Leading The Charge To Make Better Electric Cars–”LISTEN”
When the automobile first emerged at the end of the 19th century, there were two types of cars on the road: gasoline-powered cars and electric cars. And at first, it was unclear which type would attract more drivers.
“Electric cars had some early advantages,” says science writer Seth Fletcher. “Gas cars were loud and dirty and nasty, and they had to be started with a hand-crank, which could sometimes backfire and break your arm. And electric cars were clean and quiet and civilized and they worked well in the city.”
But the gasoline-powered car slowly improved. And once people started driving longer distances, it quickly won the battle of the roadways.
“If you were out in the country and you ran out of charge [with an electric car], you were stuck,” Fletcher says. “If you were driving a gas car, you could stop and get a tin of gasoline from the general store and fill up in a matter of minutes. That [recharging] problem has actually plagued the electric car ever since. If you want to take electricity on the road with you, you have to have a way to store it. And we’ve always needed better batteries.”
Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy
By Seth Fletcher
Hardcover, 272 pages
Hill and Wang
List Price: $26
Fletcher traces the battle to create a better, long-lasting battery in Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy. Fletcher tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies that lithium, the material of choice for battery manufacturers, has the potential to transform the automotive industry, power grids and the environment.