From: Charleston, WV
Question for our USA Thread brethren:
What do you guys (and your friends and family) think about new breed of electric cars - the Tesla "Model S" in particular with rather long range?
Is this something that can make a dent in today's predominant gas engine community?
I think, quite honestly, that they're a waste of time and effort as they currently stand and here's why. Although they do a decent job of replacing a gasoline engine in most conditions, they are still not economically feasable at present, they're underpowered and, frankly, they're not really dependable in anything other than an urban environment.
Economically, they're over priced and thus outside of most consumer's price range, especially with the economy in it's current situation. When they get to the point that a family of modest means can purchase one for less than $20k dollars, then you have something that will threaten the current fossil fuel dominance.
From the viewpoint of power to weight ratios, they're decent enough for urban or flat-land travel, but travel through any kind of mountainous, hilly or otherwise undulating terrain will drain their reserves and force higher fuel consumption than normal, negating the primary purpose of these vehicles. Further, when compared to the true work-horse of the commercial world, the diesel engine, these little things look like toys. When I see a Catapillar 789 dump or a 992F loader replace it's engine with a hybrid or electric engine, then I'll be truly impressed. Even smaller trucks, such as most of the common semis which are used to transport the vast majority of all the freight moved internally require a massive amount of torque to enable them to perform their jobs efficiently, which is the electric/hybrid's weakness.
Finally, the dependability issue is related to the other two issues in that, Americans being Americans, we'll find a way to put one of these vehicles in an environment which it was never intended to be used in and then wonder why it broke down. In an urban or suburban environment, that's not that big of a deal but if you break down in some parts of the States, it's possible that you could be stranded dozens if not hundreds of miles from help. That's not something that I want to risk just yet, so I'm sticking with the reliable technology which can be repaired or jury-rigged if necessary to get me to where I need to be.