Friday, May 07, 2010


How long will electric car manufacturing continue in Hawaii?

by Larry Geller

I remember the hype around electric cars that were to be built on the Big Island. We even saw one on a visit there. But where are they today?

It looks like “here we go again” time.

And again, green energy is confused with electric transport.

Right there on the front page of this morning’s Advertiser was a strange headline: Hawaii chosen as manufacturing site for electric mini-cars (4/7/2010).

A South Korea-based company has committed to build a $200 million assembly plant on O'ahu that would turn out two-seat electric cars and other vehicles and employ as many as 400 people.

CT&T Co. said it has narrowed its search to four sites on which to build a 100,000-square-foot plant from which it would also sell its elfin vehicles, which are mostly targeted at short jaunts on city and neighborhood streets.

Hawaii certainly can use the jobs, and electric vehicles are good, right? One day there should be many of them in use here. Could this be the start?

Just a moment. We are in the middle of the Pacific, not the best place to manufacture anything. We have a high cost of labor, no source of supply. Everything has to be brought in. Surely, electric cars, like any other car, are better manufactured elsewhere. It seems absurd that cars can be more cheaply manufactured here than elsewhere.

But maybe somehow it makes sense. I can’t imagine how the economics of this can work out, but then, I’m not an economist.

If built, how long will the plant stay after car sales level off? Our highways are crowded for a reason—and these “elfin vehicles” can’t go on the highways. There should be a market for electric cars, but you don’t see them around, do you.

If I’m wrong, Honolulu will be bumper-to-bumper with elfin electric cars. If I’m right, it won’t be. The H-1 will still be bumper-to-bumper with standard-size cars, though, and savings on gasoline will be negligible.

Still, the governor is electrified:

"This is an exciting day," said Gov. Linda Lingle, who has championed the state's aggressive pursuit of clean energy and weaning Hawai'i off petroleum.

These may be electric cars, but they do not wean us off petroleum.

The cars may be very cost effective for their owners, but all of their energy derives from the same sources that provide us with electricity now: imported petroleum and  coal.

Yes, coal (see: Coal: Hawaii’s Dirty Secret, 2/15/2010). The coal-burning power plant in Campbell Industrial Park accounts for 20% of the electricity produced on Oahu. It will provide 20% of the power for those cars. So the cars are not “green” just because they are electric. They ultimately burn filthy oil and coal.

It is strange that more people do not commute here by bicycle or even electric cars. There must be reasons for that, since many other cities around the world are crowded with bikes. We should work at figuring that out. Those cities presumably don’t make their own electric cars, what few they have. They get them from places where it makes sense to manufacture cars.

So I’m curious to learn where the magic is in this proposal. If there is magic, we sure need the jobs. But we need something real for a change.

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Is South Korea a front for CT&T Co.? It has been rumored that Israel was bringing an electric car company to Hawai'i. Is this it? Another back door manuver by Lingle which would allow another country(Israel) that practices Apartheid and has such disregard for human rights more footage into Hawai'i. Does Israel wish to ILLEGALLY OCCUPY US TOO????

Really Anon? The best comment you can come up with is some mindless anti-semitism? Shame on you Larry for allowing that sort of non-sequitur.

Seriously tho:

All the advantages of PV, no downsides (toxic manufacturing, disposal, and toxic battery banks that cost as much as the cells themselves). Well downside, they're about 30-40% more land hungry than PV. But they pretty much avoid the power spiking problem associated with PV and wind, and with oil as a storage medium (NOT to burn) can provide power for up to 4 hours after sunset. Best of all they're relatively low-tech, and don't require exotic materials or manufacturing processes to make. It's older solar tech, so it's also cheaper.

The big fight is going to be what replaces the petroleum and coal burners on O'ahu when they end-of-life. If we can't come up with a renewable source that provides reliable baseload then the proponents of fossil-fuel will use that as an argument to push for new fossil-fueled power plants.

PS Really really not cool bringing Israel into this.

PPS Hey Anon stop drinking the conspiracy kool-aid

The illegally occupy Hawaii part was a stretch but not anti-Semitic. In fact, Better Place, the company that is indeed bringing electric cars to Hawaii (we seem to have all manner of projects going at once) is headed by Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF. A shareholder is Israel Corporation. Better Place was reported last year to be building recharging stations for the IDF's electric troop carriers, and of course, ran its trials for Israel in Tel Aviv. It will supply charging stations for the illegally occupied West Bank settlements.

There is a boycott Israel movement, and Better Place is on the list. Here's more about the company:

"The company owns and operates Better Place Israel (BPI), a division which is establishing a system of charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Israel and for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The company has been a poster child for efforts to greenwash Israel — presenting it as a haven for environmental technologies — yet it has close ties to Israel’s military and political establishments and its principal officers express an explicitly anti-Muslim and anti-Arab agenda."

Sorry for the long delay in reply:

While viewed in isolation Anon's allusion to Israel is not anti-jewish (shouldn't have said anti-semitic, palestinians are semitic too!), within the broader context of the Haw'n Sov. movement it just may be. I've watched over the past 5 years or so as people who are either directly in the Sov. movement or identify strongly with it have formed a sense of solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians. This solidarity is somewhat understandable, yet clashes with what I know are very different circumstances between the Overthrow and the events before, during, and after WWII that led to the current state of affairs in that blasted chunk of terra firma we call the Holy Land. That solidarity has in turn led to the adoption of some of the Palestinian rhetoric, in particular some of the nastier bits. I've had my identity as a Jew verbally attacked by people espousing Sov. viewpoints when it was known.

Israelis, Palestinians, they're both doing horrible things and have been from the very get-go. My reaction to Anon was based on the this blog entry being about CT&T, not the Israeli-military backed company Better Place.

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