• Mar 26, 2011
2011 Nissan Leaf - Click above for high-res image gallery

We've already seen the panic here in the U.S. as activists and analysts question our nuclear infrastructure, and Congress considers a re-examination of our existing facilities. These new fears about nuclear power have everything to do with the events unfolding at Japan's Fukushima power plant, and Automotive News wonders if that trepidation could dampen the prospects of electric vehicles as well.

Plans in Europe call for about 1 million EVs on the road by 2020, and a lot that push centers around increasing the number of nuclear power plants to feed these vehicles. Let's face it, an EV that's charged via electricity generated at an oil or coal-burning plant doesn't do much to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, so nuclear makes a lot of sense. And as costly and time-consuming as it is to erect a nuclear facility, it's likely easier and less expensive than relying on solar, wind or hydro-electric energy sources.

So what does all this have to do with electric vehicles? If the events unfolding in Japan lead governments to question the safety and viability of nuclear power, then new plants will be slow to come online. If car buyers know that their EV is likely burning the same CO2-emitting fossil fuels as their neighbor's internal combustion engine, what's the point of paying more for something that's just as dirty, more expensive and not as easy to fuel up?

Right now the situation at the Fukushima power plant is dire, but if the situation gets worse, the future of nuclear power, and possibly even EVs, could be just as bleak.

[Source: Automotive News sub. req.]


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  • 44 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think the 2 biggest problems having to with electric cars right now are these:
      1- Most of the people don't really care about the ecology. They are more worried about how much things actually cost.
      2- Currently, outside of those living in cities and commuting less than 20 miles each way, electric cars are basically too inefficient. The battery technology isn't there to make it worth paying $40+K for a car that can't go any more than 50 miles without using gas.

      The bottom line becomes simple, personal economics:
      If I'm driving 50 miles each way to work every day, I'm going to have to burn gasoline anyway, so why should I pay twice as much for a smaller car with more to go wrong with it, limited range, and I STILL have to buy gas anyway?

      Most people really don't care where the power comes from, or how many it might kill in the future. It's the here and now they are concerned with. That, and how much stuff costs!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Enthusiasm or no, manufacturers will still build them. California demands it, and thy will be done.
      • 3 Years Ago
      One word.No.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I do not know much about Japan, but I know a little about the situation in the US. It can take years, even decades for a new nuclear plant to be approved, so if increased demand calls for more plants, I could see that becoming an issue.

      I know there are other ways of generating electricity, but people must understand that every alternative has its issues. It's part of the reason I don't see us ever going all electric. There are too many other viable alternatives we could have in unison.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, what a completely misinformed writer. Even if EVs were charged with coal generated power, they'd still be a lot cleaner than ICEs. Get a clue.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would not own the Electric Myth Mobile no matter where the power came from, the concept is too full of problems from how to dispose of the batterys, range, and where to get all the power needed to charge the things. I will stick to my fun to drive and good sounding V8, M3. I will just drive it more sensebly, combining my trips and slow down and enjoy just owning it. I really think diesel cars or natural gas is the way to go.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Shame on You, Autoblog! Using cheap media tricks and puling news right out of ass with questions in title which are dumb is not the way You should act. If You see the publication is stupid - leave it. There's no need to inform us You found out that someone at Automotive News is an imbecile.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nuclear is still best. Just use the spent rods to roast marshmallows.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This little editorial is full of lies. Numerous studies have shown that an electric car, powered solely by electricity generated at a coal-burning plant, still emits less CO2 than a gasoline powered car.

      Also, very little of our electricity infrastructure is powered by oil. I didn't know the point of electric cars was to get off fossil fuels; I thought it was either to get off foreign oil (done) or reduce CO2 emissions (also done, even purely on coal).

      Stop lying, and start doing basic research.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yup. Here's another lie (I can only assume its a lie because any journalist worth his/her salt would research it before writing it): "Let's face it, an EV that's charged via electricity generated at an oil or coal-burning plant doesn't do much to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels." Fossil-fuel electricity-generating plants are far more efficient than a typical car ICE. Coal plants are 35% efficient and gas plants are nearly 50% efficient, while the typical car ICE is barely 20% efficient.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Let's compare Apples to....Apples.

      Say I want to go 36 miles.
      In a gas car, that uses 1 Gallon of gas.
      The electricity used in the refinement of
      that gas was 12 KWh. The cost of drilling,
      shipping, etc are additional.

      In an electric car, 12KWh would be enough
      to drive....about 36 miles. This equation
      has been solved. It doesn't matter how
      dirty or clean the electricity is, the electric
      car wins.

      And, people who drive electric cars...
      are more likely to pay more for Green
      electricity....if it is necessary. In NJ,
      my solar panels will be a profit center.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nuclear Power is perfectly safe. Just not when the station is built on an infamous fault line in a country known for its powerful earthquakes. Or built by Russians.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's easy to get the public into a frenzy over nuclear power, and in reality nuclear has consistently been safer then all alternatives. Since it is the least understand power source, people are afraid of it, and the media at large generally does a terrible job at educating versus fear mongering for ratings/views/sales/whatever.

      Compare death rates of nuclear with any other power source.

      http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/visualizations/2e5d4dcc4fb511e0ae0c000255111976/comments/2e70ae944fb511e0ae0c000255111976

        • 3 Years Ago
        @fsx: what about the tens of thousands that die each year in mines. what about the 11 who died when the gulf platform exploded? Where's your call to shut that all down?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I didn't defend those energy sources in my post, but if you really need it, let this be my call for those power sources to be banned.
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