Wilkinson on EVs: Energize Me!
Interesting letter to the editor from a guy in Baytown, Texas in this week’s Automotive News. “Chevrolet should give an electric generator for home use to the purchaser of every new Volt,” Ralph Buerklin wrote. “Hurricanes, ice storms, tornados and thunderstorms wreak havoc with above-ground electric lines. That is an Achilles’ heel for electric vehicles.” Tell me about it. While the Volt has an on-board ICE to rely upon, a pure EV is a whole ‘nother story. We have a generator. We need it anywhere from two to five times a year here in semi-Upstate New York just to run the water pump, the furnace and the refrigerator—forget about lights, TV or computers. It typically happens when thunderstorms blow tree limbs across power lines, and if there are two things we have lots of, it’s thunderstorms and trees. Every 10 years or so, there’s a late-fall or early-spring ice storm that pulls down all the electric lines in entire counties. Last time it happened, some Hudson Valley homes were totally without power for two weeks and more. I can do without TV, but I’d hate to be stuck in a dark house with a dead electric car. Nor do I think those little portable job-site generators can do the job. Our 4,000-watt generator dies from too much current draw if the furnace and water pump come on simultaneously, which is why we’re upgrading to a 10,000-watt propane- powered unit. The new one will be the size of a St. Bernard’s doghouse, and installation is not a trivial matter. So add one of those to your Volt options list, since I doubt the guys who live in Grosse Pointe even know how to spell “emergency generator.”
I'm the automotive editor of Conde Nast Traveler and a freelancer for a variety of other magazines as well. Go to amazon.com and read more about me than you ever wanted to know if you do a search for either of my current books, "The Gold-Plated Porsche" and "Man and Machine." Been a pilot since 1967 (single- and multi-engine land, single-engine sea, glider, instrument, Cessna Citation 500 type rating all on a commercial license) and I use the gold-plated Porsche, a much-modified and -lightened '83 911SC, as a track car.
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