Inspired by the Insecta urban car concept presented by Moovee Innovations at UBC
and following some of my previous posts on high-speed rail, as well as on future marine and air mobility I decided to descend back to Earth and check out what is in store for the near future urban commuters. I discovered - no surprise - that the work has been done for me by Inspiration Green.
Over the past few years a serious buzz has built over the electric car.
The high-profile marketing and release of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan
Leaf in the United States has prompted much of this attention while the
mainstream press in Canada and the United States has been scrutinizing
these products in reports and editorials. Every
car show around the world is featuring electric vehicles, and it seems
that they could become the next big thing in personal mobility.
Electric propulsion of automobiles has been around for over 100 years,
so why are electric vehicles only now making a serious run at the buying
One answer is that automobiles have become one of the most pervasive
symbols of the fossil fuel economy that is devastating the natural
environment. Cars have therefore become a regular focal point in
environmental debates about “what is to be done” about green house gas
emissions and climate change, issues that have now entered into
A sense of urgency exists that action needs be taken by individuals,
institutions and corporations in order to curb emissions. This has
created a system where material objects are either perceived as friendly
to the environment or damaging. The automobile industry is racing to
capitalize on this notion with electric cars leading the way as the
number one “green” solution.
In the United States, the confidence in electric cars shown by the
traditional auto manufacturers is driven in part by President Barack
Obama’s plan to help build the clean energy economy, which is seen by
the administration as a key to the country’s competitiveness in the 21st
century. The U.S. government has already invested US$5 billion to
stimulate an industry and market for electric cars.
Ottawa, on the other hand, has yet to earmark significant funds to this
industry, thereby leaving the country in a chicken-and-egg situation:
without the government funds to foster an electric car industry and
stimulate a market plus help develop the infrastructure to serve it
[e.g. charging infrastructure], electric vehicles may not emerge as a
viable option. In the event that electric cars come into general use,
Canada’s well-established automotive sector — a major employer — could
be adversely impacted if not properly prepared. More action by the
Federal government to support this sector will be needed, or Canada
could be left behind other auto-producing centres.
But should Canadian tax money be used to stimulate a burgeoning electric
car industry, or would government funds be more successful in reducing
emissions if they went to developing more accessible public
create more and safer bicycle lanes like it has been done in Vancouver?
At first glance, zero emissions cars look like real solutions to
stopping growing carbon emissions in a society and culture that is
obsessed with cars as a prime form of transport. At this point we really do not have a lot of choice. In reality, however,
the answer is much more complex and depends on whether one explores the
collective versus the individual benefits of this technology, or, in
other words, what overall impact the modest adoption of electric
vehicles will have on cutting tail pipe emissions.
Also, depending on where you charge you electric vehicle, pollution
could simply move upstream from the tailpipe to the coal-fired power
generator. Another factor is that large amounts of lithium will be
needed to power electric motors representing a horizontal shift in
reliance from one extractive industry, oil, to another — lithium. And
simply “greening” the automobile will do nothing to curb the destruction
caused by roads, parking lots and traffic congestion.
Alone they are not a real solution, but viewed as part of an overall national
strategy, the electric car, together with high-performance buildings and evolutionary transition to renewable sources of energy, could play a pivotal role in weaning society
off of its reliance on fossil fuels.
Aptera electric car