To George: Good idea, but you would need to design the vehicles from scratch so that they can use different battery sizes. Toyota engineers had trouble squeezing their little 5.2-kWh battery into the Prius and ended up raising the floor a few inches to make it fit.
To 3D_Eng: I believe the plug-in hybrids with the smaller batteries will sell, possibly in big numbers if they can keep the vehicle costs down to $25K to $30K. Bear in mind, though, that the battery in the Prius plug-in is one-third the capacity of the Volt battery, one-fourth the capacity of the Leaf battery and less than one-tenth that of the Tesla Roadster. As for the battery-powered electrics: Nissan is hoping for big numbers for its Leaf, but I believe they will sell better in Asia than here in the U.S. The pure electrics might get an initial surge from the hardcore environmentalists here, but I doubt it will be a big mainstream vehicle. As for the EVs with the really big batteries: Its hard to believe that a vehicle with a $25,000 battery can sustain a big mainstream market.
In all the article of EVs and how they reduce CO2 emission, I would like to see the real net CO2 produced by the EV and compared to a comparable gas IC engine and diesel engine powered car. Electric cars, while they do not directly produce CO2, cause CO2 to be produced if the car is plugged into the electrical system that is drawing power from a power plant which uses coal, natural gas, or petroleum products. By comparison, I mean vehicles with an economical gasoline or diesel engine, not cars with large high horsepower engines.
How about offering additional battery packs for those that want them? You have a 12 mile drive to work you buy 1 battery, you have 24 mile to go, get 2 and stay all electric. (Using the 13 mile car in the article.)
8,000 cells, 1,200 lbs? Exactly what other consumer device has 8,000 parts? How about the reliability of >100 or so serial electrical connections plus the added factor of all the paralled blocks, plus single battery open/short failures, heat removal issues, mechanical stress, safety issues, environmental impacts and finally, plain old life cycle cost to own. And we cannot ignore the fact that the battery pack is NOT the system! There are costs/impacts to produce, dispose of and most importantly to generate the kWhrs of energy (factoring in process efficiency) to charge these devices. Care to lay out the numbers next to say, the life cycle/systems cost of a diesel fuel tank? And I have not yet seen the case that with this approach, lithium supplies can outlast oil reserves. I believe that any half way detailed analysis would quickly show that non-tethered pure EV systems are a non-starter (well, OK maybe next week we will have the cold fusion generator perfected). Can we for just one microsecond remind ourselves that instead of choosing battery powered homes and businesses we actually developed a solution to bring wired electricity into every dwelling in the country? Battery powered personal vehicles are currently a band-aid solution to a social problem, not an engineered solution to replacing a non-renewable energy dependancy.
One thing not mentioned very often is that lead acid batteries are usually recycled so the environmental impact of the lead is somewhat reduced. I would expect the same to be true for the newer lithium battery packs as well. I don't think they will outlast the life of the vehicle.
Recent articles on fracking gas in the east (PA) and oil in the west (ND) seem to indicate that hydrocarbon fuel sources will be readily available for a long time to come. This does not bode well for electric vehicles.
I suspect there is some crossover point at which higher hydrocarbon fuel costs make battery powered electric drive more attractive but I am starting to wonder if this will really happen. It seems we have in the USA a lot of oil and natural gas that will be available for many years at "fairly reasonable" prices.
The high cost of these batteries compared to readily available alternative fuels means the electric car revolution will be a slow process if it happens at all.
So how much of the attractiveness of electric vehicles is driven by a desire to reduce CO2 emissions as it relates to climate change? If, and this is just an if, CO2 is eventually deemed to be insignificant in terms of climate change, then what is the impetus for shifting from hydrocarbon fueled vehicles to electrics? I like a clean environment and fuel efficient cars, but that can be accomplished with either type of drive train.
To Charles: Those numbers make me question if pure electric cars are ready for prime time. When the cooling system of an electric vehicle exceeds the total replacement cost of an existing drivetrain then the vehicle can't be cost competitive for most consumers. I believe the challenge will be for automakers to keep the public's interest until the required technologies mature enough for costs to come in line. How do you see this shaping up especially in this period of economic uncertainty on a global scale?
The battery prices in this article are way too high as one can buy them for under $250kwhr now in the small cell like Tesla, Panasonic do. This puts materials around $175/kwhr. I doubt OEM's are paying more.
I can buy a A123 battery pack with electronics like used for the Killacycle Drag bike to fit 7.8sec 1/4 mile at 172 mph, for just $700/kwhr retail.
The future won't be such big packs because future EV's will be much smaller, lighter with 60-120 mile ranges and optional small generator of about 7kw/1000lbs of EV can give unlimited range.
If the Prius pack weighs what is said, whomever designed it should be fired. It shouldn't weigh more than 25lb/kwhr.
My Harley size EV trike gets 600mpge and my 2 seat sportscar gets 250mpg and with gas prices going to $10/gal in the next 5 yrs, many others are going to go my way.
In the 1970's I designed ship control systems that were from time to time diesel-electric and gas-turbine electric. (Back in WWII we built lots of steam-electric ships because we could not make the main reduction gears - 'bull gears' - fast enough). Fast-foreward to 1980 and I proposed a simple hybrid vehicle. We were NOT in the auto biz, so this was only a paper exercise.
Take a basic Audi or Subaru 4WD & strip it down to just front & rear differential. Put two 25 HP (19 Kw) motor/alternators - one on each axel. Use a 20 KWH battery. Add a small, 1 liter or so, generator set with fuel of choice. Optimize the engine for constant speed and maximum efficiency so engine will need far fewer controls. A fast charger will allow 120/240 volt fast charging, where available. With a motor/alternator on each axel there will be regenerative braking.
An alternative & simpler design is to use only rear-wheel drive. One motor/alternator with regen braking designed to use rear first & then other brakes as needed. I base this on the early (pre 1960) VW Beatles, my 1955 Triumph TR-2, MGA, Austin Healy Sprite, Corvair, and others.
Of course we are not allowed to design 'real' cars anymore. Today's cars are chunks of metal, surrounded by Government Bureaucrats, into which you Pour Money!!!
Wow! Finally somone is looking askew at the reciprocating engine. Ford/Jaguar has a turbine driving a four-wheel sports car that goes way too fast. Seems like a battery pack that would carry 10 - 15 miles could be used to drive the vehicle and the turbine could cycle to re-charge and drive the vehicle for longer distances. Let's get real creative. Let's put the turbine in a truck tractor for over the road use. With the proper tankage, a small computer, and a little creative thought, the truckers could purchase the least expensive fuel available and really make a living. Sorry to all, just ranting a little.
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