're right. **Points, laughs.**
posted by insomnyuk at 6:03 PM on July 31, 2002

One of my co-workers is a volunteer firefighter and they just had a training session on hybrid car rescues. He said it scared them all silly. There are high-voltage cables routed through areas which a rescuer may need to cut through to extricate a vehicle occupant, there are dangers of alkaline leaks, and access to the front and rear battery compartments are in the car's "crumple zones." Yikes! Just something else to think about before you buy one.
posted by eptitude at 6:25 PM on July 31, 2002

Sure, there are downsides, but think of all the street cred you'll pick up when you blow the doors off that old lady driving that zoomy-cart on the sidewalk.
posted by Optamystic at 6:35 PM on July 31, 2002

I think Veronica should've held out for one of the single-seater Q-Car versions from CQ Motors due out in September (J-links with bits of English here and there).
posted by Bixby23 at 6:41 PM on July 31, 2002

"think of all the street cred you'll pick up when you blow the doors off that old lady driving that zoomy-cart on the sidewalk."

And it's a good way to pick up Ed Begley Jr., if you're into gangly albinos.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:51 PM on July 31, 2002

A flaming :) new $4,000 fire alarm system that doesn't work : $4000

An house somewhere, probabily some obscure
celebrity community area: $150000

A car with secret hidden superbatteries, so secret
you're not supposed to read about it on your "user
manual" : $ 30000 ?

The fact that Chrysler will pay for her house and car
and moral damages in less then a second because
she's a celebrity that may affect MEDIA, while she
doesn't even look half good : PRICELESS

And may the poor dawg R.I.P. and unscrupolous car manufactures go to hell.
posted by elpapacito at 7:01 PM on July 31, 2002

Man, could they have picked a worse picture of Veronica Webb? For the record.
posted by owillis at 7:06 PM on July 31, 2002

mr_crash_davis: Ed's not so gangly anymore. You should watch Best in Show. He's the decidedly non-gangly hotel manager who helps Parker Posey's character look for her busy bee.
posted by raysmj at 7:44 PM on July 31, 2002

I never understood why environmentalists believed that electric cars are good for the environment at all? Electric cars run on batteries. The batteries are recharged with power coming from the power companies. The power companies use coal and other non-renewable resources to power the battery. Isn't it just moving the problem?
posted by banished at 8:00 PM on July 31, 2002

elpapacito: Forget about this story, where can I find me one of these $150K "secret celebrity" homes? I never realized celebrities were only rich because they get great deals on fabulous housing...
posted by rusty at 9:20 PM on July 31, 2002

banished, it moves the pollution from a non-point source polluter (a car), to a point source (a power facility). It's much, much easier to control the environmental effects of point source polluters, and on a per mile basis, I'm guessing power generated by any conventional means is cleaner and more efficient than gas combustion engines.
posted by mathowie at 9:31 PM on July 31, 2002

It's interesting that we never find out the brand/supplier of fire alarm system that failed.

*jets off to New York, the baby furniture shopping capital of the world, apparently*
posted by xiffix at 6:38 AM on August 1, 2002

R.I.P. Hercules.
posted by deathofme at 6:41 AM on August 1, 2002

I'm guessing power generated by any conventional means is cleaner and more efficient than gas combustion engines

DenBeste took a pretty serious look at that possibility and it comes up short. One problem is that batteries in general, and especially the ones required to power something as big as a car, are horribly inefficent, meaning that the total required energy production for electric cars is much greater than for gas-powered cars. And since a large chunk of our electricty is generated by coal - which is much dirtier than gasoline, but far cheaper - electric cars are actually far worse for the environment than standard internal combustion engines.
posted by mikewas at 6:43 AM on August 1, 2002

Den Beste looks at the possibility and he finds that it comes up short, you mean. Or I hope you mean.
posted by raysmj at 7:54 AM on August 1, 2002

I would actually like to see an article that actually provides a good comparison of the complete lifecycle energy costs of the two technologies. One of the problems with the Den Beste article is that it doesn't provide much in the way of facts and the facts that it does use are misleading. For example while it is true that heat is generated by both charging and discharging batteries, it is the quantities of heat that matter. The best internal combustion engines operate at around 30 percent efficiency, while electric systems operate at around 80 percent efficiency. The argument for internal combustion engines makes a big deal over the inefficiencies of electricity production, while refusing to mention that the creation of automotive petroleum is also an energy intensive act. You would also need to compare transmission line losses to the transportation costs of delivering petroleum to the filling station.

Granted there is quite a bit of hype on the electric vehicle side of the fence. However I have not yet seen a criticism of electric vehicles that does not make some whopping big assumptions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:39 AM on August 1, 2002


Den Beste looks at the possibility and he finds that it comes up short, you mean.

I would hope that people who read Stevie Boy's comments on a regular basis could already have figured that out, but it's worth pointing out again (and again and again).

I'm sure that Ford will use this article to pimp more Expeditions.

They're better for the environment after all!

I think the Economist from a few weeks ago was right. The West is long overdue for some kind of serious taxation on emmisions. You wanna guzzle gasoline? Fine, you can pay lots more taxes for your overconsumption.

The carrot AND stick approach might prove to work for everyone. Pushing for zero emissions is fine for a long term utopian fantasy, but reducing fossil fuel consumption can have huge benefits for everyone starting right now, lower operating costs being the most obvious one.

Of course, chances it will happen with a Republican or a Democrat in the White House: precisely zero.
posted by mark13 at 12:18 PM on August 2, 2002

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