The podcast this week is a conversation about the history of electric cars, which is part of an exhibit ongoing right now at the Bakken Museum in South Minneapolis. I sat down with Juliet Burba, curator of the Bakken Museum and Robert Moffitt, communications director for the Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition, who helped to sponsor the exhibit, to talk about the early era of electric cars back at the dawn of the automobile age.
We sat down to talk about the Bakken’s ongoing exhibit, “Absolutely Horseless,” which is a reference to one of the early electric car advertisements displayed at the Bakken. Juliet and Robert told me all about what it was like in these early days of driving and how electric cars appealed differently to men and women. We then discussed the state of the electric car today, and how there are a lot of changes happening around alternative fuels and electric automobiles. We even talked about hypermilers and silent electric military motorcycles. I hope you enjoy this fascinating conversation.
The link to the audio is here.
Very interesting. I’ll have to see the museum. I’m pretty optimistic about electric cars as they offer a way for us to maintain our accustomed level of mobility as petroleum reserves dwindle and climate change ramps us making burning what fossil fuels we have left less tenable. They come with a fair share of questions too. I am curious if we will have enough electricity to power all the cars w/o burning fossil fuels. Will fusion save us? Will we be able to harvest enough rare earth metals for the batteries? Will be able to dispose of the used up ones? And will this also damage the environment in a fairly catastrophic way? Will electric cars allow us to cling to our sprawl development patterns rather than being nudged to more people-centered and transit-oriented land use?
No (solar + batteries will save us), yes, they’ll be recycled, no, don’t know
“I am curious if we will have enough electricity to power all the cars w/o burning fossil fuels.”
The short answer is yes. We work closely with utilities like Xcel Energy in our EV work. Minnesota just passed a first in the nation law that requires public utilities to offer electric car owner a renewable power option, if they request one.
“Will fusion save us?”
It wasn’t yet, but it has its fan and foes.
“Will we be able to harvest enough rare earth metals for the batteries?”
I would worry more about laptops and cell phones, which use the same batteries. This area is changing quickly. We may not need them to make super batteries. Still, an issue to watch.
“Will be able to dispose of the used up ones? And will this also damage the environment in a fairly catastrophic way?”
Yes, and no.
“Will electric cars allow us to cling to our sprawl development patterns rather than being nudged to more people-centered and transit-oriented land use?”
Those who choose electric cars tend to be rather aware of their impact on the environment, so I would say no.
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