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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 4, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta WedntBday, September LETHBRIDGE Electric cars are stalled on markets NEW YORK (AP) The electric virtually pollution-free and energy-ef- stalled on the thre- shold of the American auto market. Only about electric ve- hicles (EV) now operate on United States roads, most of them experimental utility vans, says the Electric Ve- hicle Council of New York. Electric vehicles cannot match the performance that Americans have become ac- customed to in their automo- biles. Although several com- panies plan production by the end of 1974, industry spokes- men say widespread use is at least five years away. Edward A. Campbell, exec- utive secretary of the council, said the industry hopes to cap- ture 20 per cent of the au- tomobile market by the year 2000. "If the gasoline shortage had lasted six more months, it would be a different he said. Electric vehicles can run 75 miles for every gallon of crude oil burned to produce electricity, double what an in- ternal combustion engine can get from the same crude re- fined into gasoline. Clean-air and noise regu- lations also favor the electric car. But there are major technological and economic barriers: only battery now available for practical use is the conventional lead-acid un- it, which is limited in range to 40 to 60 miles before re- quiring a recharge of several hours. In addition, they're heavy. One pound of gasoline provides as much power as a 100-pound battery. are generally lim- ited to below 50 miles an hour. Higher speeds expend a battery's energy faster, re- quiring more frequent rech- arges. One company claims to have a car capable of 70 m.p.h. but only for about 20 miles before requiring a 10- minute recharge extremes affect battery efficiency. Below 40 degrees, chemical reactions are slow, reducing efficiency and starting power. Above 90 degrees, chemical reactions speed up and the batteries yield their charges quicker, reducing their range. are dim for re- ducing the high cost of bat- teries and sophisticated con- trols because they are not mass-produced. "I don't believe we will ever be completely with gas said Gilbert Forbes, product direc- tor of Sebring-Vanguard Inc., which plans to produce electric passengers cars this year and from to 14.000 next year. "When you run out of gas. it takes only a couple of minutes to refuel. It takes hours for us. I don't see the EV becoming a highway vehicle anytime soon but I expect them to gain wide use as a second car for city use." Sebring will market for 390 a two-passenger vehicle capable of 28 m.p.h. for 50 miles between charges. Electric Fuel Propulsion plans to produce Thun- derbolts this year, capable of 120 miles between charges and speeds of up to 70 m.p.h. President Robert Aronson Avis Rent-a-Car has ordered 12 cars for an experi- ment in Chicago. But the Thunderbolt can only go 20 miles at top speed before needing a 10-minute booster charge. "It's meant to be a com- muter car designed for the guy who lives in the suburbs and works in the Aron- son said. 'It will get him into town and back." The price, "sounds expensive but this car will save up to a year on fuel and hundreds of dollars in maintenance." EV promoters said city de- livery and service van mar- kets may be easier to crack. American Motors has a U.S. postal service contract for 350 electric mail trucks in a pilot study. If successful, the post office would replace one-third of its present vehicles at the rate of a year for the next six or seven years. Harry Yoder, president of Battronic Truck Corp., hopes to produce 476 vans this year for bakeries, utilities, dairies, parcel delivery and min- ibuses. Otis Elevator Co. plans to produce 400 electric delivery vans that sell for by year's end. Company officials said it costs one to IVz cents a mile to operate the van, com- pared to six to 10 cents for internal-combustion vehicles. The Ford Motor Co., which industry observers say has the largest investment in the electric car of any of the big auto makers, is pessimistic about EVs powered by the lead-acid battery "We could start making a lousy product now, but would there be a market for said a company spokesman. Ford hopes to perfect a so- dium-sulphur battery that has been around 10 years. Dr W Dale Compton, vice- president of Ford's scientific research, said the battery would last 20 years and would be "very much in line with cost requirements for electric propulsion." He said such a vehicle would compete favor- ably with the internal-com- bustion engine. However, the power-to- weight ratio would still only be one-sixth that of gasoline. And a major unsolved prob- lem is maintaining a 575-de- gree temperature to keep the battery electrodes molten. Mark Obert, manager of specialty power for Gould Inc.. which is providing Sebr- ing-Vanguard with a power pack, said a successful so- dium-sulphur battery will not be ready until the late 1970s or early 1980s. Meanwhile another battery, nickel-iron or nickel-zinc, is nearing perfection. Within three years. Obert said, it will offer two to time% the energy of the same size lead- acid battery. The biggest barrier facing EV may be public accept- ance. An industry marketing survey showed that interest in electric cars plummeted when performance dropped. People buy for their max- imum needs rather than their average needs, said a Univer- sity of Wisconsin study. Thus, it concluded, electric cars would be attractive only to ecologically inclined urban and suburban families earn- ing more than 'Hoppers for export REGINA