Am I missing something? Where does all the electricity come from to power half the cars in the US? It isn't going to come from windmills and solar, where do we get massive reliable power to charge all those efficient batteries? It reminds me about all the excitement about Hydrogen powered cars.......where do we get the Hydrogen, electrolysis?
Unless there's a breakthrough in batteries both in terms of cost and capacity, the only practical applications for road EV's is niche markets - tree huggers with lots of money and affluent techno-nerds. You cannot justify one as a family car and are at best a really expensive 2nd car. Some use the cost of gasoline as a justification but there's more to that than just dollars per gallon. If gasoline were to reach $8 or $10 a gallon, the cost of operating your vehicle will become secondary because the price of food, reduction in disposable income and general state of the economy will make the premise of an EV a moot point. Who's looking at $40K new cars when they can't pay their mortgage? Even today, the idea of spending $40+K on a car just to save a few hundred dollars a year in fuel costs is stupid. The greatest vehicle economy you will ever have is with a vehicle that's paid for. I drive a 15 year old land yacht and my total cost of ownership and operation over the years is a fraction of what a new econo-car or EV would run.
The promise of practical EV's just around the corner has been with us for decades. From the Electro-vair in the '60's, CitiCar in the '70's, EV1 in the '90's, then GEM's and Th!nk, now the Tesla and Leaf, it's all a bunch of crap. The only way you can rationalize an EV is if you take away, or legislate away all the other options. Car companies don't make money on 1000 cars a month, and most consumers aren't going to buy $40K disposable cars. Everyone knows that, yet the pursuit of folly continues.
In 4 years the government has been able to cripple most of the industry in the U.S. In another 4 years it could easily destroy most of the rest. Fifteen years from now, if we are only making 100,000 cars a year, half could be electric.
All it takes is one spark to ignite a fire. Think about the transistor. Before its invention, it was inconceivable by most engineering standards, but after its conception, many engineers found ways to use it to greatly expand technology. Just look what we've accomplished the last 15-20 years. Who knows what may happen?
Aside from the battery issue, the biggest problem is with the concept of the car. They're just too massive and thus require far more energy than if they were more human "sized" with far less mass. What seems a higher potential for success is a hybrid like locomotives, in which a fuel cell drives a dynamo that provides power to drive motors that are the wheels, with batteries for load leveling and dead start power, in a car that is far less massive than those today.
What does Elon Musk know that the industry doesn't? Huge battery in the "S" Telsa I understand, but to get to so much electric vehicle usage would require a breakthrough in energy storage, wouldn't it? Getting into earth orbit is one thing, I mean every freshman engineer learns that physics, so you just need resources and a map. However, wouldn't mass electric vehicle usage require an innovation in portable energy storage that would make a battery obsolete? 15 years for half of cars to be electric seems to be pie in the sky without established technology, our current knowledge base doesn't seem to support that claim, so what does Elon Musk know that the industry doesn't?
I'm not seeing very much 'fourward' thinking in many of these posts. I am doubly disapointed to see insult as a substitute for logic on an engineering site. No engineer worth his salt finds this persuasive.
Let's hope that Mr. Musk is right. There have been plenty of naysaying engineers who have failed to see revolution coming, whether big breakthroughs, or aggregate small ones.
I do agree though, that having a small gas engine in a mostly battery powered vehicle may make sense for a long time to come. I rarely make trips over 150 miles, perhaps a few times a year. But like most Americans, I selfishly want the ability to go anywhere, anytime.
It doesn't take much HP to maintain highway speeds. Part of IC efficiency improvements may in fact be in the area of smaller constant speed motors running generators for EV highway driving and charging.
Even if there are battery and charging solutions, electric generation and the grid leave many things to be desired. Let's hope for some big advances there too.
I'm not making any bet's on the future, but I remain optimistic, and applaud visionary's such as Mr. Musk, and the myriad of less known engineers contributing in smaller ways to progress. That's where my confidence lies.
I agree with you about improving the fleet mileage. Cars have become too heavy and that mass eats up fuel. There's really no reason for autos to be so massive except that it aligns with peoples' perception of what cars are and car makers' profits are more toward the large vehicle.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.