Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rant #409: Electric Larryland

Let me just start off by saying that I have my computer back home from the shop. The technician swears that all I need is a new monitor, and I bought one last night. I came home late, so I didn't hook anything up. I will try to do it tonight. Hopefully, this computer nightmare will be over and done with.

Let's move on. I read in the local newspaper here that the Long Island Power Authority, the local authority which supplies power to Long Island residents and businesses, is offering a $500 rebate on plug-in cars. LIPA said the amount is equivalent to the cost of charging a plug-in electric vehicle for one year or the cost of the optional 240-volt charging station that cuts what could be a 10-hour charging time to about four hours. The rebate will be available until the end of 2011.

That is all fine and good. We should be moving toward purchasing hybrid or electric-only cars to cut our fuel consumption. With gas prices rapidly nearing the $4 mark, anything we can do to save a little money is good.

And yes, political correct police, it helps the environment too.

But wait a minute.

The car manufacturers--many of whom pleaded poverty a year ago--don't appear to be on the same page with the rest of us.

Yes, they are manufacturing such vehicles, but they are pricing them well beyond the reach of the average consumer.

Look at the new Volt, which recently debuted with a big splash as the future of these types of cars. This vehicle, unlike the similarly vaunted Prius, uses plug-in rechargeable batteries running two electric motors. It also comes with a gas engine.

However, it is priced at $41,000, and that is for a car that is pretty much a box with wheels. When you add up all of your costs, the car probably costs about $50,000, or what the gas-eating Hummer used to cost.

Sure, you get a tax rebate and you will save on gas usage, but I don't know if I want to saddle myself with such a huge bill for a car that might last five years or so.

When I was looking for a car two-and-a-half years ago, I really wanted a hybrid, but their prices were well beyond what I wanted to pay. I can't see paying more than $30,000 for a car whose technology has yet to be perfected.

Sure, there are people on this planet who can well afford such cars. Hollywood royalty, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, have told us for years that we should buy hybrids and electric cars to save our environment.

Sorry, Leo, I don't make $20 million a movie like you do, so I simply can't afford this new technology.

I have to drive around with your standard family car, which cost me maybe $20,000 or in that range, and which gets me 24 miles a gallon.

Again, it's nice that the car companies are coming out with such cars--others are supposed to debut in 2011, like the Leaf--but until they are priced affordably, your standard middle class worker making $40,000 or more is not going to go for them.

We will save on gas, but we will bankrupt ourselves in the process.

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