Given the huge splash GM made with the Volt, why do you suppose this Spark EV car is being officially announced with very little fanfare? Is it because it's aimed at the Asian markets or that it is GM's way of managing expectations?
Beth: Good question. My best answer is that GM doesn't see this as a mainstream vehicle. The Volt was aimed at a broad market. The Spark has a niche market in the U.S. For now, U.S. sales are California only, and it's a very small vehicle that will have limited appeal. I think they believe it will be more appealing in India.
Now GM is starting to get into cost effective EV's it seems. The Spark is both light and fairly aero so a good platform plus IIRC it was designed to be either EV or ICE in it;s showcar version at least, much like the Smart was though just now getting Smart EV's.
By going lighter GM can use a smaller battery pack, drive that should sell around $20k which I doubt will fly in India.
But here doing commuting, running around the kids, shopping it can save enough on gas alone to pay for itself, much like the Leaf EV, in 5-7 yrs compared to similar ICE's. YMMV depending on gas price rises, mpd, etc.
Remember there are large markets ready for these. Many Seniors already drive lower speed EV, NEV's for most or even all their transport needs. Here in Fla homes come with small EV garages just for them standard in many communities. They would love to step up to a faster version that can go anywhere not restricted to 35mph or less streets.
Then there is the Women and college students markets, both of which like small low cost cars.
Since my small lightweight EV is paid for it costs just $2/wk for fuel, battery costs, I'm laughing all the way to the bank. Others want to do the same but few available and those that are have sold out and costly.
The part about 50mph top speed is strange as if one has the power to accelerate to 50mph in reasonable time will have the power to do 65-70mph. I see no reason they would restrict top speed in the US.
I see your point with the golf cart communities cropping up everywhere now. But it is still an expensive toy, especially for those on fixed incomes (i.e. retired).
An EV based on an up-sized golf cart instead of a downsized car would be a better fit for that niche. The problem is the excesive regulation from the NHSTB forces car manufacturers to build expensive monstrocities. To get around that, start as an off-highway vehicle that just happens to be equiped such that states will licsence it (headlights, markers, turn signals, shatterproof winshield).
There is a very very simple test you can perform on any vehicle to find out if EV is for you and matches your lifestyle.
Disconnect the OEM fuel pump and cut the fuel line somewhere where it is convenient to get to, then since most cars today are Fuel Injected with high pressure fuel pump, get aftermarket pump that can deliver about 100 PSI, and hook it up to one gallon gas tank.
Fill the tank up to only 3/4 (3 quarts) which is about all the useable energy you will get in any reasonable priced battery pack (no matter what the chemistry).
Then get yourself a 5 gallon gasoline can and keep that one in your garage.
NEVER EVER buy any gasoline at a service station and put it into your car (that will simulate the lack of public charging stations) that is unless it is located NEXT to "charge point".
Wait 6 to 8 hours any time you add fuel to you vehicle.
And refuel it each morning before you take off.
IF YOU NEVER run out of fuel, IF you NEVER have to be towed back to your garage to "refuel" and if you can wait 6 to 8 hours each time you fill up, then and ONLY then will EV fit your lifestyle PERFECTLY !!!
This experiment will cost you at most $1,000 (or under $200 if you use low cost or used parts).
The depreciation on any EV once you buy it will be at least 5 times that.
And you can experiment as much as you wish - keep in mind that the energy that can be stored in about $4,000 worth of batteries (that have a limited life) is about how far will 3 US Quarts of fuel get you, in the exactly same vehicle.
And also do not forget to stop using the Heater or A/C, if you do then refill with just TWO Quarts rather than 3 and see if that works for you or not.
And as for the NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) the best I know of (and also own) is OKA NEV ZEV roadworthy for $8,250
Great for a in major city driving, and I find that I never drive more than 16 miles between charges (Burbank, California), but of course for any greater distance I drive conventional ICE car (have 5 to choose from).
EV business is tough, the NEV even tougher, ZENN, Wheego, Miles, ZAP, Mayer Motor, and GEM all found it to be a charity business with no possibility to ever turn profit. And that is at prices as high as $32,000 for a car that at best is worth less than $10,000 and has features of cars that were made 30 years ago (and similar non existent safety features).
Let's face it most Americans just don't really want to have an electric car...Or maybe I should say are not willing to give up all the other stuff you can do with a gas powered car in favor of an electric car. Most Americans want to be a ble to tow our boats, 4-wheelers, campers and such. We want to drive a bigger badder truck then the neighbor. We want to live in the country. We are willing to drive 30 or 40 miles to work in order to live in the school districts we want so our kids can go to school somewhere other than where we work. Electric cars just don't fit that style of life right now. That doesn't mean that it won't in the future someday. it just means not right now.
Wow, lots of ideas and inputs ranging from cautious acceptance to complete rejection. It validates that diversity is our strength, as most posts offer valid speculations (except perhaps towing the EV in a little garage shaped trailer).But boiling down all the various posts to 'Just the Facts' I saw two key points to reiterate:
1)Electric state-of-the-art efficiencies are still limited; therefore range is severely limited (by American expectations) – hence the Asian market is a logical choice, explaining the limited fanfare in American marketing and awareness.
2)Design of Experiment [DOE] as suggested by [MIROX10/22/2011 7:03:53 PM]. This proposal details a very logical simulated use-case to experience the challenges of EVs with one exception. That being, MIROX prefaced the suggestion with "...a very simple test you can perform"; I counter this DOE preparation is a bit extensive for the casual user. But I rated the post as "5 stars" anyway.
Regardless of your opinion on EVs, the bottom-line is that American Industry is moving forward with plans which are counter-cultural to the 100 year-old standard of internal combustion. It represents an encouraging direction from what previously seemed stuck, where both Big-oil and Auto-Makers seemed intent on maintaining the Status-Quo indefinitely.
Interesting post. Some automakers have many of the same concerns outlined in your post, which is why they make prospective EV buyers go through an extensive list of questions to make sure they understand what they are buying.
I have had many thoughts about electic cars, here is one.
Imagine a suitcase with wheels that is full of batteries. You charge the batteries in the car or out of the car. Loading a battery into the car is done by opening the tail gate and using a slide mechanism (no lifting) such that a battery can be off loaded or loaded with minimal effort.
Each battery could have a range of say 12 miles which would allow you to pop to the shops etc. 2 batteries could be used to get extended mileage or to allow one to be charged while another is in use.
An alternative case could contain a small engine and fuel (very much like a standalone generator) this would allow longer distances to be travelled or the batteries to be charged while in the shops.
I'll need it to tow a trailer with another battery to power the air conditioner! Southern Arizona won't be a market in any event, since it's 20 miles round trip to the supermarket. IMHO a waste of stockholders money. Smells like the old GM management.
You said the magic words, "towing a trailer". I mentioned towing a boat in another thread on this same subject and got blistered and accused of everything from destroying the world to expecting other people to pay for my kid's education. (I never did follow the logic of that remark.) So put your helmet on and get ready for all of the insults. If you cannot see the logic of EV's today there are people ready to crucify you.
Unlinke the stupid Volt the EV-1 makes sense. I think electric power would be great for short errands requiring no warm-up or even a starting procedure. Perhaps 60% of what I do with my 4x4 pickup now. I could also trailer it behind the pickup and use it for cheap commuting at a distant location. Hmmm, I could rig the truck to recharge the EV-1 battery as I travel... and I could make the trailer a covered one like a mini garage...
In much of the US, an electric vehicle is actually a coal-fired steam car with the boiler and steam engine located at the power station. It is hardly "zero emission" nor fossil fuel free. To make an electric car truly "green" one would have to charge the battery from a clean renewable energy source.
About 25 years ago I helped set up a solar charging station for an electric car used to commute to work and back. Even with lead-acid batteries it did quite well.
I do salute GM, however, for recognizing that an electric need not duplicate the performance of a gas car and therefore designing for a specific market.
The Spark makes sense to me. If it is light and small I could tow it behind my 4x4 pickup keeping it charged and, upon arrival commute, all over town visting and shopping. All of the items bought could be put in the truck for hauling back home. Once at home I'd just keep it parked on the trailer so it would always be ready.
I agree, to be 'green' there needs to be a renewable source of power. Since nuclear power plants are unpopular among non-engineers, I would suggest putting solar panels on the roof of this car. Also have panels that fold out or concentrate the light. In addition, parking lots with ev parking could have panels overhead or nearby. I realize this is a trickle charge, but if left charging all day it would help.
With this setup, if your charge ran out, (on a sunny day) you could set up a picknic and wait for it to charge...
We'll know when the car people get serious about mainstream electric vehicles when they agree on a standardized battery outline with a standardized interface which mounts in a standardized way that allows the battery to be swapped out in 3 minutes or less. In other words, a standard fuel tank that can be refuelled in a standard manner at any standard fueling station. Yes, Alice, we call them "gas stations" now. [Don't bother, Alice was my best friend growing up ... and she'd say, "Don't bother!" also.]
Until then, they're just building lots of prototypes and marketing toys.
No, I like the Prius / Volt / Tesla / etc. just fine. Well, I would really like the latter if you're giving one away. ;-)
j-allen and Stirling are on the nose ... electric cars charged from the grid are NOT really zero-emission (though I guess a handle is needed for measuring ... why is it we guys think we always have to measure it) and solar power on parking lots and commercial buildings ... WHY NOT?!?! The government is spending billions and trillions on all kinds of junk (like ethanol* for crying out loud what a failure that's been), why not divert some of that to grid-attached solar panel systems over parking lots and malls. Maybe Solyndra (and our hundreds of millions in tax dollars) would still be with us! And doing something useful to boot! Ooooh.
* ethanol: a liquid fuel that costs more to produce and use that the fuel it replaces, corrodes the inside of your motor, and -- because the laws of physics have to be obeyed by us mere mortals -- delivers less power per gallon (compared to the standard fossil fuel in use) resulting in lower power available resulting in LOWER miles per gallon and vehicle performance. In other words, a text-book boondoggle all the way around which has resulted in a few crony millionaires and sharply higher food prices (which means some people -- not the crony millionaires obviously -- have to go without).
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.