President Obama announced a plan last week that calls for $2 billion in additional subsidies for buyers of electric cars. "We just can't rely on fossil fuels from the last century," he said. (Source: The White House)
It seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse. The technology isn't quite there yet. If some more R&D is put into better batteries, that is when government can get just a little involved in such things.
I agree with all the commenters who've said that the point-of-sale rebate is a big deal. Often overlooked is that the fact that many Americans don't pay $7,500 a year in taxes. Heck, half of Americans don't pay any taxes at all. And let's not forget, the current rebate is a TAX rebate. Admittedly, it's really difficult for anyone but top earners to spend $40,000 for a Volt, but $30,000 certainly makes it more palatable for more consumers.
You're right, solarsculptor, and your idea is already starting to take root. Utilities have looked at the idea of employing used EV batteries for grid storage. The idea is still under debate (some battery experts say it won't work well), but I believe it will at least be tested to see how it works.
Lead acid batteries are very effectively recycled. I would suspect that nickel-cadmium are as well. Lithium ion and Lithium Polymer or Manganese will probably be recycled as well even if the raw materials like Lithium are relatively cheap and or readily available.
The ability to effectively recycle or reuse a battery after it's first service life might be an important economic factor. Given the packaging and form factors involved it would seem economical to remanufacture expired batteries and reuse them.
From an environmental perspective any reuse is preferred to recycle. This should be applied to more manufacturing in general. The "true" cost of a product should include all of it's lifecycle including subsequent reuse, recycle and disposal. anything else is false economy and it is really really bad if the products disposition is very unfrendly to the environment.
Consider, How many of the smaller batteries manufactured in the millions are disposed of improperly? I have a collection jar of older worn out and discharged batteries of various types that should be recycled adn disposed of correctly, which I will do. but how many others are being casually thrown in the trash and forgotten. the warnings are that these are environmental hazards and should be treated carefully with respect to the environmental aspects.
Charles Murray, one of the key pieces of the battery cost equation are missing. End of life.
Imagination is the most transformative power in our culture. Let's say that at the end of an ev's battery life it is able to only achieve 60% of it's full charge capacity. It still can be useful to someone.
For example, what if instead of using it in a car, which is subjected to weather(freezing / heat cycles, we bring it indoors and keep it at ideal temperature. The cost of an ah of storage would be fairly predictable, and could even be comoditized and sold! It would be less than new but higher than the scrap rate. Plus when the battery was completly exhausted it could still be scrapped!
Now, if you get a whole bunch of them you could connect them to the grid and use them for solar or wind power storage. The cost of alternative energy production then falls, as well as the cost of an ev battery.
We just need a little push from the government to implement a "smart" grid.
And that's how government can lower the cost and increase the efficiency of ev batteries!
Who if not those well educated and technically trained can grasp the issues. As to my confidence in the USA. Always people have spoken about capitalism to be at the end of its life cicle. The truth is, that democracy and capitalism are the worst ways to organize a society, but the ones that have worked best and have shown the best ability to adapt to changes. Many of the 68 generation have spoken about the decline of the USA. I believe that to underestimate your country is always a mistake.
Having said this the USA is showing much of the symptoms of decline that the world has seen with other civilizations. In the past the USA have benefited from the inflow of the smartest into your country, compensating for the education system that is uncapable to make best use of the abilities of the people in your country. Now the world is getting multipolar and the relativ strength of the USA declines ast second and third world countries are catching up. Still so, if you engineers can stop bullshiting as you do trying to convince others that everything is Ok you will have a fascinating future to the benefit of all.
As to the calculations of the time it takes to get the return for using an EV. If you extend those computations by taking into account the increase of the oil price and as a result the increase of operating your car, the result of the equations looks very different. Just take as a reference the price for a barrel of crude oil in the worldmarket.
Next, try to look at the issue out of the box! The oil age is changing from a late maturity to the laggard part. That is the time when the old technology tries to survive by reaching extreme sophistication trying to extract revenues of a shrinking market. All the engineering power invested in products in the laggard part of the market cycle is bad investment compared to investing in technology to participate in the early majority phase of the new post oil phase. Friends this is not high tech, this is common sense!
I like to work with examples. Think about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They invested in the PC market when it was changing from an early adopter market to an early majority. Their actions and the arrogance of IBM beeing the strong guy in the age of the mainframes made the explosion of the PC market possible. Today this market is well in the late majority phase and many guess that the cloud computing and the IPads and similar using Android are on the verge to change from an early adopter phase to the early majority. I am old enough to have seen similar trends that faileed because time and technology was not mature with the XTerminals. Are the EVs today Xterminals or Ipads? I guess because of the genius of Steve Jobs the IPads are the Apple computers prior to the Macintoshes, or may be already the Macs. I believe the Android based systems will be the PCs from Microsoft equivalent.
Back to the EVs. If you the educated ones don´t drive the change, Europeans, Chinese, Indians and South East Asia will drive it. They will have the jobs. If you well educated people blind yourself by calculating a ROI ignoring where the price of the oil is going to, if you ignore first semester Universisty wisdom of the phases in the market who should? If you want to follow people that tell you we shouldn´t care, all is Ok, well... I love the USA because it had press like those the uncovered what Nixon did wrong, because they jumped onto a waggon and made it move. The west would still be wild and only populated by the native americans if those brave people did not go out for new frontiers. Europe and those who share our values and believes wish a strong America.
I drive a 2009 Chrysler Aspen 5.7 liter Hemi Two Mode Hybrid. My wife drives a 2010 Toyota Prius. We did not buy these based on a gasoline cost ROI. My Aspen averages about 22 mpg. The Prius averages about 50 mpg. Better gas mileage is good, but not the only consideration. We think that hybrids are the transition between the ICE and the EV.
There are many car buyers that do not buy solely on ROI. That is why there are Corvettes, Mustangs, Humvees, and Corollas. The justification of the cost of ownership includes tangibles like gasoline costs and cargo space, and intangibles like image and 'environmental friendliness'.
Government subsidies include ethanol production, agri-business, oil companies, etc. It would be nice to earmark your taxes to just the subsidies you want to support. However, if you chose not to support a subsidy to develop something like a Polio vaccine, would you be willing to forgo having your child vaccinated to be true to your principles ?
Hellmut, you nailed it! Germany has a COMPREHENSIVE NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY and the U.S. does not. Our willy-nilly, throw money at this, try something here and then throw money at that, try something over there NON-energy policy is wasting precious time and money we don't have. We are flat broke as a result, operating entirely on borrowed time and more borrowed money. Your input was a breath of fresh air this debate sorely needs. Glad you have confidence America can still solve this problem. I for one have my doubts.
Kevin, I couldn't agree more. Who gave him the power to give over $2 billion of OUR tax money to buyers of an over-priced vehicle? This is almost as bad as the "Cash for Clunkers" where the cars you really needed to get off the road were too old to be considered for the program. Or they had just enough EPA gas mileage to be excluded. So, you had people getting rid of 2-4 year old cars that did not get 'good' mielage and replaced them with cars that got 'just a bit better' mileage.
Again, that was a program that spent MY tax money to help a few selected people.
No, I fail to see where selling inventory will help provide research to improve EV batteries. The average buyer makes over $175,000/year? And they need a subsidy to buy this car? What about the guy who needs a plain car to get to work to pay those taxes being handed out so freely?
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