Ford unveiled the new all-electric version of the Ford Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show and announced it will be in operation at fleet operations hands in latter 2010. The Ford Transit Connect was the North American Truck of the year in 2010. In addition to the Transit Connect Electric, Ford also has plans to bring three more electrified vehicles to market by 2012 – the Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in 2012 and a next-generation hybrid in 2012.
Getting charged up and moving
“Transit Connect Electric is well-suited for commercial fleets that travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go driving in urban and suburban environments and a central location for daily recharging. The vehicle, which will accelerate at a similar rate as the gas-powered Transit Connect and will have a top speed of 75 mph, has a targeted range of up to 80 miles on a full charge.
Owners will have the option of recharging the Transit Connect Electric with either a standard 120V outlet or preferably a 240V charge station installed at the user’s base of operations for optimal recharging in six to eight hours. A transportable cord that works with both types of outlets will be available for recharging at both kinds of locations.
The vehicle’s charge port is located above the passenger-side rear wheel well. The onboard liquid-cooled 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is charged by connecting the charge port to a power outlet. Inside the vehicle, an onboard charger converts the AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the battery pack.”
While this is a step in the right direction, I fail to see the benefits from an overall perspective. Electric vehicles are all aimed at eliminating automobile CO2 emissions, which is a good thing on the surface, however, like most of our attempts at getting rid of fossil fuels, there are other not so good by-products so to speak. Sure, we eliminate the CO2 from the cars, and this is a small amount, compared to the overall amount of cars on the road. The problem with the electric car though is that we haven’t conquered our power supply issues at the other end of the charging cord, which account for more CO2 emissions than autos create or ever will create. That problem is of course, the electrical power plants, which for the most part are fueled by the devil himself of all fossil fuels, coal. I am not a scientist, nor am I an expert in the field, but before we go off on an electric car making spree, shouldn’t we examine the cost in CO2 produced at the other end of the cord when all these vehicles are plugged in everyday?
While energy convergence is a fairly new term I imagine (first instance I could find: Energy Convergence–The Beginning of the Multi-Commodity Market, PETER C. FUSARO, ED. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2002), 254 pages, ISBN 0-471-21946-0). In my new thought surrounding this phrase, I think it would be best if we had both ends of the power cord plugged into the same plan. While removing CO2 from auto emissions we are adding more CO2 emissions from charging our electric vehicles. Now, to really make this idea of electric cars work like they are intended to work, wouldn’t it be better if we drove up to our solar charging station in our electric car so they would really be emission free, not just emission free on the electric car side of the equation. What we need is to gather all these new technologies together and converge them, so they work together, and not as separate entities. When we save those CO2 emissions during the day while driving our electric vehicles, and then we put that saved CO2 back when we charge them seems counterproductive to say the least. We need to converge the technologies so we can fully benefit from them. With one technology working in the opposite direction of the other technology is where energy convergence is needed. We need to apply, or adapt those technologies so that they can work together. I’m sure this will happen sooner or later, but we need to get moving on this new plan we have. Having one technology eliminate CO2 emissions is great, but when we complete the process full cycle with recharging them, it negates any of the benefits we may have gained to begin with.
How about we include some portable fold-up solar panels with those electric cars, so when we park them, they can recharge without having to plug them in. Or maybe even some of those thin film solar cells directly embedded into the car itself? Come-on man! We are developing all these great new technologies now, lets start making them work together and converge them so we can appreciate the full benefits of these new technologies!
While ford unveils it’s new all-electric truck for late 2010, energy convergence is needed to make the technology sustainable.