Thomas Edison to Henry Ford Forget Electric Cars (Is this advice …

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Thomas Edison to Henry Forget Electric Cars (Is advice from 1896 relevant?)

by Robert Bradley Jr.

19, 2009

The wisdom of the ages to energy. The smartest-guys-in-the-room approach to transformation by DOE secretary Stephen based on a false premise of the of hydrocarbon energy, should such history. The silver that he is looking for have a failed history for good

Take for example the electric

a perennially bad idea for receiving subsidies. Below, produced is an eye-witness account of a conversation the father of electricity and the father of the that took place 113 years ago.

This dated as August 1896 by the Samuel Insull (1859–1938), considered the father of the modern industry, is recounted in his autobiography, The of Samuel Insull (full at end):

“He asked me no end of details,” to use Mr. own language, “and I sketched for him; for I have always that I could convey an quicker by sketching than by describing it.” When the ended, Mr. Edison brought his down on the table with a and said:

Young man, the thing; you have it. Keep at it. cars must keep to power stations. The storage is too heavy.

Steam cars do, either, for they require a and fire. Your car is self-contained—carries its own plant—no fire, no boiler, no and no steam. You have the thing.

at it.

Later on Mr. Ford wrote:

bang on the table was worth to me. No man up to then had given me any encouragement. I had that I was headed right, I knew that I was, I only wondered if I was, but all at once and out of a clear sky the greatest genius in the world had given me a approval.

The man who knew most about in the world had said that for the my gas motor was better than any motor could be—it go long distances, he said, and would be stations to supply the with hydro-carbon. That was the time I ever heard term for liquid fuel. And at a time when all the electrical took it as an established fact there could be nothing new and that did not run by electricity.

It was to be the universal

The above meeting between Mr. Ford and Mr. Thomas A. Edison place at a time when Mr. was engaged in getting ready to his second car. He has told me on a many different occasions the inspiration he received from Mr.

Edison had a great deal to do his having the courage to go ahead his work in trying to produce a motor car operated by an internal engine.

—  Insull, The Memoirs of Samuel Insull . Ill: Transportation Trails, 1992, pp. 142–43.


Over ten years later, and Ford were planning to an electric car. THINGS Edison had new battery patents, and Jay s garage has a 1909 Baker with the Edison alkaline still usable after 100

It was not the power plant limitation, it was the electric starter on the 1912 that killed the electric car in the Century.

There is too much in dealership operation, too much in spare parts, too much is maintenance for Detroit to switch to an car unless forced. Why would want people to own a car good for years? Built in obsolescence is the of life in the automobile industry.

They do it first with new and new models, but they do it with that must be replaced.

I your point entirely, but don t you that the long run goal be electric cars? It might be way out in the but taking every device you use and it through the same energy is a matter of convenience. It also the front end from the back No matter what methods we use to electricity, it doesn t change the end application of it.

We don t want to burn we switch to nuclear. We no longer nuclear, we switch to a magic producing widget. These would no longer require us to our cars, cellphones, computers

I guess that the battery cycle will require energy to move a car than a gas does. Most of the electric will come come fossil fired power and there will be substantial and distribution losses plus losses so that battery cars will result in use of fossil fuels. Also if driven cars are to make a reduction in internal combustion cars an enormous increase in power generation, transmission and will be required. Fuel powered as have the same

More energy to make and hydrogen than is converted by cell. In stead of spending to try and develop new exotic technologies the of nuclear energy would thee use of fossil fuel and generate no CO2. It would be a boost to the industrial base of the US: workers, engineers, machinists, and the construction and finance industries. The of the world manages the nuclear cycle and we could to; it would be easier if we reversed Jimmy foolish ban on reprocessing spent

Al provides some good above, the lesson being the battery found its place as a component on the automobile. Thomas s later work on batteries was in terms of making an economic car in the first decade of the 20th and the situation is much the same a later.

Libfree is correct in the long-term goal should be cars, for the reasons he listed and for the that it is the most efficient to get from thermal energy to motive energy regardless of the of thermal energy. Once the barriers are overcome (battery and energy density), electric (of all types) will naturally the dominant form of transportation. barriers are formidable, but they be overcome, eventually.

The only that s debatable it is whether it is to subsidize electric technology to the adoption point forward in It s debatable because of all of the external (validity of anthropogenic climate politics of the thermal energy opportunity cost, etc.).

The should NOT be for any particular solution the needs of transportation are so varied: require torque, some some efficiency, some distances. Various approches serve different needs, so the should be to have many and allow consumers to choose works for them. It is technically and wrong to assert that vehicles are more efficient. For one example, gas-to-liquids (GTL) of diesel is more efficient state of the art electric generation, and more so with storage and transmission.

Couple that with energy density than electric batteries and distance is also improved. Of course hybrids solve both, electric generation on board: the locomotive being the pre-eminent (nb: diesel locomotives diesel but the traction is provided by motors for torque purposes.) example is compressed natural The goal should be innovation: is inevitably impeded by government production of one sort or another.

technology/fuel has advantages and disadvantages and falls into the fatal of Hayeck when selecting a The electric car had its chance more once and been refused by it likely has another chance through the efforts of several Let s just wait and see whether will take to the new electric

Chrysler Electric Cars

To generate electricity from oil has a 70% conversion loss, then line transmission losses to 20%, and finally battery in and out are 50%. So, when equally a two seater. 40 mph and 100 mile distance the electric car uses about 15 as much energy as a gasoline car.

I am a professional engineer, Lic. 12372, I worked in technology and transportation all my life.


to break this to you, but you re way Generating electricity in modern gas or coal plants has thermal of 50-60%. TD losses are a mere 5%, on distance.

Battery in and out as you say has 90% efficiency, and motor has 95% efficiency. So the total (plant to wheels) is around or TWICE that of a gasoline car. Moreover, the electricity can be from any energy source, renewables and nuclear, which is we want to go.

Gasoline (or diesel) engines run on hydrocarbon fuels.

Let s stick to the then OK?


Its always to debate these mostly statistics but the importance of the conversation on here is a bit mislead. Thomas was as much an Entrepreneur as he was an acclaimed and brilliant scientist. He worked electricity because he could see fossil fuels had hit a dead there s not much more to be with them now is there? We got as far as was of the combustive energy sources as we with the realization of rocketry. unless the bones of an even ancient and longer lasting than the Dinosaurs are discovered in the then we aren t going to get more static power out of oil or than we already are.

more examples are easily

The long of the short of it being: So we have not come close to the of electric power, and until we do, its to assume we never will.

Thomas Edison was pointing out to Ford is that Henry had realized a more immediately industry in the Gas powered vehicle was capable of electricity driven Tom simply said Yeah You ll make fat cash from Hence why Thomas Edison, who you was still a scientist as well, to make efforts towards vehicles. And to think he made a replacement in only a decade or

Not at all surprising that again a new was made in the fuel driven to again shift the balance of in favor of building gas engines.

The folly does not lie with the of past failures vs successes on a field, but rather, with the of the life of one of the few men who had the decency and the balls to into the future, rather dwell in the past.

No one had put a decent effort towards power growth (Macro-scale until the end of last century. 80- 90 of stagnant technology (in the industry of automobiles particularly), happily in favor of the material benefits of the of a handful of now very wealthy, and not very Old men.

The American was realized, we live it now, and it isn t all DREAMY is it.

However there is a still on the tracks steaming with the steadfast power of in the ocean. Time. And as it passes by, we get and those who are born after us be the ones to benefit from the gains sown from the of a new industrial revolution, while our is put on the dusty shelves of a library the Foreword:

Great Men, who shiny disks and paper instead of the fruitful growth of the civilization.

[. ] verdict of a century ago holds and for the same reasons. Edison was correct to pronounce the to Henry Ford in [. ]


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