"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."
One item that hasn't been addressed yet is whether the battery cells will be completely recyclable. How much will it cost to replace the bed of cells for these vehicles if they want to typically get 10 to 15 years wear from them? Will this impact the waste landfills, etc.?
One additional issue is the rate of affordability. Since MPG is becoming a factor that doesn't really apply well across the field, why doesn't the industry create a new rate based on total cost per mile? DPM (dollars per mile) would make much more sense to me while we're in this transition period. Include the cost of the vehicles as well.
A very interesting article. Not really surprising to me, the energy density of liquid fuels is factors above that of existing batteries and for a very long period of time will also outnumber future batteries. So we allways have to consider the balance of cost and benefit of measures we plan to save the planet. Hybrid technology could be one keyelement. From the engineering standpoint, the most important and first approach should be, to develop technologies that are able to produce liquid fuels from sunlight or uneatable plants or bacterias. If we are talking about EVs then we allways have personal cars in mind. Has anyone ever calculated the size and cost of a battery to supply a 40tons truck or a 100ktons train in aereas where no electricity is available? Some scientists from israel published in the late 80s some datas about the influence of oil shortage onto the structure and survival rate of big american cities. Those cities are not able to survive if the oil is empty, because they can not further be supplied, with food, water, energy and cannot be diposed from gargage any more. Dreaming of a future just based on photovoltaic and wind energy will provoke heavy changes of our daily life and infrastructures we know today. Also if we are talking about clean energy and footprint, we should consider how all the money is earned ( produced) to support the development of clean technology and what will be the amount of benefit, money efficiency which equals CO2 at the end of the process.
This analysis is fundamentally and very deeply flawed. It presumes that the mix of fuels used for generating electricity will remain as it is now, heavily fossil fuel based. It presumes that the pollution produced by large fossil fueled electric power plants is in every way similar to that produced by smog belching car engines. I have no idea how the "battery" manufactur pollution figure was developed. And no idea how the total for vehicle lifetime, including maintenance et al fits with these doctored figures. Design News should take more care in presenting such flawed analysis. Need at least a better peer review and a researched counter position.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
A recently released government report has raised the hopes of automakers looking for a break on future fuel economy regulations, despite the warnings of an Environmental Protection Agency official who said the agency is unlikely to back down on its goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
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