The world of Electric Cars: More Green Jobs?

Mon, 2010-02-15 12:02
Nissan and Chevy have all electric vehicles (the Volt and Leaf) slated to begin sales later this year.  Aside from many predictions of electric cars arriving decades ago, this seems like the real deal.  So what do you think a world with electric cars would look like?

The Good

#1 - No gas stations.  With electric cars, we'll have a gas (electric) station in every parking lot and garage.  That will likely mean fewer gas stations.  Why is that good?  Gas stations are a large source of ground water pollution and soil contamination.  Like dry cleaners, nearly every lot that ever held a gas station is a small superfund site.  The only thing I'm not sure about is what will happen to all the convenience stores?  Without the need to stop for a fill-up, would you still buy Milk?

#2 - More Nuclear, less Solar?  Aside from the possible solar panel on the roof of your car, a nuclear power plant is better suited for mass adoption of electric cars.  Nuclear plants generate the same power 24/7/365.  When everyone goes to bed at night and electric demand drops the local nuke plant is still generating electricity.  Charging electric cars in your garage at night would be a great way to utilize that excess grid capacity.  I predict that tiered rate structures will become the norm and that your car will have a charging time to incentivize you to charge your car at night between 12 and 6 am.

#3 - Fewer Emissions.  Pretty obvious right.

#4 - Quieter streets.  The amazing thing about the Prius and other electric hybrid cars is how quiet they are when the motor is off.  If you live on anything resembling a primary thoroughfare, the noise reduction should lead to better sleep and higher property values.

#5 - Less Oil!!! I put exclamations here because anything that reduces our trade deficit and takes money out of the hands of oil tyrannies around the globe is good for America.

#6 - New, better paying jobs.  Cars will get even more complicated than they are now.  We will still need mechanics for the mechanical pieces of the car but we'll also need computer programmers, electricians, and more just to keep the cars running in top working order.

The Bad

#1 - More sprawl.  I love my car and making the car cheaper will likely mean more sprawl.

#2 - More pedestrian accidents.  As cars become quieter, pedestrians will have to adjust to actually looking for cars.  Blind people, kids, and animals will be most at risk because they won't actually be able to hear the car coming.  Side note: I had heard that California actually created a commission to study how much noise a car should make.

#3 - Toxic Waste.  What will we do with all those batteries and their toxic chemicals?

#4 - Cheaper gas.  The irony of electric cars is that as demand for gasoline decreases, so will the price for gasoline - that will keep gasoline in our economy for decades to come.

What do you think the electric car will mean for America? What about for jobs?