The problem with a lot of the numbers in the news stories is that they leave the impression that we're about to get hit by a tsunami of battery-powered cars. That just isn't the case. Because the words "electric" and "electrified" serve as catch-alls, they can include hybrids and plug-in hybrids. And many consumers simply don't understand that.
In truth, pure electrics will be a bug on the windshield compared with the emergence of start-stop or micro-hybrid vehicles (cars that turn themselves off at stop signs and stoplights). In a study released in September, Pike predicted that 9.8 milion start-stop vehicles will be sold annually in the US by 2020. That's more than half of the vehicles sold in this country. It's also 91 times more than the number of battery electrics expected to be sold in 2020.
"We're expecting start-stop hybrids to play a huge role in meeting the coming CAFE [corporate average fuel economy] standards," Dave Hurst, author of the Pike electric car study, told us. "Start-stop is already a big market in Europe."
For some reason, though, the pure electric car is much more captivating. We write stories about it while virtually ignoring the stunning rise of the start-stop vehicle.
So, yes, last week's stories were generally accurate. But a little more context might have been in order. A seven-year climb to a 0.6 percent marketshare is hardly the major triumph that we're being led to believe.
Hellmut - you have managed to deliver one of the most fact-free rants I have seen in a long time.
You say, "Every year the hurricanes start to impose a bigger cost on your country." The fact is, we are in the longest period in our history without a major (F3-F5) hurricane strike. We just went through the longest period in our history without any hurricane strike at all.
You say, "The ice on the poles is melting closer to the worth case scenarios, so you might go to Florida to visit those large cities sumerged in the Atlantic Ocean." The summer melting of the (floating) Arctic sea ice has absolutely no effect on sea level. The measurements of the land-based ice on Greenland and Antarctica are so close to zero change that any trends are within the margins of measurement errors. Even if you accept the maximum reduction rates, they would contribute less than a millimeter per year to sea level rise.
US government scientists this year examined the recent record of sea level measurements, using satellite altimeter measurements, satellite gravity-change measurements, and ocean heat content measurements. They concluded that the average sea-level rise rate during the satellite era has been 1.3mm/year, without any acceleration. That comes to 13cm (5 inches) per century. Does this require radical actions?
You say, "Every year more and stronger tornados affect your country with a increasing number of deaths." Again, completely wrong. Strong tornados (F3-F5) show a long-term decreasing trend. There has been an increase in the reported number of weak tornados (F0-F2), but that is due to better detection from new technologies like Doppler radar and personal video cameras. We are presently in the longest period in our history without a single tornado-caused death.
You say, "All of this besides beeing extremely expensive for the whole economy that has to pay the bill, you are loosing the time to implement change." Americans spend 5 times as much on heating as on air-conditioning. A warm year actually gives a major boost to the economy due to reduced heating costs. Even the IPCC now agrees that there have been no trends in extreme weather -- see their recent Special Report on Extreme Weather (SREX).
You simply have no idea what you are talking about.
I perceive that current-day battery EVs fit into the "getting there" category. GM's EV1 was a valuable learning experience, but it was a DOA product - waaaay too short a range to have any real value. "Nice try," GM! The Leaf and Volt, are a lot better. They are "getting there," but they're far from "a dream come true," and I expect that in 15 years, we look back at them and again say, "nice try."
However, the Leaf is good enough that, if my family did need two cars, I probably would buy one, and in fact would most of the time drive it, instead of my 2009 Prius. However, the range is still too short to avoid needing a gasoline-powered car in the garage too.
Before I bought a partially-electric vehicle, I would not have guessed just how much gasoline engines would come to gross me out. Driving on electric feels so clean, quiet and elegant, that when the engine kicks in I feel like I'm jumping back a couple decades, back to the age of dirty, noisy and kludgy.
I really do wish I could drive electric all the time, but, again, the current crop of EVs is still firmly in the "getting there" category.
The cost of battery pack replacement for a Prius is $3K. It is claimed that a used one can be obtained from a salvage yard for around $500, although my recent search did not find an available one, but I did locate battery pack cells on e-bay that can be used for replacement/repair with the extra effort to balance the cell profiles. So there is also a refurbishing process, but one needs to be well educated about safety in handling high DC voltages.
If the criteria for purchasing a EV were simply the cost of replacing the battery pack, then I would have never purchased another vehicle with ICE due to the cost I incurred for replacement of two transmissions at nearly $2K each. Given that the mean time to failure for battery packs is somewhere above 200K miles, we all know that the scrap yard is full of ICE cars that haven't reached 200K miles and burn lots of oil due to various reasons. In the specific case of the Prius, because the cost of replacing the battery pack is coming down to the point of replacement cost for engine or transmission in a conventaional car, then you need to begin to take a balanced approach to look at failure rates and number of potential replacement components. Interestingly enough, the Prius' drive transmission is far simpler than a conventional transmission. Hence, one talks about battery packs vs transmission replacement costs. From this viewpoint, I came to the conclusion that it's not as big an issue as folks have made it out to be with the exception of the final arguement that the electric vehicle repair is far more specialized at this point in time as compared to conventional automobiles...
I have as you do concerns about battery life. I guess I am thinking old fashioned, but a gas engine can last "forever" if maintained properly. To put a mileage life on the batteries seems weird to me. What if you treat it bad, does that drop significantly? I don't trust batteries lasting even a percentage of the amount that they are claimed to(in our electronics they sure don't!). I also do not think they have had time to be tested...Gas powered cars can be sold after using them for ten years. When do the motors start to use more battery than when they were new? What happens to battery powered cars after ten years? Just throw in new batteries like a remote control? What if the car is beat up, is it worth buying new batteries for? To me that's like buying a used car and throwing in a new engine. Guess I am old school, but I'll wait and see how it all pans out.
IMO, all the discussions about the economics of electrical vehicles vs those fueled by fossil fuels ignore the real cost of the energy. Perhaps it's because it's too difficult to measure, or perhaps it's because we would like to ignore the issue. Likely somewhere in the middle.
With a few exceptions, the cost we pay for fossil fuels (and the electricity generated from them) does not include the indirect costs of the waste products - CO2, NOx, ground level ozone, etc. I know there is a wide variety of opinion about these issues, but it is kind of hard to ignore the smog in larger cities, or the dramatic increases in atmospheric CO2 in the past century. Perhaps the effects are not enough "in your face", or occur on time scales longer than a human lifetime, so they are harder to appreciate. But there are costs, and we are not paying them. Yet.
OK, so express what you like or dislike about your Prius rather than put down my viewpoint with the off handed comment... I am not attempting to put down the Prius and I know that folks that own them are pleased with the mileage and performance they get. Many alter their driving habits per the display which is a bit distracting to the first time driver...
It was my impression from the 30 minute test drive my wife and I took at Rushford, Mn. This region is hilly. One has to stomp the peddle on any car to climb up and down the hill sides in that area and the Prius does not have the git-up to pass on these 2 lane slope hillsides... The MPG metering dropped down to around 13 MPG on these slopes and the car was clearly working overload to pull the grade. This wasn't flat land where many folks probably take their test drive.
I am not saying the car is not engineered well for it purpose of recovery of energy by regeneration. Simply that I felt for the same engine, that the Echo has more "get up" with the manual transmission and ability to downshift and control applied torque. The Echo is no show piece car by any means and the airo dynamics suck. Just that it happens to have the same motor. I am the 2nd owner of the echo and it has 230K miles and has had nearly 0 problems for prior owner and myself which speaks volumes about the Toyota engineering.... The Prius has far better styling and airodynamics and road comfort. So any other comparison other than impression of drive train is clearly unintentional from my part. I was only expressing my impression of the abilty of this car to accellerate when one needs it for passing.
From this viewpoint, if one can run a larger engine using the Nissan approach and coast it part time to achieve similar fuel mileage, then I would think that a better solution for the overall machine cost.
I also looked seriously at the battery life of the Prius and was impressed that Toyota has done it's engineering as there has been a lot of hype about cost of battery replacement, yet all indications I could find was the there is not available information for mean time to failure for the battery packs due to the very low failure rates. Toyota switched to Li ion in 2010 and one expects better performance than the prior usage of metal hydride cells. The sales folks at the small down dealership were very informative and spent 30 minutes talking with me about their impression and knowledge of the battery life and issues. They had recently obtained and resold a Prius with 245K miles on the original battery. They informed me that they had discussed with the local Toyota dealership in Winona, Mn and learned that the dealership has yet to purchase and install their first replacement battery pack.... So, from this first hand discussion and my subsequent investigation of the internet materials regarding battery life, my research went a long ways toward debunking the hype that we have seen about concerns regarding early battery pack failure failure and replacement costs... the battery pack replacement costs have come down to around $3K for new replacements (including labor and exhange of the old pack).
So, I not only test drove it, but I have been seriously investigating a purchase when I did so. I simply am impressed by the approach by Nissan to achieve similar gas mileage using alternate means which I would view would be more economical for cost. Having said that, I will say that I have not test driven the equivalent Nissan model to be able to provide similar critique of road experience.
Best regards to you and your family in the new year... - Weldon
I think we all agree that the sticking point with EVs is the battery or other energy storage device. There is no denying the great amount of energy stored in just a gallon of gasoline. In fact, there is so much energy, that the available waste energy of even today's higher efficiency internal combustion engines can be used to heat and cool our automobiles.
So let's quit arguing about how underdeveloped EVs are and let's emphasize where their use is most advantageous. Let's not (at least not yet) sell the EV as a highway cruiser that can go from your house in Suburban Chicago to Granddad's house in central Wisconsin. Let's sell it as a local-use errand-runner and grocery-getter. Let's make the EV's price attractive and avoid building technical tours-de-force so that "everyman" and "everywoman" can afford to buy and maintain them. As a local-use vehicle, the battery pack could be sized to allow heating and even air-conditioning. And I'm not talking about some micro-sized car worn one on each foot, but a compact-size vehicle that can haul Mom or Dad, the kids, and groceries with some comfort and in reasonable safety.
This, I think, would expand the customer base, increase customers' familiarity with electrics, and bring in funding to pay for reseach to develop high efficiency, energy-dense storage devices such as novel battery chemistries and supercapacitors, and higher efficiency motors.
It is amacing how once and always again I find US citizen using a filter to have the world fit their believes. I remember over many years going to Comdex Show in Las Vegas and have the taxi driver dreaming about this being the biggest electronic show in the World. Over the years those same taxi driver started to learn that their biggest of the world was just a minor show form the pure size perspective. They learned this from the foreign clients they were driving around.
Every year the hurricans start to impose a bigger cost on your country, even afecting those not directly involved through the increase of insurance fees.
The ice on the poles is melting closer to the worth case scenarios, so you might go to Florida to visit those large cities sumerged in the Atlantic Ocean, remembering that using new technologies to get access to oil made you continue brning oil in an ever increasing rate! Lets hope the metan in the oceans will not melt and polute the plant.
Ever year more and stronger tornados affect your country with a increasing number of death. But of course as smart politician of your country said: We are the land of God and so this cannot be true, God would not do this to us.
All of this besides beeing extremely expensive for the whole economy that has to pay the bill, you are loosing the time to implement change.
One of the comment contributors did say it right, to my believe. The goverment has the deepest pockets and has to spped up the solving of the many undoubtfully right weaknesses of todays technical solutions. But with ever increasing deaths at US schools, powerful people with deep pockets, it is probably better to have every school boy and girl have a weapon to protect itself!
This is typical for the US in many areas!
Take the debt! Europe is going through a painful restructuring adapting its economy and its goverments to stop using the money of next generations. The debt of the US per capita is much worth than that of the EU. And you have to compare the US to the EU, not to individual countries!
Wake up America as you have done in the past and bundle your energies and resiurces to fix your country. Stop suffering from tipical islands people behavoir. The North American continent is a big island that make its people blind.
Ok, I'm way off. So give us references that can be used to check the facts. I was not stating what fuels we were using to generate power in the US. I was simply stating that coal is less efficent than say oil or natural gas. What I was trying to convey was that you loose about 75% of the energy you put into the generator by the time you consume it at home. If this number is really off, what is it then?
Some basic digging on ICE efficiency shows that todays best engines are about 25-30% efficient with goals to get to 50%.Direct injection gas is getting up to 35% and diesels around 40% and turbo diesels up to 50%.
I have a camp in Maine that is 225 miles from home. How the heck do I get there with an EV? Stop every 40-50 miles for a 2-3 hour charge? At 50 miles per charge I could stop at a hotel with a charging station and charge my EV at night. It would only take me 4 days to get there and 4 days to get back. With 40-60 mile ranges, they are good for short commutes. My commute to work is 75 miles round trip. If there is no charging station at work (which there is not) I'm not getting back home. And that range drops where you live. I live in MA. When it is cold and I need to run an electric heater and defroster and plow through slush and snow that range will likely drop to 30 miles. In the summer I'd like to use the AC.
If these EVs are so great why are they not selling? Becuase NOBODY but a few folks find a use for such a vehicle and the price tag is too high. By the way, the fact that you get a rebate from uncle Sam on your EV purchase is a joke since we all have to pay for that rebate. And to make it worse, the gov't is borrowing money to give you that rebate. Even fewer would sell if you had to pay the real cost.
Did you know that in the early 1900's there were many electric vehicles. The Baker electric being one. It topped out at 25MPH but went 100 miles between charges with 1900's battery, motor, areodynamic, and power train efficiencies. EV's certainly have come far in over 100 years hav'nt they?
EVs are not the best answer to the larger populace now and will not be in the next 15 years. Mr Obama dumped tons of money into the Green energy movement and looked what has happened. Many went bankrupt and they are out of business. For now, fossil fuel is the best answer.
The statistics, or, more correctly, the projected assumptions, are saying what the media want them to say. The numbers may be carrect, as they appear to be this time, but the assertions are a work of fiction, beyond any doubt. But we need to understand that individuals don't go into the news business because they want to spread the news, they go into the news media to "change the world." That is not my assertion, it came from a study by some university that offered degrees in the news media realm.
So what we really have is a large collection of "spin-meisters" representing that their pet thing is winning. As we often find when we dig deper, the reality is often a bit different. That may be why engineers have a reputation for not being so much fun, which is because we often discount the bleating mass marketer's hype, and we don't run with the crowd. At least, I don't.
A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the country’s longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.
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