I would have to agree that most people will buy an EV/hybrid for their worst-case use, not average use. Given that most people can't afford to have multiple cars for different uses, the decision to buy has to rest on the vehicle and range equation that best meets all potential use cases.
I agree with Beth. I've seen a lot of comments mentioning second and third cars. Not in my household or my neighborhood. But we don't live in the city, so perhaps that's an urban concept. We do have two cars, one per adult driver, so maybe that's what that means (?).
Since only one of us (my husband) commutes, and only 11 miles one way each day, I could see one commuter car for him like an EV or hybrid, and another car, mine, for longer-distance travel.
Perhaps there will be a time when every household has the long-distance car and the short-distance vehicle and the pair are used accordingly by household participants when and where it makes sense. Somehow, though, I doubt it. Most drivers are very attached to their cars, given that they are typically loaded up with work files, personal gear, wallets, golf clubs, baby seats, etc. I know every time I ask my husband to switch cars, it's a big chore for him to make sure he has all his "stuff."
That said, unless we get to a time where the individual maintains two cars, one for short distances, one for long distances, or household driving can be seamlessly divved up so there's not a burden around trading vehicles, I remain skeptical about the multi-car use case.
Where I live most people do have multiple cars and they tend to be different types. This is a suburban area. When we first moved here, it seemed that everyone had a sedan and a minivan. Now you may see a SUV or Crossover replacing the minivan (we still have the minivan). Many people also might have a small sports car (mostly the older males). So, I see lots of specialization of vehicles. The problem with the PIHs is that they are all relatively small vehicles (as are most hybrids). This makes them specialized vehicles for most suburban drivers. The SmartCar also fills this role.
I remember, when I was young, my first ride in a Volkswagon Bettle. One of my more well off uncles (he owned his own factory) bout it as a third car, mostly as a curriosity. We took it out on the highway (speed limits were 70 or more) and it was scarry. Smaller cars, like these PIHs, are generally not the best on the highway. They really are specialized for urban living (where it is best to take public transport, anyway) or as a second or third car.
When will the car companies bring out a full sized vehicle with a PIH drive system? That would really change the game.
Being an 'empty-nester', my wife and I are using our 2007 Prius far more than our Venza. It has plenty of room, comfortable, and we made 3 trips to Boston from Milwaukee last year. After 4 years, we're still averaging 48 MPG. It's a great all-around car.
While in Boston, we picked up our 6'2" son and his bike from downtown during a snow storm. He fit well in the back seat, plus we were able to put his full size bike inside by folding down the other half of the back seat.
I question the practicality of plug-ins, especially in northern climates. When it's cold, you need to start the engine for heat, and it's cold most of the time in Wisconsin. That would totally negate the plug-in advantage. And a full EV just wouldn't make sense from a practical perspective.
I have three vehicles. An Accord for the 100 miles a day back and forth for work... A pickup for doing yard work and transporting big items... and an SUV for towing and those very bad winter weather trips to work.
I will soon be condensing back to only 2, the SUV and the Accord... I have a trailer that will cover most of the pu's jobs.
I always thought that there would be a market for a vehicle that was adaptable, and had attachments. PU/SUV on the weekend, luxury 4 door by night... light weight max-mileage 2 seater for the 9-5 M-F rush...
I know there are some versions of SUV/PU like models but I am suggesting true attachments that can turn the rolling chassis into whatever is needed by the consumer... within reason of course.
Put it all on a hybrid with 40/50 miles electric range... Now that would make me visit the showroom for a look see. Again... not for everybody, but it would work for me.
Beth, I think you've hit on the essence of the main electric car debate. I can't imagine buying a car for average use, rather than exceptional use. What happens when you need to drive the kids to college? Or drive to a vacation spot? Or drive out of town to see relatives? Do you have to rent a car? In the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" actor Ed Begley Jr. talks about 90% of the drivers being able to make due with electric cars. But there's a difference between "90% of the drivers" and "90% of the driving."
My wife and I have differentiated our vehicles to account for the different tasks needed to be done in our lives. We have a truck and a sedan, similar to what naperlou mentioned. The sedan is considered our "traveling vehicle" and the truck is for hauling the camper, utility trailer, and other house /yard related work. But since we both work, both vehicles are driven everyday.
We did (briefly) consider a hybrid vehicle for the traveling vehicle, but they weren't a good overall value at the time. Plus the size and range of most of the electric / hybrid vehicles is insufficeint to haul a family of four with a dog and all the stuff for vacation/christmas presents/etc for long distances. Until those issues are on par with a standard mid-sized sedan that gets 30mpg and can be purchased late in the year for $20k, I don't think the majority of families will be able to select the electric / hybrid vehicle. At least not if they're looking at an overall cost / value ratio.
Ford plans to introduce 15 new vehicles in China by 2015, part of an initiative to gain market share in the world's biggest automotive market. These products will strengthen Ford's penetration in existing segments and drive growth in segments Ford is not competing in now.
Do you know what type of cars Ford will introduce into the China market, Ellaharris? Will there be hybrids, or will it be entirely internal combustion engines. I would imagine they will be manufactured on China.
While MOST of the comments rendered in this blogs and similar blogs in recent times are very poignant & germaine to the argument of WHO will be most apt to adopt the electric vehicle, I have but one overriding feeling. I do not belittle the attempt to introduce an alternate powerplant for vehicle technology, but I firmly believe that ALL the parties involved (FORD, GM, NISSAN, TOYOTA, etal) should have approached this design effort as "skunkworks" projects. To me, this seems to be another very vivid example of the Marketing Depts. getting way ahead of the Shipping Depts. In my lengthy career, I've seen this happen to many times w/ products that I was personally involved to dismiss it as a random occurrence.
The fallout from this is that they've raised the awareness of this technology to a level that so far they cannot deliver viable solutions. For instance, I drive approx. 35 miles (each way) to/from work. Here in Florida, air conditioning IS a must, even during the winter months (tomorrow will be in upper 70s!) How much utility will I get from my all-electric NISSAN LEAF? Very little!!! And, where will I plug it in when I get to my destination? NOWHERE!!!! Maybe I could talk the owner of the company to install a high current receptacle on the side of the bldg., and reserve a parking space close by so I can plug my car in everyday for the return trip home. I see NO practical use for owning one of these EVs in my lifetime!
I must agree with old_Curmudgeon. Launching a new technology takes time, and us old-timers aren't likely to see EVs mature in our lifetime. I recall how tough it was to introduce and sell fax machines in the begining. Like who in the heck are you going to fax anything to if you're one of the first to buy one?
A 50MPG equivalent rating after spending $15,000 more for an EV is not attractive to anyone who knows how to multiply. My present Corolla gets 34MPG. At $4.00 per gallon you would save ~3.8 cents per mile with an EV. You would have to drive 400,000 miles for cost savings to kick in. Also, if your interest on your money is any greater than zero, the cost savings would never occur.
The difficulties around heating and AC are major things to consider. I live in an area where we need both. I hadn't thought those through that far since I'm not yet in the market to buy a new car.
Regarding who might drive EVs or hybrids and how/where, here in Santa Cruz County everyone drives hybrids, young and old alike. The young people driving them clearly own them as their first and only vehicle. And the young folks here, like most of us, tend to be very outdoorsy, so I'd guess they're taking them camping, etc.
But I want to have my cake and eat it, too. While I agree with boffin1 that getting free of the Middle East's stranglehold is a major goal of this endeavor, I also think we should have economic cars that achieve that goal, but are doing it with alternative tech. Why the heck not?
Ann: Automakers are now recommending that for pure electric driving, the cars should be "preconsitioned." In other words, warm up the car (or cool the car) while it's plugged in, then unplug it when you're ready to drive.
Thanks, Chuck, for that additional info. But how does that address heating or AC needs when on the road? Previous commenters pointed out that those would both make a huge demand on the battery, thus reducing range.
Has anybody ever seen an information regarding the relationship between usage and/or charge time vs. range? What I was wondering is if you consistently traveled 1/2 range before each charge if that would negatively impact future ranges. Similarly, if you did not plug it in long enough for a complete charge would that have long term effects?
As long as the American male (and a few females) has a love affair with a 375 HP muscle car and is willing to pay for as many as Detroit can build we're not going to cut down on the oil consumption enough to sneeze at. Granted Ford has a 305 HP V6 Mustang that get 31 mpg and I applaude them for doing it. I love power too, but we really don't need it. The Big Three won't stop producing gas guzzlers because they don't have to. And they won't because if one of them were to stop the others would just pick up market share, because gearheads while usually devoted to a particular brand will, if forced, change brands if his favorite suddenly becomes unavailable. European countries changed the mentality years ago by making the vehicle registration and taxation based on engine size. Years ago ('93 gas was $1.27 per liter that's 5.08 a gallon) I was in Switzerland talking with an engineer and he told me his 1.5 liter opel was a medium sized engine. Large was 2.2 liter. V8's were owned by car collectors and rarely even started. Some how we have to break the power and speed need.
Years ago I recall reading that a Volkswagen Beetle requires about 8 horsepower to cruise at highway speed, i.e., around 50 to 60 miles per hour. The later air cooled Beetle engines were rated at 40 hp and when I drove one it seemed adequate most of the time. The only times I wished for a bit more power was while trying to accelerate on an inclined freeway ramp, trying to match the speed of the traffic. Lightweight pasenger cars with 40 hp to 60 hp prime movers are sufficient for personal transportation. Over 100 hp is a fantasy and unnecessary most of the time.
As for taxing cars based on engine displacement as they do in Europe, that's ridiculous, too. Technology has evolved and the "small" engines of today can crank out twice the power of same-size engines of 30 years ago, or use half as much fuel at the same power. Not to knock it too much, however, because their taxation schemes were largely the driver to getting more performance out of small displacement.
... until we all have personal 50 kW thorium reactor power plants in our back yard. Here in California the electric grid is aging and at times stretched to the limit. Try to plug in 50 million cars every night, especially in summer, and you'll be able to watch it melt down.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.