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Still not quite ready for prime time...
kf2qd   4/24/2012 1:23:21 PM
The problem that it would seem the movie brings out is the difference between the "EV Narative" and reality.


Who Killed the Electic Car blamed every thing but the fact that the technology was not there to support a practical vehicle. Those who have invested their emotions in the EV loved it no matter what the shortcomings.

The present evolution of the EV seems to follow a trend I see in business. The folks pushing it have little knowledge of the technology and think that it will happen just by waving their hands. And they seem to think that the engineers are just a bunch of nay-sayers because they are talking about the short comings. A range of 40 miles is not a problem, untill you ask them how to make a 60 mile round trip to work. Or what about the infrastructure to charge all these vehicles, and what will the "Carbon Footprint" be for all these vehicles. And what new "miracle" plan will have to be implemented to accomplish these goals.

Kind of like all the hoopla around Hydrogen. How much energy do we waste producing hydrogen so we don't have to polute when we drive our car? And how much polution was emitted to get the "non-poluting" hydrogen?

An how about the fact that the vast majority of americans can't justify $40,000.00 for a compact car that won't get them home from work.

You will get the simplistic answers - Well just move closer to your job! And how do I sell my house so I can move? Or - Just think of the gas you will save! And how many years could I drive the Internal Combustion car before the gas would cost more than the EV?

It would seem that most of the EV push is on the part of folks who can afford the EV and the gas car 9OR suv) that they really drive. And the others are politicians who can feel good with other folks money and aren't held responsible when it fails.

Kind of reminds me of a canversation a few years back. I hade just made a trip from South Bend Indiana to Sevierville Tennesee and averaged 40MPG in my Dodge Neon. I was talking with another individual who claimed hi hybrid was more efficient than my Neon and he got 35MPG. By his definition his hybrid had to be more efficient, even though it got less mileage. There is the same problem with the EV. Don't bother with facts, they have it all figured out emotionally...

Curt Wilson
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Missing the Forest for the Trees Part Deux
Curt Wilson   4/24/2012 11:44:54 AM
I haven't seen "Revenge" - I watched as much of "Who Killed" as I could stomach, as I'm at the age where I have to watch my blood pressure. In every part of the movie that I saw, it never asked any of the important questions, such as whether it could come close to competing with an IC-engine car for a typical buyer, rather than a wealthy enthusiast.

One of the more interesting parts of "Who Killed" was the point where they were putting down fuel-cell electric vehicles. They listed seven reasons (IIRC) that FC electrics were inferior to battery electrics. As I viewed the list, I concluded that in each of the seven categories, battery electrics were inferior to IC-engine vehicles. Of course, this undercuts the whole case for battery electrics. I've been wondering if the filmmakers are that clueless, or willfully obtuse.

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Absalom   4/24/2012 11:37:46 AM
My dinosaur powered vehicles out perform EV's in every way and cost a lot less. My motorcycle also makes a pleasant roar when I ride it.

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Re: Hype and Hoopla
Zippy   4/24/2012 11:26:07 AM
solarsculptor -  Your response made me smile, as your optimism for the future and knowledge of the past are clearly not the norm for this blog!  I can picture an ancestral group from the 19th century (all blacksmiths) complaining about these new-fangled automobiles and how they will never replace horses - besides, where would you park them all?  The 20th century group would be the happiest, because oddly no one thought Eisenhower building a transcontinental Interstate Highway system was intrusive government interference, or that the Apollo program was a waste of taxpayer's money better left to private industry.  The 21st century group can't imagine a future without unlimited individual transportation anywhere, anytime, because after all the entire country was covered with roads and suburbs when Columbus landed!


OK, maybe this assessment is a little harsh, but it saddens me that an engineering-heavy forum that regularly bemoans the loss American technical know-how and innovation seems to be happy with a response of "nope, that'll never work..."  Can't we do better?

Larry M
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....wanting it so bad...
Larry M   4/24/2012 11:14:15 AM
Shades of the Pogue carburetor.

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Re: Hype and Hoopla
ChasChas   4/24/2012 11:01:05 AM

I'm sorry, solarsculpter, you appear to be already indoctrinated. And you're talking about government trying to clean up it's own mess - government protected monopolies (e.g. Ma Bell). An explaination is too long for this post. But you can take this to the bank:

The market will always correct itself, if not legally, then illegally.



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Re: Hype and Hoopla
solarsculptor   4/24/2012 10:40:44 AM
We can not change the laws of nature, of course, but we discover new ones all the time! Nature did not invent the internal combustion engine, but Ford and GM ailing with Standard Oil wrote the laws that have shaped our transportation system.

Market forces come from many directions, and do not necessarily produce the best outcome for the greatest number of people (in fact the purpose of those forces generaly are directed at extracting wealth and control for a few, not for everyone). That the market produces a general good is a myth, it produces a monopoly that stifles inovation, remember the old Phone company and is greatest innovation the "Princess" phone? Once Government steped in we finally saw real invention, engineering and science found more than one undiscovered  law of nature and we all have seen the benifit!

Wait until the selfdrive car comes along! It might be like a Roomba vac, and after it drops you off for work, finds the neares charging station! The government can help by making it more expensive to not change (such as increase the mpg standard or mandated pollution controls).

Just giving up is not a good choice, hype and hoopla might be imaginations at work creating something new and great to replace the 19th century addiction we have to an outmoded transportation system. Calling an SUV a "Crossover" is not real innoation.

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A perspective on battery development.
Bunter   4/24/2012 10:30:41 AM
Haven't seen the movie but "Who Killed..etc" was amazingly naive.

One thing that is rarely noted is that electrical storage is a very mature industry/science.  200 years of widespread, intense investigation has gone into this and I'm a bit skeptical that we will see a revolutionary breakthrough overnight.  Could happen-but betting on it would be poor policy.

I've noticed that when discussing the current EVs many talk about "when their prices come down".  But come down to what?  The retail prices are a money losing fiction-which is OK.  Progress costs at first.

However Toyota, the car company with the greatest experience in advanced automotive batteries in commercially viable, profitable applications put the cost of batteries at $500/mile of travel on electrical power.

Let's apply that to the Volt.  $500/mi X 40mi range=$20,000. Build a car around that with an auxiliary powertrain and you can easily have another $20k.

I don't think GM picked the retail price out of the air-$40k is probably the likely price for the car at significant commercial volumes.

My conclusion: Don't expect huge volumes for EVs anytime soon-they will be too expensive for quite some time.

Just some thoughts.



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Electric with what?
ab3a   4/24/2012 10:30:27 AM
The beauty of an electric car is that the transmission itself can be electric and it can also be very efficient. Whether we use gasoline, Biodiesel, fuel cells, chemical batteries, or that mythical Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future, the transmission system remains the same. Perhaps we can even find some way to swap the electric generation system to meet the local environmental needs.

There is tremendous potential here to improve designs. A diesel engine can work wonders in this capacity and could probably yield significant performance improvements working through an electrical system.

Side note: a young friend of mine is currently making biodiesel for about $1.75 per gallon. I'm almost certain that he has not accounted for all expenses there, but nevertheless, he's doing this on a small scale (around 30 to 40 gallons per batch) and producing useful product. He's looking for algae growing systems next. I see some interesting developments in his future.

I'm not dogmatic about the totally electric car.  I want a car that does not depend upon some unobtanium such as palladium electrodes, or difficult to contain gasses such as hydrogen. Furthermore, one has to remember that the electricity itself has to come from somewhere. In most countries the majority source is from fossil fuels.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether the electric car will be less expensive and better for our planet's eco-system.

As for those who make movies, well, I have very low expectations of them actually getting their facts right, never mind the reality of the situation. Anything in movie form is pure entertainment as far as I'm concerned. 

Jake Brodsky

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Hype and Hoopla
ChasChas   4/24/2012 10:04:20 AM

All the "hype and hoopla" is for nothing. The market forces will prevail. It is best to work with the market forces than to fight them. And our Government officials never learn either - they think they can change the very laws of nature as if they were man-made laws. They can sure mess them up for awhile, but they cannot change them.


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