We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The continued evolution of the electric car

Via the Register, are some of the latest iterations of the electric car. This promises to be one of the fastest yet. I think it is vital that if these vehicles are going to catch on with a mass audience, they have not just to be practical, but fun to drive, to be, for want of a better word, cool. The trouble with the Toyota Prius and similar vehicles is that they are driven by the sort of folk that, as PJ O’Rourke once put it, are in favour of government regulation of bed-time and other outrages. To reach the “Jeremy Clarkson” demographic, one needs something rather more likely to appeal to the guy who eyes up advertisements for Alfa Romeo or Porsche, even if they cannot yet quite afford one.

37 comments to The continued evolution of the electric car

  • Personally, I don’t really care if an electric car looks good or goes like stink as long as its practical and cheap to run. Though I can see how those indoctrinated by the petrol driven marketing of the big auto companies would need to be weaned away from the smell of gas and the roar of a V8.

  • Someone in comments over there wrote: “Very few people go on journeys that require more than one tank of petrol before they reach their destination.”

    Every time I read something like that, I wonder if the person who wrote it has ever once laid eyes on America.

    This whole idea is still rubbish.

  • tdh

    One problem with the early hybrids was that they did not have decent trunks/boots. They weren’t viable for city driving or even for weekend hiking because they were highly vulnerable to smash-and-grab attacks.

    IMHO a per-charge range near 500 miles at 80MPH, or a total of 30 minutes’ recharge time over that range, not including the post-arrival charge, which could take perhaps 8 hours, would be a minimum, presuming the infrastructure to be there. It looks like the claimed-but-suspect charge time for the UAEV would meet this even at 15 minutes rather than 10. For longer trips, rentals would suffice.

    I’d also like good EMP resistance/recovery, just in case.

    Reliability’d be a sine qua non, and longevity would be a close second priority.

    Hybrids have about the same incremental cost, but their mileage, not counting, say, the Insight, isn’t much better than non-hybrids were at the end of last century.

    I’m looking forward to being able to raise a finger or two in salute to OPEC someday.

  • mike

    I agree Jonathan, cool is absolutely necessary.

    “Every time I read something like that, I wonder if the person who wrote it has ever once laid eyes on America.”

    I don’t know if you’d laugh at this Billy Beck, but if you’ll entertain the possibility, then wait until 1 min 50…

  • mike

    Have yourself a laugh at this Billy Beck.

  • Kevin B

    If they really have got high capacity, fast charge rate, batteries in a vehicle that can perform like anything from a Focus to a Ferrari then it would be worth putting the charging infrastructure in place.

    I’m presuming that their fast charge system uses more that the typical available 15 amp domestic current though the article doesn’t give sufficient information to calculate this.

    It would certainly seem to overcome the main drawback of hybrids; having to carry a generator and its fuel around with you.

    Let’s hope the batteries aren’t vapour ware.

    Oh and: “Faster please.”

  • “I’m looking forward to being able to raise a finger or two in salute to OPEC someday.”

    If we could get all the various legislatures tied up in one bag and stuffed into the nearest closet, we could do that from oil rigs right in our own country. If we were allowed to produce, about half of those animals’ heads would explode in the first week.

  • Mike: I watched that video.

    I do believe that I have missed your point.

  • Sigivald

    People eye Alfa advertisements?

    Must be a European thing, I guess. Here in the States, Alfas are, in my experience, “those Italian cars that nobody bought that look boring” (the 164).

    (On the range thing, I concur. I’m going to drive over 500 miles this weekend, and then over 1500 next weekend [and that one's a one-way distance, not a round-trip].

    A purely electric car? Not going to cut it for that. Useful for a pure commuter car in a near-urban area, I suppose.

    But that’s not a very big market.)

  • “A purely electric car? Not going to cut it for that. Useful for a pure commuter car in a near-urban area, I suppose.”

    Up the road from me lives a friend of mine. Five days a week, he drives a small pickup truck through a radius of about a hundred fifty miles around here, all day long, every day. On any given day, he’ll run from Rochester to Binghamton, Oneonta to Alfred, and every little one-stop burgh in between. He works for a pest-control company that operates eight of these vehicles, and those guys flat move in their work.

    These electric-car imbeciles and their idle fantasies have no way in the world to account for action like that, and this country is full of it. They might as well be talking about horses, for all the relationship to reality that they actually bear. In general, nobody in the whole world moves the way Americans do, and for good reasons: we have a lot of territory to move about on, and tens of millions make it our work to do that.

    This is fucking nonsense.

  • ian

    I’ve just seen a review on Top Gear of an electric car powered from hydrogen fuel cells that seems to provide the performance and range of any normal mid size internal combustion powered vehicle. I’m assuming that means they have solved the safety issues of delivering liquid hydrogen to the forecourt. Without huge improvements, battery power is never going to meet most peoples needs.

  • Laird

    Tesla Motors is in production. Looks great, and the performance stats are good. Still a bit pricy, but they’re planning cheaper models.

  • Tarnal Vanchastri

    Laird beat me to it. Billy Beck, please DO check things before you post, its far better to not type anything and be thought of as a fool than to click ‘Post’ and remove all doubt. The Tesla has a 250 mile range, is probably faster than the vast majority of other road vehicles and looks really cool. I’m not necessarily a committed petrolhead, but even someone like Jeremy Clarkson would be bowled over by the Tesla.

  • “Billy Beck, please DO check things before you post, its far better to not type anything and be thought of as a fool than to click ‘Post’ and remove all doubt.”

    Listen, you: you can hit your ‘Post’ button when ordinary people could conduct their average daily affairs in a practical automobile in which they might carry more than a gallon of milk at a cost of a hundred and ten grand.

    Sit down and shut up.

  • Anytime I hear about electric cars in the US being the solution to our dependence on middle eastern oil I take a deep breath and calmly lay out the following statistical shortcomings before flying off the handle and whacking someone.

    1.) The US gets over 70% of our oil from Canada and Venezuela. If we stopped importing the +/- 20% we get from middle eastern nations, China or India would fill the gap in all of about one tanker trip. And neither of these countries is poised to have realistic emmission standards, never mind lessen the need for internal combustion.

    2.) People think that electricity=gas, eg.-”Why, electricity comes from thin air whereas oil is all dirty and messy”. Few people take the step back to determine what makes the electricity in the first place. In the US, over 50% of our electricity is made from a combination of coal, oil and natural gas. Solar and wind on average account for somewhere around 1-2% of electricity generation. I believe the US should be like France with 85% generated through nuclear power, but the last nuclear plant to be built in the states was a long time ago. When you “plug in” your car to fill up, it’s not that much different from simply pouring gas in to the tank. Except it’s less efficient because instead of directly powering your wheels, the gas is powering the power plant, then travelling over miles of transmission wires losing large amounts of energy in the process and THEN powering your wheels. This is stupid.

    People fear internal combustion, but in the US it is used for the best reason of all: it is the cheapest available source of direct propulsion on a consistent basis on the highways for our cars. And by the way, before the electric car fantasy continues, don’t forget we have around 30 million semi-trucks on the road too.

    Vaporware.

  • Tman,

    Oil is fungible. There’s a world market. If US demand decreases, that means prices everywhere drop. That screws over the petro-tyrants. This is a good thing.

    Second, even if electricity comes from coal, the overall particulate will be reduced because scrubbing technology is a lot better in a power plant than in your exhaust pipe. (I couldn’t care less about CO2.)

    But the point is that instead of being tethered to a single format for energy (i.e. gasoline), we could now access every conceivable source that could turn into electrons. One could even generate electricity from one’s house, with windmills or solar panels or diesel generators or whatever. The point is that you are now free of the centralized distribution structures that are tied to more statist tyranny than any lover of freedom should stomach.

    Read up on what economists and political science types call the “Resource Curse.” Oil, and any other resource that lends itself to state exploitation, causes human misery.

    Besides, re. Billy Beck—now, the battery capacity is insufficient. Within a decade, it will be more than enough. And if people want to pay a premium for the cachet of being an early adopter, good for them.

  • Nuke Gray!

    Jeremy Clarkson will only drive an electric car when they can put a nuclear reactor on wheels. The rest of us would be happy with Teslamobiles, or whatever they call them.

  • mike

    “Mike: I watched that video. I do believe that I have missed your point.”

    It wasn’t important! Different humour.

  • Laird

    Tman and Mastiff are both right. We’re not getting rid our our gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles any time in the forseeable future, but at a national level diversifying our energy sources is a good thing provided that it can be done efficiently (in an economic sense). That caveat means forgetting about the irrational boondoggle called ethanol as well as the chimera of a safe and effecient hydrogen-powered car. But wind, solar, geothermal, etc., power can and should be a part of our total energy supply, especially small units designed for home use. Elon Musk’s (that man is a national treasure!) SolarCity is building and installing efficient solar units; quiterevolution is one of many manufacturers of wind turbines (their design is really elegant); and I’m sure there are many other possibilities. Home generation would help free us from dependence on monopolistic power companies, and could even generate revenue if excess power is transmitted into the grid. The biggest problem is battery technology to store power for use when the sun isn’t shining or the wind dies down, and the work being done on electric cars will eventually help with that. So while an electric car is no panacea for our national energy woes, its development will be beneficial in a number of ways.

    And besides, the Tesla Roadster is really cool!

  • Mastiff,

    If US demand decreases, that means prices everywhere drop. That screws over the petro-tyrants. This is a good thing.

    Agreed, but the largest exporter of oil to the US is Canada, not Ahmadinnerjackets. I’m all about screwing over the petrotyrants but the point is just because the US doesn’t buy from them doesn’t mean India/China/Europe won’t.

    Second, even if electricity comes from coal, the overall particulate will be reduced because scrubbing technology is a lot better in a power plant than in your exhaust pipe. (I couldn’t care less about CO2.)

    If you couldn’t care less, this point is moot.

    the point is that instead of being tethered to a single format for energy (i.e. gasoline), we could now access every conceivable source that could turn into electrons.

    We already can. Want to build a windmill? Have at it son. Solar Panels? You can buy them.

    The point is that you are now free of the centralized distribution structures that are tied to more statist tyranny than any lover of freedom should stomach.

    I live in a small apartment. My dependence on centralized distribution structures, particularly from an energy standpoint, is a welcome luxury. Sure, I could go live in the woods with a solar panel and a windmill, but seriously, fuck that. I like High def too much.

    Read up on what economists and political science types call the “Resource Curse.” Oil, and any other resource that lends itself to state exploitation, causes human misery.

    It’s noble and idealistic to believe that we could all live in self-powered homes running on sunlight and vegetarian samosa farts, but the reality is we need energy. A lot of it.

    I would suggest taking some time to read “A New Manhattan Project” by Stephen den Beste for a counter argument to your economists and science types.

  • tdh

    I don’t know what makes this so hard to grasp; it is quite elementary. To the extent that oil is fungible — and it is highly so, in the absence of political barriers such as embargoes or certain taxes — not buying oil from Canada is the same as not buying it from Venezuela or Saudi Arabia or Russia. The same. The same. The same….

    Around New England, electric snowblowers never seem much better than a shovel. Let’s hope that coming electric cars compare better. I have to add driving up a steep grade to my list.

  • When you “plug in” your car to fill up, it’s not that much different from simply pouring gas in to the tank. Except it’s less efficient because instead of directly powering your wheels, the gas is powering the power plant, then travelling over miles of transmission wires losing large amounts of energy in the process and THEN powering your wheels. This is stupid.

    The difference is that power plants are substantially more efficient than internal combustion engines. If a car engine and a power plant had comparable efficiency, you would have a good point. But they don’t, and it’s not particularly close. If anyone here cares, it’s also a lot easier to control the pollution coming from a power plant than it is to control it coming from every single exhaust pipe.

    The electric car is likely to start as a gas-electric hybrid. Charge the battery, go 200 miles, switch to gas when the juice runs out. But quick-charge batteries are coming pretty soon. You’ll get 100 miles or so on a 15 minute charge. The son of Beck’s buddy will stop at the house, plug the truck in, zap the bugs, and knock the price of the charge off the bill. He may do this every 4-5 houses and never even notice it.

    Long-distance trucking is its own beast and isn’t likely to be replaced by anything any time soon.

  • Jacob

    The Tesla has a 250 mile range

    False.
    More like 150 mile range. And then – 8 hours of charge.
    And it costs 110k.
    It’s a toy for rich kids.

  • Joshua,

    The difference is that power plants are substantially more efficient than internal combustion engines.

    I’m not sure this is true when it comes to propulsion of an individual vehicle. Again, you lose an extraordinary amount of energy during transmission over the hundreds of miles electricity has to travel before it reaches the plug in your house, much more so than what is spilled transmitting gas from refinery to the gas station.

    What I think is lost in this argument is that we have had the technology to run gas/electric hybrids for years. And in fact we’ve been using them on a larger scale for the last several years. I certainly hope that technology progresses so that we can develop more efficient means of reliably consistent transportation.

    The reality is that today we have subsidized this progression via government fiat and it has created a host of unintended consequences which are an inevitable result of government attempting to force things down our throat. Ethanol, for example, is a disaster from an economic standpoint because we as taxpayers subsidize its harvest first, and then we pay more for the gas that the ethanol is mixed with. And we haven’t obtained a quantifiable advantage to the usage of Ethanol, nor have we dealt with the fall out from the market distortion that ethanol/gas mix mandates have caused.

    I’m not convinced or even hopeful that government can effectively resolve these efficiency shortcomings based on past experience. In fact, I am far more convinced that any progressive mandates meant to force the market in to accepting boutique forms of energy will have unintended consequences that will most likely be worse than the problem it is trying to solve.

  • Power plants run about 33% efficiency. Car engines run about 20%. You could lose a third of your juice in transmission – which is the maximum anyone loses – and still be modestly ahead.

    Siemens is working on a 50% efficiency coal plant. If they can pull it off, it’s no longer even a question; the efficiency gains would be massive.

  • Joshua,

    I’m not sure you are taking in to consideration the entire process of turning coal in to electricity in your measurements of efficiency from tap to wheels.

    from the link I listed above by Mr. den Beste:

    When it comes to power generation, the job’s not done until the energy reaches the end user……..Generally speaking, every time energy is converted from one form to another a lot of it will be lost (because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics). All technologies which generate power and deliver it to end users involve such conversions. A coal-fired electrical generation plant burns coal to produce heat, converts heat to pressure by applying a lot of that heat to a boiler to produce steam, converts pressure into mechanical motion (with a turbine), converts mechanical motion into electricity (with a dynamo), and then delivers the electricity with long distance power lines, which usually requires multiple voltage/current conversions using transformers or motor-generators. Many of those conversions are very efficient but some of them involve pretty significant losses.

    The efficiencies of every step have to be multiplied together to calculate the overall system efficiency. If you have five steps and each one wastes 20%, then each step has an efficiency of 0.8, and the overall system efficiency will be 0.8*0.8*0.8*0.8*0.8 == 0.328, meaning about 33% of the original energy would be delivered to end users, with the remaining 67% being lost. But if each of those five steps wasted 30% instead of 20%, the overall system would only deliver 17% of the original energy. The more conversions required, and the worse the efficiency on those conversions, then the lower the efficiency of the overall system.

    Considering that you have some states that provide electricity to other states several hundred miles away, the math would indicate that far more than a third of the original energy from the coal itself is lost before reaching the plug for your car, and that’s after you’ve already lost the 33% of energy converting coal to electricity in the first place.

  • Laird

    In fact, I am far more convinced that any progressive mandates meant to force the market in to accepting boutique forms of energy will have unintended consequences that will most likely be worse than the problem it is trying to solve.

    I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that, Tman, or with your observations on the ethanol fiasco. But that’s not really the issue with Shelby Aero EV (in the article which started this thread), or the Tesla Roadster, or any of a number of other electric or hybrid automobiles now in production or under development. These are all private companies, pursuing technologies they believe will one day be profitably marketable. They may be “toys for rich kids” today, but that’s the way it is with most new technologies. As they mature the price comes down and the products improve. The “rich kids” (early adopters) help subside development for the rest of us. And make no mistake: improvements in battery technology have already come out of this research, and more will follow. We’ll all benefit from that, even those of us who cling to our hydrocarbon burners.

    And while I also agree with you that the ineffeciencies in electricity production are usually ignored by proponents of electric vehicles, large power plants are substantially more effecient at converting oil into motive power than are small internal combustion engines. The effeciency costs of the various stages of electricity generation you cite in that long quote are undoubtedly included in Joshua’s 33% figure; he just jumps to the bottom line. And there are many other means of generating power in this country (hydroelectric, nuclear, etc.), so on balance using electricity to power at least some of our cars should be a net energy saver (even ignoring the pollution from gas-burners).

    I’m all with you on stopping government from interfering with the development process or mandating particular preferred technologies; that’s a losing proposition. But I certainly don’t want to discourage inventors and visionaries from pushing forward with these technologies. Their efforts are to be lauded.

    By the way, does anyone know if there is any serious work being done on steam-powered automobiles? In theory they could burn nearly anything.

  • Laird,

    The “rich kids” (early adopters) help subside development for the rest of us..

    The US government already subsidizes alternative fueled vehicles through tax incentives and a variety of other ridiculous impositions. I wish that it was just the “rich kids” paying for this, but sadly this is not the case. Just listen to Obambi, he’s not going to wait for the rich kids to subsidize the development. It’s going to come out of my pocket.

    And make no mistake: improvements in battery technology have already come out of this research, and more will follow. We’ll all benefit from that, even those of us who cling to our hydrocarbon burners.

    Agreed, but again- this is being developed more through government incentives than by market forces. That by itself is disagreeable.

    large power plants are substantially more effecient at converting oil into motive power than are small internal combustion engines.

    Except, for instance, on days like today, when a million people in the midwest are without power. This is remarkably inefficient. The electrical grid is not any more efficient or realiable than our gasoline distribution networks, and in many cases it’s a lot worse. I can’t even begin to imagine what a disaster it would be if you converted a tenth of the 200 million cars on the road to drain electricity on a regular basis from our already overloaded grid system. We aren’t prepared to handle the current load, much less an increase in that magnitude.

    And there are many other means of generating power in this country (hydroelectric, nuclear, etc.), so on balance using electricity to power at least some of our cars should be a net energy saver (even ignoring the pollution from gas-burners).

    Hydro is around 8%, Nuclear is around 20%. I stated earlier this problem would be different if nuclear was 80-90%, but we have zero blueprints in the pipeline for new nuclear plants.

    I certainly don’t want to discourage inventors and visionaries from pushing forward with these technologies. Their efforts are to be lauded.

    I don’t either. I agree that the inventors and visionaries should be lauded for pushing these technologies further. But the thing that troubles me is the rhetoric used by politicians to justify massive power grabs under the umbrella of “energy indepdence”. They regularly ignore the shortcomings we both agree about by scare-mongering the idea that oil is responsible for every trouble in the world ranging from terrorism to global warming. John McCain, during his occasional bouts of sanity, used to say about ethanol -if it can survive on the open market without government subsidies or tariff protections, then I will support it.

    I say the same about any form of energy production. If it can survive without being forced to survive via government fiat I’m all for it. If it can’t then it’s just another solution that will undoubtedly create unintended consequences that are worse than the problem it was designed to solve.

  • Zevilyn

    Helium 3 is the fuel of the future.

    A car is a thing which takes you from one place to another. An electric car makes more sense than a
    The people who dismiss electric cars are no different to the “market analysts” who dismissed the Nintendo Wii.

    Cars are ridiculously oversized, are not as diverse as they should be (what about people who want a cheap car to travel short distances?)

    Cars are stagnant, conservative, and devoid of innovation, what we have in the 21st century is curvier versions of the 1970s variety.

  • Laird

    Your point about power outages is a good one, and I hadn’t thought about it before, but that’s an issue of reliability, not efficiency. You’re changing the subject on me!

    As to tax incentives for these companies, I suppose you’re correct about that (I haven’t checked to tax code to be certain, but I’ll take your word for it), but I can’t get too upset about the government allowing someone to keep more of his money by granting deductions or credits. I guess that’s somewhat distortive vis a vis other companies not so blessed, but I don’t consider it a true “subsidy” unless the government is actually cutting them checks (as with the ethanol producers). After all, a tax credit is of no value unless you have some taxable income against which to apply it.

    Anyway, I don’t think we’re in much disagreement here, just quibbling. I certainly agree with your last paragraph, and with your observations about scare-mongering, power-grabbing politicians.

  • SAC Brat

    In addition to the power generation and grid problems there are plenty more. How many millions of miles of new copper or aluminum wiring are needed just to get the electricity to the point a car could plug in? How many houses don’t have service remotely to support this and will require new service entry equipment and new service conductors. How many substations will need massive upgrades to support all this new demand? There are plenty of homes in the US with 100A service or less.

    I can refuel two cars to 400mi range each in ten minutes. To “refuel” two Teslas to 250mi range each in 3.5 hours requires 2 (!) 50A circuits.

    Here is a Google map of the Boeing Everett facility.
    http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&hl=en&ll=47.92717,-122.274184&spn=0.010266,0.026951&t=h&z=16

    How many miles of wire would be required just to connect these many 10′s of thousands of parking stalls? How would it be metered? Don’t think for a minute that Boeing is going to pick up the electric bill.

    I can store 5 gallons of gas in my garage in a container that weighs less than 40lbs and has a footprint of less than 1.5x2ft. That gas gives me about 20kw run through my generator or 100mi run through my SUV. Tesla stores about 250mi in a container that weighs 992lbs or 100mi in about 400lbs.

    We spent a week with no power after a massive wind storm a couple of Christmases ago. There were more than 1 million accounts without the power to even recharge their cell phone. We were able to get gas about 20 miles away at a station that had power. It took 10-15 minutes to put 20 gallons in the SUV and fill two 5 gallon gas cans. So that is 400mi and 40kw in 15 minutes. Even if the Tesla were 4 times more efficient then now we are talking 500mi and 0kw in 1.75hrs. Bringing home some portable power of the 4 x Tesla type would require another 400lbs of battery and another 75 minutes of charge time. The notion of hauling gas home to power a home generator to recharge my car is too stupid to contemplate so I won’t.

    I think it likely even FEMA could figure out how to deliver enough gasoline to a disaster area in a prolonged power outage where as I would not be so sure about electricity for cars.

    Electricity is great stuff when it is delivered to you continuously “on demand”. When you have to store it then it is not such great stuff.

  • ian

    The Honda Clarity(Link) doesn’t use batteries…

  • virgil xenophon

    Also overlooked is the environmental impact of the mines used to produce the stuff batteries are made of. Ever looked at some of the worlds largest nickel mines up in Canada–it’s like the surface of the moon–not counting the ground-water contamination from the run-off or the vegetation dead zone of hundreds of square miles as a result of the processing plant emissions. And that’s just from the CURRENT world demand. What do you thing will happen to the environment when these facilites/mines are scaled up to meet the need of a world where every car is battery powered?

    As for relative efficiency? Most of the critiques of electric cars have already been ably advanced here to which I heartily agree. One point not mentioned, however, is that not everyone is a two-car family such that it would be feasible to maintain an electric car for inner-city driving and a gasoline-powered one for longer trips. The single-car owner in the US will NEVER spring for a car that will not allow him and his entire brood of kids and wife to jump in the car and drive 720 miles to their parents house over-night for Thanksgiving.

    The difference in distances in the US has already been mentioned, but one statistic might REALLY put things in perspective. The entire nation of Austria–it’s lakes, mountains and cities–the entire land-mass, would fit inside the Grand Canyon in the US. Think about THAT and then talk to me about the viability of applying European perspectives to US transportation needs.

  • virgil xenophon

    PS: One other point I failed to mention is the fact that the auto industry has yet to finesse the replacement battery cost–which is currently costed at around $6,000.00, for most proposed production cars, I believe. Who picks up the tab for that? Does the Govt (i.e., the tax-payer)
    pick up part of the tab through a re-bate system, or what? Nobody is going to buy an all-electric vehicle unless the financial
    part of the equation makes sense from the buyer’s pov–let alone the driving range problems and lack of nation-wide recharging support infrastructure. Right now and for the foreseeable future that’s a huge mountain to climb–and we ain’t talkin’ the Alps.

  • Laird

    Here’s a different approach (Link) that seems promising: a gasoline-powered car which creates its own hydrogen (via electrolysis) while running. The hydrogen is injected into the fuel mix for much more effecient operation and greatly reduced emissions. This has a chance of actually being practical; other hydrogen fuel cell cars do not.

  • Many self powered electric vehicles have already been built. An electric car has traveled over 12,000 miles, a boat has powered across the Atlantic ocean, and a plane has flown across the United States, all carrying people and never plugging in or using fuel. Progress is being made, and they get better every year.
    See a growing list at Self Powered Electric Vehicles