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Big Battery EVs Under Fire

Light plug-in hybrids, like the Prius PHV, have a better near-term outlook than pure electric cars with big batteries.   (Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)
Light plug-in hybrids, like the Prius PHV, have a better near-term outlook than pure electric cars with big batteries.
(Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)

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Re: Scientific breakthrough
emachado   10/2/2012 10:51:05 AM
The replaceable battery pack solution is so obvious to me that it hurts not seeing more effort being put into it. Is there any work at all being done by the powers that be (ISO, IEEE, etc.), along with the car industry, into looking at creating a standard (or standards) for battery packs?

One could think of specifying a few different platform form factors, energy content, voltage output, cooling requirements, and so on. New industries would then pop up providing (selling, leasing, renting) the packs, leaving the car companies to innovate on "content", which would immediately decrease the price of a EV car, making it a lot more attractive.

Pack replacement could be done by small robots in a 5 minute job and charging done in the background. The incentive would be there to improve the quality of packs (chemistry, use of super capacitors and other energy storage solutions, improving reliability, repair), thereby increasing the profits for the provider and allowing for price/rental reductions.

It is, however, a big infrastructure transition, where things have to come together at the same time: No point in having these stations if there are no cars, and it is very limiting to have cars without these stations.

Do we have to wait for the military to take the first step?


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Plug-ins may not be not very practical, either.
Dave   10/2/2012 10:49:42 AM
The vehicles that I am wary about the most are plug-in hybrids. Let's say that your commute is just beyond the max distance of all-electric propulsion. Your car's engine needs to run for all of one minute or perhaps not at all for a month. How do you think this would affect the life of the IC engine? Our "standard" hybrid covers this issue by ensuring its IC engine runs often enough to keep the oil free of harmful moisture/sludge, but an extended range plug-in is far more likely to consume very minimal IC use time.


 Instead of replacing batteries, prematurely, folks would be replacing their IC engine! I have seen arguments that this is unlikely to happen but I am not convinced.

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EV Batteries
warren@fourward.com   10/2/2012 10:40:22 AM
I guess we are so used to sitting in a car with a bomb in our trunk (gas tank) and so we nitpick the EV batteries. I think they have their place and we should not expect them to be like gasoline or diesel vehicles.  It just needs to be inexpensive, easy to charge, and safe. I don't expect to drive non-stop 1000 miles in any car I have. Why expect itfrom electric?

The reality is that there is a lot more power per pound in gasoline than there will ever be in batteries. And that is OK. It goes according to need. We don't complain because our flashlights go dark and say "I wish it had a gasoline engine instead of this stupid battery!"

So with that in mind, it seems to me that the car companies are chasing the tax relief instead of the market. There should not be a bounty on gasoline cars, i.e. tax deduction on electric, but let the market decide. Look at the success of the Smart car. We just need a "smart" electric car that fits the needs of the short range driver, and that is a lot of us. It just needs to be inexpensive, easy to charge, and safe. I don't expect to drive non-stop 1000 miles in any car I have. Why expect it from electric?  But I repeat myself...



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Gas-Electric Car 1916
EricMJones   10/2/2012 10:38:41 AM
Read it and weep...

Popular Science August 1916 page 253 "Gas Electric Car"

I think this is a Chevy Volt almost a century ago....

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Re: EV-fear
naperlou   10/2/2012 10:33:19 AM
Brian, your statement that there is a lot of money to be saved with an EV is false.  You may want to look at other posts that I have made on this subject on the Design News site. 

The problem again is the cost of the batteries.  If you want to get to some serious range you are talking about the Tesla cars.  The original Tesla roadster could get over 250 miles.  The battery, on the other hand, weighs 900 lbs and costs the manufacturer $25,000.  To replace it in the field costs $40,000.  This is not worth it. 

The other issue with EVs is the driving pattern.  Sure, most trips are short.  But most people do take longer trips with their car.  Having a vehicle that can only be used around town, whcih would require a vehicle to go on trips with (or to haul more that a small amount of stuff) is a luxury.  There are plenty of times when my wife and I need to drive a distance at the same time.  So, owning one EV and one ICE powered vehicle is not practical.  If you are in the a situation where you can own a third or fourth then you don't need to suppossed savings you are talking about. 

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Electric Cars
EricMJones   10/2/2012 10:30:44 AM
My daddy said it 50 years ago and it's still true: "EVERYBODY knows how to build an electric car. NOBODY knows how to build the batteries."



Common sense
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EV cars still impractical and expensive
Common sense   10/2/2012 10:17:04 AM
Yes it is true that EV cars could be used as a commuter car tha will go 60 miles, and this would satisfy many commuting needs 90% of the time for most people, but to what benefit?  A similarly small gas car would still be cheaper by comparison, and there would be no limits imposed on driving distance.  How convienient is it to drive an hour, stop and fire up a generator to recharge the battery, drive another hour, stop to reecharge the battery, etc.  How stupid an idea, and this has become a gas powered car at this point by the way.  And, everytime I want to drive 70 miles I have to go rent a gas car?

The arguements I'm hearing in favor of electric cars are basically that the consumer is too stupid to know how good he/she would have it with an electric car.  I'll agree that there are a lot of stupid people out there, but when it comes down to it most people manage to figure out what works for them, and obviously most do not want to stop the car every 60 miles to recharge it.  Where in the heck are they even going to stop at anyway, just pull off on the shoulder or in the ditch?

How about everybody that wants to drive an electric car just go buy one (and how about just use your own money to do that without expecting the rest of us to help you pay for it), let the rest of us choose what we want to spend our money on, instead of worrying so much about how the rest of us can be forced to drive golf carts too.  I'm quite OK if you want to drive a golf cart, doesn't bother me a bit, but I'll stick with  my truck or MG Midget for the time being.

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Urban transportation
Consultofactus   10/2/2012 10:01:23 AM
The main problem with EVs is one of marketing. The travel profile that today's EV are designed for (short range urban transport of a limited number of passengers, little luggage space, no towing capabilities) are better addressed by mass transit. Even if true running costs of EVs would be competitive to a similar sized IC vehicle the same traffic and parking hassels as well as sky-high insurance rates apply to both technologies. Whenever I travel to places like mid-town New York or Chicago during business hours I wouldn't think of driving in the central city. I know several adults who live in Manhattan who don't own a car, don't want a car, and drive only when out-of-town using rental vehicles. So this leaves the market for EVs being a second car for the suburbanite who wants to over-spend for a vehicle that could be nicely addressed by one of the many MUCH cheaper IC, high mileage offerings on the market.

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There you go again
CharlesM   10/2/2012 9:52:37 AM
I don't have time now to address this adequately, but for now let me just point out that the problems ramping up production of the Tesla S have nothing at all to do with its battery pack or the size of that pack.  This is all anyone needs to know to see the bias of this article. (2nd quick point: Why is the Chevy Volt doing so well? That doesn't figure in with your premise.  No matter, you'll re-spam your subscribers yet again with the link to the old articles about the bogus and overblown "Chevy Volt Battery Fires!!" any day now.  That'll scare potential buyers off yet again.) 

UBM Electronics publications never stop their drumbeat of doubt and pessimism about the technologies for environmental sustainability and the need for any at all (e.g., climate "skepticism," etc., ad nauseam). In spite of those technologies thoroughly dominating your articles and advertising over the last few years. A few examples: Avnet Chevy Volt Drive, the "greening" of power supplies with lower power, reduced standby current and power factor correction, wind turbine innovations, and LED lighting. This is where your and the industry's growth is, but you can't stop bashing it.

Is it is the controversy you want because it's good for business, or is it something more about UBM's politics? 

Jerry dycus
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Re: Scientific breakthrough
Jerry dycus   10/1/2012 3:55:18 PM
 Nice accurate post Brian.


As I've said before, the present batteries are fine, it's the overweight, overpriced, overteched EV's big auto is making because they don't want them in great numbers. 

Next your charging point isn't true as EV batteries, especially ones in lighter, more eff EV's can be charged in 15 minutes with the present charghe points being put in now.

 EV's are not designed for long distance, but local driving,go somewhere, park/charge while doing whatever it is you went to do, then go to the next thing. But rarely would one do over 60 miles/day according to national studies of actual daily travel needs. 

Changing battery packs was  normal in 1900'1910 as NYC Taxi , delivery trucks had them then, No?  A Better lace has stations in Tokyo  and building them in Cal Hawaii, Israel, Denmark, etc.

Most in fact would be used for commuting with side trips going to, from work which it's perfect for 90% of US car trips.  If one needs longer range they can rent or own a small fueled generator onboard, Lotus makes a 35kw unit that weighs 115lbs IIRC, though most smartly done EV's need less than 1/3 that takes away all charging needs.

Who one buy a Hoe to plow a field?

EV 'problems' all have reasonable solutions but too many don't want to think critically enough to find them by bias, laziness, ignorance though I have to admit the common propaganda put out by big oil, auto certainly would make one think they are not practical.

But are we not suppose to be designers, engineers here who should be able to look at the real facts and tell them from the obvious propaganda?

Charles I noticed your quote of me, EV's are overweight, overpriced, overteched in EV article in the print DN's.  That big Auto is against EV's is a fact, not a idea as Chevron did buy up the NiMH patents and did stop others from producing EV size batteries from them, No?  GM did crush rather than sell the EV-1's at a nice profit, No?  Is it parnoid thinking if they actually do it or just a fact? 

Luckily there are now so many diffeent battery types especially of various Lithium versions they can no longer buy them all.

Here is what with a better looking body, 100 mile battery range  and using medium tech composites EV's should be.

With work well underway on the facelifted new Prius, Toyota will be exploring new avenues of green machines at this month's upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.

« GM Introduces Flex-Fuel Version of Chevrolet HHR; First Four-Cylinder Flex-Fuel Engine from GM in North America | Main | Hyundai Introduces i-Blue Fuel


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