The "three days coast-to-coast" road trip may become a thing of the past: electric vehicles just don't have the range.
Current generation hybrids and next generation plug-in hybrids can make the trip: just fill them up with gasoline. Moving beyond gasoline is a whole other question.
Fully electric vehicles need to be recharged at least every few hundred miles. There's a few different ideas about how to keep them topped up:
- Better Place suggest switching an empty battery for a full one at special service stations. But it launches in Israel, Denmark and Hawaii because America would require so many stations for full coverage.
- Tesla is pinning its hopes on fast charging cars. A special 440V charger can have a car ready to go in 45 minutes. In theory, you stop, have something to eat and are ready to go again in under an hour. But charging from conventional mains will still take all night.
- Another possibility is that we will see new battery technologies giving five to ten times the storage capacity of regular electric vehicle batteries, and much greater range. Even with these advanced batteries a three day coast-to-coast road trip will still be a thing of the past because they will probably need an overnight charge too.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Ford is thinking through options beyond driving the whole way in your personal car. Sue Cischke, Ford's VP of Sustainability thinks that tighter integration between rail links and shared car schemes (rentals or innovative schemes like zip car) might be a good answer to long haul travel in the future:
What do you think the future of the road trip is?
See more about electric and hybrid vehicle range here at our sister site, Re*Move.
[Route 66 Image - Mathoov on Flickr under Creative Commons]