Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Gordon News

May 27, 2011

Despite technology advances, car batteries relatively unchanged

By Betty Allison | Special to the Index

GORDON – We have so many interesting, talented people in and near Gordon!

One such person lives at 7R Ranch, Lloyd Barnard.

Lloyd is a car buff and was recently telling me about the strange thing about car batteries. This is what he shared with me:

“I have a lecture, a speech, about comparing a modern car to a model T or A, say a Corvette or other hi-tech one. Every single item on the cars are unbelievably different – 200 mph tires, 600 hp engine, metals, paints, plastics anything you can think of – except the battery. Any 2011 car, (even a) $1 million  Bentley (world’s fastest car at 260 mph with a 1,000 hp engine) has the same dumb old lead acid battery from 1920. OK, 12 volts versus 6 volts. Oooh! What advancement! How can everything else develop and advance so much but not the battery? Oil companies? What?

“Remember the movie, ‘Back to the Future,’ with Michael J. Fox and the 1980s car the DeLorean?  They used the future-looking car as is and put a few little gadgets on it and called it a time machine and sent it back to the 1950s. Back then they thought it was a spaceship! Every bit of it, the stainless steel body, magnesium wheels, computer-controlled engine, everything was so advanced from 1955 that not one part of it could be replaced from items there. In fact, in one scene, the professor had to build everything … oh, wait, except for the battery! They could have gone into any 1955 service station (you know, the ones where attendants in uniforms came out and did everything for you?) and replaced the 12-volt battery in the car with the 1955 version and it would fit and work perfectly. That seems odd.

Conspiracy theory? In over a hundred years the electric car has not advanced beyond the golf cart stage. Yes, under the seat of a 2011 golf cart are 200-plus pounds of 1920-era lead acid batteries wired together to give 48 volts – but they are the SAME BATTERIES! The gas-powered car has advanced light years in a hundred years, but not the electric. Hummm?”

(A note from Betty Allison that partially answers Lloyd’s question: My husband was the horse ranch manager for an oil man. One of his investors was the vice president of the Pontiac division of General Motors.  He would take a month’s vacation in the winter at Scottsdale, Ariz. We hauled his horse to him so that he could ride it while there and we flew home. At the end of the month, we flew back and hauled his horse back to the ranch. We repeated this procedure in the summer by taking his horse to his private lodge on the Canadian border. Once while there, during dinner, he asked us: “What would you do if you could manufacture an electric car today (this was in the 1960s)? He went on to explain their hesitation to do so because of all of the industries that would be put out of business – carburetors, batteries, etc., etc. So, in part, this might have had an impact in GM’s waiting so long to give us an electric car!)

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