Why Aren’t Auto Manufacturers Producing Electric Cars?

The Volkswagen emissions scandal exposes many unresolved and unacknowledged issues. While the VW brain “trust” designed software to cheat emissions tests, Tesla Motors continues producing state of the art zero emission vehicles, some with 300-mile cruising ranges. One of their next generation vehicles will cost $30,000, becoming more affordable for the masses.

Tesla has open sourced its technology so any of the giant automobile manufacturers can mass produce these types of vehicles as well. As clearly stated by Tesla Motors: “…Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

With their economy of scale reducing the per unit cost via mass production, the auto manufacturing giants such as Volkswagen, General Motors, Toyota, etc., can produce zero emission vehicles using proven technology with robust cruising ranges at a fraction of the cost that Tesla does, thus making these cars affordable to the masses. The major auto manufactures are stalling their mass production of pure electric vehicles. Why?

Pure electric vehicles have a fraction of the parts and maintenance requirements compared to internal combustion vehicles. There are no exhaust systems or conventional braking systems, both with many parts, no internal combustion engines or complex transmissions with hundreds of moving parts, which will save consumers billions of dollars in repairs. This includes the Tesla line and the EV-1 electric car, which General Motors produced, started leasing in the 1990s, and suddenly recalled and crushed.

Large scale auto manufacturers are closely tied with a vast auto parts and repair industry with billions of dollars and millions of jobs at stake. Their connection with the petroleum industry is obvious, as internal combustion cars consume vast amounts of oil and gas, polluting the air, emitting C02, deadly C01, other toxins, and consuming vast amounts of atmospheric oxygen. There are billions of dollars in oil revenue at stake for Exxon, Mobile, Chevron and all the rest, not to mention the effect electric cars will have on the manufacturing work force reduction. Cars with fewer parts require less people to make them and subsequently maintain them.

There is an obvious conflict that major auto manufacturers are facing through no fault of their own. Their interconnections with adjacent industries and potential work force reduction have them seemingly at odds with rapidly phasing out of internal combustion and into mass produced zero emission electric vehicles.

There are a lot of hard working people in the auto manufacturing, oil and auto parts and repair industries, many with families to feed who want to preserve their jobs. How do we make a responsible, rapid transition to zero emission vehicles given this challenging situation?

As consumers and individuals we have the power to create demand for green products including pure electric zero emission cars. It's entirely feasible for major auto manufacturers to produce affordable zero emission vehicles with existing technology; widespread consumer demand will provide a crucial incentive. Educated vocal consumers are a key factor. Make your voice heard. The “Zero Emission Vehicles Now” petition backed by 350.org is one way you can do this.

Let the auto manufacturers know you want to drive affordable zero emission cars. Consider writing your congressman and signing the petition. Please step forward in the spirit of change and take a deep breath while you still can.

Russell Kramer is a freelance writer and illustrator with published works ranging from illustrated technical science articles to editorials on topics including sustainable technology. Email redfox2520@comcast.net.

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