Where are the revolutionary designs?
TJ McDermott asked:
>EVs seem to be taking a very slow, evolutionary path. Why a single motor in the gas >engine's place? Where are the vehicles with a smaller motor in each wheel hub? >Where is the regenerative braking that these motors could offer? Four motors offers >redundancy; you can still get home on three if one fails.
>Where are the revolutionary designs?
In reference to our racing EVs, wheel motors are a BIG negative! First, they would have to be AC types, thus an expensive ~ 100 kW inverter to go with each hub motor - forgetting all the machining costs, the total redesign of the car, and the terrible unsprung weight this adds (ruins handling), each motor/inverter would cost $25,000 X four - $100,000 for 400 kW of power...Yikes! Compare this to our caveman DC drive that cranks out 538 hp @ 1250 ft. lbs torque for ~ $12,000! Additionally, one of the reasons we drag race our EVs, is to change perception about electric cars. In the ‘Street Legal’ racing classes NEDRA created in conjunction with the NHRA, we require the electric motor(s) to be right where an average car-guy would expect to find the ICE, and we also require the car to be largely unchanged from its factory design. This all does great things for convincing performance-minded car fans that EVs don’t have to be radical or weird to be fun and cool - and that, is what will get them into showrooms!
>The future I saw as a kid should have been here already, but it seems as far away >now as it did then.
Try convincing all my friends who are now driving and loving their Nissan Leafs and Tesla Roadsters this...they all feel they are already driving the future. Ask any of them, and they will tell you they were inspired to buy these electric machines after they experienced our backyard EVs blowing away gas-fueled muscle cars and high end exotica on the track .
This was a very well written article. I was disappointed that it was not totally updated and rewritten - but I will take what I can get.
Sometimes I think that 'techno-folks' get too wrapped up in technical stuff. The way for anything to happen in the EV arena is for folks to 'WANT EVs'. If one looks at the automobiles that led the revolution at the end of the 19th century - they were not water tight, there was no infrastructure, they cost too much, they could no go long distances, etc. But one important thing happened - folks saw some advantage and a few rich folks bought them and lots of other folks wanted them. The quietest and most reliable autos [electrics] went from market leaders to endangered species in a few years. During this time infrastructure like roads and gas stations grew into existance. If you change a few of the words, the same could happen for EVs.
One problem that folks have is their thinking - we can comprehend that we need to buy a truck to haul stuff, a 2 seat sports car for fun, a small efficient car for commuting, a large vehicle for our 5 kids, etc. The problem is that in most folks mind, each of these specialty cars needs to be able to drive 500 miles in a day - even if they never do it. We have a thinking problem [interestingly almost every argument, or concern, wrt EVs was applied to the first automobiles].
There is no technical reason that the electrical infrastucture cannot evolve. If coal is a problem there is no reason not to use natural gas to generate electricity.
Teslas have already made an impact on a few people and the Volts, Leafs, et al might do the same. Electric racing is usually an eye opener for folks who are used to seeing slightly oversized golf carts being presented 'as the future' - this nonsense turns most folks off. Even though it cannot be measured, the pioneer electric drag racers have done more than their part to promote EVs.
Disclosure [just in case that it was not clear]:
I have been an EV performance fan and was prejudiced before I read the article.
Very well written article, too bad it does not mention the Quickest Electric Dragster on the Planet!! it is the Current Eliminator V that holds the current record of 7.956 seconds at 159.85 miles per hour in the quarter mile!!! See it at http://www.currenteliminator.net/ The record was made using Altairnano Lithium Titanate Batteries. There are many videos on You tube with the Owner Dennis Berube that has held the record since the early 1990's...... The numbers tell the story.
One particular reason for not putting a motor in each wheel hub is the resulting increase in un-sprung weight. In general, increases in un-sprung weight reduce the suspension system's natural frequency, which adversely affects the handling characteristics of the vehicle. Offsetting the weight of a hub motor is extremely difficult, so in the end building up a conventional driveline ends up being more cost effective.
Not to diminish Mr. Wayland's accomplishments with the the White Zombie, but being "street legal" is a lot different from "daily driver". All "street legal" means is that it has lights, a horn and windshield wipers. Last time I saw it, it had only a driver's racing bucket seat and very little else for an interior. It's a one of a kind, purpose-built machine to test and refine high performance electric drivelines, controllers and batteries, not so much for practical transportation. I suspect the only street parts left of that Datsun is the sheet metal. You would expect this of any drag car, just pointing out it's not a typical street car.
It's true that a big part of drag racing is the noise. To hear EV's drag race is not unlike duelling vacuum cleaners. It's more fun when an EV is pitted against a snarling V8, who's noise drowns out the whine of the EV's motor and driveline, and it just silently pulls away as though the guy with the V8 left his parking brake on.
EV's are fun. I put 50K miles on my Chevy S-10 conversion. But the realities of cost of ownership caught up with it and I couldn't justify putting yet another $2500 pack of batteries in it. I understand that contemporary NiMH and Lithium packs in commercial EV's would give much better cycle life, but at a price. A price that in terms of the typical consumer is difficult to justify. Combustion vehicles have had a huge head start in terms of economies of scale and refinement of design, and for the most part you're going to end up with a very reliable and long lasting vehicle. EV's still require maintenance and repairs and when you factor all the operating expenses as a whole (registration, tax, insurance, electricty), in the end any cost savings realized with the cheaper "fuel" are vastly offset by the acquisition cost of the vehicle. Even if the "fuel" were free, my costs per mile in terms of amortized battery expenses was more than the equivalent cost of gasoline for my truck at $4 a gallon. I haven't run the numbers for the current offerings of commercial EV's, but I suspect the numbers for those aren't much better with their commensurately more expensive batteries and management systems. EV's will never enjoy more than a niche market until they can offer a feature or value that current combustion vehicles can't. Granted, things have come a long way since the '60's Electrovair or the '70's Citicar, but EV's of today that are more expensive to own than their gasoline counterparts still aren't the answer. Get the costs down and maybe they'll get there.
If you really like the idea of driving an EV, then that's great. I'm here to tell you they're a fun way to get around. Just understand that this "fun" will cost you extra.
WRT Wayland's EV being a drag car - Do you know how he gets to the drag strip?? He drives. Did you know that the vehicle has been on out of state road trips?? Although not a major feat from Portland, I know that theWZ has been on road trips to WA - I think that I read the details on his web site.
The WZ definitely has a racing bent, but if you have ever seen folks race their street cars, many remove the spare tire and extra seats for racing.
WRT cost effective:
Possibly not. Anyone who buys the first [or makes the first] items is not going to get in on the cost benefits. It is interesting that this 'cost effective thing' comes up a lot with EVs. The irony is that in the US [where I currently reside] it appears that the number of purchases made by americans on a purely cost effective basis is near 0%. This applies to clothing, appliances, houses, automobiles, phones, computers, etc. For example, a friend might purchase an economy car and rule out a 'statistically better automobile' because it is 'ugly'.
Yes, I would agree the EVs are not exactly cost effective - but I do not know anyone who purchased an automobile solely based on numbers.
I do not recall seeing anything written that WZ was faster - only that it was quicker.
I'm sure that Mr. Wayland does not actively follow Bugatti's products. He obviously was using stale data from one of the older, cheaper $1,700,000 models. He probably was not aware of the latest numbers for the new 2011-2012 Bugatti Veyron, with its modest sticker price increase is faster and quicker. Or possibly the WZ is quicker in the 1/8 mile. It really doesn't matter - JW could build a 'fleet of Zombies' for the $,$$$,$$$.$$ of one Veyron
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 267 mph, 0-60 in 2.4 secs. Aluminum, Narrow Angle 8 Liter W16 Engine with 1200 hp, base price is $2,400,000.
Of course there is always the caveat that the WZ might be quicker now than when the article was sourced. :-)
What they did is work hard and spent the money and over time built great machines. DC Series motors have tons of instant torque starting up, 3 times as much as most AC motors and in many cases we could buy them for scrap prices, clean them up or rebuild them for little cost.
DC controllers only need 1 power output while AC needs at least 3 x's the silicon and other things, making them much more costly.
The Zilla was, maybe still is the highest output for an EV controller and until recently, you couldn't get anywhere near the power, 600+kw, in AC.
If Detroit wanted they could build a DC EV using forlikt technology with an aero composite body/chassis like the GM showcar, the Ultra-Lite. Such a 4 seat EV with lithium batteries could go 150 miles and if done in medium tech composites instead of carbon fiber could be sold profitability for under $15k in 2014. Then a lightweight 8kw generator in a rear quarter panel would give it unlimited range at more than 100mpg solves any lingering range worries.
Then thre are the cool 2 and 3wh EV's with or without cabins. Recently the Lightning EV MC became the fastest production MC in the US of any type at 239mph if I remember right.
There will be many with/without cabin MC 100 mile EV's for commuting to crosscountry with 300 mile ranges and 15 minute recharge times because they are light, very aero so need much smaller battery packs, motors, etc. These I think in 10 yrs will be the trend because they will cost 25% to run vs an ICE and as they are more simple, as the price of lithium batts drops, cost less to build too.
Present production lithium cells like Tesla uses cost under $250kwhr now in 1,000 cell lots to anyone who wants them. That proves that materials are under $175/kwhr so as production ramps up, even these costs will drop.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
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