AverageJoe is correct about the utility of EVs to the average person. (Though one should point out the hybrids like the Toyota Prius are indeed useful and sell because they're desireable, not because anyone is forced to buy them.)
Regarding mtrivich's comments, swappable battery packs aren't a viable option. Re fuel cells, of which I'm a supporter. one thing I've missed is that hydrogen is a nuisance to deal with, not because of the (overblown -- thank you, Hindenburg) fire issue, but because of leakage through tubing and seals. Not to mention that chicken/egg issue of expensive infrastructure build out.
I am actually quite surprised that this column and feedback is remarkably similar to general press articles and public responses. I expected high tech folks like us to be more knowledgeable about the evolution of energy availability, direct and indirect costs to the individual, society and our decendents. The arguments against assume immediate mass adoption for all drivers. The initial EVs are not intended for mass adoption by the average auto driver. The initial 3 cars are short commute cars for home charging only. The market is being kickstarted. The Kickstart costs are an absurdely tiny percentage of the 'real' costs of current gas subsidies. Charging is not intended to follow the weekly public gas fillup in 5 minutes. Home chargers are used to top off, not fill up the 'tank' nightly, no waiting, just plug it in, 15 seconds. Public stations are primarily for emergency charge, just enough to get home, not an empty to full charge. Their real 'value' is to reduce public anxiety/insurance, like a AAA card to encourage early adopters. Costco is removing charge stations installed to service GM crushed EVs. I predict that current standard stations will replace them. Competitive international auto manufacturers will never agree on a standard swappable battery without international government mandates which are politically impossible. Also the infrastructure and inventory costs are prohibitive, especially when the intent is to duplicate the current gas station visit. Iceland, Hawaii and Israel are possible limited exceptions. Apartment dwellers, interstate truckers will be the last to adopt, if ever. Market penetration may get to 50% in 20 years, maybe. EVs will supplement bthe gas market, not eliminate it, and certainly not immediately. Battery costs will come down over years as volume and technology increases, prices and adoption will follow, gradually. Fuel cells are an ideal concept but limited by platinum cost, hydrogen infrastructure and conversion costs which show no signs of reduction over the last decade+. The US fracked methane glut may improve the odds. An increase in CNG trucks is more likely.I've been monitoring/waiting for my electric car for 50 years. The Ford EV is currently top of my list. Maybe this year?
Electric cars and trucks are little more useful to the average person today than they were 100 years ago. The cost and limited range are deal breakers for most people. Personally I don't see that changing anytime soon. While there may be limited applications such as inner city deliveries where they may hold a small advantage, electric vehicles are little more than an impractical novelty to the average person. Without a massive improvement in battery technology and cost reduction I think electric cars may very well be little more a passing fad.
Seems like better standardization is needed among EV manufacturers for perhaps not just recharging, but having the option to do a quick battery swap might work. I see the potential to pull into a station and have a battery swapped robotically faster than filling on gas.
Thanks, William for your always incisive comments, as well as everyone else who's weighed in. I think the vibe I'm getting is that EVs are at a tipping point, and one which is dependent on the building out of charging infrastructure. The latter -- regardless of how it's funded -- will be the key to whether EVs are a volume play in the next decade, or whether my 1910 analogy will rise again, Titanic-like, and be true on 2010--er 2012.
Charging Stations make absolutely no sense for anyone willing to take 2 minutes to think thru the logistics. Of course that might not include the current administration which seems to back "popular" over "logical".
EVs are a great technology -- but ideal only for home garage kept vehicles used for commuting.
Great perspectives, Alex –- comparing the auto industry of today to that of 100 years ago; and VHS to Beta –you have touched on truths of invention that have long been frustration to their mothers.Historically its been said that necessity is the mother of invention.Couple that with a largely accepted paradigm that invention and patenting are a guarantee for success. Yet only the first is true with no guarantee that the invention has merit in a marketplace governed by consumers who tend to follow the herds. I have come to realize that invention is seed; but true growth requires innovation; and innovation is the whole system, including the culture, and market, and the timing.
As an inventor of several dozen USpatents, I experienced this first-hand. I believe that things "eventually" catch-on. This is one of the Mission Statements for FutureProductInnovations, published on our web site:
"More than two decades of product design and invention of new technologies has clearly shown that world markets are often not ready for most new cutting-edge ideas. But all great innovations have their own 'proper time' and they all come around, eventually.The saving grace of this deferral of innovation is the patent process, which protects those paradigm-breaking ideas while they incubate --- until their natural time comes"
Interesting how the two examples you've cited overrule that philosophy.The EV boom of a century ago, and Sony's mega investment in BETA; two inventions that never saw the boom of innovation. BETA will never come back, and their times have passed – never to realize fruition.
William, I think government and community has to encourage the Electric vehicles. When compare with traditional gasoline based vehicles, EVs are more ecco friendly and has less pollutions. Any way we cannot rely to Crude oil always and I think EV can be considering as a good alternate for it.
I totally agree. I had no idea it would take that long or I guess I knew it took that long at home, but thought/assumed a charging station would be quicker. Much, much quicker. You are right to say common sense would dictate that a charging station that demands five hours of your time is a wasted effort. Even if you parked it at a mall or a movie theatre where people go for some time, they are still not there for five hours. Work environments and home. That's where people spend that kind of significant chunk of time.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
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