I intended to title this article “How I Saved the World”, but then, it might sound, after reading the title, like a text made by a Jesus impersonator. And it isn’t! It’s done by yours truly and it’s about motorcycles, mostly.
A lot of hoo-ha has been made recently about electric motorcycles, their role in today’s motorcycling world, and their impact on the future of transportation. There are a lot of people advocating these contraptions, and then, there are those that are against. Who’s right? Well, no one, of course.
Talking about the good sides of electric vehicles makes no sense, because they’re so obvious that even primary school children can point out and describe them. What the real issue here is, how can we take those good things and put them to use. It seems like everyone is ignoring the problems right now and they’re all trying to work around them. What are the problems?
Electric vehicles, of course, run on electricity. To store that electricity, they use tanks called batteries. The batteries, the tanks that hold the juice, are causing majority of problems. You see, batteries today, as much as advanced as they are and as they will be in the future, are heavy …and they’re not my brother. But, the batteries are heavy in a bad way. Compared to conventional internal combustion engines and their tanks, electric ones never change their weight. An empty petrol tank weighs considerably less than a full one. That leaves a lot of room for calculating with the weight of the whole vehicle. The best example for this is racing – when setting fastest times during qualifying, racers carry amount of fuel enough only to last them a few laps. That nicely translates to the real-life situations. If your daily commute takes 50 kilometers, it makes no sense dragging around a full tank of fuel enough for covering over a thousand kilometers. Less fuel in the tank equals less weight to drag around equals less consumption and better performance. And there’s no such thing with batteries. Fully charged battery weighs just the same as a completely discharged one. That means you drag that heavy lump around no matter where you go. The other big issue is recharging. Because it takes several hours to charge a battery in a normal, usable way, it renders batteries as completely useless form of storing energy in vehicles. Charging batteries the way we do today equals filling up a petrol tank using an eyedropper. Of course no one ever tried suggesting filling a petrol tank in that way because he, or less likely she, would probably be shot at sight on account of ultimate stupidity – even in Vatican. And there’s such a nice and sleek solution to all that.
I think that all car and motorcycle designers should take on photography. They should try living of taking photographs of weddings and they should do it for at least two years. I think that should be enough for them to comprehend the problems with their current work. You see, after using up all the energy from a battery in their cameras, between the two dances, they would not come to the bride and groom and ask them to halt the wedding for a few hours until the battery recharges. No, they will swiftly take the useless battery out and replace it for a fully charged, reserve battery. No one would even notice that and the wedding would continue as if nothing had happened. Furthermore, if the vehicle engineers slash wedding photographers wanted to go perhaps a bit longer time without a battery replacement job, they would combine two or more batteries together for a longer range. Get it?
Of course we shouldn’t force car and bike makers give up on their careers to become wedding photographers – we’d end up with a whole lot of crap wedding pictures that broke all the time. What we should do is make them realize that having a battery as an almost structural part of a vehicle just isn’t a job well done. What vehicles need are batteries that are easily removable and replaceable. And that brings us to the other part of this world-saving article.
Having removable batteries means we should be able to pull the empty batteries out and chuck in the full ones. And we should do that on places specially designated for such activities. Sounds familiar? This next piece of my proposal is the world-saving one. The big oil companies should start offering recharging services, but not to our batteries. They should recharge batteries they own. This is how it works: we buy a car or a motorcycle that uses a standardized size battery with a standardized connector. We go to an energy station, the ones we now call petrol stations, get a couple of batteries and put them in our vehicle. I imagine in the USA they would probably even deliver them. Then when we start running low on juice, we pop ‘round to the same station and exchange the empties for the fresh ones – and we pay for the electricity only. Genius, right?
To conclude: if we start using exchangeable batteries in electric vehicles, we’d never again have to wait for a battery to recharge because a fresh battery would be awaiting you just around the corner, right where the petrol station used to be. We’d save ourselves the hassle and expense of disposing used-up batteries, having big, lumpy chargers at home, and getting ulcers every time the charge drops below 50%. Probably the biggest benefit of all this would be that the big oil companies would have something to do once the oil runs out. They would become electricity dealers, recharging and leasing their batteries. We’d exchange the empties for the full ones, and never think of them again. So, big oil – start investing.
That’s me in the picture above.