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EV Batteries: Solid Concept, but Not Ready for Prime Time

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Re: No Choice
tluxon   4/9/2012 1:22:47 PM
Sounds like the response of a salesman or politician, not an engineer.  Batteries are one of the least efficient known ways to store energy.  Perhaps that will change someday, but the drop-dead date for liquid and gas fuel energies is a long way off.

Think "Can do" instead of "Can't do" - it'll open more doors...

Jon Titus
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Re: No Choice
Jon Titus   4/9/2012 1:26:20 PM
Hmmm.  We always have choices, Rigby5.  I'd like to know where the "We have less than 20 years of oil left..." came from. There's a lot of information out there, but how much has any credibility?

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Re: No Choice
ttemple   4/9/2012 1:37:53 PM

You have a bad case of it.


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Re: No Choice
MIROX   4/9/2012 1:45:57 PM
There always is a BIG choice and that is to align your wants with your needs!

For in city (that is "big" city of anything of one million + popluation) you will find just about anything you can ever want and need in less than 5 mile radius.

But ultimately you want things like housing, job, or that special store that has stuff on sale that is 40+ miles away - but most people do not add the cost of driving the extra un-necessary miles to the cost of the "sale item" or the 2 or more hours of going to/from work as their true cost in terms of time and money.

For in city driving small EV with as little motor as 15 Hp is quite OK, but the same size (one or two cylinder) gasoline engine in the same application would deliver over 70 MPG - yet it is impossible to find a "small car" in USA, even "mini cars" sport engines of 100+ HP and are close to 2,000 lbs in curb weight.

Vehicle for two or even four people with lead acid batteries at under $300 per Kw/h are available today - except people do not seem to be interested in buying them, Think!, Aptera, Zenn and others are already out of business.

OKA NEV ZEV (www.okaauto.com) is still available at about $8,000 per copy.

But then as many articles point out you many need another car for the 5% or less of your other long distance needs, and as long as you have a parking space for it, not really a problem to have extra car, truck or SUV that would be used only about 750 to 1,500 miles annually. And there always is Rent-a-Car in every city.

The consumers however choose to have a vehicle 100% of the time that they only have real reason to have 5% of the time and as long as fuel is as inexpensive as it is in USA the 300 hp 5,000 lbs vehicles will be popular.

As many researches point out fuel has to be from $8.00 to $12.00 per gallon to make EV or even Volt, cost effective.

When cost of travel gets to be "expensive" suddenly there will be lot of other choices, such as public transport, bikes, and even walking a mile or two !

Or even a "minicar" !


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Re: stale gasoline ?
Emmsys   4/9/2012 1:46:04 PM
The Chevy Volt avoids stale gas by running the gas engine once in a while and is programmed to use up all of the gas periodically. I can't remember the specifics but GM/Chevy already thought of that. Despite so many people wanting the Volt to fail, there is an incredible amount of engineering that went in that car. I personally think it is one of the most advanced cars on the road today. 

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EVs, plug-in hybrids and the Volt are still misunderstood
Emmsys   4/9/2012 2:09:44 PM


I think people need to be better informed about the goals of the current crop of EVs, extended-range vehicles and plug-in hybrids. I hear so many people complaining that the Volt barely gets 40mpg on the highway if you drive across the US. That example completely misses the point of the Chevy Volt. Driving across the US in the Volt is at least possible (and much faster than in a Nissan Leaf where you need to charge it often). However, the Volt really shines in city driving and short distances in general where it can potentially run 100% on batteries alone. That is what should be marketed first, then mention that you can still gas up for the long road trips.

The same goes for EVs like the Nissan Leaf. Saying that it is useless for long distance travelling is like saying a Ferrari 458 Italia is useless because it can't carry 10000lbs of cargo like a pick-up truck can. 

I think the average person is not ready for these types of vehicles moreso than the battery technology. My friend's wife has such acute "range anxiety" that she has NEVER driven their Nissan Leaf. My wife agrees with her and would never want to even step in the Leaf for fear of running out of battery power. 

If people understood the purpose of these technologies then they would understand the advantages and the limitations of the current generation of EVs and Volts. 

On a side note, my friend with the Leaf just went through his first Quebec winter. Some interesting tidbits include:

-The LED headlights can't melt any ice formations.

-The car's climate control (and front/rear heated seats) cannot handle temperatures below -19degrees C. He says the car's interior is lukewarm but never warm. He recommends heated floors.

-The range drops approximately 35-40% during the winter when everything is running (climate control, heated seats etc.). i.e he gets around 70km on a charge.

-He admits that he does quick back-of-the-hand calculations to see if he's got enough juice in the batteries for round trips on cold days. 

-It is a very solid, well-built car.


In my opinion, I'd prefer the Volt as my first step into the EV/range-extended market. However a decent equipped Volt was quoted $52000 here in Montreal, Quebec. INSANE. And people wonder why the Volt isn't selling well?



William K.
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E.V. Batteries: concept and reality
William K.   4/9/2012 2:48:46 PM
Like JT, I would like to see any credible source describe the reasoning behind the assertion that we have only 20 years of oil left. FRom where I stand that asserttion smells like a lie, not even an error. We do have a shortage of cheap oil, but a huge supply of expensive oil. That is quite clear.

For those who fear running out of charge we do have vehicles like the volt with the built in engine driven charger, which it is a perfect vehicle for stop and go city driving, which is a whole lot of what is done in many areas. So the electric car with the engine generator would indeed be the perfect choice, if it didn't cost so very much. It would take me years to get the payback in reduced fuel purchases to cover the extra initial cost.

But what I see as the real barriers aside from the high price are battery replacement costs and maintenance costs. The batteries will of course only be available from the dealer and in southeastern Mighigan the difference between a dealer and a robber is that the dealer doesn't use a gun. It is certain that replacement batteries will cost from $5000 to $10,000, and spending that much on a car 5 years old will be difficult to justify, since the rest of the car will still have five years of wear on it already. And I just know tyhat the environmental folks are going to do something nasty and expensive as far as regulations about used batteries. 

As for the small engined low powered cars that we don't choose to buy, perhaps the problem is that it does take a certain amount of power to drive safely on quite a few roads. If the 10 or 15HP cars were restricted to roads with 35MPH or lower speed limits that might work, but a vehicle with such poor accelaeration does not belong on aany expressway. Would it even be possible to limit the roads that some class of vehicles could drive on?

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Re: E.V. Batteries: concept and reality
atemp   4/9/2012 3:19:32 PM
WilliamK and JT wondered, whence 20 years till oil runs out?: This figure is pulled out of the backsides of greenies who can't do math. Might just as well say, well I have 20 fingers and toes, so that number sounds good. Finite oil is just a conjecture, taken as sacrament by the earth-good, humans-bad crowd.

A four-figure price tag for battery replacement will only work once the Sheeple have been softened up by years of $5-$10/gal gasoline, and have become used to socialist "redistribution" of money to subsidize the whole scam. Whether voting that O-guy out of presidency would counter this trend is unknown, but it seems like a good start.

Of course other high-energy density synfuels are worth looking into, but get precious little attention; after the maize-ethanol scam, can't say I blame investors staying away. As a career EE, it pains me a bit to conclude that even the best batteries are losers in the energy-density, service longevity, and efficiency criteria. Batteries are loved, but again only by loser greenies who were too high in math class to pay attention.

Jerry dycus
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Re: safety-safety-safety
Jerry dycus   4/9/2012 3:43:09 PM

  Nancy, why would you think EV's are not as safe as ICE's?  There is no basis for assuming so because other than gasoline, the materials, design and the way they are built is the same.

Plus all cars have batteries easily capable of starting fire yet few do and that'd due mostly to abuse.  And far more batteries in ICE's than in EV's.  So where is the safety problem?  And is it worse than ICE's?

Personally I'd rather have my batteries safety wise than hualling so much gasoline not to mention paying for the gas/

William K.
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E.V. Batteries: concept and reality
William K.   4/9/2012 4:10:16 PM
I am inclined to agree with the assertion that battery safety is a non-issue, really. The only problem that I see is that working on the systems could be hazardous to those unfamiliar with 300+ volt DC procedures. I have worked on DC battery systems able to deliver 3000+ amps long enough to do damage, and it is indeed a bit tense. The big difference is that it is entirely possible to spill some gasoline and not have any problems, but spilling amps is always a big problem.

But for poeple driving or riding in vehicles there is no reason to believe that there would be any difference in safety. A crash that was violent enough to cause an electrical problem in an EV would probably burst the fuel tank on an ICE vehicle, which would be the least of the concerns for the passengers in any case.

So the safety concern thing is really all about irrational fears, and there is no help for that.

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