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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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.
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 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?
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-?
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