They're three years ahead of you, Matt, giving funding to a company planning to recycle lithium batteries.
Basically the issue is that the demand for electric cars has come at the time in history when auto companies are mostly so large and clumsy, and the regulations governing their design so numerous, that design of a new model of vehicle takes 5+ years and $2 billion or so before the first one can roll off the assembly line - so the result ain't cheap. This is why some guy tooling about in his garage can convert his old car to electric for $3,000, but a multibillion dollar auto company can't produce one for under $50,000. It's different in India and China, but the West is unlikely to be putting out $3,000 electric cars in the near future.
As I said, trains, bikes and the like are simply more practical. Whatever you power the thing with it's just more efficient to use 20t of train carriage to transport 150 people, or 10kg of bicycle to transport 1 person, than 1 tonne of vehicle with 1-2 people. More cost-effective, too - in the last decade in Australia, we've built the Monash freeway for $55 million per kilometre, and Perth built a new railway line for $13 million per kilometre. And bike paths need cost no more than the paint for a new line on the road.
When work was a 45 minute trip each way by walking and public transport vs 20 minutes in the car, I left the car at home. Now that work is 90 minutes walking and public transport vs 20 in the car, I drive. I'm not unusual in this.
This isn't even considering the issues of public transport frequency, punctuality and reliability, which here in Melbourne ain't great. Buses 20-40 minutes apart and the timetables not synchronised with the train stations they're running to, trains running late being cancelled or turned into express trains missing stations so that the company running them can keep its punctuality figures up, etc.
If you put several people in one vehicle instead of one, or one person in/on a smaller vehicle, things are quite simply more efficient, less resources are consumed and pollution produced for the same distance covered. Public transport is no different to any other service - if it's pleasant, frequent and reliable, people will use it; if it's unpleasant, infrequent and unreliable they won't. Price is a minor issue really, people will pay for a good service.
As for bikes, they just need to be convenient (no fucking about with helmets, etc) and safe, since nobody wants to get run over by a truck.
This fuckarsing about with fuel efficiency standards, while giving the auto companies a much-needed kick in the arse - "You insist that we produce things the market actually demands? Oppression! You should subsidise our clueless incompetence instead!" - is really fiddling about the edges, it's majoring in the minors. There was a guy on the rosstraining forum who was wondering what routine to use to maintain his strength while building endurance - he was squatting 95lbs. He missed the fucking point. Likewise people worrying about the miles per gallon standards.
Last edited by Kyle Aaron; 08-25-2012 at 02:51 AM.