First of all, I think your mechanic friend needs to learn more about EVs. He won't be out of business at all, but he'll need to train himself on some different powertrain concepts.
The idea of having something better than a battery to provide the juice to the electric drivetrain works for me. But using a combustion engine to generate electricity won't solve anything much. My refrain on this is, use instead a hydrocarbon fuel, like all the options we have today, separate out from that fuel the H2, then feed that H2 to a fuel cell and an all-electric drivetrain.
Check this out:
This H2 extraction is done in the car. The efficency of this overall process easily, easily beats any combustion engine car. The overall efficiency of the fuel cell EV should be on the order of better than 60 percent, whereas the overall efficiency of a standard piston engine car is at or under 20 percent.
EVs have been around for more than century. The big unresolved issue is batteries. The batteries are too big, heavy, or expensive to make any inroads in the current transportation choices of the public.
Interesting Toyota stand, "there is no money in EV." My car repairman thinks EV will put him out of business. Both of these statements make me want an EV. But getting it charged in timely manner, is non-trivial. So what is wrong with an EV that has a small gas-turbine (nat gas) charging the batteries and powering the e-motors continuously? Overall, that could win.
The reason EVs, battery-powered EVs specifically, seem to be on a roller coaster ride, in terms of their popularity, is self-evident, Brian. It is because interest in them is all phoney baloney media and politician hype. Even GM had already shelved the whole Volt concept, until the government bailout forced them to resuscitate the project, for window-dressing purposes.
On the other hand, self-driving vehicles CAN happen. The problems can be worked out without having to depend on leaps of faith or the deliberate ignoring of fundamental shortcomings. And the "self driving" can be introduced gradually, where the initial products merely consist of driver warning.
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