Vehicles 11/17/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

As I write this (about a week ago), my hybrid Volt is in the shop.  Honestly, it’s been running well, and this is just a wellness check.  The interesting thing about a hybrid is that, if (like me) you don’t use the gas engine often, you sometimes do need to change it out.  Gasoline does have a kind of expiration date.  There are impurities in it, as well as additives, and if too much evaporates that all builds up and the ratio of additives to gasoline gets out of balance. 

Some years ago, my father rather shocked me with a comment he made.  There was an accident (a rather horrific one) because the vehicle brakes went out.  The driver (and owner) didn’t take good care of his vehicle which was, frankly, rusting out from under him.  My father, typically a proponent of personal responsibility and always maintaining excellent working condition of his own vehicles, made the claim that it was his vehicle, and he could do what he wanted even after somebody was killed because of his brakes. 

In Ohio at that time, there was no required inspection.  Here in Nebraska, the only required inspection is to verify ownership and title transfer, and yet, in Massachusetts, to register my vehicle required an inspection so detailed that it even required testing of the exhaust to be sure the emissions were in range. 

The question becomes if we should require vehicle inspections or not.  There is something to be said for intruding on personal rights, but what of personal responsibilities?  What of the requirement to make reasonable effort to be sure your vehicle doesn’t suddenly lose a tire on the highway causing a pile-up as it suddenly swerves unexpectedly? 

Today, the stakes are even higher, and I believe our responsibilities should increase as well.  There are those fighting for the survival of the human race as carbon dioxide concentration continues increasing and global warming is reaching a critical level.  I purchased a very inexpensive and very old vehicle some time ago as a means of transportation, but even at that I put in a goodly amount of money to ensure that it was at least safe for me, any passengers I might have and those around me.  For such an old and inexpensive vehicle, it was actually highly reliable having taken it on multiple long-distance trips to clear out my storage rental a couple of states away.  Unfortunately, it was also something of a gas hog.  It’s not surprising as it was made a quarter of a century ago.  But today, that means that I was contributing to the global warming problem far more than I would have liked to.

I still have that old beast (although I would like to sell it), but I’ve replaced it with two vehicles.  One is the hybrid I mentioned earlier that I use for driving around town.  I don’t use the gas engine very often because I just don’t drive it that far.  This might sound like its emission free, but it really isn’t.  All it means is that the emissions are coming from the local power plant and, unfortunately, here we still use coal power plants.  The other, a 2020 Equinox, is mainly my vehicle for long trips and hauling larger items (something I find myself doing often because of my recently purchased fixer-upper house).  Both have far better mileage so I’m feeling much happier about my carbon footprint.

Right now, there is a lot of arguing about going to more electrical vehicles, but the political discussion just isn’t serious.  I purchased a hybrid because I know that if I run out of power, I can just fill up at any gas station on the way.  If politicians were serious about switching from fossil fuels to electric, there would be a plan in place.

This plan would include working with car makers to settle on an agreement on plug styles and properties of rapid rechargers so regulations can go into place.  Once settled, incentives would have to be used to encourage recharging stations across the nation.  I went to a hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle because I cannot trust finding a rapid charging station from coast to coast as I can gasoline.  Frankly, the government can even work with gas companies who are already receiving incentives despite their incredible profits.  Gas companies have the stations and can easily simply come up with a plan to include rapid recharge stations once we have the plug and charging regulations in place.  To seriously consider transitioning away from fossil fuels, then we need to work on getting away from coal and oil electrical plants.  Until these issues are opened for discussion, our government has no interest in getting away from fossil fuels. 

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