HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Automotive News

DOE Tool Compares Gasoline to Electricity Costs

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
far911
User Rank
Silver
Dire needs
far911   6/20/2013 7:11:17 AM
The energy savings, monetary saving, and minimal environmental pollution make up for one killer combo. It is time we saw electric cars on the roads more often than not. 

Constitution_man
User Rank
Gold
Re: Dire needs
Constitution_man   6/21/2013 9:01:32 AM
I still cannot use my transport mode to make a political, environmental, or policy statement.  It's just not in the budget.  I just bought a $2700 used car with a gas engine that gets 27-30 mpg.  I don't need or want ANY new car.  The cost and complexity are not justified.  Given the collateral cost of in-home alterations for the charger, the fact that the parts man at a Chevy dealer still cannot tell you the part number or cost of a new battery for the Volt, the huge depression in range that is experienced by the Leaf in hot climates [thanks to a non-cooled battery]... I am still not sold.  And, the myths aren't talked about.  Myth #1 - The government does NOT give anyone $7500 for buying a leaf or any other EV or hybrid.  They do SEND you $7500, but they first must take that money out of the hands of your neighbors and yourself to do so.

Myth #2 - The electricity that charges up your car with a cord is not pollutant-free.  Somewhere in North Dakota, a trainload of coal is burned to make the juice and a ton of environmentally intrusive high voltage towers must be erected to move the power... or somewhere else, a nuclear reactor must chug out the juice, along with a ton of thermal pollution and a cask of persistent radioactive waste that we "safely" bury.  The viewpoint I often hear [and agree with] is that the EV/Hybridized cars do look like the infancy of another era, but they are by no means within the reach of ordinary everyday Americans when compared with the real cost of good used 4-cylinder ICE cars.

The Designist
User Rank
Gold
Re: Dire needs
The Designist   6/21/2013 9:46:13 AM
Good points.

This calculator is a ruse, deceptive, and insulting.

Others on this board have made the argument, but also lets not forget that assuming gasoline prices will go up and electricity prices will not, is short sighted.  And using subsidies as a pro-EV argument is absurd.

Also, I don't care if my car runs on gasoline, electricity, atomic energy, or poop.  If we run out of fossil fuels, so what, just the better, because it won't be used as a pollutant any more.  Nature will take its own course, and the mother of necessity will prevail the needed inventions.  The U.S.A. federal government has no legal basis for deciding what products become buggy whips.  Just remember who bailed the telecom business out when it flopped ...

 

AREV
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
AREV   6/21/2013 10:47:40 AM
This calculator is made for the un calculating public. As I see it my 15 mpg pick up would break even* at 107,000 and my Chrysler 300 w/ a Hemi would be 177,000, if both require a $20,000 bump in initial cost.

* Interest on the additional 20,000 would move the break enen into infinity.

Keep spinning those numbers. Electrics need to be designed as additional, low cost no frill commuters for one person only.

 

Chuck_IAG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
Chuck_IAG   6/21/2013 11:44:00 AM
@AREV,

I think you've hit on a key point that few EV proponents want to acknowledge.  With the current state of technology, this is a niche vehicle.  If I could get one of these (new or used) for under $5k, maybe a one-seater with a 50-mile range at freeway speeds and enough storage space for an average load of groceries, along with a 5-year battery warranty, I'd consider buying it as a commuter and runabout second car (if I had the garage space).  But with their current prices and limitations, for the average American with limited economic resources to go out and buy one as the family vehicle, dream on.  You can put up web sites all day long; it's not going to convince too many folks unless you outright lie to them.  The latter, of course, usually works.

AREV
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
AREV   6/21/2013 2:38:39 PM
Currently in Iowa we are paying $0.40 per gallon for taxes plus the 7% sales tax. When electricity has to bare the same burdon the break even point - ignoring everyting but the cost of purchase increase - for my pickup goes to 125,000 miles nd the fun hemi goes to north of 200,000. Not signing up for EV yet. I think we need more tinkerers working on this issue. The experts are failing.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Dire needs
CharlesM   6/21/2013 11:32:19 AM
Myth #1 - The government does NOT give anyone $7500 for buying a leaf or any other EV or hybrid.  They do SEND you $7500, but they first must take that money out of the hands of your neighbors and yourself to do so.

Myth #2 - The electricity that charges up your car with a cord is not pollutant-free.

This makes no sense. What are you talking about?? The first part is just plain nuts. How do you feel about the government giving away many multiples of that $7500 to the fossil fuel industry which is reaping record profits in the hundreds of billions per year?

Nobody said electricity is pollutant-free, but the Electric Power Research Institute has said there exists enough excess grid capacity at night, when most EVs charge, to power a million electric cars without having to add new power plants. And electricity on balance is cleaner and more efficient than fossil fuels. It's a slam dunk.

 

J. Williams
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
J. Williams   6/21/2013 11:39:58 AM
Charles, what percentage of our electricity comes from coal?  The number is in the thirty percent range at the moment.  Also, coal is one of those base load generation fuels.  If nighttime is the ideal time to re-charge electric cars, coal will be a primary source of electricity.  NG is often used as a peaking fuel because of the ease of quickly bringing units on and off line.

As for whether the government gives money to the fossil fuel industry, could you show me the cancelled check?

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Dire needs
CharlesM   6/21/2013 1:12:45 PM
...what percentage of our electricity comes from coal?  The number is in the thirty percent range at the moment.  Also, coal is one of those base load generation fuels.  If nighttime is the ideal time to re-charge electric cars, coal will be a primary source of electricity.  NG is often used as a peaking fuel because of the ease of quickly bringing units on and off line.

As for whether the government gives money to the fossil fuel industry, could you show me the cancelled check?

Thanks for reinforcing the point that EVs mostly aren't coal powered. Besides inherent efficiency, the great thing about electricity is that you're not tied to fossil fuels. As we keep cleaning the grid, as is occurring, a portfolio of non-fossil fuels and cleaner fossil fuels, like NG you probably love, can be used. With ICEs the only ways to reduce fossil fuel use are to increase MPG or switch to biofuels. Biofuels are very weak and inefficient forms of solar power and have other problems and increasing MPG without recovering wasted brake energy (onboard storage easiest done with a battery) is tough to get very far.

Where did I say a literal check is written and that I have a cancelled copy?  Here, but from now on you can do your own web searches:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
Critic   6/21/2013 10:40:24 PM
NO RATINGS
You're not tied to fossil fuels???  How will you decide how the power you use to charge your car from the grid is generated?  You might need to install a smoking diesel generator in your back yard so you are sure where the power comes from!

jpratch
User Rank
Gold
Re: Dire needs
jpratch   6/21/2013 4:56:47 PM
NO RATINGS
"but the Electric Power Research Institute has said there exists enough excess grid capacity at night, when most EVs charge, to power a million electric cars without having to add new power plants"

That may be true for maybe nine months out of the year. But up in the NorthEast, in the teeth of winter, the EGrid is busy keeping a lot of folks homes from freezing and the "excess" capacity can be compared to that found in the South, in the summer, at mid day... not a whole lot to go around.

Combined with the practical limits of the power available coming through the meter on these homes, it may take more than eight hours to charge that EV. And add to that the power actually available from a very cold battery (slowed chemical activity) and there may be unintended consequences.

 

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
Larry M   6/21/2013 9:06:07 AM
Energy savings? Envrionmental savings?  Naah.  You're just moving the energy expenditure and envrionmental pollution to where you can't see it--to coal-fired or oil-fired generators someplace out of sight.

Money savings? Well, for the nonce anyway.  Gasoline costs so much because it is taxed to pay for roads and bridges. If we all switched to electric cars taxes would have to be applied to pay for those roads and bridges. It just hasn't happened yet.

Here in North Carolina (home of the highest gas taxes in the nation) a bill was just introduced in the legislature (by Rep. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, I think) to tax electric cars to make up for the lost gasoline tax revenue.

kenish
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
kenish   6/21/2013 11:45:13 AM
Same in CA; our state legislature is circulating various bills to switch from a gas tax to a "mileage" tax.  Wear and tear on infrastructure as well as congestion are agnostic to whether it's an EV or a F350 dualie.   Falling gas tax revenue isn't solely due to EV's of course...better MPG, telecommuting, the economy, and the under 25 demographic not wanting a car also contribute to it.  Point is, the calculation changes if mileage taxes come to pass.  BTW, our gas tax rivals yours at 39 cents/gallon.  

If you look at the photo in this article or see a Leaf on the road, the banner down the side says "Zero Emission" .  Seriously, Nissan ought to be taken to task for false advertising.

I'm not anti-EV; they definitely have their niche.  But the public needs to be educated from a holistic perspective.  It boils down to whether TCO fits your lifestyle, and whether the environmental impact of EV's is more acceptable than ICE's.  Of course that depends on the power sources in your area, and personal ethos.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Dire needs
CharlesM   6/21/2013 12:00:19 PM
NO RATINGS
Here in North Carolina (home of the highest gas taxes in the nation) a bill was just introduced in the legislature (by Rep. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, I think) to tax electric cars to make up for the lost gasoline tax revenue.

I'm sure you frequently support new and higher taxes. That's nice. That kind of ignorance-based politically targeted legislation is exactly opposite what's needed to wean ourselves off our addiction to oil. Once more, incentives are needed to artificially lower the costs of more efficient transportation than fossil fuel burners until the economies of scale can implement cost reductions through market means. It's a chicken-egg problem that requires kick-starting for a few years, which is a key function that only government can provide.

As for lost revenue, I'll bet you argue for lower revenue every other chance you get. As for road use, less than 1% of cars sold are EVs and it's probably MUCH less than that in your state. I would wager that large trucks do by far most of the road damage and vehicles under 5,000 lbs., including all EVs, cause something closer to 1% or less of all road wear.  The argument to add new taxes for EVs is misguided at best and stupid at worst. It's counterproductive either way.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
Larry M   6/21/2013 12:09:21 PM
Name-calling is the refuge of those who cannot make intelligent arguments, Charles.

Write back when you've got something logical to say.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Dire needs
CharlesM   6/21/2013 12:42:49 PM
NO RATINGS
Where was I name calling, LarryM? I would be proud to call most Republican politicians names, though, and some Democrats too! What are you really hiding from?

kenish
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
kenish   6/21/2013 12:19:35 PM
NO RATINGS
In California, full-size pickups and anything larger pay a weight-based registration fee, and semis pay lots of taxes.

There are social costs of about $1 per mile that go with any vehicle.  Examples are construction and maintenence, pollution, medical costs of accidents, extra burden on first responders, etc.  I'm very anti-tax too, but all vehicles need to contribute to the "hidden" but very real costs.  Maybe toll roads are a more equitable solution?

Maxx57
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
Maxx57   6/21/2013 10:06:47 AM
The website gives a false sense of security.  What I want to see is the comparison between the purchase cost of a vehicle, the cost of repairs, and the cost of engine replacement/battery/power system/etc...  oh, and then after all that, the cost of gas vs electric.  That's the last thing I want to see.  I just dropped another $470 to repair a radiator because I could do it myself since there were tranny lines going into it, and 3 months ago $800 to repair the A/C, and prior to that $900 on tires and $1200 on wheel bearing issues, etc...  If you can tell me that parts and repairs are less expensive than current gas vehicles and will ALWAYS be less expensive, then maybe I'll ponder the thought of buying an EV.  But until then, I could care less about just the cost of fuel.  I spend less in fuel than I do on repairs.  I don't have the luxury of buying a new car every 3-5 years.  The more electronics, the higher the labor costs to repair.  That's the bottom line, but the gov't just wants to tax everyone more to have the money to give it to people who think that fuel price is the only factor in saving money in a vehicle.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dire needs
Ratsky   6/21/2013 10:57:19 AM
Another data point:  I drive a 2003 Camry SE, now with 143,000 miles on it.  Bought new 10+ years ago for $25K, loaded.  I've spent less than $4000 on repairs and maintenance (including tires and batteries, brakes, etc.), and have averaged north of 25 MPG (and this is with the 3-liter V6 and A/C in Atlanta!).   According to KBB, current resale is about $5500.  You can do the calculations yourself (either simplified or full-bore "engineering economics" analysis including time value of money, which was a MANDATORY subject back in the early '60s when I got my BSEE).  These costs will be lower per mile than just the replacement cost for an EV battery pack!  The DOE tool is propaganda, pure and simple (I'm sure about the simple, not so much for the "pure").

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Dire needs
naperlou   6/21/2013 11:16:29 AM
Maxx57, you make a good point that repairs vary in complexity and type.  On the other hand, there are qualitive differences between ICE driven cars and electric vehicles.  For example, the radiator.  If the electric vehicle has one, it is usually to cool the battery.  Unlike an ICE vehicle, the engine is not turning over all the time.  All supplemental pumps (compressors, etc.) have their own electric motors.  They also do not have to be right next to the engine, and typically are not.  The fact that so much is driven off the ICE motor is the reason for the design we typically see.

The vehicle drive motor is typically lighter weight and WILL have much lower maintenance costs than any ICE.  There is just a whole lot less going on.  Another big expense that one often runs into on an ICE vehicle is the transmission.  These are simpler on an electric car and generally need fewer gears.  In fact, i don't think the Tesla Roadster has one.  It is not actually needed for electrics, although some use them.

So, you may have some repairs that are about the same.  On the other hand, many common ones will be cheaper and easier.  The big cost driver on an electric vehicle is the battery.  I looked up the situation on the Tesla Roadster so I have some information there.  I have pointed it out on design news before, but I will repeat it.  The battery weighs 900 lbs.  It costs Tesla about $25,000.  So, it is a major driver of cost and weight of the car.  To replace it, retail, costs $40,000.  When you purchase your roadster you can purchase battery insurance, or replacement, for $12,000.  If the battery lasts the expected seven (I think) years, it will be replaced then.  If it does not last that long, you will pay an extra, pro-rated, fee for the battery.  The assumption is that you did not care for the battery well enough. 

 

These costs put electric vehicles well out of reach.  The smaller, cheaper ones (Nissan Leaf) has such a short range that they are not really serious vehicles for many people. 

 

I, like you, tend to keep vehicles longer.  That is more by choice. 

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: Dire needs
shehan   6/26/2013 4:53:49 PM
NO RATINGS
@saw911 – We are already seeing many Electric cars on the market, the question is how is electricity generated? (Gasoline, Nuclear power plants, or renewable energy sources). I think we need to look at ways of powering cars from renewable energy sources.  

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/20/2013 11:02:29 AM
...the website does not factor in the higher initial costs of electric vehicles.

The calculator is obviously for fuel, not other costs. Though those higher initial costs should include presently available incentives such as the $7500 tax credit that brings the base price of a LEAF down to $21,300, which is within the target that market research has found to make EVs price competitive with ICE cars.

The website also does not factor in the cost of home charger installation or battery replacement.

Again, the calculator is obviously just for fuel and not other costs. It also doesn't project what the future costs of fossil fuels may be if they finally reflect their true costs to society in terms of environmental damage, fueling wars, etc. Nor does it show the what huge oil and gas subsidies and other federal incentives do in keeping oil prices artificially low enough to ensure, as Ari Fleischer infamously said, that "the American way of life is a blessed one."

Nor does the calculator factor in significant cost savings of EVs due to their drastically lowered maintenance burden, even including less brake wear.

The effects of efficient transportation are not confined to the lower cost of electricity, but rather pan out to most every aspect of transportation costs, once you fully consider them. It's true that batteries aren't perfect yet, as you are so fond of pointing out. That's just reason to provide incentives to mainstream electrified vehicles, so that market solutions will follow. We would not have cheap high technology on which many products that fuel our modern economy are based, were it not for huge federal investments made decades ago in microelectronics, GPS, the internet, etc.

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Perspective and fairness
naperlou   6/20/2013 11:36:02 AM
NO RATINGS
CharlesM, you make some interesting points.  The one issue with electric vehicles is the recharging.  Generally, a gasoline powered vehicle can go longer than any electric vehicle.  Most conventional vehicles, including ones that are a few years old, can go 300 to 400 miles on a tank of gasoline.  Then, when they need it, they can refill at a large number of locations in just a few minutes.  This is not the case now with electric vehicles, and the cost to make it so is astronomical.  The infrastructure for fueling our cars is massive, and pervasive.  This is the challenge.  Competing with the sunk cost. 

 

Another point you make is that the calculator is only about fuel costs.  That is true and appropriate.  Overhead costs for vehicles can vary wildly.  Electrics, by the way, should be much cheaper.  Using the calculator, the purchase price (including any financing and incentives) and some estimate of the maintenance costs an individual should be able to compare the two types of vehicles.  One of the important factors is the distances driven and use put to the car.  These are the types of analyses that any large purchase should go through. 

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
mrdon   6/20/2013 2:18:51 PM
NO RATINGS
naperlou I agree the eCalculator is to focus on the comparsion between fuel vs electricity cost. I know folks would not see the benefit behind buying an electric vehicle because of the initial investment. Once the investment has been made, the objective is to monitor the cost of fuel vs electricity over a period of time to realize the savings an e-car can provide. No additional costs need to be added to the equation. Nice informative article Charles.

jpratch
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
jpratch   6/21/2013 8:54:46 AM
"No additional costs need to be added to the equation." only holds if you buy a new vehicle every three to five years. If EVs are being built with insufficient robustness for decade-plus service, they fail the "green test", battery replacement not withstanding. That is a known issue.

A reasonable life cycle cost of an electric vehicle whose marketing is aimed at ecologically aware individuals and sold on the "green" premise needs to sell from the perspective of reducing "conspicuous consumption". The attitude of replacing the car before the tires wear out is the wrong mindset. So the first entry into the model needs to be "How long do you plan to own your vehicle"

So the reality of batttery replacement at 3 to five years as well as an ownership period approaching a decade should be factored in. For equivalent ICE this might also include such costs as tramsmission replacement as appropriate. I have owned two mini-vans (one foreign, one domestic) with known automatic transmission life limits of between 100,000 miles and 150,000 miles. Of course, battery replacement is twice to three times the transmission costs. But informed vehicle choices should be inclusive of total cost factors.

I am NOT against EVs. I have chosen to rent a Prius hybrids on many business trips and I like that car a lot. I have driven them on long high speed trips, in traffic and even in Arizona summer heat. If the performance of total EVs is close to that I have experienced with the Prius hybrid, the only issue to me is delivered range and acquisition/life costs. For a "daily driver" for work, an EV could be great, but to compete with my 1978 Triumph Spitfire, it needs a drop-top.

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
mrdon   6/21/2013 4:29:55 PM
NO RATINGS
Jpratch I agree. As everyone knows there's more parameters that needs to be added to the total cost of investment equation. From the stand point of calculator tool, I believe its complete because it compares fuel cost with electricity based on your state. Its interesting from that perspective and that's where I leave it.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/20/2013 5:49:25 PM
...Most conventional vehicles, including ones that are a few years old, can go 300 to 400 miles on a tank of gasoline.  Then, when they need it, they can refill at a large number of locations in just a few minutes.  This is not the case now with electric vehicles, and the cost to make it so is astronomical.  The infrastructure for fueling our cars is massive, and pervasive...

I understand that marketing appeal and the feature of long range does make an ICE more handy. However, society has not always had the prevailing attitude that everyone needs everything to do it all for everyone. I grew up in the '50s - '70s, an era of vast economic prosperity. For many if not most during this time, the prospect of a second vehicle was to have a dedicated commuter vehicle or one for local errands. The main vehicle was usually dedicated to family trips and longer range travel. This seemed to work pretty well for a long time, though of course demographics have changed. We now live in a new era, though, where we're pretty darn spoiled about having it all without (apparent) compromise.  We have people constantly telling us that we'd be stupid to buy a new car if it can't go hundreds of miles on a whim, even if we rarely leave town. There are pretty many of us, though, who believe that there are unintended consequences to this lifestyle and that there will be enormous societal costs to be paid for our collective high levels of frivolous consumption and lack of seriousness about curbing our energy appetites. This is already happening and will only get worse for a long time. The tragedy of the commons is coming to bear.

Electrics, by the way, should be much cheaper.  Using the calculator, the purchase price (including any financing and incentives) and some estimate of the maintenance costs an individual should be able to compare the two types of vehicles. 

ICE cars have had roughly 100 years to become perfected and get their costs down and having >99% of the market helps tremendously with the economics of cheap unit costs. The modern EV era, by contrast, started when? With the Prius? GM EV-1 (which wasn't sold)? The Tesla Roadster in about '07? Probably more like 2011 with the introduction of the LEAF and Volt.  Like everything else, batteries for transportation will benefit significantly with a few years of refinements and after their existence as a high volume commodity is assured. Even though Tesla has a battery strategy that leverages the economies of scale that have already occurred for 18650 size cells, other EVs especially suffer from the Catch-22 phenomenon of requiring high volume sales as a precondition to achieving costs that will allow high volume sales.  That's why there are incentives that taper over time.

Edmunds and KBB have 5-year total ownership cost calculators for different car models and EVs and PHEVs like the LEAF and the Volt are included. From a cursory browse, they seem to show that EV cars and plug-ins aren't (yet) cheaper than their ICE counterparts, but neither are they much more costly, or if at all when considering the enhanced ride quality of electric propulsion. IIRC, these calculators generally show total outlay over 5 years to be in the mid-$30k range. If you keep browsing different models you can find entire families of popular vehicles, such as larger SUVs, that fall well into the $40k range over 5 years. At least this goes to show that a car's success in the marketplace is not always tied to its practicality or frugality, as many have alleged as reasons to dismiss battery-powered cars.

BrusselsSprout
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
BrusselsSprout   6/21/2013 2:44:01 PM
I accept the accuracy of the cost assessments of operating new vehicles assessed by KBB and Edmunds.  What I don't accept is that I personally need to spend that much to operate a vehicle for five years.

 The cost of operating my current vehicle for 5 years, including full purchase price, is nearer $15k.  I simply start by recycling someone else's old vehicle.

 However, many are not willing to take my approach and are then left with the following choice:

 $40k for 5 years and be able to go where and when I want, loading anything I need to care for my home and property from the lumber store, and occasionally towing a boat for family fun.

 $30K for a passenger vehicle that cannot tow and requires me to sit idle every 250 miles for 2 hours to charge.

 At the end of five years you have one of two things,  A passenger vehicle on the last legs of its battery life, or a Ford F150 with a really cool 6-cylinder dual turbocharged engine that is still ready to go another 100k miles.

 I do not accept that subsidies, or spending other people's money for your electric vehicle lifestyle is morally or economically defensible.  Better solutions are to eliminate subsidies across the board and stop spending other people's money.  This way we quit distorting the value of goods and cost of energy and the marketplace will find an optimal solution.  Arguably this takes longer, but the solutions achieved are more robust and sustainable than what is being advocated currently.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/21/2013 3:15:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Many around here seem stuck on the notion of 5 yrs as being the life of an EV battery. Don't know where that came from and then became conventional wisdom, but you can always lease to get around that.


I do not accept that subsidies, or spending other people's money for your electric vehicle lifestyle is morally or economically defensible.  Better solutions are to eliminate subsidies across the board and stop spending other people's money.

Sure, in an ideal world there would not be subsidies for anything, but I have tried twice in this thread to explain the case for temporary tax credits for EVs. Do you accept that it's morally or economically defensible for me (or you) to have subsidies and "spend other people's money" for an industry of an extremely mature technology that makes billions in profits and externalizes its environmental costs onto society for your ICE vehicle lifestyle?

I've made the case for temporary subsidies for clean energy technologies. All the costs are up front and not backloaded onto society. Granted they need short term help to gain a fair foothold to compete against a dirty industry that turns a huge profit. So why do dirty, low tech industries that make these huge profits deserve federal handouts? Can't they make it in the free market after 100 years? They have to have Uncle Sam hold their hand too?

 

BrusselsSprout
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
BrusselsSprout   6/21/2013 3:51:12 PM
NO RATINGS
Most every vehicle owner has enough experience with normal auto batteries to judge for themselves what to expect for battery life on an EV.  Granted, the chemistries are not the same but there are quite a few more cells in an EV battery that compensate for that.  Given a statistical distribution of battery life, at five years it is not unreasonable to expect failures to start showing up on some EVs.  I suggest that an EV battery is on its last legs, not that it has failed at 5 years.

 Maybe an EV will not have to have a major battery overhaul until 8 years.  However, the value of an EV is still tied to a major subsystem that has a much more limited life than the comparable ICE engine.  The perceived value of an EV at 5 years is considerably different than an ICE because of this.

 Had we not inserted politics into our marketplace we would not be arguing about whether to subsidize this or that.  Instead we would be enjoying more efficient and sustainable technologies because we could.  Instead some argue for an all knowing/all powerful Deus-Ex-Machina government directing our personal assets to other people's pockets for un-sustainable technological dead ends.  Quite a mouthful, but possibly a reflection of the force feeding we get from an overly large government.

       I confess I am puzzled by the inconsistency of arguing on one hand to subsidize one industry while decrying the poisonous effect of a subsidy for another.  I reject the idea we cannot untie this subsidy "knot" and have a better world for all.  The longer we delay the worse it gets.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/21/2013 4:55:26 PM
NO RATINGS
Had we not inserted politics into our marketplace we would not be arguing about whether to subsidize this or that.  Instead we would be enjoying more efficient and sustainable technologies because we could.  Instead some argue for an all knowing/all powerful Deus-Ex-Machina government directing our personal assets to other people's pockets for un-sustainable technological dead ends.  Quite a mouthful, but possibly a reflection of the force feeding we get from an overly large government.

The so-called free market does not counterbalance for externalized costs. It's very profitable to burn sequestered carbon (often obtained from cheap leases on public land) and spew the hydrocarbons into the atmosphere for anybody else to pay for the damage. Do oil companies and utilities have to pay healthcare costs for asthma rates and lead poisoning as a result of what they burn, to mention just two air pollution effects? Of course not; they successfully lobby that we all benefit from their pollution so nobody pays directly. Except healthcare costs are killing our economy and this is just the tip of the iceberg of the fossil fuel problem. There's no invisible hand for this. You are just showing your politics.

I confess I am puzzled by the inconsistency of arguing on one hand to subsidize one industry while decrying the poisonous effect of a subsidy for another. 

We don't live in an ideal world to insist subsidies are always bad. I believe there should be one-sided subsidies to level the economic playing field for cleaner renewable energy sources that do not have the backloaded costs and environmental degradation that fossil fuels have and these subsidies should remain until such energy sources are mature enough in technology and economies of scale to compete on their own with the mature dirty energy sources. This will save us trillions and is happening rapidly anyway. Somewhere between 2016 and 2020 electricity from PV panels is expected to be as cheap as from burning coal, subsidies aside. And such electricity, while not perfect or baseload, won't kill us slowly while in normal use.

I await the ridicule and indignation the previous two sentences are bound to provoke.

BrusselsSprout
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
BrusselsSprout   6/21/2013 6:49:56 PM
NO RATINGS
Somewhere between 2016 and 2020 electricity from PV panels is expected to be as cheap as from burning coal, subsidies aside. And such electricity, while not perfect or baseload, won't kill us slowly while in normal use.

This is a good example of how subsidies distort good decision making.  Taking into account what energy costs we can identify to produce a PV cell, the associated aluminum framing, transport and installation, makes PV installations a fools choice for grid connected end users.  Calculate the amount of energy generated by an instalation over the actual lifetime of the solar cells, about 10 to 15 years in my climate, and you find that they never make up the energy required to make and install them.

Currently, the only time PV panels make sense is when they are employed in applications where there is no access to a power grid.  You would never know that considering how many are installed on homes in our community, except that they are being installed with my money.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/24/2013 1:18:52 PM
NO RATINGS
BrusselSprouts, you obviously know absolutely nothing about what you're stating. Total energy costs are not something that's just dawned on only you and that you're free to invent numbers for. They are well known and referred to as levelized cost of energy (LCOE). You might want to read up on that. And PV payoff is not over 10 years; it was less than 4 years as per more that 9 years ago. Since then costs of PV are maybe 1/3 or 1/4 of what they were then, so it's certainly less than this now:

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35489.pdf

robatnorcross
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
robatnorcross   6/21/2013 4:12:46 PM
Forgive me if I'm repeating something that someone else said BUT the actual cost of gasoline (petroleum) is much higher than they (the govt) says. If you add the cost of the Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force that have to be used to insure a continuous supply (securing shipping lanes, etc.) from the middle east I believe the actual cost is MUCH higher.

Chuck_IAG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Perspective and fairness
Chuck_IAG   6/21/2013 4:38:50 PM
I went back to check my history books, thinking I had missed something, but, NOPE!  The US government didn't give Henry Ford any handouts to start up his factory.  Somehow, he managed to do it on his own.  And strangely enough, he seems to have done all right.  Maybe taking money from taxpayers and giving it to lobbyists isn't necessary, after all. 

In cases where we as a nation/government have ALREADY obligated ourselves, we need to meet those obligations.  I'm speaking specifically about oil drilling incentives.  These guys dropped a bundle into the ground with the expectation of getting some tax benefits (what you call subsidies), which the government promised to give them if they drilled.  So they drilled, meeting their end of the bargain.  It seems that you want to reneg on the nation/government's end of the bargain, the tax benefits.  Not really kosher.  Want to reform the tax codes going forward to end future tax benefits?  Fine, support a flat tax.  Boom.  Problem solved.

A Popular Science mag article recently argued that the US government should invest in vital areas of public concern where there is NO profit incentive.  Where there ARE profit incentives, free enterprise will prod the market to meet the demand.  It's sort of hard to argue with that- it makes a lot of sense.  Charles, do you see a profit to be made in EVs?  Then step back and let these guys get busy meeting your expectations.  And chill a little bit; you're kinda uptight.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/21/2013 5:05:59 PM
NO RATINGS
Chuck_IAG, I'm sorry I'm rocking your world with the uptightness you're sensing. Tell you what: I won't bother responding to the loonier stuff.

Chuck_IAG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Perspective and fairness
Chuck_IAG   6/21/2013 6:32:18 PM
NO RATINGS
@CharlesM- yes, I did notice you didn't respond much to yourself... (just kiddin' on that). 

Anyway, we can probably agree that money shouldn't be wasted on boondoggles.  It's all in the definition.  The problem in our representative democracy is that our elected leaders overstep their authority on a regular basis.  If there was public discourse on the more controversial government spending, and then the government took action based on the results of majority opinion, I'd be behind it, even if I disagreed with it. 

Too many important decisions are occurring behind closed doors.  You may agree with them under the current administration, but likely disagreed with them during the former admin.  But the pendulum swings, and new bosses come in (with acknowledgement to "The Who" for their political acumen).  When the process is bad, more bad things can occur.  An open, honest forum in which all voices are heard and valued (note that word) can produce greater consensus.  And then when the pendulum swings back again, the new bosses don't feel so great a motivation to get back at the old bosses.  Just asking you to think about it, that's all.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/24/2013 1:13:55 PM
NO RATINGS
Chuck_IAG, our democracy is representative. That means it's by proxy. We don't enact federal laws by referenda and certainly not by popularity polls.

To your second point, you're opening my eyes to absolutely nothing I didn't know, have thought about at great length, and debated with many people over many years. Also, let me remind you that our previous president asserted that "we are addicted to oil" and started (or continued) many of the fossil fuel reduction programs and green investment stimulus programs that have been mis-credited to the current president. Perhaps you'd be wise not be hypocritical about your own words and acknowledge the current president was elected twice to promote whatever programs he deems critical for the country and true to his promised platforms. Whatever the results, you'll survive it.

Debera Harward
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
Debera Harward   6/22/2013 5:52:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Initially every new technology have advantages and drawbacks same is the case with electric cars, no doubt electric cars are expensive but that cost is just one time and it will save your feul cost throughout your life time . One should look at the below mentioned advantages of the electric cars as well.

1.It saves time and energy , time you spend to find a feul station an get it filled .

2. It is not good for health to stay long on feul stations because the fumes are harmfull .

3.Every time we get the cars feuled up we contribute to global warming this is very costly matter that we are paying in terms of ourchildrens health . Electric cars are hybrid cars pollutio free cars.

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Perspective and fairness
naperlou   6/22/2013 7:11:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Debra, your three points are patently not true.

1. There are far fewer charging stations that gasoline fueling stations.  Since the range of electric vehicles is shorter than that for gasoline powered vehicles, you WILL spend MORE time looking for a charging station.  If you are charging at home, then your vehicle will probably not be avialable if there is someting that comes up late at night.  In a gasoline powered car, you can really just jump in and go.  Also, if your electric vehicle completely runs out of charge, you will need to have it towed.  In some cases, the battery will be no longer functional, and you will be out a lot of money.  With gasoline, I can carry a few pounds of fuel and have 15 to 30 miles range.  That is a lot cheaper and easier that dealing with a dead battery on an electric vehicle.

2. I never stay more than a few minutes (less than 10) at a gasoline station.  Since they are open air facilities, I expect that the amount of fumes I breathe is very small.

3. Look at the web site referenced in Chuck's comment right below yours.  Unless the electric power you use is generated by nuclear, hydro, wind or solar (in order of amount currently generated), then you are contributing to greenhouse gasses.  I tend to believe that we can control them fairly effectively at the power plant, but that is not clear.  In addition, your gasoline powered car puts out only miniscule amounts of greenhouse gases besided CO2.  It fact, it puts out CO2 in an attempt to lower the amount of other, much worse, greenhouse gases.  CO2 has beneficila effects as well as expected negative effects (e.g., increased plant growth), many of the others do not (e.g., NOX).  Also, you mention our childrens health.  One of the biggest effects could be the power plants used the generate the electricity for you electric vehicle (we have a couple of plants in Chicago that are controversial in that way).  Consider, though, that our children are expected to live much longer than we are.  I am not sure of what is happening there, but that is the trend, not what you imply.

 

The US is down to greenhouse gas levels last seen 20 years ago.  Some of that decrease was the economic downturn.  Much of it is the increase in efficiency of everything from cars to appliances to computers. 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/24/2013 6:20:26 PM
NO RATINGS
I tend to believe that we can control them fairly effectively at the power plant, but that is not clear

Removing or sequestering GHG at the power plant is on a lot more technologically shaky and expensive ground than perfecting and lowering the cost of the optimum EV battery. To do that with fossil plants would really raise electric rates.

In addition, your gasoline powered car puts out only miniscule amounts of greenhouse gases besided CO2. 

That's like saying your car doesn't pollute, except for all its pollution. CO2 is the overwhelming GHG.

CO2 has beneficila effects as well as expected negative effects (e.g., increased plant growth), many of the others do not (e.g., NOX).

While it does have benefits too, more CO2 is either a net benefit (if we don't have enough) or a net problem (if we have too much), and we have way too much. So it's a net problem, not a mixed bag. There is zero benefit to adding more, unless you like driving climate change or want to attract more mosquitoes. Water is beneficial too, except when there's already a flood, and we're in a constant flood of CO2. We just don't see it like we would a flood of water in our streets.

 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Perspective and fairness
William K.   6/24/2013 7:27:01 PM
NO RATINGS
Just think, it was not that many years back when the targey was to have a vehicle whose emissions were water vapor and carbon dioxide. And now it has become the villian because some folks say that it is trapping the sun's heat. It may also be reflecting heat back into space, and, in a more interesting possibility, it may be that  global warming causes increases of carbon dioxide. 

And for all those fools who constantly tell me that "change is good", well, this may be leading to a change, and that may even possibly be good. My opinion has always been that change may be different, and only on occasion is change good.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Perspective and fairness
Elizabeth M   6/25/2013 6:21:19 AM
In my opinion, William K., I think sometimes politics is involved in these arguments against particular technologies. The oil and automobile lobbies have traditionally been so strong in the U.S. that they seem to find something wrong (and can vocalize it and get support for their dissent) with anything that could be a threat to them. I think the reason some of these alternative vehicle technologies have not taken off has nothing to do with the science of them, and I'm sure many would agree.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/25/2013 9:57:16 AM
NO RATINGS
...carbon dioxide. And now it has become the villian because some folks say that it is trapping the sun's heat. It may also be reflecting heat back into space, and, in a more interesting possibility, it may be that  global warming causes increases of carbon dioxide.

Please point to any scientific study that casts doubt as to whether CO2 traps more heat or to one that theorizes that CO2 reflects more heat or rises as a result of GW.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Perspective and fairness
William K.   6/25/2013 4:50:08 PM
NO RATINGS
There is a method data analysis process called "the method of selected points", which allows almost any data set to support almost any assumption. 

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Perspective and fairness
Elizabeth M   6/24/2013 5:44:03 AM
NO RATINGS
I think though maybe this tool can't possibly factor in everything it could help achieve its goal, which is garner support for EVs. One tool can't possibly calculate all the costs accurately but it can make people think. Sometimes I think in terms of these things one has to consider the forest for the trees and not get too bogged down in the details.

Reliabilityguru
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Perspective and fairness
Reliabilityguru   6/24/2013 9:44:04 AM
NO RATINGS
These vehicles are not practical for transportation. They are more golfcart than automobile. When the temperature is 10 degrees how far will one of these contraptions carry me? It must be safe in a collision and needs to provide creature comforts. It requires heat and defrosters and windshied wipers and headlights.  

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: Perspective and fairness
shehan   6/26/2013 4:56:08 PM
NO RATINGS
@Charles – Yes the calculator looks at the fuel or energy cost, what about the other costs that add up to your bills. I think we should look at how much we spend on fuel including taxes and other chargers. 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Perspective and fairness
CharlesM   6/26/2013 5:25:35 PM
NO RATINGS
...what about the other costs that add up to your bills. I think we should look at how much we spend on fuel including taxes and other chargers.

I don't follow. This is just a fuel calculator. KBB and Edmunds have total cost calculators.  I think one of the points of DOE's is to show that electricity has not risen like gasoline has and is almost impervious to periodic spikes. That's because the supply/demand is steady or at least predictable, and there is a portfolio of various fuel sources that compete to make electricity. So this is a big benefit over oil. ICEs are stuck with oil and can't lower their consumption easily or by very much.

Oddly, the USA Today column linked to by Mr. Murray tried to imply the opposite, that we're due for some big crash of the grid and big price spikes if too many EVs are sold before we upgrade the grid! Like there's any possibility that might happen!! But yes, let's upgrade the grid now. Why would we not do that, with or without EVs?

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Great idea
Elizabeth M   6/21/2013 7:21:59 AM
What a brilliant idea from the government. I hope it helps people start to wake up to the reality of electric cars and gives them a better perspective, as well as the industry an impetus to get a truly affordable EV out to the market soon!

J. Williams
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Great idea
J. Williams   6/21/2013 11:32:50 AM
You trust politicians to give you a straight answer?  Ouch.  Politicians are like children.  They need close supervision by the voters or they start to do silly things that don't make sense.  Others have used the diaper analogy.

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
Eventually
Critic   6/21/2013 8:57:29 AM
Electric cars, from the perspective of total cost of ownership, are not quite ready for prime time.  Neither is our infrastructure.  I think they'll get there eventually. 

 

Electric cars cost more to purchase than do their gasoline-powered counterparts.  Depreciation can also be higher.  Most people seem to forget that replacing the batteries in an electric car is a major expense!

 

We should consider the polution caused by cars, too.  Contrary to popular belief, if you consider the whole life cycle of an electric car, including manufacturing and disposal, it polutes more that a gasoline-powered car.  Remember that electricity is generated, in many areas, by burning fossil fuels (coal or natural gas).

 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Eventually
CharlesM   6/21/2013 11:18:25 AM
NO RATINGS
Contrary to popular belief, if you consider the whole life cycle of an electric car, including manufacturing and disposal, it polutes more that a gasoline-powered car. 

That's not true. Where did you get your misinformation?

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
"Everything has emissions, but sometimes they are just further away from the user."
Critic   6/21/2013 10:35:38 PM
NO RATINGS
How about this:  http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/03/th-dirtly-little-secret-of-electric-cars-theyre-not-very-green/

Or this:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22001356

 

a.saji
User Rank
Silver
Re: "Everything has emissions, but sometimes they are just further away from the user."
a.saji   6/21/2013 11:55:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Sounds good to me since this can save some bucks for most of us. Only concern is that how secure is it ?    

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: "Everything has emissions, but sometimes they are just further away from the user."
CharlesM   6/24/2013 1:23:58 PM
NO RATINGS
Critic, you're pointing to a piece published by the right-wing "think tank" American Enterprise Institute and written by a long-time climate denier whose only science background is of the political kind. His "facts" have been debunked thoroughly. There's no scientific credibility to political hit pieces pulled from right-wing (or left-wing) propaganda. You're just cherry picking non-science (and nonsense) that aligns with your biased gut.

ab3a
User Rank
Platinum
Bogus Comparisons
ab3a   6/21/2013 9:05:07 AM
I want to see electric vehicles become the norm some day.  But nonsense comparisons like this don't help.

First, what was the cost per kWh? The costs can range from 3 cents per kWH to 25 cents or more if it is charging at the wrong time on a "smart grid."

Second, let's consider the costs of replacing the entire energy storage system after 1000 cycles (I'll be gracious and consider 1200 cycles instead of, say, 300).  The cost would be akin to replacing the gasoline engine and fuel system of a car after less than 100,000 miles)

Third, Where is the electrical infrastructure to handle all these vehicle charging systems? Think you can just plug one of these babies in to your suburban home? Perhaps a handful of owners in the neighborhood could do it, but pretty soon, you'll need to upgrade the service all the way back through most of the grid. 

I think electric vehicles have a future. There are inexpensive new fuel cell catalysts that may offer even better performance than platinum. There are new, electrolyte free lithium-sulfur batteries that may offer better power density than anything we have today. There are ways this can work much better, but we won't get there by making nonsense claims based on fairy dust assumptions that are swept under the rug. 

 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Bogus Comparisons
CharlesM   6/21/2013 11:40:01 AM
NO RATINGS
...Where is the electrical infrastructure to handle all these vehicle charging systems? Think you can just plug one of these babies in to your suburban home? Perhaps a handful of owners in the neighborhood could do it, but pretty soon, you'll need to upgrade the service all the way back through most of the grid.

Electric car charging uses about the same power as a hot water heater. Do you frantically warn people they need to limit their electrical consumption with respect to anything else? Of course not. I'll bet you resent anyone telling you what you can and cannot have, especially buying more electricity.  When there are enough EVs sold to start stressing our antiquated substation networks, let's talk about a smart grid and other long overdue infrastructure upgrades.

 

Constitution_man
User Rank
Gold
Re: Bogus Comparisons
Constitution_man   6/21/2013 11:57:43 AM
NO RATINGS
Electric hot water heaters run on 220VAC.  How many folks have a 220VAC outlet in their garage or in their driveway?  Almost nobody.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Bogus Comparisons
CharlesM   6/21/2013 12:40:05 PM
NO RATINGS
Electric hot water heaters run on 220VAC.  How many folks have a 220VAC outlet in their garage or in their driveway?  Almost nobody.

What does this have to do with anything? We're talking power, not voltage. Besides, it's trivially easy to add or convert 120V lines to 240V.

 

ab3a
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Bogus Comparisons
ab3a   6/21/2013 12:15:58 PM
Hot water heaters run quite intermittently and they do represent a signficant energy cost in the home. Imagine adding two hot water heaters and they're running almost continuously. 

That will leave a mark...

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Bogus Comparisons
CharlesM   6/21/2013 12:57:30 PM
Imagine adding two hot water heaters and they're running almost continuously. 

That will leave a mark...

Is that supposed to represent the load of charging an EV? It doesn't. I drive 33 miles a day and it take about 3 hours at <4kW to recharge. A typical water heater has 4.5kW heaters and cycles on/off over 24 hours. Is it less than 3 hours/day? Even if I had the newer 6.6kW onboard charger, it would still use same average power, just for only 1.5 hrs/day.

Are you at least consistent enough to oppose new subdivisions in your town that feed off the existing grid? Especially the ones with popular homes that have ridiculously huge refrigerators, hot tubs, dual HVACs, swimming pools, and deep freezers in the garage? Those will really leave a mark, and one not compensated for by not burning 25 lbs. of CO2 for every gallon of gasoline their cars still emit.

BillyMoore
User Rank
Gold
Re: Bogus Comparisons
BillyMoore   6/21/2013 1:52:33 PM
Charles, step away from the kool-aid.  Comparing EV's against ICE vehicles based on fuel costs only is disingenuous at best.  I track the cost of my vehicles, which include 2 cars, an SUV, and a motorcycle.  Fuel is not the top expense on any of them.  It's either second or third.  Depreciation is number one.  On two vehicles, fuel is number 2.  The other two vehicles, maintenance and repairs is number 2.  And I buy only used vehicles, so the depreciation is lower than new vehicles.  Fuel would have to be around $5/gal to exceed the cost of depreciation on my vehicles.  On new vehicles that get sold after 5 yrs, I'd say that fuel would have to cost around $7/gal to exceed depreciation.

I'd like to see an analysis of the cost of EV's in terms of ownership costs (depreciation, insurance, taxes, etc), and operating costs (fuel, maintenance, and repairs).  I don't care if fuel is free if the other expenses more than make up for it.

The power grid can support a million EV's?  Great!  Only 2 or 3 orders of magnitude of expansion needed, and we'll be set.

As an EE, I'd love to see cars powered by simple electric motors, but powering them through the use of a (currently) inadequate power grid, and storage devices that use toxic chemicals and rare materials is not a viable solution... for now.  I've yet to see any battery technology breakthroughs that could be scaled up to the levels necessary to replace our fleet of ICE vehicles.  Until someone invents Mr Fusion, or an ARC reactor, I guess I'll stick with ICE's, or my bicycles.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Bogus Comparisons
CharlesM   6/21/2013 2:27:44 PM
BillyMoore, you must have the wrong Charles. My very first post referred to two calculators, Edmunds and KBB, that are inclusive of all ownership costs. It was this original article that covers a fuel calculator only and implies that calculator is misleading because it does not include other such costs.

Although baseload plants that led to the statement from EPRI that 1M EVs can be supported are being quickly converted to natural gas plants that can throttle their loads better, as pointed out by another commenter, it's still hard to imagine that EVs could proliferate fast enough to require 1000 times the grid capacity anytime soon. But I would welcome the opportunity for this nation. As Reagan once put it (though I believe he was referring to the "Star Wars" defense system), "Let's get busy." (Or something to that effect.)

It does puzzle me that so many see no problem with burning fossil fuels, yet they believe EV batteries are bad because of rare earth elements and toxic chemicals. I know of only one study out of several I've seen that makes the case that the batteries make EVs worse for the environment than ICE cars and the other studies state that it's not even close in terms of which is worse, and it's ICEs.  Let's not fool ourselves, though. Moving people around in 2 ton boxes at 60MPH requires a LOT of energy, period. It's a matter of efficiency and where the burdens fall. Everything I've read shows the overwhelming problem to be, say it with me now--BURNING FOSSIL FUELS. If new environmental problems of excess lithium extraction, say, become the overwhelming issue a few decades in the future, we should by all means address it. Did we have similar reticence about an oil-based transportation sector 100 years ago?

jpratch
User Rank
Gold
Re: Bogus Comparisons
jpratch   6/21/2013 5:10:30 PM
NO RATINGS
@CharlesM.  "Electric car charging uses about the same power as a hot water heater."

NOT true, it takes about twice that. A good friend owns a Tesla Roadster, the special service drop added to his circuit pulls close to 70 amps, 240 Volts. 16 kW compared to the water heater 5 kW.

Lower charge rates are possible resulting in longer charge times. If you look at the kWH ratings of some of the batteries (Tesla Roadster ~60 kWH) on a water heater compatible 40 A Circuit (30 A continuous available) full charge on the Tesla takes over 9 hours. Smaller cars with smaller batteries and shorter range MIGHT fall into your parameters AND still be of limited use as a daily work driver (think ~40 miles per day range).

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Bogus Comparisons
CharlesM   6/21/2013 5:22:22 PM
NO RATINGS
...NOT true, it takes about twice that. A good friend owns a Tesla Roadster...

Lucky him to have a cool $100k car. I'm talking about a car that's much closer to something that can be compared to a typical ICE car. There are 50,000 LEAFs on the road, most of which have 3.3kW chargers and the 2013s have 6.6kW. The Tesla Roadster is very cool, but it was limited production more like an aftermarket conversion of a Lotus. Its costs of ownership would better be compared to cars in its price and performance bracket.

And as stated earlier, I drive 33 miles per typical day. I don't have the figures at the ready, but the average commute is probably 40 miles or less.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Read it and weep
CharlesM   6/21/2013 1:28:58 PM
NO RATINGS
Thought all the EV haters might enjoy this. Of course, how dare something like this car exist just for rich people. Fortunately we all share a love for trickle down!

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/06/tesla_model_s_review_the_road_trip_problem_is_no_problem_at_all.html

Thinking_J
User Rank
Platinum
Interesting.. but lets keep some "perspective" in the discussion
Thinking_J   6/21/2013 5:30:05 PM
People are so very, very different (duh).

To some: everything can be quantified/measured in personal economic terms. This info on cost comparisons of fuel sources may be of interest to them on a personal level. This generally devolves into what is cheapest for ME - NOW. It is an overly simplistic and common way for people to go through life.

To some: This is about a perceived threat to human future existence. Monetary arguments are moot. What is the value of anything if your future children are doomed by your actions?

To some: This is simply about how to get society to where they think it should be. It is all "political".  It often is expressed in extremes. "free market" or "centralized control (Gov)" is the solution to everything. The market knows what is "best" or our leaders know what is "best".

To some: This is about economics (macro level). What makes economic sense to society in the long run? This is where it gets very confusing. Fossil fuel companies are subsidized (with large incentives, and yes, Wars) , Alternative fuel sources are subsidized. Economy of scale is always going to favor the established system (fossil fuels and road usage in this case). What is clean air worth to you? Hidden costs for infrastructure - wars, roads, transmission lines, etc... how to compare real costs with so many assumptions? Which statistics do you believe to be misleading? Which ones are not?

Real facts - that everyone can agree on.. are really , really hard to come by.

Most of us, just go with our "gut".... combined with the perspective of our choice.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
USA Today view
Charles Murray   6/22/2013 4:53:04 PM
NO RATINGS
WD9HIK
User Rank
Iron
Re: USA Today view
WD9HIK   6/24/2013 4:06:19 PM
NO RATINGS
 

Having owned an electric car for 3 years (two different models) and several ICE vehicles for many more, I believe there is a much easier way to compare electric to gas vehicles. At the current price for a gallon of gas ($) how far can I get on the same amount ($) to charge my car ??

Forget all the theoretically energy in the different fuels and different methods of storing that energy... The bottom line is the $ cost, (right ?)....

It is simple, I would need an ICE vehicle that gets just over 100 MPG to break even with the electric car I drive (it is a TH!NK two seater). This is rather a straight forward calculation based on the price of electricity, price of gas and the efficiencies the TH!NK car. Everyone I talk to seems to understand when I talk about the equivalent MPG in this manner. Of course this would vary for different e-vehicles. This vehicle gets me back and forth to work reliably every say of the week and some week end trips into town for "stuff".

Now, if I could just find about 3.5KW per hour solar cells, I would be driving on sunshine and have some power to spare for the house.

Yes, I still have a pick-up truck when I have to haul something of size, but have not used it for several months..

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: USA Today view
CharlesM   6/24/2013 6:12:45 PM
NO RATINGS
Now, if I could just find about 3.5KW per hour solar cells, I would be driving on sunshine...

In many parts of the country like here in the southeast, you can purchase non-fossil fuel electricity from your utility at only a slight premium. It raises the cost of my fuel from 3 cents/mile to about 3.8 cents/mile. That's still about half the cost of gasoline for a Prius, and it's truly non-fossil fueled. No solar panel investment needed, though those are great to get too.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
DOE AND COMPARISON
bobjengr   6/22/2013 7:35:57 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree Elizabeth.  A method for comparison is good thinking and tremendously helpful.  With electric cars being so expensive, a method to calculate ROI is very desirable.  Even with government rebates, the initial cost is a tough one to overcome for individuals making average salaries.  I would love to see the manufacturers publish a listing of annual maintenance expenses.  This would further aid efforts when a consumer is in the process of making a decision. Good post Charles. 

far911
User Rank
Silver
Re: DOE AND COMPARISON
far911   6/23/2013 8:25:01 AM
NO RATINGS
I think a better way to go about would be to use solar energy in conjunction with charging stations so that there's always a backup source around. 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
But what about doubling our miles per gallon for free?
William K.   6/24/2013 7:33:18 PM
There is another way to make vast improvements in fuel economy, and it does not require any change in the vehicles at all. That method is to improve traffic flow and reduce or eliminate all of the waiting times when the MPG of any vehicle is ZERO! One additional way would be to remove driving privaleges from the stupidest 5% of drivers, which would include many of those responsible for the inefficient traffic flows. The unintended secondary effect would be an improvement in safety and a reduction in the number of collisions.

Thinking_J
User Rank
Platinum
Re: But what about doubling our miles per gallon for free?
Thinking_J   6/24/2013 9:54:50 PM
Get rid of driving congestion? Get rid of stupid drivers?..

May as well dictate everyone live within walking distance of their work, school, shopping... It would have even better health benefits.

In other words.. move to Amsterdam.

 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: But what about doubling our miles per gallon for free?
William K.   6/25/2013 4:39:02 PM
NO RATINGS
No, I REALLY don't want to move anywhere, especially not Amsterdam. I don't claim that my proposed solutions can be implemented, only yhat they would provide the desired results. It would be up to others, (Possibly a king or emperor) to make them happen. Possibly a hundred years ago those kind of rules might have passed, but I don't think that would happen today. BUT that does not make them bad ideas, only unworkable.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: But what about doubling our miles per gallon for free?
CharlesM   6/26/2013 10:38:36 AM
NO RATINGS
There is another way to make vast improvements in fuel economy, and it does not require any change in the vehicles at all. That method is to improve traffic flow and reduce or eliminate all of the waiting times when the MPG of any vehicle is ZERO!

Agreed. Let's do more to improve traffic flow. Except a lot of $$$ already gets invested in that and the general trend still is toward slower traffic. The equivalent MPG for an EV in that scenario, though, approaches INFINITY!

Jus' sayin'.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: But what about doubling our miles per gallon for free?
William K.   6/26/2013 1:29:44 PM
NO RATINGS
For the biggest simple gain in city traffic MPG, nothing would beat the stop-start system with added manual control. Except that in California they all demand their air conditioners. But it would work well in all of the normal world.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: But what about doubling our miles per gallon for free?
CharlesM   6/26/2013 1:43:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Except that in California they all demand their air conditioners.

Really?! I lived in southern Cal. for many years and AC was not used there nearly as much as it is here in the upper (humid) southeast, and even less so in northern Cal. Of course there are desert regions there but not so populous. There's also Arizona, Nevada, NM, Texas, and many other high pop areas where it's much hotter or more humid than California.

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Automotive News
An MIT spin-off says it’s on track to do the near-impossible task of making an electric car battery that offers three times as much energy for a fraction of the cost.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has again committed the colossal sin of speaking plainly, and electric vehicle advocates aren’t happy about it.
Electric vehicle batteries are progressing rapidly, but there’s still no sign on the horizon that the technology is going to revolutionize the auto industry anytime soon, experts said at The Battery Show in Detroit last week.
An engineering team from Ohio State University has set its sights on the unimaginable -- driving 400 mph in an electric vehicle.
We’ve collected photos of electric cars, designed for both the neighborhood blacktop and the commercial dragstrip. From the Crazyhorse Pinto and the Killacycle motorcycle to the Tesla Roadster and the 500-HP Renovo Coupe, we offer a peek at the blistering performance of the electric powertrain.
Design News Webinar Series
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Dec 1 - 5, An Introduction to Embedded Software Architecture and Design
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service