Opinion | Electric Cars: How to Win Over Consumers

About the publisher:

On “A 300-mile range is the wrong goal for electric cars,” by Edward Niedermeyer (guest post, August 29):

This essay seems to have a somewhat privileged view of cars and the role they play in today’s American families. No, we may not have to drive 300 miles very often – but if we have to drive that far, then often Yes, really must go on this journey.

A car that travels long distances allows us to attend out-of-town funerals, seek treatment in distant hospitals, treat serious illnesses, take children on college trips, or move across the country. Many people cannot afford to fly or take the train. A car is freedom, and limiting people to 300 or fewer miles between charges also limits their access to family, friends, education, job opportunities, nature, relaxation and more.

I understand how difficult the development of electric vehicles and their batteries can be. But think of the impact these fee caps would have on those on lower incomes. As the paper suggests, how would they afford a small electric vehicle for everyday use and a hybrid truck for long journeys?

Automakers need to make vehicles that work for everyone, not just a privileged few.

Patricia Ferrito
Angola, New York

About the publisher:

I agree with Edward Niedermeyer.

If GM can sell a 260-mile electric car (the Bolt) for the mid-$20,000 after government incentives, a 100-mile version of the car could come under $15,000 and undercut every other vehicle on the market. Then the EV “revolution” will really take off.

Cheap, reliable city cars are popular in Europe and could be excellent commuters in dense urban areas in the United States.

Steve Morris
Lake Forest Park, Washington.

About the publisher:

The subsidies for expensive electric vehicles have not pushed prices down. Instead, prices are increasing due to supply chain constraints. Edward Niedermeyer writes that “the way to reduce battery costs is through large scale mineral extraction and processing”. I have news. We can’t just dig our way out of this problem.

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We’ve got to do it the old-fashioned American way: Invent our way out. That means developing a new battery chemistry that doesn’t require cobalt, nickel, manganese or lithium, but instead consists of substances that are abundant on Earth and readily available here in North America. It’s time to stop supporting outdated, 30-year-old lithium-ion battery technology as a key enabler of the green transition.

Invented in America, sourced in America and made in America: this is the recipe for independence from the dominance of the Chinese battery supply chain.

Donald R. Sadoway
Cambridge, Mass.
The author is Professor Emeritus of Materials Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of the battery company Avanti.

About the publisher:

People living in Mountain States or the Great Plains routinely drive hundreds of digits. Have you checked out the Dakotas? Nebraska? Colorado? Texas? The prospect of stopping in the middle of, say, Montana or Nevada is guaranteed to negate the appeal of a near-term EV

Don’t forget the occasional snowstorm in the Midwest winters. Even if you would avoid traveling in weather like this, sometimes you don’t have a choice (a birth or a death…). Who wants to be stuck in a whiteout on a closed Kansas freeway? Not my favorite way to die.

Charging stations are almost non-existent in many areas of the Greater West and Midwest. Until they become ubiquitous, there is a market for these big batteries.

Lynn Evenson
Elly, Minn.

About the publisher:

I agree that the 300 mile range battery is the wrong target. Here’s a thought experiment. Would that battery capacity still be the automotive industry’s goal if a rail system adequately met the needs of the average family for longer trips?

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In other countries, trains offer the opportunity to make extended journeys possible without using the family car. In the United States, such a rail system would result in the 300-mile battery only serving a small niche market, not the mass-market goal currently being pursued. It is the current shortcomings of our long-distance public transport system that are fueling the automotive industry’s drive towards batteries.

Philip Q. Hanser
Newton, Mass.
The author is an associate professor of economics at Northeastern University.

About the editor:

On “Paddling Makes a Comeback in Missouri” (News article, August 29):

Let me understand: what do children learn in learning institutions? Oh, OK, now I get it. Hitting a kid with a wooden paddle is the way to teach him to behave and show respect.

It works? no Countless scientific studies have shown that physical punishment is not effective. Humiliation and pain lead to alienation, bitterness, and revenge—not increased self-control, cooperation, and empathy.

So, whose interest is this brutality? Frustrated teachers and parents may find relief by administering corporal punishment. (How does that fit into anti-bullying campaigns? Oh wait, it doesn’t.)

To start, how about investing in adequate mental health services, offering parent education programs, and training teachers in effective classroom management techniques?

Children benefit more from a helping hand than a slapping one.

Laurent Balter
new York
The author is Emeritus Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University and author of Who’s in Control? dr Balter’s Guide to Discipline Without a Fight.”

About the editor:

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On “A fair auctioned a beloved goat. Its owners filed a federal lawsuit” (News article, Sept. 4):

I’m the CEO of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, a home for 400 rescued farm animals in the Hudson Valley. I followed the story of Cedar, the goat who was confiscated and killed after the young girl who was raising him through a 4-H program to be auctioned at the Shasta District Fair wanted to save his life and protect him . I’m sad but not surprised at the result.

There are so many accounts of traumatized children trying to save the lives of the animals they raised in 4-H, as well as adults still haunted by memories of the animals that were trusted and auctioned off to get killed. Woodstock Sanctuary is leading a coalition of animal welfare centers across the country to educate the public about state and local fairs and their role in perpetuating the myth that animal husbandry is good and natural and sacrificeless.

Cedar and the child who raised him for an auction and then changed her mind after developing a friendship with him are both victims of 4-H and the Shasta District Fair. I hope Cedar’s boyfriend finds some peace knowing that she was trying to save his life and I’m so sorry that this happened to you both.

Rachel McCrystal
High Falls, New York

About the publisher:

The injustice of slaughtering a child’s beloved pet reminds me of Fern Arable in “Charlotte’s Web” when she saw her father going to the pigsty with his axe: “This is the most horrific case of injustice I have ever heard of Wisdom came out of the mouth of a fictional 8-year-old. Thank you EB White.

Arthur C. Benedict
Summit Island, Maine

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