Mitsubishi has decided to promote its own electric car with a stunt: Giving residents of Normal, Illinois 1,000 new electric cars and documenting their adoption by conservative Middle America.
Setting the stunt in "Normal" was really cute. But Illinois is hardly an ideal location for electric cars.
Why? One word: Coal.
Like much of the USA, Illinois gets much of its energy from coal. The state is a major coal producer, but their black gold is so dirty they end up exporting most of it. And their existing plants are pretty nasty, built before "clean coal" technology and regulations.
Is burning coal to power your car really cleaner than burning petroleum? How about nuclear? (Illinois is big into the atom as well.) This is why I am not as thrilled about the electric car as I used to be. To me, it seems as if they have the potential to allow city-dwellers to feel good about themselves and preserve their air while exporting their emissions and waste to the countryside. All energy has an environmental cost, and we need to look at the cause and effect throughout the system before we declare any technological miracles.