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Tough questions face future of all-electric vehicles

Major obstacles to all-electric cars must be overcome before much acceptance by public

All-electric vehicles will never gain public acceptance until the problem of remote recharging is solved, so warms a research engineer with Boston College. John Magee calls it "range anxiety" and people will be concerned about traveling from home without the ability to recharge.

Vehicles like the Chevy Volt are not the concern, says Magee, because it uses a combination of gasoline and electricity. When the battery runs down they can always switch over to gas, he says. But it is not the same with totally electric vehicles, and that is where range anxiety comes in. "People will want to recharge while they go shopping so they won't get stuck if they have that pure electric vehicle," Magee says.

And Magee goes even further by saying such charging facilities should be mandatory, perhaps starting with local ordinances. "We will need public charging stations," says Magee, "places where the general public will be able to charge the vehicles ... stations that work somewhat like parking meters, were you'll pull up and plug in, and pay for a certain amount of electricity."

Magee admitted that local ordinances mandating such stations would be only a start, at some time it would have to be uniform everywhere. We already have a national policy that requires handicapped parking spaces, says Magee, "and we can have a similar policy with charging stations."

Magee made his comments by phone from his home in Boston on the ScienceNews Radio Network program, the Promise of Tomorrow with Colonel Mason. On the program Mason asked Magee if motels and hotels would naturally be the best place to start. Magee agreed, and said hotels won't want extension cords hanging from windows to cars in the parking lot. The broadcast can now be heard archived at the website for a world audience.

Magee is bringing these questions to a world energy conference produced by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) styled Innovative Technologies for an Efficient and Reliable Electricity Supply. The conference is at a hotel in Boston September 27 - 29 where Magee hopes to "get thinking started" on this issue, recruit experts and come up with a concise document that "puts in one place the policy needs, the technical needs, and what the towns can actually enact in order to solve the problem." The public is welcome to attend by registering at the website.

Source: ScienceNews Radio Network