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)
David Cole, Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research for President in 2012. "Everybody who's capable of engineering batteries is already working overtime. When it becomes economical, it will take off. But you can't force it to go any faster than it already is." "We can justify the concept of tax credits over a short period of time with the idea of helping create a bridge to a new technology. But any tax credit is always going to be temporary. You can't base a business case on a tax credit." -- be prepared to never hear from David Cole again... he has too much common sense.
I agree wholeheartedly, William. Dave Cole has a lot of common sense. I addition to that, he's the former head of the automotive engineering program at the University of Michigan and one of industry's most respected consultants. Our leaders would do well to listen carefully to him.
I don't think that many people believe that electric vehicles will succeed overnight. It will take years. But I do believe that electric vehicle manufactures are missing out by not finding some way to lessen the upfront cost of the battery, which is responsible for much of the cost. There must be some way to "lease" the battery over it's expected lifetime.
Batteries are a consumable (like gasoline!). They have a finite life, and that life is VERY subjective.
The marketing hype is just so much hot air until we see some realistic cost/mile numbers. Not MPG, please. What gallon goes into a plug-in vehicle? The subject is not worth discussing until car manufactuters can provide that number.
If they will provide a cost/mile, based on a national average cost of a kilowatt, we can begin to have some reasonable discussions.
Given all the things we as Design Engineers know and have debated about the drawbacks of EVs (Primarily the shortened range and high cost) ,,, If the Fed offers a $10,000 point of sale rebate, I'm going to be very tempted! For the working stiffs like me who are forced to make daily commutes under 50 miles round trip, a $10,000 rebate and "never-again" gas are very attractive.
I want to wait and see what the total cost of ownership is before I get excited about never again gas, even with a $10k rebate. (If the rebate were on a $24k purchase, it would be more of a no-brainer.)
Even $10 per gallon gas might look cheap if you end up with $10k per year in battery maintenance/replacement costs. I think there are still a lot of uncertainties about the life cycle of EV's, and total cost of ownership, etc.
Yes, ttemple, you make a good point about battery replacement costs.But that would be directly akin to a new engine replacement in a regular car.No-one mentions engine replacement costs in discussions surrounding new car purchases because engines are generally accepted to last at least 150,000 miles before they would need an extensive rebuild such as that.So, what is the typical industry warrantee offered on these EV batteries-? Do they need a full replacement after ~600 charge/discharge cycles, like mobile device (laptops & phones) LiIon batteries-?
I don't know much about what the expectations or warranties are on the batteries, but the lack of concrete information makes me hesitant. I would think that the Prius would give us some knowledge base, but I haven't looked for it or studied it.
With normal cars, it is pretty common to go several hundreds of thousands of miles on an engine, and normally by the time the engine gives out there are so many other worn out parts that I don't know if very many people do engine swaps to salvage vehicles.
I would expect that they might be able to get more life out of the body/chassis system on an EV, but I don't really know whether that is a fair expectation. There still has to be all of the suspension, steering, braking systems, etc. Also, interior components, door locks/hinges, etc. and all of the other trinkets that eventually drive you crazy on a typical automobile will probably be subject to the same wear patterns as current cars. Cracking vinyl, tears and stains in the upholstery, broken windshield wipers, visors that flop down in your face, and on and on.
I'm guessing you might just be trading battery cost for fuel cost in the long run, but who knows?
@JimT: I don't know if there's a typical warranty, but GM offers an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the Volt. I don't know exactly what that warranty covers -- especially whether it would cover a dead battery caused by inattention, such as was famously the case recently with the Tesla Roadster. In Tesla's case, the cost was about $40,000 for a replacement battery, according to numerous news reports.
Thanks Charles - That's the confirmation I was thinking but couldn't find it to verify. 8 years/100k makes sense from my simple equation, being: 50 miles roundtrip a day, (my avg daily commute) would mean re-charging the system every 3 days, or about 100x per year. Given the avg. charge/discharge cycle life of a complex battery system is about 600-900 cycles, that fits well into the window of my expectations. It also coincides with 50miles/day = 250/week = 1000/month = 12K/year = 96K/8 years. I'd say the warrantee is right in line with an average gas powered vehicle today.
I actually think subsidies for EV and hybrid buyers is a great idea. Development funding is needed, too, but the priority is to move these slow sellers off dealers' lots. If not, the market will disappear. It's in a more fragile state than the current spate of tech stories and manufacturer hype would have everyone believe. Look at GM, which has had to idle Chevy Volt production for five weeks. Carmakers can't keep building these things forever in the face of slow sales.
I've got to disagree with you. It isn't the government's job to take my hard-earned money (via taxes) and directly pay to have stagnating inventory be sold. The reason these EV's are not selling is BECAUSE they are not providing the solution needed...and the free market is voting with their dollars.
If you worry that EV's will disappear (and why shouldn't they, since they do not solve energy issues as they proport to) - imagine what will happen if we fill the market with marginal product that would not otherwise have had enough value to sell by its own merits.
If you start looking at where the money comes from for such an EV stimulus, it changes one's view from "let's have the Government help out the EV makers" to "the Government is taking my money and investing it for my best long-term interest". Well...in my opinion EV's are not in my best-term interest (at least not NOW at today's technology and today's power grid state).
Like many people, you may have become enamoured with EV's without really understanding the true balance of their merits or lack thereof.
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?
@Charles. The volt warranty covers every electrical component that makes the car move. So in addition to the battery (which cannot be unattended to), it covers the air conditioning, power stearing, power breaks, electric motors, inverters, etc. Perhaps abuse would be a better exclusion term. I have had a volt for a year now and it performs exactly as it did the day I got it (even in terms of range). We've driven it as a dedicated car (we have no backup for it) and we love it. Saves us about $200.00 per month in fuel based on 1000-1200 miles per month.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Like any good issue, both sides have value. I think the subsidy is a good idea to get the technology started, and isn't a new idea to our government. My only fear is that a subsidy might cause an imperfect technology to be released to the public too soon. Perhaps the same money would be better spent in subsidizing the development rather than the end user.
I'm generally anti-subsidy, and paying wealthy early-adopters $10K of taxpayer money to buy a car that isn't ready for prime-time seems like a bad idea....even inethical to me. However, I agree with you - if, in the style of DARPA, the money would go directly to specific and focused projects to provide the needed technical breakthroughs - I think that taxpayers would get more bang for their bucks.
Also...as I've written before - we all need to take a deep breath and really ask the bigger questions, such as "what, exactly, were EV's supposed to be solving ? If one knows the issues deeply, it becomes apparent that much of the "hope" of EV's is based on bad assumptions. It is amazing to me that otherwise intelligent people just ASSUME that EV's must be super-green and a great technology - when the facts do not support this.
For example, EV's do NOT save total energy...they just divert it from oil (gasoline) to mainly Coal + Natural Gas (at power plants). Trading one fossil fuel for another. I say, cut out the middle man and if we really need to reduce foreign oil imports quicly - convert some of the USA's coal to liquid gasoline. Actually, there are a number of huge projects to do just this, and the technology is KNOWN and no other changes or trade-offs in cars are needed. Stopgap only, of course, until a RENEWABLE liquid fuel can be substituted.
Also, subsidizing efficient cars (hybrid or even conventional) would make a much bigger dent in the overall oil footprint because of mass-adoption. Sorry...EV's will remain a small niche even WITH a $10K subsidy due to the huge convenience trade-offs. Heck, with my family's lifestyle I could not drive an EV if I wanted to! However, a $3K subsidy for cars with, say, 40+MPG would certainly make CAFE results go down faster than promoting EV's before their time.
Lastly, on a different subject that hit me the other day: I live in San Diego and we had a massive regional power outage last summer. If everyone drove EV's, the entire city would grind to a halt within one day. Can you say "cyber terrorist dream" ? At least fuel-based cars can drive for many days and can manually pump fuel if necessary. There is basically ZERO REDUNDANCY for the power grid, whereas today's fuel-based transportation system has nearly infinite redundancy.
I am anti-subsidy. I am pro research. Give the money to research companies, help start new businesses by requesting specific goals through grants obtain royalties or give the technology to a small business so that they can boom. That is the American way. Giving free money so you can have pretty toys sounds like a monarchy to me. No offense but paying for an unrealistic technology is not a worthy cause. The math simply does not add up. Also subsidy is just another excuse for the car manufacturers to charge more for less. I have seen the excuse of "with the government tax credit you will make this money back in X amount of years". Another example of bad tax credit is 30% credit on solar PV packages. Average complete kit now these days costs 2USD a W yet if you get a licensed installer (someone with a EE degree is not capable of installing this as far as local utility companies are concerned) they will charge you 4-6USD a W for that kit installed. Their excuse is overhead and labor. Reality is that roofing company charges you in average of 25% labor and overhead for installing a roof. So if your roofing materials cost 7500 then the roof installed will cost you 10000. Why should solar installers charge you a 70% overhead and labor on the job? It's actually less labor intensive then doing your whole roof. The answer is simply.... "30% federal tax credit"
Sorry for the wall of text. It is a subject I greatly dislike. I love what engineers are doing with the technology, I hate what government regulation and subsidies are doing to the actual market.
Charles, conservation of energy matter because we cannot rely on crude oil always: especially from Gulf countries, due to political issues. So it's very important to look for alternate energy sources like electricity, solar etc as the source of energy in vehicles.
EV's should address a niche market - a second family car for urban trips - and not try to be a "one size fits all" solution. As a second car for school/shopping etc, 50 mile range is sufficient and attainable now.
Unfortunately the replacement battery deal is a logistical nightmare. We ran a factory with over 100 electric lift vehciles and the quick change battery station was the weak link. Drivers who got a weak battery - possibly through neglect on their own part - would come back and swap for another. So just like at the go cart track where there is only one or two cars that are actually fast, the battery stations would be left holding the bag on low performing batteries. Not to mention the EPA rules they would have to comply with. Charging time is not an issue, people's perception of it... is. Charging overnight is a perfect solution, the power company love a way to balance the night time load against the high day time capacity requirements.
Ignorance is bliss. EVs - especially the Volt - are the way of the future. Sustainable energy solutions including wind, solar, and wave can power a vehicle. Even if you're going to use the argument that to produce energy, you're just burning coal falls through. It is FAR easier to control the emissions at limited numbers of STATIONARY power plants instead of millions of MOBILE tailpipes.
I'm also Volt owner # 2445 and I'm paying less than 3 cents per mile now instead of about 30 cents per mile for my old car. While the upfront cost of the vehicle may be higher than an ICE, the costs for energy/fuel, operational costs (oil changes, PM, etc.) should all be factored into looking at the true lifecycle cost of the vehicle.
Average car uses 50USD a week. for 52 Weeks it costs 2600 USD. Considering that your car was 20K USD more than average car then it will take you 7.69years to make back the money assuming u don't pay for a single penny. Now consider the 3Cents per mile. at 11000 miles per year average that is roughly 330USD. So in reality you only benefit 2270USD a year that is 8.8years to pay back that extra mark up. Will your battery pack survive that long? Will you need to spend another 5k to 10k on batteries? How long before major electrical circuits start breaking down because of the conditions that they operate under? How much will maintenance be? Don't forget to maintain a vehicle of this technological level requires people with some background in troubleshooting electrical systems. This group of techs is rare and in very short supply.
So to sum it up.... Yes being ignorant is good.
FYI my crappy old technology Toyota Corolla that spends 15Cents a mile only cost me 16k USD, have spent tops 500Dollars the last 8 years to maintain and I have a bill of roughly 1500USD a year on fuel. Let me know when you catch up to me. Also I own my car and I don't pay interest because it was cheap enough to purchase straight out.
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 ?
Its funny with yo in the USA. You spend billions in flying to the moon, which as result delivered many technologies that changed the face of earth. What is this but an inefficient subsidy for technology development. So it is possible to name many similar case. The future after the oil age is multifacetic. An EV that charges its batteries using electrical energy froma carbon plant will have a CO2 print bigger than that of any modern engine as we have the in our BMWs, Volkswagen, just to name some. Yes, every engineer out there dealing with battery chemistry is reasearching, specially as rare earths are rare as their name says and China is one of the largest suppliers. Same applies for the market and the consumer. Most of you know the quadrant system that can be applied to many fields, like i.e. that of market maturity, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.
To identify the best approach to the individual transportation challenge, those basic rules apply and the multifacetic character of the challenge too. Here in Germany we have ssen this with the alternative energy sources. Subsidy helped to get this market mature with the early adopters. This early market had grown so strong, that no China is producing the fotovoltaic systems. This "change of the rules", read the fantastic book from Andy grove about "Crossing the Chasm". Now this market has moved into the early majority phase, subsidy just recently has been cut in half. Bach to the multifacetic aspect of the challenge. having so many solar and wind power sources feeding their energy into the lectrical grid has forced us to make the startegic decision to develop a complete new High voltage DC Grid to transport the energy. It is evident, that, as Andy groves "Paranoia principle" says, the rules are changing once more. We have started project s to collect solar energy in the Sahara Desert south of the Mediterranean. The nuclerar disaster in Japan let to the decision to drop out of the nuclear enegry asap. The spot market for energy for the grids in the different european countries is starting so effects of those changes.
I have written those examples to have you look onto this "out of the box". Just to mention sidewise the costs of subsidizing the markets. remember this issue of EV is just one aspect of the multifacetic perspective a country or a group of countries like the EU has to have on its frame work for the industry and its people. The crazy changes germany has implemented in many of the multifacetics aspects of the economy of our country has let to German economy to boost, while everybody else is facing recession. Jobs you create, biz opportunities you generate, market leaderships you take lead to a booming industry that Germany faces. The USA have behaved similar in the past. The Marshall Plan for Germany after the Worldwar II, not only made us Germans your loyal, honest friends, but also helped the USA industry to sell billions into the booming markets after the war putting USA as a leader and as a promoter for the values of freedom, justice and the forces of the market. Your investment in military research, into space technologies have had as a result a change of the world, not the least, but just to mention it the revolutions in northern Afrika and still in Siria.
Bottom line, subsidizing EV alone is a lost investment. Developing a vision of an age after the oil, develop the mission to have the changes accelerate to go through this transition and implement an adaptive plan by setting a framework that helps the diverse forces to drive to that future finding the best compelling way to achieve leadership and as a consequence wealth to USA citizen and as a consequence to the whole world. Dont ask your country what it can do for you, ask yourself what you can contribute. The change we are going through in the world is full of opportunities and the capabilities and the strength of the USA can contribute and should!
There has been extensive research even considering grid loss, battery loss, and any in between loss an EV is still more efficient. The problem is not CO2 footprint. It's heavy metal Footprint. The reason why EV's are not reasonable is expense of the entire lifecycle. It's still cheaper to use Gasoline. And with some key scientist putting their careers in the line saying that CO2 is not a problem. I will stick to old tech. So far there has been a panic driven economy mostly forced by key public speakers (al gore any one?).
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.
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 read recently in the NY Times that a Nissan Leaf emits 30% less carbon in its lifecycle than a Toyota Camry that provided 27MPG. Not mentioned in the article is that if you improve the mileage of the Camry above 30% its now the cleaner alternative. Can anyone substantiate this? Am I missing something? Wouldn't it be easier to improve the efficiency of the IC engine than to re-engineer 100s of billions of dollars worth of power generation plants and transmission lines to improve the EV efficiency?
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.
Twenty months after news leaked about Apple Inc.’s secretive automotive project, the high-tech giant has apparently decided it will not go toe-to-toe with Detroit, leaving few in the Motor City surprised.
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