Thursday, July 15, 2010

Small step for electric cars, giant leap towards killing BP's Macondo well

Today's post is somewhat of a news roundup.

President Obama promoted electric vehicles at the opening of a battery factory in Michigan yesterday, while engineers finally stopped the oil gusher completely (albeit possibly not permanently) for the first time since it began nearly three months ago.

While Gulf wildlife is not out of the oil infested waters woods yet, this is a major step on the way to permanently stopping the uncontrolled flow of oil. Engineers will be monitoring the internal pressure of the well over the next 48 hours to determine how well the cap is working. If they see rising pressure, that could signal an oncoming breach in the cap equipment. If they see dropping pressure, that could signify that oil is leaking into the surrounding rock, in effect finding other ways to breach the ocean floor.

(FYI, you can monitor the leak from multiple underwater cameras here on BP's website)

Switching gears, an NYT article yesterday announced that GM will be offering 8-year or 100,000 mile warrantees on their Chevy Volt batteries. I question whether they will extend that offer to customers who choose to cycle their batteries more frequently through vehicle-to-grid programs that are sure to develop once these cars hit the road. The warrantee department should probably get out of their internal combustion engine mindset and set warrantees based on battery cycles, not miles, but as an advocate of V2G systems, I won't complain.

One interesting thing about the president's address at the battery factory yesterday was that he dropped the last protectionist line from his usual EV battery stump speech, which normally reads, "For years, we've heard about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas. You are leading the way in showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America, instead of South Korea." Since the parent company of the battery plant, LG Chem, is from South Korea, some astute staffer cut out the last four words. In my opinion, he or she probably deserves a raise. (This was first noted in the WP article linked to above.)

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