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Captain Hybrid
The 'Conspiracy' Behind the EV Market
6/18/2012

The crushing of GM's EV1 remains the most prominent of the EV conspiracy theories.
The crushing of GM's EV1 remains the most prominent of the EV conspiracy theories.

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Beth Stackpole
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Conspiracy destraction
Beth Stackpole   6/18/2012 7:19:42 AM
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The bummer about the `conspiracy" chatter is that it takes away from some of the real progress and milestones that have made with EV technology. Sure, it's entertaining and a great way to get out frustrations at an industry that can't seem to solve what on the surface appears to be a pretty solvable problem. I agree with your statement, Chuck, that with all of the attention and focus on trying to crack the EV battery nut, some researcher, some where would have broken the code and `fessed up if there really was some magic bullet  locked up somewhere.

naperlou
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Re: Conspiracy destraction
naperlou   6/18/2012 9:08:26 AM
Beth, it is distracting, isn't it.  While the technology advances, it has been a slow advance.  You have to wonder.  Where are the hybrid battery/ultracapicator systems.  The research done to date has been very uninspiring, in spite of all the hype.  Energy storage is the most pressing national engineering/scientific problem we have today.  Without it, wind and solar and host of other technologies remain too costly to survive without government subsidies.  I don't think this is a conspiracy, but I do have to wonder about the way government prioroties are set. 

The high price of electric, and hybrid, cars reflects the sales expectations as well as the cost of the components.  Any complex product, like an automobile, has lots of fixed costs.  A typical auto plant costs $1B or more to set up.  That cost is amortized over the number of vehichles the manufacturer expects to sell and is used to set the price.  The low utility of EVs limits their market.  Thus, the  cost is going to be high. 

NadineJ
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Re: Conspiracy destraction
NadineJ   6/18/2012 4:36:12 PM
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I love a good conspiracy theory.  They're better than anything on tv but Beth is right. It's a distraction.

As naperlou said, there is a lot of investment in the beginning for new cars.  I think most manufacturers are trying to get a rapid return on investment.  EVs may have to exist and evolve at a loss for years before things take off-kinda like hybrid cars.

rick oleson
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Re: Conspiracy destraction
rick oleson   6/19/2012 9:52:21 AM
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Of course, it's OBVIOUSLY a conspiracy.  The 'cognoscenti' well know that research and development is free, production volumes have no effect on costs and batteries suitable for shoving a ton and a half of iron down the road for 300 miles at 70 miles an hour have been around at bargain prices for a century.


This is why the first laptop computers hit the market at $300 and iPhones only cost 5 bucks.

nyeng
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Re: Conspiracy destraction
nyeng   6/19/2012 11:20:05 PM
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Pure EV's are not the answer for anything other than the urban driver.  Diesel and natural gas are the answer.  The right is against diesel because it reduces gallons sold by about 20% vs gasoline.  Natural gas is good for the republican right/big oil because it will increase demand for NG which has very depressed prices right now.  Unfortunately the left/bunny huggers are against NG because it's a fossil fuel therefore it's bad.

I totally agree with the oil company conspiracy theory.  I also believe in the government conspiracy theory as well.  Too much money is made on fuel tax.  Until there are more mileage taxes or other ways to extract money from the EV driver the government would much rather you bought more gasoline.


I think there is utility company conspiracy as well.  They simply don't have the capacity to run a 30A 220V charger all night in a fraction of the homes in America.  This goes back to the "use 3% less" and "buy energy star" type campaigns.  Under the guise of environmental stewardship it's a thinly veiled ploy to reduce to electricity consumption to offset infrastructure repairs.  It also makes for higher effective power rates since if I use less my per kw-h cost goes down but the 'basic service charge' and 'billing' fee and so forth stay the same.  Widespread EV usage would increase kw-h consumption likely requiring billions in infrastructure.


So, in summary, why wouldn't there be a conspiracy against EVs when EVs are a detriment to the profitability of big oil and big utilities, and to federal state and local excise tax receipts?

GlennA
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Market research vs positioning ?
GlennA   6/18/2012 9:20:25 AM
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I remember the story of how Chrysler asked drivers what they wanted = small fuel efficient cars.  What drivers bought were muscle cars = Mustangs, Camaro's etc.  So Chrysler had to come out with the Charger and Challenger.

I think the Toyota Prius is now in its third generation in the U.S.  When I first seriously considered the Prius, they all had high-end stereo's, Nav systems etc.  And high prices to match.  When models became available without all the 'bells and whistles', my wife bought one.  My Aspen hybrid has all the 'bells and whistles'.  The reviews that I have read postulate that Chrysler made a concious decision to build a high-end vehicle to cushion the hybid price shock.

If Toyota is targeting consumers that want a high-end, fully equipped vehicle, then that is their marketing strategy.  And the standard logic is there is a lot of profit in high-end options.  After Toyota sees what their market penetration is with these 'pricey' Rav-4's, they may bring out a less expensive version.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Market research vs positioning ?
Dave Palmer   6/18/2012 11:42:26 AM
Although I wasn't alive yet, I understand that when color televisions first came out, they were quite expensive -- well beyond the reach of the average family.  Now, most people under 40 have never even seen a black and white tv. (My family had a black and white tv until the 1984 Olympics, but by that point, we were probably the last family in Chicago without a color tv).  In fact, many new technologies debut as luxury goods before they make it into the mass market.  Unless there was a conspiracy to suppress color tv, I strongly doubt that there is a conspiracy to suppress electric cars.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Market research vs positioning ?
TJ McDermott   6/18/2012 1:46:31 PM
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There is a difference between the advent of color television and emperiling the profits of established corporations.

I don't really buy into a conspiracy, but there is a difference.

There are many more uses than just EVs for a breakthrough in energy storage/transportation.

Common sense
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Re: Market research vs positioning ?
Common sense   6/19/2012 10:03:18 AM
The main problem with EVs, for now and the forseeable future, is that they are impractical.  They are basically nothing but a toy for those that can afford to have one, much like a boat, or that sunny day sportscar.  If that is your market, then you might as well price it accordingly and try to make a little bit of money on it.  An EV is a totally different aninmal than a Prius, there is no comparison.  The Prius is really nothing but a modern day Volkswagen Beetle, a small car that gets good gas milage, it is still a gas powered car.  The EV will never be practical as someone's only car until it can go as long as the driver can in a day, which means charging in about 15-30 min, and having recharging available whenever needed.  We are talking a 1000 mi range or so in a 24 hour period.  Otherwise it is just a city car, a scooter of sorts.  My kids could never afford to get one, no matter how cheap it was, just because it would be their only car, and not usable for driving more than 1 hr from home.  EVs will remain a very small niche market, doomed by economic realities.  If I were the CEO of an automoblie conpany, we would not be wasting resourses on EVs. 

Battar
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It's hidden in Area 51
Battar   6/18/2012 10:42:38 AM
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The simplest explanation is always the right one. Conspiraciy theories are just too complicated  NASA didn't land spacecraft on the moon, there are aliens living in area 51, WTC fell down all by itself etc... and the only people who really know the truth are - lets just say you wouldn't invite them to dinner. Seriously, though, if I increase the energy density of a battery X2 or X4 then first of all I'd apply the technology to smaller products, like smartphones or flashlights, first, and more important for EV's, I'd have to increase the energy supply to the charger, (else charge time would be 24 hours or range would remain limited but with smaller batteries), and I'd soon reach the level marked "impractical".

jw20000
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Conspiracy? What Conspiracy
jw20000   6/19/2012 9:23:59 AM
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For years Ford has had 5 fairly good sized vehicles that get over 60 mpg on sale in Europe. One as high as 68 mpg. Far better than the Prius. The board of directors met a few years ago in 2010 and decided they would not sell them in the US market. Some of those models are sold here, only without the high mileage engines. All of them meet US standards. The EPA will not allow one of those vehicles to be imported into the USA without a full factory level certification report on each vehicle which costs more than the car. The computer program chips on European vehicles sold in the US are set to waste gas to lower the mpg. Friends in the repair side of the US automotive industry order the European code chips and install them into their personal vehicles. An immediate boost in fuel mileage to European levels is the result. Conspiracy? What Conspiracy.

jljarvis
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Re: Conspiracy? What Conspiracy
jljarvis   6/19/2012 9:58:01 AM
For there to be a massive conspiracy assumes that there is massive coordination, and there is no evidence of any such thing in the free market.

On the other hand, conspiracies aside, one DOES wonder why a hybrid which is charged from a Wankel Diesel hasn't come up again.  Substantially more efficient than contemporary internal combustion engines, particularly if running at its most efficient speed. 

One other caution, lest irrational exuberance overtake you:  to contemplate the 'green-ness' of an EV, you MUST consider full life cycle costing of the battery's manufacture and disposal.  The technology may clean the air, locally, but not be as clean as one might hope.

 

 

tekochip
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A little baggage
tekochip   6/18/2012 3:19:48 PM
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No, I don't believe there are black helicopters chasing us on this one, but the auto industry does carry some baggage on the issue. Don't forget that they did buy up the light rail lines in a few cities and make them obsolete so we'd all be forced to use their product.


Charles Murray
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Re: A little baggage
Charles Murray   6/18/2012 7:33:32 PM
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I agree, the auto industry does have some baggage. They've fought CAFE tooth-and-nail since its inception, so I understand those who don't trust them. But here, a conspiracy isn't necessary. The battery just isn't ready yet. When it does arrive, the national labs and universities will know about it, and no conspiracy will stop it.  

jackiecox
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Re: A little baggage
jackiecox   6/18/2012 10:19:24 PM
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the economic origin of any consumer goods begans with a proper economic justification, because of the great costs of making the first car. Plugincars.com exposes the reality of americas lack of interest in going into the very expensive battery business, the calculation isn't too coplicated, you spend a little in energy for a hugh amount of money up front, and when you put in the miles and cost of gas, as opposed to the end value of yer car and the new cost of a battery which will be worth far more than the car, many people can see through the elon musk, barry soretoe claims to fame---its not happening---The criminal IPO's on the NYSE, are not new first the EV's, then FarceBuck, all for the unwary investor.

electric power is economocally justified in many items its all according to scale, or ebergy required. the laptop batteries heat up expand the teslas creep along too slow for the free way, or blvds, perhaps sometime in the future we will discover the right benerator frequency, amplitudes, energy source, it may not be a battery at all, but the evs are simply not passing the economical justification test to justify their continuation short of continued fraud

jackiecox
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Re: A little baggage
jackiecox   6/18/2012 10:23:58 PM
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industrial labratories provide the durable goods used by man, academic ventures try hard to keep up with the worlds instrumentation, but lack the ability of discovery, when compared to industrial labs, anfair comparison

Mydesign
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Re: A little baggage
Mydesign   6/18/2012 11:40:50 PM
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1 saves
Charles, when I brought my EV, I asked the same question to my dealer. Why companies are keeping the prices at high end, when compare with the gasoline based cars. His response is, it's a onetime investment and there after the running cost is negligible. First 2-3 years it's true because nothing goes wrong. But there after we have to change the battery once in 3-4 years, which cost you around ¼ of the car cost. So ineffectively there is no financial benefit other than the satisfaction of an ecco friendly vehicle.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: A little baggage
Beth Stackpole   6/19/2012 7:58:12 AM
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Chuck: I sense some optimism there in your comments that at some point, some research group, university, or private sector company will nail the special sauce at the right price point.  I guess the anticipation is so great and the market need potentially so ripe, that the idea of honing the technology over time is frustrating to so many--hence, the high degree of skepticism and the backlash around conspiracy theories.

Charles Murray
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Re: A little baggage
Charles Murray   6/20/2012 7:15:16 PM
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Beth, you've hit the nail on the head. The conspiracy theories are an extension of frustration. And, yes, I'm optimistic that better batteries will be developed. The question is, how much better? If we're waiting for a battery that's on an energy par with gasoline, it's going to be a long, long wait. As long as we keep comparing our electric vehicles to gas-burning cars, that sense of frustration will always be there.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: A little baggage
Beth Stackpole   6/21/2012 8:05:56 AM
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@Chuck: I guess it's next to impossible to not make that comparison hence a likely source of on-going frustration. Casting a critical eye is always good for ensuring innovation stays on track and of course, for spurring more R&D activity and manpower to solve a problem. But too much frustration and too much nay-saying can cause real damage to a market-making technology, especially one that appears to struggling to get to the next level.

irishmuse
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Re: A little baggage
irishmuse   1/2/2013 6:03:09 PM
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CAFE was, and is, stupid.  It does nothing more than force people to buy things they do not want.  Chrysler sold the Neon at a loss every year because it was cheaper to sell them at a loss than to pay CAFE fines.

In the disgusting bail-out, JEEP might have been viable as a business all by itself, except that it is a business that would be large enough to be bound to CAFE and it would be prohibitive. 

Further, since CAFE does not consider cradle to grave energy use and many of the things done to meet it are energy intensive, CAFE may not represent any energy savings.

Without CAFE, we would likely have a very different, less expensive vehicle fleet.  We also might use no more total energy in the process.

AREV
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EV thoughts
AREV   6/19/2012 9:29:22 AM
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Ev takes a new mind set. Currently they are taking a gas powered vehicle and throwing in sufficiant quantities of batteries and motors to power them. The two concepts are as different as pony express and email. Cars with gas powered engines have 100 years of evolution. EVs could have had the same amount but they faltered early on. They will continue to fail if you want two tons of stuff moving with battery power.

Charles Murray
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Re: Conspiracy?
Charles Murray   6/20/2012 7:18:50 PM
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Ah, yes, the Pogue carburetor. Congratulations, Larry, on remembering it. You get the history award for today.

Chris PE
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There is a conspiracy
Chris PE   6/19/2012 9:31:11 AM
I read all comments with an attention put into business and technical point of view.Let's start here: gasoline is expensive ONLY because of SPECULATORS. Supply and demand stopped existing when President Ford decontrolled petroleum business.Speculators jumped on it. Now they are on Lithium (of course).I have been an electrical engineer for 40 years and have seen tons of great electric cars and I do go to every convention of EV "private" builders. A lot of representatives of oil industry wonder around and many of them don't hide it at all. About twenty years ago I was given ONE cell of a battery used in submarines. I cannot reveal chemistry , but it was neither cheap, non expensive. I put a 1A 6V bulb on it and to my surprise it shined for 4 days. Battery cell was of a size of two cigarette packs.So let's stop that whining that we have no batteries and we can go only 80 miles on a charge.Average American travels 40 miles a day and almost NEVER uses cars for vacation. We like to fly.All we have to do is SUPPORT that industry and a right way is through hybrids (for whiners). I would not allow ANY oil company own a stock in EVs. I mean NONE :batteries, motors ,NOTHING. Once we start thinking about future all conspiracies will just be gone in a short time.

quirk
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Re: There is a conspiracy
quirk   6/19/2012 9:42:15 AM
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Thank you Chris PE! It is obvious most of these people never actually built one or drove one except playing golf. I don't believe in conspiracies but this country was built on unfair competition. Especially the oil industry. Remember the government broke Standard Oil up for unfair business practices. I built my own electric car and it would meet the needs of 95% of Americans. Electric cars do not need to be compared to gasoline cars. Most people drive less than 30 miles a day.

jhess169
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Re: There is a conspiracy
jhess169   6/19/2012 9:58:16 AM
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Some of the issue is related to human behavior.  Even if you never drive more than 40 miles per day, most people will not accept having to depend on a vehicle that will only go 40 miles.  Mainstream automobiles have developed along with our perceptions and expectations of what reliable transportation should be.  They are largely self contained and self sustained systems.  You get in your car, turn the key and go.  Maybe you put gas in every couple of weeks and have some maintenance done every 6 months - but for the most part, your transportation is as reliable as the water or the electricity.

Most people will not accept having to plug in the car every night to be able to get to work the next day anymore than they would accept having to fill the gas generator every night to have electricity to run the coffee maker and toaster the next morning.

Chris PE
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Re: There is a conspiracy
Chris PE   6/19/2012 12:20:41 PM
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THANK YOU!!!!

Beth Stackpole
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Re: There is a conspiracy
Beth Stackpole   6/19/2012 1:26:49 PM
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@jhess169: You make a good point, but I'd like to point out that somewhere along the way, no one thought people would be willing to plug in their phones everyday to make phone calls and yet, that's what most of the general public does today with cell phones. If the cars are compelling enough, the infrastructure accessible enough, the prices low enough, the market will follow suit.

jhess169
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Re: There is a conspiracy
jhess169   6/19/2012 2:47:34 PM
The perceptions and expectations of what a car should be evolved with the internal combustion power source. This creates another hurdle that a practical EV must overcome. Without that historical perception, people might be more willing to accept a 40 mile range vehicle.

Chris PE
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Re: There is a conspiracy
Chris PE   6/19/2012 3:05:15 PM
@jhess. Awesome comment. It is like comparing electronic high power dimmer with a huge crank wire dimmer used in many old theaters.EV is a whole new concept and is not really understood.People should ask how UPS ,FeDex and Utility companies do it that they use electric trucks. It is such an easy concept for you and I , but most people do not understand it and their glass is always half empty.

jhess169
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Re: There is a conspiracy
jhess169   6/19/2012 3:15:42 PM
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I am a firm believer in creativity and innovation being the answer to many of the issues that face society today. Many times the answer to a problem isn't immediately recognized. Realistic expectations and honest, truthful discussion is the way to promote creativity and innovation. Representing current EV's as the ideal mode of transportation for everyone does more harm than good.

tluxon
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Re: There is a conspiracy
tluxon   6/19/2012 4:02:29 PM
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Why a meager 40-mile range when the original EV-1 had a range of over 100 miles?

jhess169
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Re: There is a conspiracy
jhess169   6/19/2012 4:07:37 PM
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The EV1 was a no compromise exercise to achieve the most range using existing battery technology. There was a lot of compromise that is not commercially viable in todays market.

tluxon
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Re: There is a conspiracy
tluxon   6/19/2012 4:16:12 PM
Yeah, I get that - but who's already decided that consumers wouldn't pay another $10k to double their range?  Nobody asked me, and I know a lot of people who think the way I do on this subject and none of them have been asked, either.

Larry M
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Re: There is a conspiracy
Larry M   6/21/2012 2:31:46 PM
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tluxon wrote: "Yeah, I get that - but who's already decided that consumers wouldn't pay another $10k to double their range?  Nobody asked me, and I know a lot of people who think the way I do on this subject and none of them have been asked, either."

But Tesla already does do that:

40 KWh --> ^49,900

60 KWh --> ^59,900

85 KWh --> ^69,900

Not exactly double, but they got the $10K part right.

See http://www.teslamotors.com/models/options/

Bunter
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Re: There is a conspiracy
Bunter   6/22/2012 9:05:14 AM
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Good example Larry.  If batteries really were as cheap as many understandably want to believe a company like Tesla would be very eager to pass that on and start moving some real volume.

The answer to tluxon's question is that the consumers have been asked if they will buy the best engineered electric vehicles we can currently make, sold at a loss by the manufacturer, subsidized by DC; a technological bargin deal, and they are overwhelmingly saying "No!".

The product isn't ready yet and creating straw man scenerios that others are supposed to answer will not change that.

Take care,

Dennis

ChasChas
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what good.....?
ChasChas   6/19/2012 9:32:35 AM
 

What good is a conspiracy if it doesn't fool people into thinking that there is no conspiricy? So ...  you will never know!

Ralphy Boy
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Proud Conspiracy Skeptic
Ralphy Boy   6/19/2012 10:10:22 AM
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Funny thing, I guy I work with at the lithium battery factory that we've both been at for 15 plus years fully believed that the oil industry, and Bush in particular had been suppressing gas mileage as a way of selling more gas... and of also secreting away the real answers to competitive EVs to maintain high gas prices/sales.

Within months of Obama being sworn in, this guy out of the blue announces to me that 'how about that... there is only so much energy in a gallon of gas, and getting even a little more mileage out of it is really hard'. And he also said refering to EVs... 'I guess that this is the best they can do with battery tech without a major break through'. My guess is that he had to adjust his world view or believe that Obama was in on the scam.  

Sorry to go all political on you but I think that certain people are very susceptible to conspiracies... based on who is in the WH and this was the best example of that theory of mine that I have ever seen.

Personally, I have become more skeptical of conspiracy theories than ever. Show me. If you are just making it up, even a little and I catch you... Nice try, now go away.

As for EV prices... car companies are in business to make money. When the stars align for EVs to sell at a competitive price, and the infrastructure is there, and the demand hits a critical mass... Horsey Power will once again go the way of the buggy whip, and KWs will rule the road.

 

jhess169
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Conspiracy or Reality ?
jhess169   6/19/2012 9:36:44 AM
The engineering and technical professions should take pride in the existence of these conspiracy theories.  They are based on the belief that there is no technical problem that cannot be be solved relatively easily.  At the beginning of the automotive age, internal combustion, steam, and electric all started on a level playing field as far as infrastructure, supporting technology, etc.  Internal combustion became dominant because of technical characteristics.  Decades of development have refined those advantages to the level of efficiency we have today, giving internal combustion a substantial head start over other technologies.  That being said, I can atleast consider the possibility that battery chemistry will never be good enough to unseat internal combustion - regardless of how much time and effort is expended.  

Charles Murray
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Re: Conspiracy or Reality ?
Charles Murray   6/20/2012 7:26:06 PM
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Really good point, jhess169. Over the past century, engineers have made it seem that anything can be accomplished with sufficient money and desire. The computer industry is the best example of all -- it makes us think that all technology improves at a torrid pace. Unfortunately, that's not always true. In the 1970s, President Nixon thought the same thing regarding the battle against cancer, but we're still fighting that one.  

Droid
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Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Droid   6/19/2012 9:36:49 AM
If anything, the conspiracy here is that everyone is being told by the green and gov't types that EVs are ripe and ready to take center stage with everyone and his/her cousin having one parked in the garage.  The real conspiracy (if we can call it that) is all the money going to these EV boon-doggle projects. 

The fact is that competition and the profit motive in a free market economy would trump the conspiracies that were mentioned in the article. Assume that we allege that car companies are overpriciing their EVs -  its only a matter of time before a competitor discovers similar but alternative technologies and finds a way to fill the marketplace gap.

By the way - I'm still waiting for my 100mpg carborater kit.

Kevin
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Kevin   6/19/2012 1:51:40 PM
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Charles - Another balanced and thought provoking article - thanks! The high prices of EV's are a direct result of high battery costs, and perhaps the recent rolling-back of govt subsidies. The "hobbiests" that claim they can build a cheaper EV ignore the fact that making a practical commercial EV requires lots of cost for battery management electronics, safe packaging, etc. I agree with DROID...if anything there is a "conspiracy" from the USA Govt. to promote EV's when the current state of technology is not ready for prime time. Not only do they spend huge amounts of taxpayer money subsidizing rich people who buy EV's...but they create hugely incorrect "MPGe" ratings from the EPA, etc. A total energy analysis, for example, will show for example that a Nissan LEAF should have an MPGe of ~40, not 99! If people realize that electricity comes almost entirely from power plants, and 70% of those are powered by Coal or Natural Gas (fossil fuels), and the fact that an EV burns just as much fossil fuel as an efficient conventional car - the appeal fades quickly. I'm all for technology and even EV's when they eventually are ready - but don't spend my tax dollars throwing it down a rat hole paying people to drive EV's, when they SOLVE almost NOTHING. What we REALLY need is a replacement fuel to gasoline that is renewable. This can be biofuel or possibly solar-synthesized fuel. Then, we get all the green advantages without needing to make the huge practicality trade-offs with EV's.

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/19/2012 2:44:51 PM
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@Kevin. This is one of misconceptions about a cost of energy. That's where supply and demand comes in. At night energy utility companies will gladly cut a price of energy for charging your car in half. I actually called a few and they confirmed it.The reason is that most of us use minimum energy at night , but plants are still running.None of that energy is saved , or stored in any way. We do it in US with a little bit of grid switching to states that are in a different time zone , but this is nothing comparing to a bunch of cars plugged in a actually USING that energy.So, the cars are using this "surplus" energy and there is NO  pollution from EV.Sorry to rain on your parade , but people should do a complete research , not repeat what someone has written a few years ago in New York Times.

Kevin
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Kevin   6/19/2012 5:01:18 PM
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@Chris: You make a good point, but please don't assume I don't understand time-of-use electricity pricing. The utilities that I'm aware of only extend this benefit to businesses (not individuals)...and during summer months the off-peak (night) pricing can be ~25+% discounted. So I concede that EV's do indeed help with load-levelling (assuming you only charge at night, and not at work during the day). Another even better way to level the power is to install more solar power on the grid - which will produce power that is well-aligned with typical peak requirements. Germany has done this so effectively that they have almost constant time-of-use electricity pricing. see: http://polizeros.com/2012/02/08/time-of-use-pricing-for-electricity-in-california/ So I admit that I'm being a little hard on EV's when I say that they solve "almost nothing"...but stand behind the statement that they are far, far away from being a practical mass-market solution, and I think it is wrong for the USA Govt. to use my tax dollars to subsidize EV's when this money would be better spent researching / rolling-out renewable energy on the grid to replace Coal power plants and also to create a renewable replacement fuel to gasoline (not corn-based ethanol...but something that actually makes renewable sense). Cheers, Kevin

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/20/2012 7:27:48 AM
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@Kevin. I see all good points in your comment. We are far behind Germany in utilizing solar energy , or other renewable energies.The last number that I have seen for Germany is that 41% of their electricity is derived from alternate energy sources , solar vbeing a huge part of it. I have seen roofs of industrial buildings covered with solar cells. Somehow in US story is grim to say the least.Great comments. By the way Michigan utility comany will discount energy cost, just like they discount "interruptable power" for my A/C.The risk is that it will be interruptable also (1 hr max), if the grid is overloaded on hot nights.Cheers to you!

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   6/20/2012 8:52:31 AM
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Hi Chris,

I don't have the details handy but I have read recently that Germany (and other european countries) are now reducing there solar/wind usage. Germany is looking at buying more nuke power from France.

The apparent reason is cost.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/20/2012 12:12:43 PM
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Hi Dennis,

That is too bad. I have not read that yet. There is just a great resistance is Earth nations to use a FREE energy like solar. Money is casting a shadow on maintenence cost of ANY other sources of energy , ESPECIALLY nuclear. in today's times modern solar batteries are not only inexpensive , but long living , unlike they used to be in sixties and seventies. It is interesting that ALL satelites and Space Station rely on solar....funny...isn't it?

Greetings,

Chris

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   6/21/2012 9:40:01 AM
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Hi Chris,

Just a thought on the space borne items.  What real alternatives to solar are there in space?  No gas stations, no wind, a nuke plant is big and heavy.  Keep in mind the lack of atmosphere should result in greater efficiency for solar. 

One problem with solar is that there is a strict limit to the power potential, the sun only radiates a certain maximum energy over a given square area-even at 100% efficiency the farms with have to be enormous to do the job.

On earth the source of energy has to be competitive financially or it will fail.  Solar makes sense financially in space, so far on earth it does not.

The europeans are finding in energy, as with many of their financial decisions, they can't afford to keep going the direction they have been.  Nor can we.

Regards,

Dennis

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/21/2012 11:34:45 AM
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Hi Dennis,

New generations of solar batteries do not need sunshine, just light. I assume that you know how much it costs to build a nuclear reactor, how many years it takes and whet kind of pollution we are talking about. Every coin has too sides. One side is greed and the other innovation and engenuity. Yes, it is up to us what we choose.I have friends in Florida who installed Heathkit solar (monocrystaline at that time)batteries on their roof more than 20 years ago.Panels paid for themselves tenfold , especially running 1kW pool motor for all these years.Now they will be replacing them with the new panels and they have not bought ANY power from a power company EVER. There is a fault in many solar calculations.I have seen not only homes, but villages ran by solar energy.There is also a point of view. You heard probably about some Arabic countries installing solar on a dessert. Whet else can you put there? Reactor?

On a top of it all nuclear energy is VERY expensive until it amortizes a cost of a plant and WE pay for all that.

However we see it....we need to look into a future for our kids and installing a whole bunch of nuclear super-bombs as power plants may not be a preferred source for THEM.

Comming back to cars , it is time to change that 100 year old combustion stinky and oil covered monster with something that refers better to 21st century.It's time!

Regards,

Chris

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   6/24/2012 3:18:14 PM
Hi again Chris,

BTW, I knew the other post was to Jackie-I was just throwing in some thoughts. Appreciate your clarification though-blog communication is often tricky.

Anyway, if I can avoid hitting my CAPS LOCK all the time I wanted to comment on your earlier post.

Nuke power-yes it is expensive upfront, but amortization is the point.  Apparently the Germans are finding that, regardless of the initial costs other sources of power are amortizing better than solar and wind. 

Solar friends-one thing that many folks miss in these comparisons is the human factor.  Your friends with the solar panels are hobbyists who are utilizing not only the power of the sun but their own knowledge, effort, abilities, time etc that greatly improve the cost situation.  Great for them that it is working out well, kudos to them.  They have, I assume, made some lifestyle adaptations to compensate for any quirks to the power delivery.  And that is valid.

The power companies have to deliver reliable power for a varied group of users and deal with govt regulations, inspections, peak demands, safety issues and all the issues involving the employment of large numbers of people and maintaining the infrastructure for delivery.  It won't be free or easy.

This same issue comes up with the electric car hobbyists.  They compare what they have done in their garge with the auto industry and can't see why no one is offering 1500 lb, $15k car that goes 100 miles on a charge.  They seem to be genuinely mystified.  But they aren't having to build to the vast sea of safety regulations, providing warrenty support,  dealing with litigation, dealer parts support, dealing with unions, building and maintaining plants, and trying to come up with a design that will appeal to 70,000 people a year for 5 years while sharing the same platform with six other vehicle lines and amortizing the platform over a twenty year run and several million customers.  What these guys do in their spare time is cool-but it is a long way from the challenges of running a successful car company.

Chris, you really seem to be a good guy and sincerely care about your positions.  I really respect that.  Just a peice of advise on message structure.  When you (and many others) use highly charge imagery (nuke plants= "super bombs", IC engine cars= "stinky, oily monster") a lot of people who might otherwise listen to you will just tune you out.

Example: my wife and I and our kids (6 & 9) live about 20 minutes from a nuclear reactor.  Frankly it never worries me at all.  We are far more likely to be killed be a tornado or lighting or crushed by a semi on the interstate.  And newer nuke plant desigsn are far safer.  The only real disaster I am aware of were in countries (USSR for example) with serious issues on quality and maintainence.

I'm not saying nukes are the answer.  But they are a viable option to me.

And modern cars are far cleaner than tose of just a few years ago-and will get better.  EVs are a very long way from being ready, it is possible that CNG may play a bigger role near term but I suspect that gasoline/diesel IC will dominate for the next 25 years or more.

I try to keep in mind that solutions can't be built around what we think other should do, but have to take into account what they likely will do.  Hoped for idealic "solutions" that will not happen do not help as much at all, we need realistic changes that can be implimented.

OK, that was long winded.  Venting a bit.

Take care.

Dennis

Charles Murray
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Charles Murray   6/25/2012 7:57:58 PM
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Dennis, your comments about the vast sea of safety regulations, warranty support, litigation, dealer parts support, unions and, most of all -- coming up with a design that will appeal to 70,000 people a year for five years -- are right on target.

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   7/6/2012 9:25:06 AM
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Thanks Charles.

I've come to realize that even running company poorly and bring a sub-par product to market is a very difficult and, in a way, impressive undertaking.

To do it well...wow.

Many of these private projects are really impressive too.  I admire the effort and creativity these folks show, they beat what I've done hands down.  It just seems that many could use a bit more perspective on the additional challenges a commercial effort requires to be a success.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Charles Murray
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Charles Murray   7/6/2012 6:17:09 PM
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ennis: Yes, running a company must be a difficult undertaking. Just ask the people at Toyota who are still dealing with the problems of "unintended accleration." Now the problem is floor mats.

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   7/9/2012 12:29:10 PM
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@Charles.

Hi Charles,

Toyota problem has been "quietly " resolved.It has nothing to do with mechanical stuff.It was simply a bunch or whiskers growing inside a speed control module, which caused the problem.These defects are not easily predictable ,although easy controlled by a proper PC board technology.We are having tons of problems with ROHS products. Now military is excluded from it and going to good , old lead.Many of the seniors in a society were listening to radios and TVs which contained pounds, not ounces of lead and their rate of cancer is lower than people below 50. Sometimes we just have to stop and think.Tin is the fastest in growing whiskers and we will have all gadgets with life of 1-3 years ,unless we learn how to make good precision masks , or use conformal coating (both expensive).But then again , it is what most manufacturers want - built in life span.Just like in "Bladerunner".

Regards,

Chris 

Charles Murray
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Charles Murray   7/9/2012 8:23:41 PM
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Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/27/2012 4:00:38 PM
Dennis,

Please accept my sincere apologies if I wrote things out of place, or used caps lock.I have been in electronics for a very long time and I have seen things dor , or supresses for whatever reason it was.Thank you for your comment.It really took most of my thoughts and put them in a nice and precise form.All that you write about is true , maybe except nuclear reactors...where I would have some comments ,as far as safety is concerned.There is also a hot water problem and other things.But a whole thing is not about nuclear reactors , but about mounting a "brick wall" opposition to EVs.You know that my favourite scientist of all times was Nikolai Tesla and most of his patents and inventions are still suppressed.He was thinking a tleast 50 years ahead of time and he was a dreamer and realist(strange connection indeed) at the same time.Maybe my fascination with him made me who I am and influenced my thinking.We should give all science a chance. Take mp3 players.Most people love them and use them , not even realizing that a sound they hear has only 5% of original material sounding as it did , when it was created in a studio.The rest is digitally created "hush".

Not all new ingenous inventions had an easy way to a market, yet we have millions of them now and some we take for granted.I enjoyed every word of discussion with you and I thank you for this super interesting discussion.It means a lot to me that someone understood my point(s) of view.Cheers,

Best Regards,

Chris 

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   7/6/2012 9:19:01 AM
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Hi Chris,

Meant to get back to you sooner.  The CAPS LOCK was a joke on myself-I still look at the keys a lot.

No offense taken, I've just found that extreme statements tend to cloud the message that, ironically, they are used to emphasize.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   7/6/2012 10:58:17 AM
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Hi Dennis,

It's OK. Always a pleasure. Thanks again for a great discussion.

Regards,

Chris

jackiecox
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
jackiecox   6/27/2012 8:59:23 PM
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Thorium reactors, already past the design stage seem safer the nukes considering you can shutdown radiation by ending neutron activation

Charles Murray
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Charles Murray   6/21/2012 8:59:38 PM
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Dennis: Interesting story in a recent edition of TheNew York Times that relates to the subject you mentioned:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/opinion/sunday/the-new-politics-of-energy.html?_r=1

ironhorse
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
ironhorse   6/22/2012 9:48:06 AM
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Never ascribe to malice that which may be explained by collective foolishness. (c.f., Albrecht's Law: Social innovations tend to the level of minimum tolerable well-being. [Application: the market will experience the most expensive HEVs/EVs that vendor-customer behaviors can support])

I live in a university town that doubles as a regional service center, so I see a good number of college students, doctors, lawyers, real-estate agents, insurance agents, and tenured professors and their spouses and kids running around in new $30K-$40K+ trucks. I have to think one significant part of the reason EVs and HEVs are high priced is same reason the general car market and 'health'care market is inflated, there is a lot of affluence out there (or at least enough affleuence to define the market). I know batteries are expensive, but it is also the Car makers' fiduciary responsibility is to sell the highest priced vehicles they can, and the present market can bear some high EV prices.

Thems with the gold makes the rules, so if the market is moving $30K-$40K+ internal combustion SUVs and trucks, I (perhaps naively) think that influences the price point for the introduction of HEVs/EVs.

jackiecox
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
jackiecox   6/22/2012 10:26:32 AM
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The Idea of EV's from one perspective, makes a lot of sense a rotating electromagnetic field around the axle eliminate thousands of parts, then there's the source of energy to provide the right frequencies (RPM) and amplitude, or batteries and transformers. on smaler scales it proves to pass the test of economic justification, however to propell am automobile down the road is a daunting task, considering the cost, life. fashion, battery life costs -vs-gasoline or whatever, at the end of the day, EV's simply don't pass the test of consumers. GMC, without a doubt the greatest R & D Lad for cars, trucks, buses, trains, gave us the volt. at tremendous cost, which failes miserably, although selling 1,000 or so a month, then when the rubber meets the road and all variables are considered, its just another obanomic disbarred lawyer idea, or bamkruptcy scam with the doe giving them cash to pretend they are making EY's to fill the high demand---pkugincars.com---keeps track of the reality. althopughnot listed in financial perspectives, IPO's. etc, the show the real numbers, which expose the lies by people like ironman musk and his ongoing scam that loses billions when combined with his other government sponsered events, like spacex. solar city. and tsla, where he has been lieing since the early 2000's while the real world ignore his scams, the good thing, he will dissappear whenever the treasonous barry does

jackiecox
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
jackiecox   6/22/2012 10:26:33 AM
The Idea of EV's from one perspective, makes a lot of sense a rotating electromagnetic field around the axle eliminate thousands of parts, then there's the source of energy to provide the right frequencies (RPM) and amplitude, or batteries and transformers. on smaler scales it proves to pass the test of economic justification, however to propell am automobile down the road is a daunting task, considering the cost, life. fashion, battery life costs -vs-gasoline or whatever, at the end of the day, EV's simply don't pass the test of consumers. GMC, without a doubt the greatest R & D Lad for cars, trucks, buses, trains, gave us the volt. at tremendous cost, which failes miserably, although selling 1,000 or so a month, then when the rubber meets the road and all variables are considered, its just another obanomic disbarred lawyer idea, or bamkruptcy scam with the doe giving them cash to pretend they are making EY's to fill the high demand---pkugincars.com---keeps track of the reality. althopughnot listed in financial perspectives, IPO's. etc, the show the real numbers, which expose the lies by people like ironman musk and his ongoing scam that loses billions when combined with his other government sponsered events, like spacex. solar city. and tsla, where he has been lieing since the early 2000's while the real world ignore his scams, the good thing, he will dissappear whenever the treasonous barry does

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/22/2012 12:51:27 PM
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Well....interesting comments. First of all GMC does not build trains and NEVER did. You must have been thinking about GE. SEcondary many mentioned manufacturers and NOT subsidized by Government. Surely NOT Tesla. Third point - read a post below you to understand what we are talking about. When people buy $50.000.00 trucks they can afford 40,000.00 EV. NO DOUBT - END OF DISCUSSION.Cheers,Chris

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   6/22/2012 2:03:44 PM
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Hi Chris,

Will try to get back to your earlier post when I have time.

Just a quicky.

Yes people buy 50K trucks (not a truck guy myself), though most are far less $.

But very few buy small 4 seaters that cost 40k. Unless they are fast. Part of it is capability for the buck. Small $40k cars are luxury items whether your luxury is speed or green cred.

Personally I fell a minivan with a trailer is a better pickup than a pickup w/o a trailer but many see it differently.

And keep in mind the Volt/Leaf are not $40K cars, they are vehicles that are more expensive than that being sold that low for R & D/Marketing (and probably other)reasons.

And the tax credits that apply to the Tesla are a subsidy from the tax paying public.

Cheerio.

Dennis

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/22/2012 3:48:27 PM
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@Dennis.....No it was to Jackie.My apologies.Chreers. Chris

thrashercharged
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
thrashercharged   6/25/2012 12:27:09 AM
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Chris PE said "Well....interesting comments. First of all GMC does not build trains and NEVER did. <snip> When people buy $50.000.00 trucks they can afford 40,000.00 EV. NO DOUBT - END OF DISCUSSION.Cheers,Chris"

You're wrong - Google GM's Electro-Motive division which they just sold a few years ago.

And sure, I can afford a $40K EV instead of my $40K (not 50K) truck, but can it carry 6 passengers, 1 ton in the bed, tow a boat / car hauler / camper / Boy Scout trailer / Church trailer, etc so I can help those of you that opted for the EV instead move, haul that load of whatever for you, take your kids camping / boating or on whatever scouting / church youth activity you signed them up for?

Point is, not all truck buyers are soccer moms that never haul a real load or go off-road.  For some of us, the EV just doesn't do the job.

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/27/2012 4:18:16 PM
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@trashercharged .Sorry for my hard-headed statements. GMC (or one of their companies) did build diesel power generators (electric part was built by GE).I have friends that love trucks and we do manufacture a variety of electric trucks in US, but used for utility , not performance.Thank you for all your points and I apologize if I was out of place.I just see EVs as "city cars" , "go to work" and "baseball mom" vehicles, because many of us do not make more than 40 miles per day.As far as price ...it is ridiculous , but some speculators are hitting on lithium and buying futures of it.

Best Regards,

Chris

jackiecox
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
jackiecox   6/27/2012 8:50:56 PM
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Chris RE     tsal went bankrupt, after delivering some cars and accumulating more than a million dollar backlog in repairs---googl elon musk tesla motors

 

 

I was just at the apple store today where they gave me a new battery , my lithium battery heated up expanding beyond the housing designed to hold it, interesting the variables, involved in lithium batteries and their rates of expansion

jackiecox
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Chris PE
jackiecox   6/27/2012 9:01:50 PM
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The train motor I am refering to has cylinders you can standup on, its a combustion engine, or was when it operated in our country

jackiecox
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
jackiecox   6/27/2012 8:45:22 PM
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CHRIS PE, GMC builds motors than propell trains down the tracks

Chris PE
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Chris PE   6/28/2012 8:28:17 AM
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@Jackiecox GMC makes engines , not electric motors.So calles "Diesel" locomotives use Diesel engine to power an electric generators that in turns send electricity to controllers, that power electric motors. There is no such thing as Diesel locomotive. It is a great misconception and missunderstanding. It is all about overcomming an innertia and adjusting a "track speed" of a train.No combustion motor wa ever able to do it. We went from steam to diesel-electric.Regards,Chris.

 

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   6/22/2012 3:31:02 PM
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Thanks Charles.

Dennis

Charles Murray
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Charles Murray   6/20/2012 7:37:00 PM
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Thanks, Kevin. Unfortunately, you're exactly right about the incomes of those who are are getting the subsidies right now. GM has admitted that the average Volt buyer has an annual income of $170,000+ and Deloitte Consulting has said that EV buyers in general have annual incomes of $200,000+. I understand the logic -- they will bring the price down for the rest of us through economies of scale. But right now, we have a rather strange situation in which the general population is subsidizing car purchases for the wealthy.

Bunter
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Re: Competition and the profit motive trump conspiracy
Bunter   6/21/2012 9:29:08 AM
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"But right now, we have a rather strange situation in which the general population is subsidizing car purchases for the wealthy."-Ah, the irony.  Well noted Charles.

I am increasingly of the opinion that if a "commercial" enterprise "needs" govt help then it is ipso facto a bad idea.  Private captital will take a risk on some amazingly long shots, if nobody will touch it there is probably a very good reason.

Dennis

drcharlesclarke
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Conspiracy theories are just for entertaiment
drcharlesclarke   6/19/2012 9:42:15 AM
It's basic Adam Smith economics -- they don't sell that many and they are an expensive variation on the standard model. We have got used to cheap cars because of the scale of the mass production -- that's why Fords are cheaper than Bentleys. Conspiracy theories are just for entertaiment. Diesel hybrids and hydrogen vehicles are a much better solutions anyway.

jhess169
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EV Conspiracy? What about the Smart Phone Conspiracy?
jhess169   6/19/2012 10:03:53 AM
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While it is obvious that big oil is supressing all the technology necessary to make an affordable, reliable, pure electric vehicle that equals current internal combustion models, I am trying to determine what shadowy entity is suppressing the technology necessary to make my smart phone work more than a half day without recharging.  

Bunter
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Big smile.
Bunter   6/19/2012 10:26:16 AM
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Charles you stinker.  I had to grin when I saw the title of this article.

Still waiting for some of the "usual suspects" to chime in.

The comments have been fun to read.

Dennis

Charles Murray
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Re: Big smile.
Charles Murray   6/22/2012 6:12:30 PM
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Dennis, I laughed out loud when I saw your earlier comment. You're right. Guilty as charged.

Bunter
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Re: Big smile.
Bunter   6/24/2012 2:32:04 PM
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Glad you enjoyed it Charles. 

I knew this thread was going to be a hoot.

Enjoy.

Dennis

Icarus1900
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I love conspiracy theories!
Icarus1900   6/19/2012 10:47:38 AM
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I love conspiracy theories! (Especially the ones that involve thousands of people being manipulated a handful of puppetmasters)

The common theme is that some evil genious is able to silence thousands of automatons who are uniformly willing ignore their personal principles for a paycheck. The grand intelligence required to contain every single loose thread and prevent a mass defection is simply awe inspiring! To do it over decades is worthy of a new religion...

Problem: No one is that smart or that powerful. Our history is full of "smart" people who engineer their own destruction through hubris. "Little" people do not uniformly bow to paychecks and certainly not over decades. Add in the prospect of competition with other "smart" people and your conspiracy needs to be balanced on the head of a pin.

If anyone wants to understand why conspiracies fail, read Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Suess.

JRoque
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More conspiracy...
JRoque   6/19/2012 11:12:18 AM
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Hello. Here's another "conspiracy theory" for your list

I can make an EV for the same or lower cost than OEMs. I can purchase a 2012 Nissan Versa - coincidentally, the same platform as the Nissan Leaf - an electric drive and battery pack for a ~80 mile range.

Nissan Versa, $11K: http://www.edmunds.com/nissan/versa/2012/options.html?sub=sedan&style=101384759
Motor/Controller: $4.5K: http://www.grassrootsev.com/motorsac.htm
Battery pack, $10k:  http://www.calibpower.com/ProductDetails.aspx?p=2&id=5
Conversion cost and misc, $5K

Total:  $30.5K

All of these are quantity 1, full retail price, including shipping charges. It obviously costs Nissan a lot less to buy one of their own Versas. It will cost them a lot less if they buy battery backs by the thousands and build their own or buy motors and controllers in bulk. I'm not even counting the cost recovery of selling the ICE components that are no longer needed (engine, muffler, gas tank, etc, etc, etc).

Nissan sells their Leaf for ~$38k. But then some magic happens.... Gov gives us $7.5K in "incentives" and won't you know it.. the Nissan Leaf price drops to $30.5k... well, isn't that special?  But no, they're not jacking up the price just because they know the Gov will cover it, no. This is just pure conspiracy theory of mine, right?

Full disclosure, I love the Nissan Leaf. I think Nissan has gone way out of their comfort zone to give us the first modern mass produced EV and they deserve credit for that. It's just their overpricing it just because they can and falsely claiming it's because the batteries are too expensive. Baloney. 

Watashi
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Re: More conspiracy...
Watashi   6/19/2012 12:16:41 PM
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You are completely neglecting non-recurring engineering and manufacturing plant changes.  Companies (and professional engineers) can't just throw a bunch of parts together like some hobby shop and call it a finished product. New designs, especially as radically different as EV is to the modern auto industry, are very expensive.  Implementing the design into a new product line, changing manufacturing processes, changing test processes, and maintaining conventional measures such as reliability are a daunting task.

If your cost estimates are correct (they look reasonable), then I would say that Nissan is doing a great job of keeping costs down.

JRoque
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Re: More conspiracy...
JRoque   6/19/2012 4:21:20 PM
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Hi. There are some Eng. costs for sure. I calculated $5K to include some misc parts and labor. Perhaps that's a tad low but EEs at Nissan don't get paid by the amount of their effort or how creative they need to be.

How come the Versa didn't cost more on year 1 when it was first brought out? They surely had some EE Dev costs. But since that's the nature of business, they ate those costs in hopes to sell more cars and make up for the initial loss.

But for the Leaf, no, we the taxpayer are on the hook for their R&D costs so we pay them $7,500 per car. Why?

I don't remember paying anything more to go watch the movie Avatar, which cost millions to make and had extraordinary production technologies. I paid the same to watch the three stooges... go figure.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: More conspiracy...
Rob Spiegel   6/19/2012 7:04:35 PM
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Good points, JRoque. I think people have been expecting the EV world to develop the way the computer world developed. You give it a little push, consumers start buying, technology brings down the price, and we're off. Doesn't work that way with EVs.

Watashi
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Re: More conspiracy...
Watashi   6/20/2012 9:09:30 AM
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I definately see your point about movies.  Sometimes I wish you got to pay after watching - then box office stats would REALLY mean something.

I am just assuming that the Nissan EEs will have a significant increase in the scope of their work for the leaf as compared to to the ICE variant.  Also, the planned production run of the Leaf (# of units NRE is amatorized across) is far less than the ICE version.  But, being a niche car with limited market opportunities, they may have done it on the cheap.

I do agree that EV prices seem to be price fixed in the market.  The government rebate (which is indefensible) taints the issue.  Why not just rebate the money back to the people they stole it from and let us choose what we want to drive?

I suppose to be a good conspiracy there should be some sort of shady Big Government tie-in.

Chris PE
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Re: More conspiracy...
Chris PE   6/19/2012 12:30:28 PM
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When I was in Texas I saw tons of Leafs and test drove one on a highway.It is a great fun and comfy car.They also have a bunch of charging stations by the big malls , airport and hotels. I love your comment!

ChasChas
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Business Model
ChasChas   6/19/2012 11:43:44 AM
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It's not a conspiracy, it's a business model.

Chris PE
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Gold
We Forget So Fast!!!
Chris PE   6/19/2012 12:07:20 PM
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So everyone has forgotten that first consumer cars were electric? Go and do a search on Detroit Electric. How did that story go about trams and fast trains in Detroit? Mr. Daimler visited Ford in 1926 and then Ford influenced City to remove all rail and later bus transportation from a city to sell newly developed Daimler combustion engine! We had electric cars 100 years ago and then a "business model" came and paralyzed moves of those that did not have cars? SHAME on us!In times when all modern cities have public transportation we have crippled American cities in the name of a "business model"? One more thing about prices.They tend to fall down in ALL industries after something becomes popular.Do you remember $15,000.00 flat screen TVs? What was it 8-10 years ago?Now they beg you to buy one for a thousand.In automotive case the same would happen if not an overwhelming and huge influence of oil moguls on that industry.I love many comments , but some people should just get a life and escape from 19th century.You may not like it, but your kids LOVE electric cars and in some parts of a coutry they sell like hotcakes. So you will ride to a retirement home in an electric car.Oh, by the way...how many of the EVs critics actually drove an electric car? A few?

 

 

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: We Forget So Fast!!!
Dave Palmer   6/19/2012 12:53:43 PM
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@Chris PE: Yes, some of the first cars were electric.  In fact, there was an article in Design News a few months ago titled Electric Vehicles: How Far Have We Come in 100 Years? The late Ray Bradbury also mentioned an electric car in Dandelion Wine, a collection of short stories based on his childhood in Waukegan, Illinois, in the 1920s.

Just like now, consumers in those early years found that electric cars were good for relatively short urban commutes.  However, in the 1910s and 1920s, "touring" (i.e. going for a drive in the country) became a popular activity.  Electric cars were not well suited for this, due to their limited range.

Also, electric cars in those days were marketed as "women's cars," since they were not as dirty or noisy as internal-combustion vehicles, nor did they require manual effort to start.  However, the perception of electric cars as "feminine" discouraged men from buying them.  Since purchasing decisions were mostly made by men, this hurt sales.

As an undergraduate, I took a class on the anthropology of technology.  This was given as a classic example of the influence of culture on the development of technology.  Clearly, there are both cultural and technical factors which explain the dominance of internal combustion engine cars after World War I, but cultural phenomena played a big role.

Chris PE
User Rank
Gold
Re: We Forget So Fast!!!
Chris PE   6/19/2012 1:16:07 PM
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@Dave Palmer. Thank you for an interesting comment.I am not sure historically as far as "women's" cars , since you are talking about a midst of Second Liberation Movement. So be it! The point here was to ignite a discussion , hence my use of a word "conspiracy".For some reason it fires up a lot of people.There are historical facts available in archives describing Daimler's visit to Detroit. An by the way ALL consumer cars were electric at the dawn of CONSUMER era.I know that there were steam and other contraptions made. You know that before cars people used bicycles and were quite content to go out of town on them. I consider myself a bit of historian of electrical/electronic era and a lot of discussions here are like who was greater Edison , or Tesla. No doubt Tesla. Most of us know that. The main problem is a "business model" instead innovation.The main problem is a question "how much?" instead "how much better?". I also mention submarines.Well....not all submarines are nuclear and they can run on batteries for a long time. GREED is the main problem , not conspiracy , or stupidity of some people.Cannot speak for more, because I stay out of politics.Thank you for an interesting discussion!

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Platinum
Early Model VW Bug
Ivan Kirkpatrick   6/19/2012 12:58:38 PM
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Perhaps some of you might remember the early model VW bug.  this was an inexpensive no frills car that was reasonably rugged and reliable and especially low cost.

A modern version of this in an EV configuration would use the low price point as a key factor in its marketing.  This might enable significant sales and thereby drive the development of advanced technologies in batteries, wheel motors, charging systems and control systems.

Eventually the success would allow for extending the available options and improve the vehicles luxury features and gradually go from a no-frills model to a fully featured one.

I think the key is to create the perfect combination of minimum features and low cost in a useful and desirable platform. 

The VW chassis is already one of the most modified designs around having been co-opted for a many kit carsa nd other designs.  Something similar for EV designs that emphasized modular components and the ability for a small team to enhance and further refine the basic comonents would be interesting as it would parallel the computer industry.

gleaf
User Rank
Iron
Litigation and Stored Energy
gleaf   6/19/2012 1:53:11 PM
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Just a mention of an artillery shell, out in  public would send the media into paroxyms of rhetoric. That are single use devices designed to be very safe and unresponsive to all but a very specific sequence of events. Imagine how the various corporate 'Risk Mangers" and "Liability Insureres" respond to the energy stored value in an automotive battery pack designed to be portable, constantly reused and out in the general public.  Oh yes, and built by the least expensive process, and the lowest denominator labor pool. Batteries are desinged to have unstable chemistry, that's how they work. Conspiracy..  Perhaps corporate risk placed in terms of the local currancy and risk of litigation.

tluxon
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Gold
Need expansion battery packs
tluxon   6/19/2012 2:46:00 PM
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I can appreciate that electricity is currently little cleaner than burning coal or gas, but I like that it's a platform that can accommodate numerous and future power generating technologies.

I'd probably be more inclined to buy an electric vehicle if it didn't have to stay in the garage when I want to make the 2-hour drive for the family to see my mother in a 6-hour window.

I'm curious as to whether or not EV's are being made that will readily accept add-on power packs for those occasional long drives where enroute charging is not an option.  Perhaps such power packs could be left at charging stations to charge so they could be picked up on the return trip with a greater charge.  Maybe there could be some kind of interchangeability standard so people on the program could exchange their discharged power packs for full ones along the way.

jhess169
User Rank
Silver
Re: Need expansion battery packs
jhess169   6/19/2012 3:24:40 PM
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There have been several concepts of quick change battery pack architecture for vehicles. The last I saw was a Japanese system that used a drive through type stall that contained a robotic power pack changing system. In todays competitive society, it would take decades to develop a standard power pack interface to make wide spread use of the quick change battery system.

tluxon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Need expansion battery packs
tluxon   6/19/2012 4:12:27 PM
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The first generation of an exchange program wouldn't necessarily have to be "quick change" - perhaps it could be installed under the trunk like a crank-down spare tire and plugged into a port.  A common port spec could be defined in relatively short order, and it wouldn't take a whole lot of infrastructure to begin such a program if only major highways were serviced at the beginnng.  Even if multiple ports were defined by various manufacturers, adapters wouldn't necessarily have to be all that complex.

Any other reasons this would never work?

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Need expansion battery packs
MIROX   6/20/2012 12:13:58 AM
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Commonality in Automotive industry disappeared when previously mandated uniform headlights in USA (7" rouund sealed beam) were no longer "required".

Today the ONLY thing that is still common is the tire stem check valve, but soon also sure to disapear due to TPMS.

The Tire stem cap thread may be the only thing that will perhaps last few more decades.

Every other item of automotive equipment is different from model to model, brand to brand.

GM got crucified when they "badge" engineered anything even when they shared idential parts with TOYOTA.

To even think that any OEM would use "standard" batteries in anything is totally unrealistic !!!

Not even a "dream" more like a "nightmare" for Auto industry - even having J1772 port used World wide is NOT happening !!!

Tim
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Platinum
Re: Need expansion battery packs
Tim   6/19/2012 6:54:01 PM
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I agree that it would take decades to come up with a universal battery pack.  We are actually lucky that store bought batteries (A, AA, C etc.) are relatively standard sizes.  The power tool industry has been making battery powered tools for many years and I do not know of any that use a standard pack.

Kevin
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Platinum
Re: Need expansion battery packs
Kevin   6/19/2012 5:12:49 PM
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@tluxon: I agree with your statement "I can appreciate that electricity is currently little cleaner than burning coal or gas, but I like that it's a platform that can accommodate numerous and future power generating technologies". However....let's talk about timeframe for those FUTURE power generation technologies. Barring some unexpected huge breakthrough, it will be MANY DECADES, perhaps 50-100 years for the power grid to significantly shift away from fossil fuel (Coal + NG). You and I will probably be long gone, and any EV you buy today will also be gone by the time it might be a good match. So...while I concede that EV's may some day be viable, not only does the battery technology need to be cheaper / better by a huge factor - the power grid needs to be driven by primarily renewables to make EV's have much benefit. I'll send a time capsule to my (future) grandkids...EV's might make sense for them! For now, they are a novelty, a distraction, and not the best investment to get the nation off of fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions.

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
COST per MILE
MIROX   6/20/2012 12:05:27 AM
If COST per MILE traveled DOES NOT MATTER then you can get GREAT MPGe.

Same objections made against EV's can be made against LOTUS, FERRARI, BUGATTI, MASERATI, MAYBACH, SALEEN, etc. and hundreds of other rather expenisive cars that are seldom driven and make no business sense to be manufactured in the first place, they are generally non profitable, etc. etc.

Yet they are made and sold and bought

 

Bunter
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Platinum
Re: COST per MILE
Bunter   6/20/2012 8:48:35 AM
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"Yet they are made and sold and bought"

Yes, in tiny numbers.  They are expensive novelties for those who can afford them.

Current EVs are in the same category or are sold at a loss/subsidized to get them close to commercial prices.

 

Dennis

Watashi
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Platinum
Re: COST per MILE
Watashi   6/20/2012 9:28:59 AM
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You have a good point; these are all sort of vanity purchases. Some like to drive fast, some like to look good, and some like to be noise and (arguably) emission free.

I disagree about the sports cars being non-profitable.  The Ferraris of the world generally don't have problems keeping the lights on.  The EV market is different in that it is being pushed hard by government regulations (encouraged as a way to meet unresonable CAFE standards).

You don't have to work very hard to get people to buy attractive cars that go fast, you just have to find a resonable price point.  To sell an EV to non-evironuts takes some effort because they are not attractive (to the broader market) and their performance can be exceded by the most basic, entry ICE version.

MIROX
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Platinum
FORD bought EV
MIROX   6/20/2012 1:00:33 AM
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I have seen it mentioned more than few times, not sure if it is really true or not, but there is a claim floating about in EV circles that the car Henry Ford bought for his wife was ELECTRIC.

Anyone can find someting that actually confirms this ???

GlennA
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Gold
expansion battery packs, European mpg
GlennA   6/20/2012 9:37:06 AM
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Regarding expansion and quick-change battery packs;  I have sometimes wondered if the battery pack could be built into a small trailer.  Unplug the discharged pack, unhitch, hitch up the charged pack, plug it in and go.  That would require a standard plug - does anyone know if all electric fork trucks have a standard plug, or does each manufacturer use a different plug ?  This would be a little more complicated than the propane cylinder exchange service.  And I don't know how well towing a battery pack / trailer would go over with drivers.

I remember a Popular Mechanics article comparing a small Italian diesel with the Prius.  The Italian car won because it was more fun to drive.  Even though it was not available in the U.S., and averaged less mpg.  Supposedly European diesel is low-sulphur, and that diesel fuel is not availble in the U.S.  Also, emissions standards are supposedly different between the U.S. and Europe.  So any comparison between European and U.S. vehicles is apples to oranges.

When the motor car was new, there wasn't an Interstae Highway System.  There were few roads, and cars broke down much more frequently.  More and better roads, and more reliable cars, resulted in longer driving ranges, which would then become a factor between ICE and electric.

Somewhere I read that the first internal combustion engine ran on gunpowder, but not very well.  The development of gasoline and diesel was a big improvement.

ironhorse
User Rank
Iron
Re: expansion battery packs, European mpg
ironhorse   6/20/2012 10:46:20 AM
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That is the thing I'd want.

Sometimes I really need a pickup, but most of the time I don't. I don't want to slug the mass of a truck around town every day just for the few times I need a truck. Neither does it make sense to have a single purpose vehicle like a truck sit idle around the yard on the majority of days I don't need it for commuting.

My solution to the intermittent need for a truck is to put a trailer hitch on the car, and gently pull a low boy when I need it. (3/4 ton of firewood across town is about my limit, more than that and I worry about the trailer's tires) Yeah, that makes me weird though. But I grew up on a farm, so I used any car I've owned like a pick up (occasionally like a tractor).  (weird again)

Likewise, for EV, if I need a carload of batteries for interstate travel, that is a huge mass that I don't want to slug around for local driving. In fact, I would think that the inert mass of long range battery capacity would reduce the efficiency in short range city driving -- if I was just driving local, I would want to jettison the 100 mile batteries. Yeah, trailer batteries would make a lot of sense to me, but would be just too weird for nth generation apartment dwellers.

 

Kevin
User Rank
Platinum
Re: expansion battery packs, European mpg
Kevin   6/20/2012 7:03:38 PM
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The company that appears to be farthest along with the "quick change battery pack" is BETTER PLACE. They have a large contract to install "Switch Stations" in Israel for a fleet of EV's. see: www.betterplace.com/the-solution-switch-stations Regarding the source of USA Govt. "conspiracy" promoting EV's...there are several very influential lobbies that are pushing to promote EV's: The COAL industry, the ELECTRIC POWER industry, the LITHIUM consortium, etc. For the oil companies, it is a more complex situation - while EV's will reduce petroleum usage, they increase Natural Gas use (in power plants) and that is a new wave of plentiful resource from the "oil" companies (due to FRACKING). However, if one takes the longer view...it is important to get off of ALL FOSSIL FUELS, not just shift from OIL to COAL + NG.

astrobuf
User Rank
Iron
Re: expansion battery packs, European mpg
astrobuf   6/20/2012 12:36:48 PM
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US Diesel fuel is now the same as European diesel fuel.  Very low sulphur and well refined.  Despite all of EV hype, it's still pretty much impossible to beat a modern Turbo diesel for total cost of ownership, fuel included for a vehicle that is regularly usable by most people.  The best value today is the VW Turbo Jetta, but soone enough, Honday will bring their Euro Diesel to the US and then we'll ahve a real race.

Some posters pine away at the cost of having a large vehicle or extra batteries to lug around and wish for multiple vehicles to keep in their fleet so they can have the right vehcile for the day's job.  This is really goofy.  The energy cost of production fo the these vehicles is not being considered when one thinks this way.  Owning a shiny new Prius and a Suburban is more of a political statement than a real effort at economy. 

The truth is, in total energy consumed, we are all far better off learning to take care of well engineered and efficient vehicles that meet our actual needs for transportation and safety and driving the wheels off them. Reduce, Reuse and Recycling is still the best way to be a real conservative.

Astrobuf

GlennA
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Gold
Re: expansion battery packs, European mpg
GlennA   6/20/2012 1:32:01 PM
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astrobuf;  I resemble your comment.  My wife has a Toyota Prius and mainly drives to and from work.  Her 'normal' daily drive is about 20 miles round trip.  Only recently has she done a couple of 1,000 mile return trips.  The Prius has done about 15,000 miles in 30 months.  I have a hybrid Aspen with a 5.7 Hemi.  Sort of like the Suburban in your comment.  The  Aspen is the usual vehicle to haul 2 humans plus 2 felines plus associated and assorted on long trips, and sometimes tow a trailer.  The Prius doesn't have the cargo space.  The Aspen has done about 30,000 miles in 16 months.  Since the bank actually owns both vehicles and we just make the payments, I couldn't justify having a 3rd car, a high-mpg for my daily drive.  The savings in gasoline would not make up for another payment plus insurance etc.  I used to drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 4.7 that averaged about 18 mpg at best.  The Aspen consistently averages over 20, usually about 22 mpg;  better enough than the Grand Cherokee for me.  The Prius averages about 50 mpg.  The bottom line for us is that we each have a hybrid that suits our needs, even if it is just a political statement.

jackiecox
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Platinum
jackie cox
jackiecox   6/27/2012 8:52:00 PM
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tesla

Patrick Harris
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Iron
GM Right in Destroying EV-1
Patrick Harris   9/10/2012 1:24:07 PM
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Though I initially lamented GM destroying every EV-1 (I arrived in Mesa, Ariz. six months too late to snag one of my own), they had every right to do so. Many of the lessons learned from its production were incorporated into the Volt. GM is loosing $49 K on each Volt. Imagine how much more they would be loosing if Ford, Toyota or Honda bought a few EV-1s and then rushed their version to the market?

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