Yeah, Charles, that just goes to prove my point. And, IF you were able to gather the sales data on the individuals who purchased these vehicles, it probably would show that MOST of them were purchased by the "Glitterati" amongst us. I'm sure you understand who I'm talking about!
On a serious note, one must analyze the logistics of building convenient & useful "charging stations" for these vehicles. Just think about the whole process to build a "charging station". A viable alternative would be to include these "charging stations" into existing fuel-dispensing stations, BUT even that will take time to implement ..... not to mention the additional infrastructure in the electric grid to sufficiently handle the dramatically increased load. Maybe in 50 or more years into the future, when petroleum-fueled vehicles are sufficiently small in number, the tipping point will have been reached, so there won't be the massive need for refineries a net saving of electrical power might be realized. Until then, I see the see-saw swung in the wrong direction!
One thing I know for certain ...... NOW may be the prime time to add the AAA to your stock portfolio, since they'll be running more tow trucks than ever servicing the needs of EV drivers who have run out of "gas" in the middle of nowhere!
While I have not taken the time to read each person's comments & rebuttals in this article, for me THE overriding issue is that the auto companies have failed miserably from several angles.
First, the science & engineering of the battery technology is nowhere ready for prime time. There just isn't enough energy density to satisfy the load. And, while the consuming public by and large does not understand these technical concepts, they CERTAINLY DO understand that the EV will only go a minimal distance on a charge. This is a wallet / pocketbook concern.
Second, the marketing depts. of the auto manufacturers thought that by using clever advertising trickery, they could convince the consuming public that the EV is THE way to go. Again, the consuming public, while not having a Masters Degree from HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL is wise enough to see through this smoke & mirrors presentation.
I'm on my 3rd TOYOTA CAMRY. This one has almost 60,000 trouble-free miles. All of them got consistently good gas mileage, and I NEVER concerned myself with where is the next "charging station", since the highways & byways of America are littered with gas stations. The ease of refueling, the convenience of driving 500, 600, or more miles without stopping remain major obstacles to the widespread adoption of EV alternatives.
I can see myself "driving into the sunset" in a TOYOTA CAMRY, unless of course, TOYOTA redesigns the vehicle into something that I no longer wish to own (color that "smart" vehicle technology). I don't want a vehicle that "thinks" for me. IF I get to a point in my life when I can't think rationally while operating a motor vehicle, then I'll surrender my privilege to operate one.
It's refreshing to see so many informed comments about the EV issues; charging, infrastructure, consumer behaviour, subsidies and so forth. When it comes to energy consumption, the U.S. is second to none. The sad truth is that we are over-consumers and the hydrocarbon-based fuels that we and the rest of the world rely on are not infinite in supply, nor are they always cost effective. Wars are a pretty expensive way to keep the oil flowing. That being said, I think it's prudent to encourage alternative energy consumption methods for the sake of diversity and to increase our knowledge base of what works and what doesn't. Wind energy now seems to be cost effective in certain markets after 20+ years of subsidy and PV solar is waffling but improving. I say, let's continue to have incentives, see if we can make a serious go of EV, not instead of gas, but in addition to it. Give it a good chance to thrive (or not) on it's own merits, but have the courage to pull the plug if it ultimately doesn't measure up.
The problem of power demand to recharge the EVs is something that has been seriously ignored by the promotors, because it could be the show-stopper. Just like has been stated, one on the block would not be a problem, but when over half the houses have an EV charging on a hot night there will be distribution system failures. Aside from the need to replace all of those KVAs in just a few hours there is also the probability of line noise from the switchmode battery chargers. And if you thought that the RFI from a 40 watt switcher was bad, just wait until you hear the noise from two dozen 1600 watt chargers, or more likely, two dozen 4500 watt chargers.
As for the novel concept of a battery that gets changed out for a charged one, the problem that will be unsolvable will be the one of getting a fully charged battery that does not have nearly the capacity of the one that was replaced. How many times can you replace the $10,000 battery pack before giving up on the concept completely.
The other problem is that there will not be any standardization of sizes or connectors, or voltages, and the government will never demand any standardization. Just look at the wide variety of 12 volt batteries on the shelf at the local auto parts store. If they can't standardize batteries with the same voltage and similar capacities, how in the world could they agree on drive batteries. Look at portable computer batteries as another example.
I agree, Alex, hybrids have fluorished on the strength of their mass appeal. When the price of plug-in hybrids drop, I think we'll see similar mass appeal. Pure EVs are another matter. I don't think broad appeal will arrive until we find a better battery chemistry.
It's also worth mentioning that pure EVs with larger batteries take longer than five hours to charge. When the Leaf came out in 2010, charge time at 220V was eight hours (That may have changed since then).
Alexander, Just two points: First: In 1910 families were likely to only have one vehicle. Today's family will most likely have a pair if one is gas and the other is for around town, then the trip to the grocery or gym is done with electric and the trip to Vegas is done with gas. Second:Fuel cells will likely never be a viable option. They dump about three quarts of water on the road every mile they drive (think winter freeze, or constantly wet roads in summer, no convertibles or riding with the windows down). Then think of your source for fuel almost all hydrogen comes from oil (C5H12) today and is about 5 times the cost of gas to produce.
Interesting tangent: the article mentions that Edison made EV batteries. Scotty's Castle is a desert mansion built in the 1920's near Death Valley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotty's_Castle The owner made his fortune from insurance but was an engineer by education. The Castle was his playground and has a lot of his innovative ideas. The water turbine mentioned in the Wiki article charged banks of nickel-iron batteries made by Edison which you can still see today. (Power throughout the Castle was 100VDC).
One thing that's being missed in the comments- mass adoption of EV's will require massive infrastructure changes. Instead of delivering coal or natural gas energy to the tire contact patch via gasoline, it will switch delivery of those gigaWatt-hours to the electrical grid. The government can subsidize the end point charging stations but they better be subsidizing improvements to the electrical grid as well...which is already operating at its limit in some regions of the country.
A friend works for an electrical utility- reasonable levels of consumer EV adoption in California will create a power demand equivalent to a 30% increase in households. Installation of a 240V charging system will cost the typical homeowner about $4k so that's an added cost of ownership.
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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