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Douglas Smock
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Platinum
Good sign
Douglas Smock   9/6/2011 10:48:18 AM
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The LG announcement seems to reflect a sea change in corporate R&D culture at General Motors. It's a great sign that GM is investigating a technical collaboration on such an important subject with a Korean company. In the 1990s (Lopez era) GM was infamous for beating up its suppliers for the lowest possible price, while competitors such as Chrysler (Stallkamp era) viewed suppliers as collaborators.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Re: Good sign
TJ McDermott   9/6/2011 12:06:47 PM
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I agree it's a good sign.

American vehicles are by far used for daily commute.  The problem of a light weight limited passenger count vehicle occurs after the commuter gets home.  When it's time to take the kids to soccer, now you need at least four seats, if not the seven offered by a minivan.

It still comes down to storage capacity / power density.  Until there's a revolution in that area, all the advances in vehicle design are in a holding pattern.

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Re: Good sign
Beth Stackpole   9/6/2011 12:25:54 PM
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I too think it's positive momentum for GM to have both BEV and EV vehicle development on parallel tracks. I think it's far too early to say any of these emerging alternative technologies is the right bet and developing the technology on a number of fronts has to be the optimal approach. I also agree with Doug that given the size and complexity of the alternative fuel challenge, even the big OEMs have to cooperate on some level in order to achieve advances on any great scale.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Good sign
Charles Murray   9/6/2011 1:18:32 PM
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We're all in agreement here. Battery costs being what they are, it's a great idea for all EV manufacturers to work tightly with their battery suppliers. Today's pure EV batteries cost $20,000-plus. In many cases, that's more than half the price of the car.  

cvandewater
User Rank
Gold
Re: Good sign
cvandewater   9/8/2011 2:50:19 PM
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Charles,

you need to do your homework.

Lithium batteries today cost around $1 per Ah, so a 24kWh pack like the Leaf has equals approx $7k if you buy cells as a private person.

Many people actually do this for their home conversions of a vehicle they like, to make it all-electric because the car manufacturers are lagging.

If you are a big corporation then the price will likely be different than $7k.

How else would the Leaf sell for almost the same price as you claim the pack would cost? Does not pass the sniff test and contradicts the reality of the Li-Ion battery market of today.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Good sign
Charles Murray   9/8/2011 3:33:41 PM
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To cvandewater: The information we use comes from MIT, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, University of California, Center for Automotive Research, Lux Research, Pike Research, GM, Toyota and Argonne National Labs, among others. Your information is probably better, though.  

cvandewater
User Rank
Gold
Re: Good sign
cvandewater   9/8/2011 8:22:56 PM
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Hi Charles,

I looked at the sales price on battery manufacturers websites.

I also follow the EVDL, the EV Discussion List at evdl.org. There are not only many home-builders of EVs on that list (who have ordered their packs from various sources) but also professional designers of battery packs and EV drivetrain components. I can recommend consulting the list and its archives when you have any question about EV related issues. Since most on that list are vendor-neutral and have no fish to fry other than to finish their own home-conversion, they will share their experiences and knowledge freely without being locked into a certain relationship or beneficial relationship to any one supplier or technology. Very refreshing. And free.

My message to you: don't believe everything you hear, do you own research. Especially when something is so blatently impossible that it can't pass the sniff test.

It is possible that you simply referenced old data (Li-Ion prices have come down quickly in the past few years) or you got data from one of the outlets that, unfortunately, try to spread FUD about EVs. Getting fresh data will clean out any and all of these issues and avoids you spread FUD or outdated information. The onus is on you to verify the information you post. Especially if you receive info from parties that have an interest in what you post. My professional work has no relation to EVs, so I have no interest in manipulation in any particular direction, but I do have an aversion against lore and less-than-true stories. So if I see something presented as fact that I know is not true, I will respond.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Good sign
Charles Murray   9/9/2011 12:44:36 PM
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To cvandewater: I know you are right about the $1/Ah figure. The situation for production automakers is different, however. We will explain that in an upcoming blog next week. Please watch for it.

melllowfelllow
User Rank
Gold
Re: Good sign
melllowfelllow   9/7/2011 1:25:06 PM
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I got a good laugh when the title "GM Investigating Pure Electric Cars" showed up in my inbox. I know that GM investigated Pure Electric Cars in the late 80s and early 90s. Then they went to the extreme expense and effort of building one 15 years ago. The Volt is basically a pure electric car... Anyway, got that off my chest.

A few folks have commented on "is GM committed..." as if GM were a single person. For those not familiar with the auto industry, there are 100s of different groups that make things happen - and many of them do not adapt well to change. Simple changes like reordering an assembly process or relocating it to a different plant can be very painful and s-l-o-w. When I read the caption to the picture ["Battery engineering teams from GM and A123 have tested and validated the A123 battery chemistry and are now working on software controls in preparation for production."] the first thought that went through my mind was "was this a typical 'start from zero' GM qual effort that can sometimes be measured in years?" for a product [or derivative] that has been used commercially and by the military for several years.

Similar to the public, I think that it is possible that the engineering/design staff/management could be part of the problem. Years ago, IBM had a similar issues WRT product development. They assembled a team of young and 'against the grain' engineers, dispensed with IBM antiNIH [Not Invented Here], collaborated with third parties, used COTS components, and got the job done. Not a direct coorelation, but GM could probably use some shaking up and more 'get it done' focus. Yes, they seem to be inching in the right direction.

The bottom line is that GM could have fielded [on the road] dozens of different prototypes over the years for a nominal development cost - collected tons of data, made incremental improvements, collected more data... BUT [IMO] two obstacles stood in their way - [1] doing it 'the GM way' and [2] using a management style named after a band 'Asleep at the Wheel'.

Steve Heckman
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Gold
Re: Good sign
Steve Heckman   9/7/2011 9:37:57 AM
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TJ made a good comment.... but at least in my case we own 3 cars, one of which is a minivan. Surely one of them could be a pure EV.

One of the real benefits of a hydrid is you get the range. At the same time you also get the benefits of a EV when crawling through drive-throughs or a string of traffic lights.

 

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Good sign
MIROX   9/7/2011 12:42:37 PM
The major benefit of EV is the fact that you create ZERO emission from the vehicle and move the pollution to a coal burning plant, while you pay a premium for every mile you drive!

Once you add the cost of the battery use (which has a limited useful service life) to the equation, you can drive two conventional vehicles for about the same cost as EV.

In CA with the 100,000 or 80,000 miles battery warranty requirement, that cost is absorbed by the OEM, and subsidized by every customer that buys a conventional vehicle, if it was not then you would be in the TESLA price range.

The CA Warranty however is not applicable to NEV, so there you actually KNOW what are you paying for and how long the battery will last based on experience.

As long as price per mile driven matters, EV's will never be a practical and cost effective option.

All that said I do actually drive OKA NEV ZEV (www.okaauto.com) since 2003, and have been keeping track of every re-charge, KWh consumed, etc.

It also happens that I have exactly equivalent car that has 2 cylinder gasoline engine, so I am comparing apples to apples - well almost the NEV has a top speed of 25 MPH the Gas Guzzler that gets 45 to 65 MPG goes 82 MPH.

The Gasoline car averages 10 cents per mile (all included, fuel, tires, maintenance, etc.)

The EV only costs 1.8 cents per mile for the power but when all else is included especially the $1,500 to replace the battery after 10,000 miles of use (5 years) the cost per mile is 18 cents, that is 80 % PREMIUM over conventional ICE car !!!

I still enjoy the EV, but the predicted cost reduction for battery technology is just illusion in 2003 the battery pack was $900 when replaced it was $1,500 for the same Lead-Acid Sealed units and TODAY the price is almost $1,800 !!!

The price DOUBLED in 8 years........while according to 2000 prediction it should have been at about 1/4 of that (4kWh battery)

The same "predictions" exist for Li battery technology....

Need I say more ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stephen.bennett
User Rank
Iron
Re: Good sign
stephen.bennett   9/7/2011 1:19:46 PM
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@MIROX Sure. But when it comes to oil and the consumer the USA has a very different pricing structure than much of the rest of the world so are there not places today where BEVs will be economical sense? Here in Europe I am paying €1.55 per a liter of petrol. To me this looks more like a global move from GM rather than something to take on government and the oil giants in the US.

Bobolink
User Rank
Iron
Build on experience
Bobolink   9/6/2011 8:09:38 PM
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I think GM learned much from the all electric EV1. This knowledge was incorprated into the multiple-award winning Chevy Volt. One reason the Volt has a backup electric generator is a direct result of knowledge GM gained from the EV1 project.

I can say from personal experience, my Volt is unlike GM cars of the past (a good thing!) and I am delighted with the handling, 5 star safety, acceleration, interior design, and the ride itself. My lifetime MPG is well over 100MPG.

Part of the Volt concept was the ability to replace the gas fueled electric generator with one powered by diesel, etc., or even eliminate it entirely!

I expect that GM will take valuable info gleaned from the Volt to go full circle back to a car like the EV1 that has no backup power source.

It's important to keep in mind that the Volt was a compromise between "ready/off the shelf" components married to new battery tech. This was done to achieve a faster time to market and reduced costs. Even so, it took years and capital investment.

I fully expect that they have had other development projects in the pipeline that can be more purpose built, enabling the achievement of other car achitectures.

Jluminais
User Rank
Silver
Design within scope
Jluminais   9/7/2011 9:28:10 AM
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Sometimes, everyday people have a better handle on things than large companies.  I come from a small town (<5000 people).  I had not been back in a very long time.  When I returned, I was suprised to see that many people in addition to regular cars used golf carts for driving short distances.  These vehicles were efficient and had storage space for groceries etc.  They even had a "golf cart drive in" night at a local school where people would drive their carts to an open air movie screen.  Golf carts cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 dollars.  More ramped up production and perhaps a little styling would most likely reduce this.  Most people aren't going to spend $20,000 plus for an electric vechicle with limited range, but they certainly would consider something around 5 or 6 thousand.  This, I think is the best application of current EV technology.  A second low priced vehicle for short trips based on existing technology.  Let it gradually evolve as technology does.  The biggest hurdle however, maybe local regulations. 

And yes, they don't go fast, but don't we all need to slow down and enjoy life a bit?

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Golf Cart "village"
OLD_CURMUDGEON   9/7/2011 10:03:26 AM
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I don'tr suppose you'd be talking about THE VILLAGES in central Florida, now would you?  It's a golf cart heaven, complete w/ golf cart traffic jams, AND golf cart vehicle theft!  You can drive your golf cart from one end of THE VILLAGES to the other.  There's even bridges that cross over major thoroughfares so the standard vehicular traffic doesn't interfere w/ the golf-carting seasoned citizens!

VadimR
User Rank
Gold
Re: Design within scope
VadimR   9/7/2011 10:08:30 AM
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golfcarts,bikes,trikes,utvs,atvs,scooters,motorcycles,snowmobiles,velomobiles,etc...wehavesomanychoicesalreadyofefficienttransportation. twomainproblemsare:
1)wearecreaturesofhabitandcomfortwhoareusedtosimplyjumpintoourcomfycarandgo(andsincewepaysomuchforacar(approx1/4ofourmoneytofeedthecarhttp://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/05/americans-working-to-feed-their-cars.php)wewanttomakegooduseofit).
2)asyousaidmostoftheefficientchoicesarenotallowedonthestreetsbecauseofregulations. sounclesamforcesustodrivebigheavycarsthatpollute,useupalotofresources,useupalotoffuel,and"createjobs".
 
 

mr88cet
User Rank
Silver
Different Use Models
mr88cet   9/7/2011 9:45:19 AM
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I think it's clear that a pure-electric BEV has a very different use model from the Volt's large-battery, series-hybrid configuration.  A BEV works great for driving in-town, since it doesn't carry the extra weight burden of the engine, generator, and gas tank (exhaust system, etc.).  However, its usability for long stints on the highway is very dubious.  There's a market for each, with a straight-forward distinction between those two markets.

JRoque
User Rank
Gold
FUD
JRoque   9/7/2011 9:58:18 AM
Does anyone REALLY believe any of the top automakers are truly committed to making an electric vehicle? Why would they let go of the hugely profitable gasoline based business? And it's not just gasoline but all the other crap they hook us on like filters, hoses, belts, "tune-ups", pumps, etc, etc. There's little or no maintenance in an electric vehicle. Even your brake pads could last 100K miles since you'd be mostly using regenerative braking. You can even make your own electricity with solar panels, wind, etc. You can't easily make gasoline and parts, however, so they got you there.

The only reason GM had the EV-1 was to comply with a CA law that required it. As soon as they lobbied it out, so was the EV-1. They're throwing another Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt smoke screen in front of all to both appear progressive and as a pony-show to their shareholders to make them think Nissan and Tesla are not kicking their butts in the EV arena. GM does NOT have an electric car. The Volt is a hybrid. But not just any hybrid, one that brings together the limitations of both electric and gasoline technologies resulting in nothing but ungodly complexities. There's the gas engine, needing maintenance and parts from GM... how convenient.

Then there's the so-called contract with A123 for a pie-in-the-sky battery that will never be. They are committed to LG and whatever LG wants to put out. But because GM took huge amounts of taxpayers monies, they have to show intent on supporting a US based company. There are individuals that have converted their ICE cars to pure electric and get 150 miles on a single charge. The entire conversion is way less than what you would pay for a Volt. Electric vehicles are doable, viable and practical today, there's just no real commitment from manufactures.

philipp10
User Rank
Gold
Re: FUD
philipp10   9/7/2011 11:39:40 AM
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I for one, believe GM and the other car makers are committed to electric cars. They have to because they are the future for at least some of the cars we will produce and buy.  Why you say?  Because when there are potentially 2 billion new drivers coming on line in China and India, the price of oil is going to skyrocket and when it does, EV’s will look all the better.  Secondly,  we are just in the beginning stages of electric cars and these new batteries. The price and performance of batteries will get better.  The world is not a static place and if anyone should know, we as engineers should.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
User Rank
Platinum
Product line completion
Ivan Kirkpatrick   9/7/2011 10:23:49 AM
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I think GM is rounding out their product line and it is in a good way.  An all electric car does have a place in some peoples driveway but perhaps not in all of them.  I agree that the maintenance on an electric vehicle for all the auxililary items will be far less and that is also a good thing.  The price and power density of the batteries are moving in the right directions albeit slower than many people hope, myself included.  My town has a small number of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) restricted to roads less than 35 mph and I check them out every chance I get.

The fact is there is a place for ICE vehicles, some with other than gasoline fuels like NG, hybrid vehicles and all electric vehicles.  The mix of them will change as economics and usage factors allow.

The bottom line is that there is a price point at which most families could make good use of an all electric vehicle. 

pgdion
User Rank
Bronze
Volt is not a Hybrid
pgdion   9/7/2011 11:11:46 AM
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The Volt is NOT a hybrid. It is an electric vehicle with an onboard generator to extend the range. There is a BIG difference. Look at the drivetrains and you'll understand but put simply, if you stay within the range of the batteries, you'll never need the engine. hardly a hybrid where you need the engine for every trip (even if it's just around the block). The Prius is a hybrid. I also might add the EV-1 was never thought to be a large production vehicle by GM. It was always just an entry to the EV market to test the technology (I still have articles from when it was intorduced). The biggest hurdle at that point and the reason Everyone new the vehicle would be short lived is that the batteries to make it viable did not yet exist (viable = capacity and affordable). No one expected the EV-1 to be anything more than a novelty (and a good tool to prove just how rediculous the CA law was). BTW - regarding engine maintenance, just how much money do you think GM makes on those 100,000 mile warranties???

bronorb
User Rank
Silver
Re: Volt is not a Hybrid
bronorb   9/7/2011 11:37:45 AM
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I disagree with your definition of a hybrid. Most people would think that a hybrid is a vehicle with both an electric and gasoline motor. It doesn't matter how much either is used.

I agree completely with JRoque. The EV-1 was a very good first step into an all-electric vehicle but GM found out pretty quick that they would not be able to maintain the same profit margin that they do on their gasoline cars. As soon as they could they squashed it, literally. Destroying every single last working car.

Can you imagine how far ahead of everyone else in electric vehicles GM would be right now if they had kept producing and improving the EV-1.

Corporate greed, nothing more. Very sad.

stephen.bennett
User Rank
Iron
About time too!
stephen.bennett   9/7/2011 11:44:15 AM
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About time too! Way overdue. The push on this technology should of been at the forefront of business a decade ago.

JRoque
User Rank
Gold
.
JRoque   9/7/2011 1:59:09 PM
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The Volt is a hybrid. It's ICE engages directly to drive the wheels under certain conditions like when your cells are drained and/or you're driving over a certain speed or demand additional power. This electric, genset, ICE combination is what makes it so complex.

For the $41,000 the Volt costs you can buy a brand new car, take it's engine out, put in an electric motor, controller and batteries that drive 100 to 150 miles on a single charge. That's all at retail prices. OEMs should be able to make a true electric car for much less than that and not require taxpayers to pay for their R&D projects like we're doing now. They have everyone thinking that the batteries are so expensive that the Gov needs to pay THEM to give us an electric car. Here's an electric car conversion example. All retail prices with no volume discounts:

HPEV AC50 motor and Curtis controller: $4,400
(36) 200Ah LifePo4 cells: $9,000
2011 Chevy Aveo: $12,000
Misc stuff like cables, charger, etc: $5,000
Labor & beer: $10,600

So why can't GM make a reasonably priced electric car then?


IMHO, any argument regarding EVs that includes lead acid batteries in the equation has little validity. LA batteries are not a viable power source for an electric car; for a golf cart maybe but not for a real car.

Pollution emission in an ICE does not start at it's tailpipe, it starts way back at the oil drill rig. End-to-end measurement shows that even if you get 100% of your electric power from dirty coal, you will still emit less pollution than when using gasoline. But, in fact, most of us don't get all of our electric power from coal but instead from solar, wind, hydro and nuclear.

Darel Coterel
User Rank
Iron
Buildings make up 40% of CO2 emmissions in USA
Darel Coterel   9/7/2011 3:07:25 PM
Commercial and residential buildings make up nearly 40% of CO2 emmissions in the USA.  Transportation makes up 33% and these EVs will only supplant at bes a very small % of that 33% as these EVs would only be able to target "passanger cars" for replacement or about 36% of the transportation CO2 emmisions.  If (that's a BIG if) they replace all passanger cars w/ an EV the overall impact would be around 12% but most of that would get shifted to a coal fueled power plant.  Realistically, maybe 10% of the passenger cars would get replaced by an EV for a 3.3% reduction in CO2 emmissions from transportation but, the majority of that savings would shift to a power plant (most likely fueled by fossil fueled power plant 60% are coal fueled).  You might gt a reduction of about 0.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

curious_device
User Rank
Gold
Yessss...
curious_device   9/7/2011 3:12:02 PM
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"We are all 150% behind Electric Vehicles. In fact we are eagerly awaiting the Ford Explorer EV.  With any luck it'll have lead-acid batteries to go with the 4500 pound curb weight."

This message brought to you by the Coal, Gas & Nuclear Electric Producers of America.

curious_device
User Rank
Gold
Buildings make up 40% of CO2 emmissions in USA
curious_device   9/7/2011 3:17:24 PM
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This is especially true with all of the pneumatically-controlled poorly maintained HVAC systems in office buildings.  Many of these buildings are heating and cooling at the same time.  THAT's energy efficiency!

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Hybrid or electric?
Charles Murray   9/7/2011 10:27:46 PM
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Whether we refer to the Volt as a hybrid or an electric is a matter of semantics. It burns gasoline, which is hybrid-like. It drives the wheels through electric motors, which sounds electric. At 70 mph, it employs an unusual power split in which power moves from the IC engine to a generator-motor to a ring gear in the planetary gear set. That sounds hybrid-like. So which one is it? Hybrid? Electric? Who cares. Call it whatever you like. We all know how it works.  

JRoque
User Rank
Gold
Re: Hybrid or electric?
JRoque   9/8/2011 10:16:07 AM
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Good point, Charles. My criteria is that if you find yourself at a gas station buying gasoline for your car, you're not driving an electric.



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