Was this ever you? A lonely figure walking on the side of the road gas can in hand after trying to stretch the tank just a bit too far? If you’ve been driving for any amount of time, especially before the era of smartphones, you’ve either seen it happen or experienced it yourself, but the internal combustion engine runs on liquid fuel, so all you need is enough to get you to the nearest gas station and you’re good. Almost any container that will carry the gas will work, even if it’s not a special government approved design with warning tags and hard to open filler caps. If you can pour enough of that highly portable, energy dense liquid into your tank, the engine will start and off you go.
Suppose, however, you’re on an electric motorcycle or driving an electric car, the scene looks the same, you’re on the side of the road, your vehicle doesn’t move because there’s no power, now what? Your super long range, high tech battery nevertheless managed to run down and there you sit. Luckily, you have a smartphone in your pocket, but who do you call? The gas station up the road can’t help. Does this mean you need a trip on a flatbed truck? Maybe. There are some trucks beginning to appear with portable generators onboard that can come to your aid and charge your battery roadside, but they’re spread pretty thin, and even as they become more available, think about the added cost and complexity for a situation that used to be a simple splash of gas and go. Hybrid vehicles solve the problem since they have a gasoline engine, but the Battery Electric Vehicle has no fall back.
If batteries become standardized so they can be swapped, perhaps that will work, but you will still probably require roadside assistance if you’re stranded, since batteries tend to be quite heavy, you won’t want to walk very far carrying one, and where those swappable batteries are available will be a question for some time.
Honda is testing a battery sharing service in India for electric rickshaws, those 3 wheel taxis used in dense urban areas. The rickshaws have four Mobile Power Packs that can be swapped at a Mobile Power Pack Exchanger. They pull up, touch their ID card and two charged packs are indicated as ready for exchange to replace two from the rickshaw. It takes a couple of minutes and they’re on their way. The battery packs weigh about 23 pounds each. The test requires quite a few of these stations in a relatively small area which means the process doesn’t work outside of the city.
Gasoline requires no standard tank of a set size and shape, the amount of energy you can easily carry is far greater than with a battery of equivalent weight, no infrastructure beyond what we already have is called for, in fact, it’s almost as though the problem electrics are trying to solve doesn’t exist, unless you have an electric. Use gasoline, no problem.
On my scoreboard, in this situation, it’s Gasoline 1, Electric Power 0.