Fueling the Way, Gasoline Free
Top auto manufacturers strut their stuff at UC Santa Cruz Electric
By Rachel Stern
In the United States, cars and trucks—99 percent of which run on petroleum—use two-thirds of all the
country’s petroleum and one-third of all its energy.
At UC Santa Cruz’s “Electric Vehicle Symposium” held this past Saturday, many expressed their desire to
lower these statistics by increasing the number of battery-powered vehicles on the road and racetrack.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, industry leaders spoke on the social,
political, technological, and environmental implications of electric vehicles (EVs).
Santa Cruz Assemblyman John Laird introduced the symposium, as well as the next “speaker”: a video of
George Bush’s Feb. 24 White House speech on the convenience of plug-in hybrids.
“I don’t know if what I say is going to compare,” said Laird, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Electric battery-powered vehicles can currently travel about 100 miles on one battery charge, and last for
about 1,000 charges. The EV’s low driving range, short battery lifespan, overnight charging period, and lack
of charging stations are causes for skepticism.
However, advances in lithium-ion-based battery technology are allowing EVs to travel as far on one charge
as a car can travel on a full tank of gasoline.
Although the light-weight and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are currently about five times as expensive
as conventional lead acid batteries, many feel the costs will soon be decreased by an increase in
“The technology is there,” Laird said. “The question is: how do the policies facilitate the technology?”
EVs can also be powered by fuel cells, which convert hydrogen and oxygen into water to produce electricity.
Marc Geller, the co-founder of Plug-In America, feels that even current EV models hold their own, especially
since 90 percent of daily car trips do not exceed 100 miles.
“I’ve heard all the propaganda,” said Gell