Electric vehicles have an advantage over gasoline vehicles in that during an accident, the lithium ion battery is not going to throw a highly flamable fuel that spreads to the occupant compartment.
More than one person dies every single day from a vehicle fire and roughly a quarter a million vehicles catch fire every year in the US alone. Obviously there is a scale issue here as there are more than 270 million vehicles in the US, so about 0.1% are involved in a fire annually.
Certianly I agree that accidents are an area to keep an eye on for EVs. That is when catostrophic things go wrong. To date, I am not aware of a single EV fire resulting from a moving accident. At least one got caught in a house fire, but that was shown to be an issue with the house wiring.
I have a Chevy Volt. Fantastic vehicle. I charge it in my garage with all doors closed. Maybe that sounds strange, but folks charge their laptop, ipad, iphone, etc. in their bed these days with no ill effects. There are no fumes from the charging process. I would support a different headline. EV batteries; getting better all the time.
I see your point, DanielJoseph, just not sure I agree. I think batteries are among the least understood of common every day products that are used by consumers. Frankly, I am not asking for a comparison of gasoline vehicles – every vehicle should stand to the bar of safety on its own merit – and the results simply aren't in yet regarding EVs – there is not enough data to reflect any sort of scale. I am not against EVs by any means and I am glad you are having great success with yours, but as with any new technology it takes time for the larger picture to emerge and in the real world sometimes marketing gets ahead of itself. I choose to stick with my original headline...
I have driven a Chevy Volt in the Chicago area for the past 4-5 months. During this time I have used at least 400 less gallons of gasoline than with my previous car (most miles were electric.) That's less imported oil than I have used for that time period in Decades!
Feels great to me to do this, but the multi trillion dollar per year oil industry would not be so happy if there were a lot more people adopting this technology. I am sure they are spending a lot of money on the PR to criticise these and other vehicles that would dent their income stream.
The energy density issue is not going to be solved by doubling or tripling using aluminum-ion or other battery technologies. The energy density of gasoline is two orders of magnitude greater than lithium-ion. The energy in the 432 pound battery in the Chevy Volt is equivalent to eight-tenths of a gallon of gasoline, weighing less than five pounds. Although I am sure that battery technology will gradually improve, it is going to take something of a quantum leap before all-electric or hybrid automobiles will be truly competitive with gasoline power. Until then, they will remain playthings for wealthy car-buyers laden with carbon-guilt.
Your logic is puzzling me. A mode of transportation that replaces another mode of transportation has to be compared to the status quo - in terms of fires, at least, as this is what we are discussing. You can't simply dismiss the fact that main propellent found as the cause of death for so many americans is absent or significantly reduced in all EVs. There is no liquid propellent found in an EV battery. There is no battery acid (as with traditional batteries). To say we have to create new standards without regard to previous standards is a cost death nail. I am saying EVs will save lives of folks in accidents that would have started a fire if they had been in a gasoline vehicle.
Maybe you are saying there is some other gotcha waiting to be discovered...
My opinion is that the surprises will have more to do with reliability, long term life, end-of-life disposal or reycling processes, etc. Safety will be a huge benefit of EVs over traditional vehicles.
I didn't say that a battery of any type would displace gasoline, just that a different battery chemistry might increase energy density. If someone wants to buy a vehicle that includes a large bank of batteries, that's fine. They should aim for the highest energy density available when balanced against cost. For me, a gasoline-powered vehicle is just fine.
Spoken like a true oil industry representative. Stay stuck with the past. These cars are used differently and do not require the same energy density as gasolie to be useful. As in my post on this site, I have used 400 less gallons of gasoline from imported oil in just 4 months driving my Volt. That alone is worth it to me.
"To say we have to create new standards without regard to previous standards is a cost death nail."
That is where priorites can differ...engineers in the battery industry that I am acquainted with are very concerned about safety issues and in that industry (as in any other) it is often a battle of priorities. Battery technology is different, so their standards are going to reflect those differences. I am not calling for different safety bars - but safety bars that are reflective of and make sense for the technology being used.
You make valid arguements but I personally don't think that safety is adequately proven, because nobody has shown me that it is. I am hearing about doubling the density - how does that affect volatility? The scenarios for manufacturing decisions and safety are endless and I understand the need to define reasonable limits. I have a horse (which is the ultimate gas saver!) but of course every time I ride, I put myself at the mercy of a 1200 lb. prey animal with a mind of its own. But there are habits that I have formed that give me the best chance for a safe ride. While we can't control everything, we can be as thorough as possible in our design which includes extensive safety testing.
I have reached the limits of my knowledge on this subject, but as a consumer, this is what I personally am concerned with.
The main point forgotten is that we have no choice but batteries. We have less than 20 years of oil left, and it is foolish to waste it on cars. Alternative biofuels compete with food so also are not viable. The only sure thing is electricity, whether hydro, nuclear, solar, etc. And that means batteries. So stop trying to sell batteries as an alternative power for normal cars. The whole world has to switch to understanding batteries are all that matter, and the car has to change in order to fit that. So cars have to be light, aerodynamic, plastics or aluminum. Batteries have to be in a standard module for rapid replacement instead of slow recharge. Everything else has to change as necessary, in order for batteries to work. There is no other option.
The end may not yet be near, but recent statements by two of the world’s biggest automakers point to the fact that the industry has begun to plan for a dramatic decline in vehicles that are powered solely by internal combustion engines.
At the recent Autodesk Accelerate event in Boston, the director of product development for a niche hypercar firm replied "no, no, no" to three answers he got for what makes a car go faster. What was the right response?
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