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More on Electric Cars: Leaf Talk, Volt Video

If you liked our show on California’s push for electric cars, you might be interested in checking our guest Paul Scott‘s blog.  He’s just back from Japan, where he test drove Nissan’s new all-electric “Leaf”:

Since I’d driven the GM Volt not too long ago, I could fairly compare the two in terms of acceleration. I’d give the nod to the Volt on that score, but just barely. The Leaf had plenty of power in the lower speeds, but it leveled out just a tad as I got over 60. I didn’t try to hit the top speed, but did get over 70 quickly and it was still pulling strong as I let off. On the third lap, I was feeling like I could push the curvy section and did. The car responded perfectly, hugging the road and steering predictably. I learned later that this is a consequence of having the bulk of the weight distributed tightly in the lower center of the car. This eliminates yaw of the vehicle when turning hard.

Just a reminder, too, if you need more to satisfy your EV hankering: we interviewed big-deal electric car mavens Shai Agassi and Elon Musk last year. Finally, check out this video of the 2011 Chevy Volt being test-driven by Paul Scott and other members of his organization, Plug In America:

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  • Gerry Callison

    When talking about how heavy freight could be moved with energy from the power grid, the show missed a very critical point. Society has developed a solution that can do just that, and it has been around since before the first world war. It’s technologically proven, implemented throughout the rest of the world, and can finance itself.
    That technology is the train powered by overhead electric wires.

  • http://www.ul705.com John Stacey

    Hi Tom: I am from a little-known 3rd world country that has foolishly allowed itself to become the largest single supplier of oil to the voracious appetite of the USA, albeit at tremendous environmental cost. (Oil production is a messy business anywhere on the planet.) When in Florida, the only radio station I will listen to is NPR, as it sounds a bit like home (though am disappointed by the complete lack of classical music). The political discussions on NPR are endless, especially those dealing with the US government oil spill in the Gulf. Blaming it all on its marriage partner, BP, is, to me, nothing but smoke and mirrors, opiate of the proletariat. The US government was the sole regulating and inspecting authority who failed to specify adequate safety requirements and see they were followed. It placed that a distant second to its expected enormous oil-tax income. Thus the US government should marshal all means under its control (starting with its navy and military presently deployed in parts of the world who do not want them there) to assist BP to quickly stop the leak and clean up the mess. The government shared massively in the profits of BP, now let them share the losses. Arising out of these discussions is what do do in the future? Become less fossil fuel dependent by going to electric cars (which may not heat enough to keep ice off windshields up north). The term “dirty electrons” has arisen applying to electric power generation. Well, not nearly so dirty as gas/diesel internal combustion car engines which have a maximum efficiency around 20%. Electric power is produced by open combustion boilers operating typically greater that 40% efficiency. The electric drive motors in cars operate well in the 90% efficiency range. Thus the end result by going electric cuts oil consumption in about half. (Other electric generation by solar, wind, falling water and nuclear cuts oil consumption to zero.) The shift to all electric cars is to take place sometime, someday, whenever, in an uncertain future. My question is — WHAT ABOUT RIGHT NOW??? On a personal basis I have solved this problem about 30 years ago. I try to never drive over 50 mph (with negligible difference in my arrival time) and almost never use my brakes by coasting at every opportunity. (There is a 100 mpg organization on the internet, with no modification to cars, just to driving habits.) My 10 year old minivan, officially rated at 19 mpg gives me up to 39 mpg. I have always doubled the official mpg rating on any car I have ever owned. This cuts my oil consumption in half, in the past, in the present and in the future. No years of costly rocket-science R&D are needed here. Simply reduce all USA highway speeds to 50 mph, cut American oil consumption in half and the oil producing countries will all have heart attacks, including my own. Perhaps it’s best to keep this secret between you and I, as I don’t want thugs from the oil-patch pounding on my door with baseball bats (or from the oil-tax stricken government either). In closing, I have always loved and cared for our fragile planet and have religiously ‘recycled’ since I was kid and I am 74 now. Only the words like recycle, ecology and environment were never heard, our reasoning then was just “waste not, want not”. I my case carried to the point that my dearly departed (but never forgotten) wife would say to everyone she met “compared to my husband John, Scrooge was just an amateur”.
    Sincerely, John Stacey, 324 Ethan Ave, Florida, USA, 33897 (863)424-3192

Jul 25, 2014
Pallbearers carry a coffin out of a military transport plane during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Eindhoven, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP)

Secretary of State Kerry to Israel. Obamacare back in the courts. Mourning as remains of Malaysia Flight 17 victims come home. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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Guest Renee McLeod of Somerville, MA's Petsi pies shows off her wares. (Robin Lubbock / WBUR)

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Youths seen playing basketball through bars on a window at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Ethan Allen School in Wales, Wis. (AP file)

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