"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."
Hey Irishmuse, where did you get your info, my understanding is that Large wind turbines replace their energy debt quite quickly, - a 1 meg machine I read about says, "Within 4 months of operation a Nordic 1000 has generated enough energy to pay back the energy used in it's manufacture, transports, installation and destruction.
Solar panels used to be two years, but more modern Solar panels are more efficient and use less material so that would be less, perhaps much less.
I can't imagine any Nuclear plant including the energy debt of it's destruction in it's analysis except to say, "the sins of the father will be visited upon the sons to the 3rd and 4th generation", but I fear that that is no where near long enough with Nuclear waste
Yes, it's a good point, Jack. Right now, automakers are getting government subsidies for building alternative fuel vehicles, which softens the risk for them. If those subsidies go away, we might see someone blink.
Good point, Jack. Whatever regulations coming out of California or Europe will affect all production. Manufacturers are not going to make separate products just for California or Europe. RoHS proved that.
Actually, Rob, I'm starting to be surprised that there isn't some blowback yet toward the regulations coming out of places like Europe or California. Sooner or later, the big players are going hit a cost benefit wall and decide to abandon one of these markets. It will be interesting to see who blinks first in that situation.
Robatnorcross, you are centainly right about European regulations reaching across the whole world. I was a bit surprised that the RoHS and REACH regulations became effectively worldwide law. Companies decided not to make products for Europe only, so they went with the regulations for products sold everywhere.
Hi rob, If we are only there to protect the Europeans we should send them the bill for the protection service. May be we could recoup some of the stupid costs that come out of Brussells in the form of regulations they seem to be able to impose on the rest of the planet. Apparently they can't run themselves (Brussells) so they try to tell everyone else what to do. "Do as I say, not as I do".
It would be interesting to look at overall lifecycle costs for other energy sources: photovoltaic, wind, biodiesel. Better yet, maybe we could develop a standard carbon output per power output ratio to be able to compare different energy generating methods over their lifetime.
Guarding shipping lanes is an interesting geo-political issue, Robatnorcross. Say we become energy independent -- which looks possible now. Would we simply come home? Or would we need to continue that activity on behalf of our European allies?
Hi Rob, why would you need to protect the shipping lanes if not for oil. On the other hand may be all those TV's, cell phones and micro chips they make over there need to be protected. Oh wait, they don't make ANYTHING there other than sand and rocks and illegal narcotics.
When was the last time you saw "MADE IN AFGANISTAN" on anything other than heroin containers.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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