Electricity revolutionized the world a century-and-a-half ago, and coming in new forms, it’s revolutionizing the world again. And, as baby boomer Larry Lefkowitz writes from Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, electric cars are— excuse the pun— leading the charge.
I have been a car guy all my life. I have had more cars than a normal person could imagine, driving my 67th at the moment. I’ve been fascinated by the skill in design and execution of these machines, so big you actually sit inside them to make them go.
Growing up in the ‘60s, the thrill of hearing a big engine and smelling the oil and gas was an absolute aphrodisiac.
Then something happened. I got older. Fast and sleek didn’t mean as much to me as capable and utilitarian. While this has affected baby boomers in a large way, it was a gradual transformation for me. I resisted rolling boxes, called SUVs or CUVs, and other marketing names, for a long time. They weren’t fun to drive and got terrible gas mileage. Now, this is no longer true. However, on the horizon is an even bigger transformation. That is, the replacement of the internal combustion engine by electrically-powered vehicles.
If you just look at the benefits that electric vehicles provide the individual consumer, the repercussions should reach deeply into society in beneficial ways. From cleaning the planet to diverting expendable income.
But wait. Where is this electricity coming from? How is it being made? How is the national grid going to handle this? Coupled with the increase in electronic tools of almost every kind, most of them rechargeable from smartphones to lawn mowers, charging millions of cars daily will require a lot of electricity.
Many of these issues are being worked out as we speak, and the addition of resources to the electrical store has been significant. Renewable energy now contributes more than 17% of the domestically-produced electricity in the United States, and the trend lines keep going up. Windmill farms, both inland and offshore, are becoming profitable investments. The U.S. is already the fourth largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world, and solar power is growing daily.
All of this should mean cheaper energy for all of us, although realistically, that will likely not be realized overnight due to infrastructure costs and maintenance. Also, capitalism. But the ability to produce clean energy on home soil has great geopolitical ramifications for all countries. The potential for expanded trade through competition is likely to increase as shipping expenses are reduced.
Is this wishful thinking? Maybe partially. I think we will live to see the electrical revolution and it stands to be bright.