In a move that might surprise some, but shouldn’t, the editors of Motor Trend, the online and print magazine that has for generations picked one car out of the flock of options and named it as the car that defined the year, in an industry that it seems, is constantly in flux, has chosen the Chevy Volt as it’s Car of the Year.
The Chevy Volt is an obvious choice because it is the car that may very well define how all new cars are produced over the next decade or so. It runs primarily on battery power that its owner can charge by simply plugging into a regular old 110 socket overnight. The secondary gasoline engine is only for long trips, or when the battery runs low. But, because its main power is electricity, the entire automobile industry will have to rethink how it does business.
Consider for example the model currently in place. You drive your car around wherever you wish, and when you start to run low on fuel, you simply pull into one of the millions of service stations around the country, or the world for that matter. With the Chevy Volt comes a new way to juice your vehicle; one that leaves the petrochemical giants out in the cold, because most electricity is generated using coal, rather than oil.
And where there are now service stations serving up gasoline, where will buyers of the Chevy Volt charge-up, if their trip takes them father than their battery will allow? Will they be able to charge-up at work, or will those service stations now in operation slowly start to convert to battery charging stations? And will they have to serve up both gas and electricity for the foreseeable future, and if so, is there any money to be made in doing little more than re-charging batteries?
And that just scratches the surface of this whole business of driving around electrically powered vehicles. What will happen to all those batteries when they are no longer re-chargeable? There’s a lot of lead in those. And what will happen to the huge oil companies if the shift to electric/battery powered cars takes off; will they become battery producers? And will the garages that service cars be able to switch over in time as new electric vehicles start to roll off production lines?
And what about the claim that buying an electric/battery powered car or truck will finally un-tether us from our dependence on imported oil? Hardly, unless we dive into battery development and production; as it stands right now, most of the kind of batteries that are used in electric vehicles, are made in Japan, so we could be doing little more than moving our dependence from one part of the globe to another.
Any way you look at it, the Chevy Volt is a game changer; how the game will be changed though, is still anybody’s guess.