I think the Mitsubishi MiEV comes closest on that score (weight-wise), among the current crop of EVs. However, it's not cheap. The Mitsubishi cars web site lists it as "starting" at $21.6K and that's AFTER tax rebates/incentives. So on the cost curve versus gas cars, I don't see how it's cost effective. Electric cars won't take off until the same thing happens for driver as it did for factory, residential, and business owners. Namely, when energy becomes too expense, and you can reap real savings by going green, then people do it in droves. It's "follow the money," as opposed to the tree-hugger effect, which is really just early adopters. Now that gas is hitting $4/gal again, we'll see interest, but mainly in hybrids, which are now essentially mainstream. Plug ins still have a long way to go (economically speaking and I guess range-wise too :)
Generally speaking, the big problem with large batteries is that they horribly inefficient on short trips or when they are depleted. If you are driving an 800-lb depleted battery around, you're carrying dead weight. Same with a short trip to the store: Even if the battery is fully charged, why would you need an 800-lb battery to get a cup of coffee from your local Starbuck's?
I was talking to a vendor involved in circuit protection the other day, and I didn't realize what a global safety issue there is involving LiIon battery technology. From the spate of Chevy Volt fire stories a few months back, one could have been led to believe that GM was at fault. In reality, Lithium Ion is an inherently risky technology, insofar as fire hazard when cells rupture, overheat or overcharge.
Well said and put in engineer terms. That was what I was alluding to. These giant batteries (ones weighing upwards of 1,500 lb--that's almost a ton) have to degrade range performance in the end. For more on-board energy, they need denser, more powerful battery packs--not physically bigger ones.
Very interesting slide show, Chuck. I loved seeing the different range of designs and options each of these EV players is bringing to the table. What strikes me, though, is that instead of making the battery packs larger to accomodate more on-board energy, shouldn't the innovation muscle be directed towards figuring out how to pack more power in a smaller space? There needs to be a page taken from the semiconductor space.
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