General Motors is continuing to make progress in its attempt to bring an all-electric passenger car to market. CNN is reporting that GM plans to start road testing the Volt in Spring 2008, assuming the new battery packs they are due to receive in October live up to their expectations.
As I’ve written about before, I’m not a real big booster of the Volt. It’s an interesting concept, but it has a lot of limitations (40 miles per charge being the big one), and it will perpetuate the mindset that we can continue the current motoring/mobile lifestyle that has dominated our culture and urban planning for the last 50 years or more. The lifestyle has flourished thanks to a growing supply of cheap, high-quality oil, and that in the future oil may be high-quality, but it will not be cheap, and the supply will definitely not be growing.
My own personal view, for what it’s worth, is that we probably hit the peak of conventional oil production sometime in 2005 or 2006… production rates have been slowly falling since then, and while there will be upticks in production in coming years, the numbers projected by CERA, the IEA and other groups regarding future production capacity are pure fantasy. Unfortunately, those are the numbers policy wonks in DC and most other captials are relying on in their decision making.
Oil is still easy to acquire, even if it’s not as cheap as it used to be, and I think we should use this time to start improving our public transit infrastructure, both locally and nationally before it becomes really expensive to do so. This is an uphill battle as it is, but it only gets worse when faux panaceas like the Volt are trumpeted as yet another techno-fix for our dependence on a depleting resource.