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Was Electric Car Poll Biased?

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Beth Stackpole
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Want to love them, but can't... yet.
Beth Stackpole   6/23/2011 2:17:45 PM
I think the poll reflects the likely concerns about battery life. Without proper, widely available recharging stations, pure electric vehicles equipped with today's battery technology will no doubt have a hard time infiltrating the mainstream. Also, as an on-the-go mom carting kids around all the time, while I want to be environmentally correct, I do need the room my gas-guzzling SUV provides. So longer battery life, but roomier vehicles are likely what's going to get me to consider going electric.

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Electric car
dano   6/23/2011 8:37:43 PM

The problem with electric car is, beside poor range specially in cold weather, is the charging time which is way too long. It prevents long trip as you will have to stop, find a charging station (not easy these days) and ...  wait...

I have heard once that in California, someone was proposing battery replacement stations. So as today with gas station, you drive in, remove your empty battery and replace it with a charged one. You now pay for the charge and the battery location.

For this to be accepted by customer, the car owner does not own the battery but rent it. This way he will accept to change the battery when empty. For sure, the car manufacturers must provide the same battery format and same connector. Batteries must be interchangeable. 

This is the only way you can do long drive with an electric car, and the "filling" time will be similar to what is done now, stopping at a gas station, filling, pay and drive away. No time lost. 

Gas station where not available when the first cars started rolling, so the same with this approach, the gas station must migrate to become battery charging/exchange station.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Electric car
Alexander Wolfe   6/24/2011 7:26:04 AM
I think range anxiety will be associated with electric cars for as long as there are electric cars, at least for current drivers (i.e., those old enough to remember gas engines). However, as plug-in electrics like the Nissan Leaf move out in the market, increased familiarity with these vehicles on the part of the public will breed increased acceptance. Clearly, though, we're going to be in the early adopter phase for quite a while.

Rob Spiegel
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Looking for the Apple iCar
Rob Spiegel   6/24/2011 9:17:02 AM
Right now, many people (probably most people) view the electric car as a very expensive vehicle that underperforms its gas-fueled counterpart. Apple needs to come out with an iCar that is incredibly user friendly and offers surprising benefits that we didn't even know we wanted until Apple presented them.

Apple doesn't offer much in new technology. The company takes existing technology, makes it friendly, makes it cool. Electric cars will probably not take off until some brand owner does to the electric car what Apple did to the smartphone.

If it's cool, cost isn't an issue. Just look at the pricing on the MacBook Pro. You can get three Dells for the same price. The electric car is waiting for its iCar moment.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Re: Electric car
Ivan Kirkpatrick   6/24/2011 9:21:52 AM

I think the key to adoption here is consumer behavior.  The electric cars are not going to have the same range and convenience of refueling as the gasoline and diesel powered cars for quite some time.  However many US households  have  two cars.  Perhaps having one electric car and one conventionally fueled one would work out for many people.  The statistics seem to show that most daily commutes are less than 100 miles.    For thos other situations the conventionally fueled vehicle is better.

Consider this, if the electric cars had similar range and could be refueled overnight (inexpensively), at home and the purchase price was maybe 20% more would the adoption rate improve?  I am guessing it would.  So the problem is really one of battery life and refueling time.  These two caharacteristics are being steadily improved.  There is a point in the near future when the technology will reach the point when it can fulfill the role required better than now.  Until that time the adoption rate is going to be lower although perhaps steadily improving.

The bottom line is that consumers might be somewhat flexible in many transportation respects.  But since a car is a long term investment, and a significant one for most households, the adoption rate is not going to be very high without some give on the part of the consumers regarding usage characteristics.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Looking for the Apple e-car
Jennifer Campbell   6/24/2011 10:21:44 AM
I like your thinking on this Rob - you should get Steve Jobs on the phone and see if you can get a cut of the profits! Of course, the iCar would be way overpriced in the beginning, but give it a year or two and it would get slashed by a third when the latest and greatest iteration of the car came out.

sensor pro
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Re: Looking for the Apple iCar
sensor pro   6/24/2011 12:39:15 PM
I think that the electric car should pass through the natural pathway of acceptance. There should be a clear demand for it. At this time it is being pushed as a green solution agains a proven product. One issue is a battery, then the range, then the charging time, then the price, then.......

The product shouldn't be pushed by the environmentalists. We should be given ample time to properly research and design the product so it is userfriendly and reliable.

We may change our approach to battery design, and make new power sources modular, where one item is rechargeble and another is disposable. then it may be purchased anywhere on the way and added to exhisting internal battery as a boost. who knows what can be developed, but we need time.

Our government should stop wasting money and redirect it to R&D, NASA, private grants, etc...  Look what is happening now in the industry. We need to get back to production and manufacturing, not service and clerical jobs.

R&D---R&D----R&D: without that we should forget about electric car.

Charles Murray
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Agree with Sensor Pro
Charles Murray   6/24/2011 1:27:37 PM
To Sensor Pro: I wholeheartedly agree with you. The common assumption is that the current battery materials will follow Moore's Law -- costs will drop by a factor of two every few years, performance will double every few years. The truth, though, is this is a long, hard road. Since I started writing about electric cars in '88, we've seen the material of choice change from lead acid to nickel iron to sodium sulfur to advanced lead acid to nickel metal hydride to lithium polymer to lithium ion, to name just a few. And during this march of progress, there's been one constant: expectations always exceeded reality. The only way we're going to get the EV's promised land -- as you point out -- is with a big commitment to R&D, R&D, R&D.

Dave Palmer
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Wait... what?
Dave Palmer   6/26/2011 2:11:01 AM
Something is mixed up with these numbers, I think.

If 57% of Americans won't consider buying an electric car, that must mean that 43% of Americans would consider buying an electric car, right?

So what to make of the claim that, if the price of gasoline is under $6 a gallon, only 12% of Americans would be willing to buy an electric car? And the bizarre result that, if the price goes above $10 a gallon, the percentage actually decreases to 3%?

For what it's worth, when I looked at the USA Today article, I couldn't find the data broken down by gas price.  The article from greenchipstocks.com seemed to give a different set of numbers for this than the Design News article.  Both of them claimed to be citing numbers from the USA Today poll, but, as I said, there was nothing in the actual article.

Am I just not understanding something, or is something seriously screwed up with these numbers?

Charles Murray
User Rank
Poll numbers
Charles Murray   6/26/2011 7:34:06 PM
The numbers indeed came directly from Gallup, but they weren't contained in the USA Today story. The poll was based on interviews of 1,024 adults living in the U.S. The particular survey question said, "Suppose gasoline prices continued to rise. How high do you think gas prices would have to rise before you would buy an electric car that you could only drive for a limited number of miles at one time?" As our story reported, the answers were:

Less than $6.00, 12%.

$6.00 - $7.99, 10%

$8.00 - $10.00, 9%

More than $10.00, 3%

What not do, no matter the price, 57%

No opinion, 9%

For whatever reason, these numbers did not appear in USA Today. They were sent directly to us, for our use, by Gallup.

And, yes, it's strange that the potential number of electric car buyers goes DOWN as the price of gas rises above $10. In a completely logical world, the number of potential EV buyers would rise as the price of gas goes higher. It's odd to have the highest numbers at the two extreme ends of the spectrum.  

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