Plugging in for Vancouver?

Mitsubishi iMiev

Plugged in – The Globe and Mail.

Earlier this year, the City of Vancouver city council had already decided to get plugs into 20% of all parking stalls in new condo developments for the express purpose of accommodating new electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

… Vancouver city council this summer to approve unanimously new regulations for electric vehicle charging stations.

The idea here is to begin addressing one of the major barriers to electric cars: recharging infrastructure. Vancouver is the first major city in North America to make developers include plug-ins for electric cars in at least 20 per cent of parking stalls in new condominium and apartment buildings, along with some city-owned parking lots. Price tag: between $500 and $2,000 a stall.

I think a parking stall itself is roughly $50,000.  I can’t find a reference to that right now.  So an extra $500 wouldn’t be too much.  $2,000 per stall would add up very quickly, though.  I can see developers not want to do this.  Perhaps they can do the robo-parking.

Critics say all this amounts to social engineering and bad economics, adding that the subsidy is nothing more than a bribe to get consumers to buy into an emerging though unproven technology.

It could prove to be a pricey one for taxpayers, too. Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, an opponent of subsidies, says Ontario could be on the hook for as much as $3.5-billion if 5 per cent of the seven million vehicles now on Ontario’s roads are replaced by subsidized electric vehicles.

Doesn’t new technology get off the ground with subsidies and government funding for research?  Obviously, we wouldn’t want to be on the hook as taxpayers for a technology that would be the automotive equivalent of 8-Track music tapes or Beta video tapes.  However, the plugs would still be useful for plug-in hybrids which seem to be only 1 or 2 years away from the market.

Smaller, lighter, safer and longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries are the key component of electric vehicles. But the technology is unproven in automobiles and the cost is huge: about $7,500 (U.S.) for a car-sized battery pack.

My friend mentions a technology called the Overunity Battery, but a quick Google search turns up some not so summarized explanations of the technology.  I’d need to have more time and interest to really delve into that topic.  However, if a battery, like Overunity or any other new technology, could come down in cost, we’d be set.

In any case, Vancouver is starting to legislate some infrastructure into place.  Real concrete changes will likely not be quick, but if predictions do hold true, then Vancouver will be ready.  Heck, I’d love a plug in my parking spot to charge up an electric scooter, which already exist today.

One last musing that may be related to all this change in infrastructure.  Whatever happened to Gordon Campbell’s much-touted hydrogen highway?  Isn’t that an example of government funding unproven technology too?

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