Nothing in the history of the automobile compares to today's frantic effort to breathe life into electric cars and hybrids.
In the following slideshow we've gathered together 15 images, which touch recent developments emerging from the auto industry's ongoing efforts in alternative power train technologies. Our vehicle choices range from Toyota's hybrid gas turbine concept car of 1969, to polished production hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Explorer, to backyard electric conversions, such as the drag-racing Crazy Horse Pinto. Our emphasis is on the delivery of electric power, with or without a gasoline counterpart.
Click the image below to view a slideshow of alternative energy vehicles:
Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive is an evolution of the hybrid powertrain that powered the game-changing Toyota Prius. The Synergy Drive replaces a traditional geared transmission with a drive unit that includes an electronic continuously variable transmission. The system allows power to be split between the wheels and an electric generator. (Photo courtesy of Toyota)
To keep up with our Chevy Volt coverage, go to Drive for Innovation, and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller. On his trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is driving a Volt across America to interview engineers.
I think that like all business, it IS the responsibility of the CEO to act in the best interest of his stockholders,( who are in fact, the "owners" often You and I) it is s fiduciary requirement imposed upon him by the same "country" that some want him to favor to the detriment of his company. It is the same for a sole propriership or small corporation. Do you sacrifice your company for the benefit of a country lead by politicans that impose conficatory taxes on you or do you operate your company for the benefit of yourself AND the employees that work for you. You don't often have the luxury to sacrifice your profit margin to the "common good". This whole issue is complex but if a company is not viable and profitable, the there is no money to pay the employees, no money to pay the employees...no employees no help to the economy. Do we ask the employees to sacrifice and accept lower wages for the "common good" as you are asking the Oil company executive? What do you think a fair return is on the investement of the oil company, what margin should they have and what return would you accept if your 401K held Exon stock and said, oh, we'll cut our profit margin to "help' the economy...and your 401K ends up in the tank?
Remember these oil companies that the administration chooses to villify provides an enormous stream of tax revenue, the government makes more money on a gallon of gasoline that the oil company. Otherwise the government wouldn't ban the importation of the European Fords and Volkswagons that get between 60 and 78 MPG.......would they?
I think it was the CEO of Exxon, when asked what he was doing about high oil prices hurting the economy, said his duty was to maximize profits for the company, and for the stock holders - he had NO duty to his country.
Also, during the 1970's, a friend was on a tanker in International Waters off New York, anxious to get home for Christmas. The ship was being held out of port, waiting for prices to rise. When the shortage was severe enough - profit maximization - the ship was finally brought in.
And there have been numerous 'expose's' of how oil companies contest owed duties and royalties, and manipulate records. While I don't like the idea of taxation to artificially inflate gasoline prices, I do believe the oil companies artificially inflate prices = 'charge what the market will bear'. As a vertically integrated industry, with only a few companies, with the same motives, supply, costs and profits can be manipulated.
A couple of years ago gasoline prices peaked, and there was a demand for fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles. What a coincidence that prices then dropped - the oil companies had found out the prices the market would bear. The oil companies balance supply and pricing to maximize profits, but also maintain market share, and that balancing has to consider whether the alternative - EV's etc, - become a viable option.
The oil companies may not be actively slowing progress on EV's, but it is in their best interest.
One must understand that all nueclear reactions DON'T need an atomic plant to generate "Green" power or have NO carbon foot print. Indeed there are various proven, tested, and buildable ways to accomplish this today as in the past. The first consideration truly is, when will most world governments change patent regulations to allow inventors to exit the dark ages and patent what they allready can prove works? Until this comes to pass we will all suffer the preventable missuse of our planets resources and the genius of its surpressed inventors!
Ivan makes a good point, and I would almost hope that his argument gets people started on a serious discussion of nuclear plants, and why we need them. I fear Japan's problems may have permanently ended the argument to build more nuclear plants, yet there were serious issues with location and backup systems there. France hasn't had these problems, and if it's good enough for the French, it should be good enough for us, right? :)
One more advantage of the EV over the ICE vehicles is going to be maintenance. An EV will not require quite so much in the way of auxillary systems, heating, cooling exhaust and water pumps, fuel injection and so on. That means less in the way of the Oil companies investements in filling stations and repair shops.
The oil companies do have a big investment in the infrastructure. That is one reason the battery technologies have not been spread around. I think it was GM or a subsidary that held patents to technologies the Japanese manufacturers wanted but could not get.
Fuel cells are interesting but the H2 has to come from someplace.
Right now, a modern nuke plant is the cleanest and only economical way to generate Megawatt scale electricity unless you have a new river suitable for a dam project. If the charging source for your EV is a from a nuke plant that is about as good as we can get right now.
And keep in mind, much of the daily commutes is well under 100 miles. EV's are on the way to widespread usage. Not for everything or every application but it will certainly find a place. It already has and it will continue to expand market share.
By what right do you assume that "Battery technology is almost ready to give us the same range, etc."? After 100+ years, the solution is right around the corner. Where has this been demonstrated? What we have are glorified golf carts suitable for running around on little trips. Dress it however you want, it is still lipstick on a pig.
All this EV junk is so much diversion from finding a real solution. What happened to all of the hubbub about Hydrogen fuel cells? At least they had some range.
It also amazes me how many people really think the lack of progress is all because of oil companies. Oil is not only used to produce gasoline. During the Arab oil embargo of the 70s, there were many industries that suffered and prices on many consumer items shot up because of the petroleum shortage. Oil companies are just the same as any other conglomerate in that they want to make money for their stock holders. Do you really think they would turn their collective backs on the battery industry if there was a nickel to be made there? It is so much like the myth of the 300 mpg carburetor that Standard Oil held off the market in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Now both Standard and carburetors have disappeared from our automotive minds. Coincidence? I think not. No matter how ridiculous it sounds there is a conspiracy theory to fit any occurance and people gullible enough to subscribe to it.
I had some time and took a peek at the slide show. I was totally disappointed - it seemed to be a random collection. I liked the Crazy Horse Pinto and some of the current, real product pics. I am curious as to why CT&T was included. I believe that their claim -
"CT&T, based in Korea, is said to be the world's largest manufacturer of battery electric vehicles."
is based on the manufacture of enclosed+'not enclosed' golf carts. They were looking to begin US production in '08/09 and agreed to build plants in 3 states + 'distribution centers' but it seems that they fell off of the face of the earth - a common EV occurence - as far as the US is concerned.
Chuck, well said! And the Scotty quote is a nice touch, too. Too often, the big picture costs are not captured to truly reveal the price of business. I see it all the time in my industry (consumer music products).
This is a bit of a tangent, but is anyone else disturbed by the fact that in our modern society, the only thing that we don't pay for to "live" is the air that we breathe. As my son matures, I make him aware of the supply chains that sustain us all. One of the lessons is what happens when something is plugged into the wall receptacle and how this ties to a global economy of energy production and how this relates to our transportation needs. Perhaps the next generation can sort out the planet-wide mess we've created. I'm hopeful! With the current state of America's politics I'm not convinced that common sense will prevail when it comes to energy policy and long term sustainable energy production.
You show that you miss the point by using a multiplier of 33.7 to convert to MPGE. So does the EPA. The appropriate multiplier is around 11. 33.7 would only be right for electricity made from heat without losses, especially those dictated by the Second Law of Thermodynamics
No I don't see a problem because I'm talking about energy. It's just the PV puts out a much higher quality energy, electricity vs heat from gasoline, a low quality form that is ineff to turn into machanical energy.
As far as CO2 the PV's is only in it's building material, labor which has a EROI of well over 10-1. Vs gasoline has at best 2-1 because it takes so much energy, feedstock to make and so ineff to use at about 7% eff.. They use 3kwhr/gal just in the refining and that doesn't include chemical energy needed. Now PV I get about 30 miles/kwhr x's 33.7 equals about 1011mpge in my Harley size EV trike vs about 40mpg in a similar ICE. Deal with it.
Do you know what fungible is? Like oil it doesn't matter where you put the electric in as it displaces other power that is no longer needed., thus saving CO2.
Let's turn it around that I only need a fraction of the energy, thuis CO2/mile of an ICE. Since I need only 4% of the energy/mile to move my EV that means even using coal to charge it makes 5% or so of the CO2/mile an ICE does.
But you ignore the CO2 an ICE makes for a real comparison. Now compare that use po mine as I win in a no brainer.
Next time you fill up just think of me filling up for $.25 at home for 60 miles or $1 for 240 miles vs you $40-80!! Then think who is right? I'll be laughing all the way to the bank saving $100-200/month and you'll just be more poor.
And most of my power comes from a GTCC NG plant that gets 58% eff so only makes 30% or so of the CO2 of a coal plant., making it even less.
Nor does my EV support oil companies, oil dictators or terrorists that kill our soldiers your gasoline purchasing does, No? In fact it has the most stable energy source. Gasoline will get too expensive but one can cheaply make one's electricity from many sources.
There are easy solutions to the precieved EV problems from battery swapping like the Nissan Leaf is set up for to fast charging to a very small generator for the few times over 100 miles is needed.
As a interesting point the fastest production street MC is now an EV, the Lightning.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.