"Everyone thinks that battery-electrics are the ultimate solution and everything else is just an intermediate step," Michalek told us. "But that's not necessarily the case. In our study, BEVs (battery electric vehicles) are worse."
That's good news for consumers who are interested in preserving the environment, but don't want to spend big bucks doing it. Because batteries still account for a large percentage of the cost of electrified vehicles, hybrids with smaller batteries would typically cost less than comparable pure electrics with larger batteries. Moreover, hybrids also offer the convenience of greater range.
To be sure, Michalek's numbers could change if electricity suppliers go to a bigger diet of renewable power in the form of wind and solar. "In a world where all our electricity is coming from cleaner sources, BEVs could be the best," Michalek said. "They might even be the cheapest. But there's no guarantee we're ever going to get there."
The irony of all this is that public policy now favors bigger batteries, largely because it's assumed that BEVs pollute less. Subsidies from the federal stimulus package give as much as $7,500 for vehicles with batteries sized at 16 kWh or larger, but $2,500 for smaller, 4 kWh packs. "The larger the pack is, the more public money we're spending on it," Michalek said. "But the truth is, bigger isn't necessarily better."
This makes sense, Chuck. Unlike the EV, the hybrid charges itself instead of taking electricity off the grid. Given that so many grids are generating electricity from coal, I can see where a hybrid would produce less carbon than an EV.
It is good to hear that full EVs are bad for the environment, to some degree. I assumed the battery fabrication was fairly high prices already. As I have been hoping for the day of owning a complete EV and avoiding the pump, now I see I will need a transitional vehicle until battery tech makes the footprint smaller. Plug in Prius on the way...
However, do you think this will inhibit development on EVs in the future?
I doubt this will change anything in the short term, Cabe. There's no window right now for making changes to policy. What it will mean in the future is anyone's guess. Regarding the Prius: Toyota has a plug-in called the Prius PHV and it has a relatively small, 4.4-kWh battery.
As for EVs, Cabe, it looks like automakers are making deep investments in their EVs. They may break through with cost-saving technology. As for the coal-burning grid, that may change as well over coming years as grids move to cheap natural gas and renewal sources of electricity.
I wonder if the analysis took into account that as more EVs are produced and their life cycle exhausted there will be a larger supply of recycled materials for the batteries? This too will reduce the foot print for EVs.
Unless we are going to build a large number of nuclear power plants the energy we generate isn't going to get much cleaner. Solar and Wind are extremely energy entensive when all costs are included. Manufacturing (including materials), maintenance, transmission losses, are all extremely high for all the "green" energy sources.
The nuclear waste issue could be mostly resolved with GenIV and breeders, but it is unlikely that the government will permit that, so all the discussion about "green" energy is so BS.
The real problem is not the car, nor the driver, nor the way the car is driven, but the way the energy is produced that is used to produce the battery and other components, and to recharge the battery. So clearly the solution, once again (as always to many of the world's problems -- GW, meltdowns, oil spills, etc.) is renewable energy for all. There would be no question the EVs are the way to go in that case. The price (and presumably the carbon footprint) of EV batteries is fully expected to plummet over the next few years in any case. Somehow, I suspect this "fact" was ignored. What this article presents is a call for more renewable energy, NOT a call to slow the conversion to EVs! After Sandy, those with pure EVs were able to power their refrigerators for days off their car battery (with an inexpensive converter that every EV owner will want to have). That's another savings that probably didn't get included but could become significant as we remove large old "base line" electrical generators from the grid and some people worry about "grid instability."
This is quite heartening to see....... I believe one of the posters here mentiooned the hybrid as a "transitional" vehicle which I believe is dead one right. The big mistake being made is forcing this EV technology before it's time. The hybrid is the most logical and the best step to increasing efficiency of personal transportaiton. It is , in my view, the bridge technology, towards further imporvements. It generates it's own electricity (captured in the regenerative braking mode) and stores it in the smaller battery system and yet relies only on the ICE when needed (and for which the infrastructure already exists). One cannot argue the energy density of fossil fuel for transportation simply cannot be matched by these "green sources".
Plus (and I know this will raffle lots of feathers), this absolute madness and hysteria of pending dome from global warming ...(er... sorry, climate change) and unrealistic and arguably beneficial CO2 emission reduction targets, perhaps can be mitigated a bit, by some actual factual and rational analysis of costs and benefits.
Lithium-ion battery prices will drop rapidly over the next 10 years, setting the stage for plug-in vehicles to reach 5%-10% of total automotive sales by the mid- to late-2020s, according to a new study.
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