Yoopers with Electric Cars

In a discussion today with someone who is beyond fed up with oil companies who are gouging good old American citizens, I was told that no one in the US would be driving a gas-powered car in ten years.

I was then told that battery-powered electric cars would be all anyone drove (except for the ones that use plain water for fuel invented by that guy who was probably going to be killed by the government soon – long tangent not really worth delving into) and that the only reason no one had electric cars today was the big conspiracy between the government and oil companies.

When I said I’d be happy to drive a plug-in electric with acceptable performance and safety that was charged off a grid powered by new nuclear power plants but that I was skeptical that we’d see such a car at an affordable price within the next few years, he laughed at me and told me that I’d had the wool pulled over my eyes.

You see, the hillbillies in northern Michigan all drive electric cars. Those were his words. “All the hillbillies in northern Michigan drive electric cars. They drive them all over the place.”

I asked where they bought them and he laughed again. “They built them themselves,” he told me. “It’s easy. Anyone can do it. If dumb hillbillies can do it, don’t tell me that GM can’t do it. They just don’t want to and they don’t want anyone else to, either.”

I asked him to send me information about the dumb hillbillies who built their own electric cars and drove them everywhere, but he hasn’t yet.

Will someone please point them out to me?

I also failed to ask if the dumb hillbillies of northern Michigan were going to be silenced, but it probably goes without saying.

Comments

  1. My understanding is that it’s quite easy to build an electric car with pretty good performance cheaply, but: 1) range sucks 2) batteries won’t last that long 3) safety sucks 4) not very comfortable or attractive 5) probably not very practical either I think we’ll start seeing some commercial short-range commuter vehicles that are purely electric over the next 5-10 years, but I doubt we’ll be seeing something that can replace a normal car at any reasonable price for somewhat longer than that. Batteries are still too heavy and expensive. Hopefully that will change but I don’t think it has yet.

  2. ‘You see, the hillbillies in northern Michigan all drive electric cars. Those were his words. ‘All the hillbillies in northern Michigan drive electric cars. They drive them all over the place.” Hillbillies in northern Michigan? I doubt it. Hillbillies may not be the sharpest tools in the box but they ain’t crazy enough to migrate north of the Mason-Dixon line! Maybe the person who said that was mistakenly referring to the ‘plug-in’ power cord used to power the heater which keeps the engine block from freezing over night in the 30-degree below zero temperatures in the dead of a northern Michigan winter?

  3. I used to work for an electric utility. We had a couple of electric cars but I never used them when I visited the generation plants – not enough range to get there and back.

  4. Maybe he was talking about golf carts? Anyway, I grew up in a rural farming community. Back in the early ’80s, the father of my (at that time) girlfriend built an electric car out of a Chevette. It had a small gasoline motor that ran a generator and two banks of batteries. When one bank was powering the electric drivetrain, the engine and generator were charging the other bank. The only problems were that the components available then weren’t efficient enough so the top speed was only about 45mph and the operating bank of batteries would run down before the engine/generator could charge the second bank up completely so eventually it would run out of juice. It did get (IIRC) about 100 mpg though. Anyway, I guess the point is that ‘hillbillies’ from rural areas can build electric cars from scratch. Oh…did I mention that the guy was an electrical engineer that worked for Delco electronics? Oh…I may have forgot to mention as well that one evening the batteries in the car went into thermal runaway, caught fire while the car was in the garage and burned their house to the ground. (My class ring, in possession of the daughter at the time, was lost in the fire…I’m still a little bitter about that) I guess the moral of the story is that it is doable, but perhaps it’s not quite as easy as some people think.

  5. There’s thousands of abandoned farms in TN and KY from the 1940’s partially from a huge migration of ‘hillbillies’ to Michigan during WWII…I know, I grew up there and I guess I’ve got some hillbilly in me… Lotta golf carts in MI, but they ARE cold in the winter… ‘Hillbillies in northern Michigan? I doubt it. Hillbillies may not be the sharpest tools in the box but they ain’t crazy enough to migrate north of the Mason-Dixon line!’

  6. Anyone’s house burning down IS NOT funny…………but damn, the thermal runaway part of the story knocked me out. LOL!