By Bob Difley
There are a lot of smart scientists working on a lot of futuristic projects in secret laboratories around the world, some of these projects could impact RVers and the way we enjoy our lifestyle. Take electric (EV) and hybrid electric (HEV) vehicles that are getting all the media play. New EVs are popping up like spring wildflowers–not only in the US but also in England, India, China, Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain and just about every country that makes automobiles.
So far, it’s been a hard row to hoe getting people to accept a different concept in their vehicles than what they are accustomed to, such as the mileage range between fossil fuel vehicles and EVs, time to fill up with gas or diesel fuel compared to charging a battery-operated car, ability of electricity powered vehicles to carry or pull the loads that would be required for RVs, and cost differentials–EVs and HEVs are much higher compared to internal combustion engines (ICE).
But these smart and innovative scientists and entrepreneurs are working on this stuff. They’d rather that we changed our perspective on how we look at vehicles but also realize that until electrics are offered that have the same or better range, charge (fill up) time, and cost as an ICE operated vehicle, the populace is unlikely to adopt the new concept.
So they are going about their business by inventing better batteries, ones that will weigh less, are smaller, offer more usable power, and charge quicker. And a Dutch firm has re-invented highways with solar powered glow-in-the-dark surfaces that charge during the daylight hours and light up at night. They also respond to road conditions like ice or rain, and the lanes have built-in electric car chargers–magnetic fields under the asphalt–to charge your EV battery as you drive.
These are not just concepts. They actually work and are now undergoing a pilot program with the intent of installing these road upgrades throughout Europe. If these concepts work, how long will it be before these innovations come to the RV business? And what would it mean? Would we see:
- RVs that obtain mileage figures similar to fuel efficient small cars
- Dingy vehicles that charge themselves while driving or being towed
- Highways that light up with snowflakes (photo) when ice is present
- Battery improvements and highway charging abilities that enable large RVs to go electric with no fuel costs (other than the cost of charging the batteries from the grid)
- And . . . what else? What do you see as the possibilities for EVs in the RV industry? Are scientists thinking that far down the road yet? What would you like to see in electric vehicle and battery development? Who knows, some scientists might read this blog also and come up with a solution.
For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.
Fill ‘er up: Will that be electric or air, sir?
OK. I’m stretching it about pulling an electric car into a re-fueling station (gas station to you petrol users) and telling the attendant to “fill ‘er up.” But maybe it isn’t that far off. Wheelbarrows full of $$ is flowing into start-up technology think tanks to be first on th block with the “next big thing” in fuel technology. And one of these would be a battery that will recharge in 20 minutes or so, making a bathroom and snack stop long enough for a recharge.
We all know that with a new administration in the White House, whether it be Hilary, Obama, or McCain, there will be a surge of energy toward “green” and a diminished dependence on foreign oil. One of the developments will be in storage batteries, so that plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles can go longer without needing to recharge the batteries.
At the forefront of development is A123Systems whose lithium ion batteries now power urban electric busses and the new Think City Car (mileage between plug-ins of 100-120 miles) from the Norwegian carmaker, Think.