Very interesting thread. Even though the electric cars become more popular, I have this feeling that we did not see yet what will the gas industry do with the car market. I feel that we can still hace gas cars become very popular as the natural gas is cheap and provides high performance, like the gasoline. I feel that we will see a surge in natural gas cars.
It is "fourward" thinking for an engineer to tell someone that his idea is not practical. Just because I don't agree with his premise doesn't relegate the thought to just being a naysayer.
If more of us stood up to lousy ideas, such as all the Obama failures with alternative energy, bailing out looser car companies, and throwing sacks of money at banks who just gamble it away maybe we would be in better shape.
In a company how many engineers are willing to stand up and say, "Hey guys, this is a really lousy idea." Not many. And as engineers we need to look at things and give our reasoned opinion. My objections to the claim that the electric car will take over half the new car sales are reasonable. And, barring a government edict from a dictatorship, I will most likely be found correct.
This is one of the liveliest debates I've seen in quite some time. I may as well put in my two cent's worth. I feel the technology associated with advancements in electric vehicles is fascinating BUT, I'm putting my money on cars using natural gas; i.e. compressed natural gas. I feel that 20 years from now we will be driving these types of cars. I think that's our logical future; not solar, not batteries, not biofuels, and over the "long haul" not gasoline-driven. I know there are significant issues with infrastructure supporting natural gas but given the abundance of resources, it seems to be the most logical choice. Also, the economics of conversion are minimal compared to hybrids or fully functional EVs. Just a thought.
@Absalom: No, of course I'm not saying that increasing taxes and regulation would help U.S. manufacturing; I'm just saying that the relationship between taxes, regulation, and manufacturing is much more complicated than your simple dogma makes it out to be.
You're right that lower labor costs are not the only reason why Chinese products are cheap, although they are by far the largest contributor. Other contributors include generous export subsidies, an undervalued currency, and the geographic clustering of related industries (as a result, by the way, of government planning). The lower cost of regulatory compliance makes up less than 5% of the advantage.
We also agree that companies are in business to make money. It's not their job to worry about what our Founding Fathers called ¨the general welfare.¨ That's what we have a government for.
The Chinese government realizes that its legitimacy depends on its ability to provide the Chinese people with a continuously increasing standard of living, and the promise of a better life for their children. In spite all of its flaws, including widespread corruption and a total lack of democracy, the Chinese government has so far succeeded in delivering on that promise. Although many Chinese workers have to endure a difficult life, they also know they have things better than their parents did, and that their children will have a even better life. They have also been seeing double-digit wage increases every year (which has been possible without much overall increase in labor costs, because it has been accompanied by double-digit increases in productivity).
The U.S. government, on the other hand, has more-or-less abandoned the idea of promoting the general welfare, in favor of promoting the interests of their campaign contributors.
Yes, the Wankel has improved a lot, but recouping the known inefficiencies of reciprocating motion was never realized because new inefficiencies were added into the design. And the Wankel is not a true rotary engine - it still has some reciprocating action.
Who is still spending money on research to rid the piston engine of reciprocating motion? There is 35% plus efficiency to gain.
So your logic is that more debt, higher taxes and more extreme regulation would make U.S. industry more competitive? I'd love to see the math that supports that theory.
My point is that any business has to produce at the lowest cost to stay competitive. There is something about China that able to manufacture stuff at about 20% of the cost here. Our labor cost is only about 15% of our cost of production so we couldn't compete even if we used and infinite supply of slaves that we worked to death. So there must be other factors driving our costs up or theirs down. I wonder what they could be?
The Wankel seal issue was true in NSU Ro-80 and First Gen Mazda, but solved more than 30 years ago. Yet the "myth" continues even today after Wankel Mazda RIP - but there are Wankel Generators, Aviation and Boat Engines made by number of companies that continue to make them - the major FLAW is they cost MORE than equivalent "conventional" piston engines.
Just search old Automotive publications from the 60's and 70's and EVERY car by now based on their predictions THEN would have a Wankel Engine in it, hey GM made Wankel prototypes and so did Citroen.
Needles to say Pan-Am would be having a daily flights to the Moon as well........
Amazing how totally relistic FUTURE never seems to happen, as we are sure it MUST......
Nothing more than "publicity stunt" to keep Musk and Tesla in the news, as Tesla S by now is "old news" and no longer worthy of reporting on or about.
But on the other hand saying that 1/2 of the cars will be running on "clean coal" would not get that much attention either !
For that matter anything Mr. Ghosn now says about EV or LEAF is no longer interesting to report about either, but the fact that GE Chargers permanenty fry the LEAF On-Board unit got few minor mentions in EV circles and Automotive press.
Fact is that in the 100+ automotive history EVs come and go just like Sports Cars, Convertibles, Station Wagons - and nothing much will change that fact.
In USA the only vehicle classes that have staying power are BIG pick-up trucks and "Full Size" commercial vans.
In 14 million plus annual market the few thousand of EV, are not more significiant then Bentley, Rolls Royce, S Class MB and so on....
And no one ever said that in 10 or 15 years when ALL Americans will be "rich" and will be able to afford such cars they will comprise 50% of the market !!!
Yet statistically 82% of BIG Pick-Up owners never or very seldom use the "bed" for anything, they all could be driving 2 seater Sport Cars that get 3 times the MPG, are lot more fun and more comfortable to drive, etc.
Yet they ALL buy such vehicle because may-be some times perhaps they MAY put someting there, like the never again to be found at any price "treasure" from Garage Sale. Or have false perception that 6,000 lbs "truck" is "safer" than car with 8 air bags....
So people will buy what ever they want, rather than what they need or would be just enough for them.
No matter what any EV proponent will say in the next 10, 15 or 20 years will make "masses" anywhere flock to EVs in any significiant numbers as long as liquid fuel is conveniently available just about anywhere on Earth.
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.