Your logic is puzzling me. A mode of transportation that replaces another mode of transportation has to be compared to the status quo - in terms of fires, at least, as this is what we are discussing. You can't simply dismiss the fact that main propellent found as the cause of death for so many americans is absent or significantly reduced in all EVs. There is no liquid propellent found in an EV battery. There is no battery acid (as with traditional batteries). To say we have to create new standards without regard to previous standards is a cost death nail. I am saying EVs will save lives of folks in accidents that would have started a fire if they had been in a gasoline vehicle.
Maybe you are saying there is some other gotcha waiting to be discovered...
My opinion is that the surprises will have more to do with reliability, long term life, end-of-life disposal or reycling processes, etc. Safety will be a huge benefit of EVs over traditional vehicles.
The energy density issue is not going to be solved by doubling or tripling using aluminum-ion or other battery technologies. The energy density of gasoline is two orders of magnitude greater than lithium-ion. The energy in the 432 pound battery in the Chevy Volt is equivalent to eight-tenths of a gallon of gasoline, weighing less than five pounds. Although I am sure that battery technology will gradually improve, it is going to take something of a quantum leap before all-electric or hybrid automobiles will be truly competitive with gasoline power. Until then, they will remain playthings for wealthy car-buyers laden with carbon-guilt.
I have driven a Chevy Volt in the Chicago area for the past 4-5 months. During this time I have used at least 400 less gallons of gasoline than with my previous car (most miles were electric.) That's less imported oil than I have used for that time period in Decades!
Feels great to me to do this, but the multi trillion dollar per year oil industry would not be so happy if there were a lot more people adopting this technology. I am sure they are spending a lot of money on the PR to criticise these and other vehicles that would dent their income stream.
I see your point, DanielJoseph, just not sure I agree. I think batteries are among the least understood of common every day products that are used by consumers. Frankly, I am not asking for a comparison of gasoline vehicles – every vehicle should stand to the bar of safety on its own merit – and the results simply aren't in yet regarding EVs – there is not enough data to reflect any sort of scale. I am not against EVs by any means and I am glad you are having great success with yours, but as with any new technology it takes time for the larger picture to emerge and in the real world sometimes marketing gets ahead of itself. I choose to stick with my original headline...
Electric vehicles have an advantage over gasoline vehicles in that during an accident, the lithium ion battery is not going to throw a highly flamable fuel that spreads to the occupant compartment.
More than one person dies every single day from a vehicle fire and roughly a quarter a million vehicles catch fire every year in the US alone. Obviously there is a scale issue here as there are more than 270 million vehicles in the US, so about 0.1% are involved in a fire annually.
Certianly I agree that accidents are an area to keep an eye on for EVs. That is when catostrophic things go wrong. To date, I am not aware of a single EV fire resulting from a moving accident. At least one got caught in a house fire, but that was shown to be an issue with the house wiring.
I have a Chevy Volt. Fantastic vehicle. I charge it in my garage with all doors closed. Maybe that sounds strange, but folks charge their laptop, ipad, iphone, etc. in their bed these days with no ill effects. There are no fumes from the charging process. I would support a different headline. EV batteries; getting better all the time.
We are on our second Prius since 2005. (first 2005 second 2010) We have had no problems to speak of and certainly no problems with the EV battery. I remember during congressional testimony when the automakers said it would not be possible to advance their EV offering. The resale on the Prius is great too.
I like the idea of the ICE extending the range of the Volt, but I also wonder about stale gasoline. If a Volt doesn't use the ICE for 6 months because it is driven purely within the electric range, will the ICE start ? Will the gasoline have gone stale ? I wonder if propane would be a better back-up fuel. Does anyone know if there is a built-in function on the Volt that it runs the ICE occasionally, or on some regular schedule, just to be sure it will start when needed ?
I want to go back to the volatility issue here. I am wondering what the testing criteria is for these vehicles in case of an accident. I see these little EVs (Smart Cars) out on the road and I cringe because of A. Their vulnerability and B. Their potential to have a fire because of an impact. The average consumer may be unaware of the risks because marketing will naturally focus on the benefits. The Volt incident, while unfortunate, has gone a long way in raising public awareness which is a good thing.
I agree that patience is necessary before we put a fork in this and call it done. However, I also believe by putting something out there and learning, the industry will go faster and farther in the next 3 years than it would have had they not jumped in with both feet. Occasionally you have to start doing something so you can find out what's wrong. I know most people, and engineers especially would like to introduce the perfect product. However, sometimes you have to pick something and go with it. That's the only way to start getting an idea of what's really going to happen.
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