Imagine this line from an updated version of The Blues Brothers: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full battery charge, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
Doesn’t quite work, does it? “We got a full tank of gas” was Dan Aykroyd’s line as he and John Belushi fired up their Dodge Monaco in the first movie. Gasoline-powered cars are branded into North American culture, and the idea of an American battery-powered car culture seems absurd.
How did gasoline-fuelled cars become so popular? The United States has about 263 million registered passenger vehicles. The strength and flexibility of the internal combustion engine explains only part of the story.
Gas guzzlers took over because neither the cars nor the fuel were hit with taxes that reflected the full cost of building and maintaining a vast road and highway network, and dealing with the damage to health and the environment from tailpipe emissions. In essence, drivers were—and still are—getting a free ride
Electric vehicle (EV) makers and their customers want a similarly sweet deal. They see the roads filling up with EVs as the internal combustion engine sputters out. Some forecasts say 50% of all vehicles sold by 2050 will be EVs.