Thanks for cutting through the hype on this issue! It's lovely if the U.S. wants to pat itself on the back for its adoption of electric cars, but it's clear that adoption isn't nearly as rapid as people are led to believe. Hybrid cars are a great alternative to purely gas-powered cars, and adoption of them is heartening, but I still think more needs to be done in the auto industry to promote development and adoption of not only hybrids but also purely electric cars. Gasoline dependence can be a thing of the past if the right people want to work on the problem! Leading people astray with lack of context about what's really going on does no one any good.
Elizabeth, you are correct in calling it hype. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today about the Nissan Leaf. It seems that Nissan will start building Leafs in the US in February. Sales have been sluggish. Building cars here will avoid some of the exchange rate penalty Japanese companies have been experiencing. In 2012 they sold 9,819 Leafs in the US. Their target was 20,000. They can build 150,000 at the US plant.
Chuck, it is good that you have put the numbers in perspective. This is important, since even a small percentage of the global auto market can seem large to someone who does not know much about it.
I think the emphasis on start-stop hybrids is the way to go in the short term. The big problem with city mileage is the stopping. I know people who do this manually. I am not sure of how effective that is, but they have the expectation that it helps.
Please read this and think a bit about the fact that the energy to power these vehicles needs to be generated somewhere. Also note that last I looked, the energy available at outlet at your house is about 25% of the energy consumed at the point of generation. Coal fired plants being less efficient than other fuels. Yes, Hydro requires no fuel but there are only so many hydro plants that can be built and utilized on a large scale. Are you willing to build, fuel, and live with the waste from nuclear powered plants to run your EV's? I bet most folks would say NO.
There is no simple answer here. I personally believe that small hybrid vehicles are a better more efficient solution than pure EV vehicles. Problem is that there are limited use vehicles. I can't pull a trailer with these, and they are small with little cargo capacity. Nice for commuting. The larger Hybrids like the Toyota Highlander hybrids don't get the mileage that makes them worth buying.
Moreover, we can easily do much better with almost no pain. My power utility TVA, which covers seven politically red states in the southeast (not exactly tree huggers-ville), offers green power to be sold directly to the residential customer. A mere $8 per mo. will cover 1000 miles of EV driving (12k/yr) and raises the total fuel cost from about 3 cents/mi. to 3.8 cents/mi. Still about a third cheaper than fueling a Prius (and even more when gasoline prices inevitably spike), and that electricity is certified to come exclusively from green sources including wind, solar, and methane from landfills (and not even hydro power or nuclear).
Also, per the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) there is currently enough excess capacity on the grid at night time, when thermo-electric plants can't throttle down and most EVs do their charging, to accommodate 1 million EVs! That's now and comes at virtually no additional pollution or capacity costs.
The Chinese grid is a TOTALLY different situation than the grid here and thus is completely irrelevant to our fuel and pollution mix (and largely thanks to the fed gov't agency called EPA).
Ok, I'm way off. So give us references that can be used to check the facts. I was not stating what fuels we were using to generate power in the US. I was simply stating that coal is less efficent than say oil or natural gas. What I was trying to convey was that you loose about 75% of the energy you put into the generator by the time you consume it at home. If this number is really off, what is it then?
Some basic digging on ICE efficiency shows that todays best engines are about 25-30% efficient with goals to get to 50%.Direct injection gas is getting up to 35% and diesels around 40% and turbo diesels up to 50%.
I have a camp in Maine that is 225 miles from home. How the heck do I get there with an EV? Stop every 40-50 miles for a 2-3 hour charge? At 50 miles per charge I could stop at a hotel with a charging station and charge my EV at night. It would only take me 4 days to get there and 4 days to get back. With 40-60 mile ranges, they are good for short commutes. My commute to work is 75 miles round trip. If there is no charging station at work (which there is not) I'm not getting back home. And that range drops where you live. I live in MA. When it is cold and I need to run an electric heater and defroster and plow through slush and snow that range will likely drop to 30 miles. In the summer I'd like to use the AC.
If these EVs are so great why are they not selling? Becuase NOBODY but a few folks find a use for such a vehicle and the price tag is too high. By the way, the fact that you get a rebate from uncle Sam on your EV purchase is a joke since we all have to pay for that rebate. And to make it worse, the gov't is borrowing money to give you that rebate. Even fewer would sell if you had to pay the real cost.
Did you know that in the early 1900's there were many electric vehicles. The Baker electric being one. It topped out at 25MPH but went 100 miles between charges with 1900's battery, motor, areodynamic, and power train efficiencies. EV's certainly have come far in over 100 years hav'nt they?
EVs are not the best answer to the larger populace now and will not be in the next 15 years. Mr Obama dumped tons of money into the Green energy movement and looked what has happened. Many went bankrupt and they are out of business. For now, fossil fuel is the best answer.
These discussions always seem to apply a linear analysis that holds all other values constant. It is true, one part of the question is if technological advances will increase battery capacity and reduce charge time, but how society will evolve over the next 20 years to change the requirements of a personal transport is a larger issue. Lack of infrastructure spending would make long commutes challenging, and Gen Y'ers may make different lifestyle choices that will effect the range, speed and capacity demand. To a baby boomer, their car is far more than a transport utility. This may not be true with new generations, especially depending on how new media fragments the ability to re-enforce certain messages. Modernization in the insurance industry like linking liability coverage to the operator's license rather than a vehicle registration could make rental markets flourish. This would reduce the consumer's hard limits on the performance of their primary vehicle, as they could lease specialty vehicles for temporary needs.
The world is non-linear system, and as such, follows the rules of chaos theory. The one thing we can be sure of is that Cialis and Viagra will go generic in the next decade, and that is bad news for pick-up trucks and muscle cars. That should be positive for electric cars too.
Until an EV or hybrid can reliably and cost-effectively tow a boat over distances, seat 7-9 passengers, and otherwise beat-out today's modern diesels (which are effectively banned in the US)- they simply cannot be considerd a solution. EVs will never have the power storage and density required for normal, everyday use. Hybrids combine the inefficiencies of EV with a poor overall power-to-weight ratio.
I don't know why you're always so eager to be pessimistic and throw cold water on the greenest of technologies. If your articles are read years down the road you may end up sounding like the head of IBM who stated, only as far back as 1958, that the world market of computers would be "about five" units.
Only 6 years ago the smart phone was born. At that point how many smart phones were predicted to have been sold by now and for 2013?
Only 3 years ago the modern tablet computer was invented and all anyone could wonder was why Apple named it as if it were a feminine hygiene product and why anyone would buy giant iPhones that cannot make phone calls. At that point how many computer tablets were predicted to have been sold by now and for 2013?
Stop-start functions and micro-hybrids are great, but these technologies will need significant help from plug-in hybrids and EVs to meet sustainable fuel consumption requirements urgently needed to correct a badly destabilized world climate. I believe automotive experts like Bob Lutz and Elon Musk would disagree with your relatively bleak future for clean cars, and they aren't exactly tree huggers. Lutz is predicting 10% electrics (including extended range) by 2020.
As for the media hyping partial truths, that's nothing new and there's plenty of that going on right here. And now carbon addicts and climate deniers to start attacking me in 4, 3, 2, 1...
I don't think the article is necessarily pessimistic, Charles...I think it's more realistic. I want there to be electric cars as much as any tree-hugging hippie, but I think it's better to be honest about what's happening rather than act like adoption is more widespread than it is. In fact, I am hoping that this might light a fire under the auto industry and consumers to get their act together and make green investments so we can get these numbers up.
Simply put, a pure electric vehicle with limited range, and a long recharge time is of limited usefulness to a majority of people in this country.
I suppose they would be acceptable as a second car for people who commute a limited route where charging services are available at the destination, but I don't think that fits the majority of people in the USA.
We need a breakthrough electrical energy storage technology, specifically a lighter weight, high density, rapidly chargable device that doesn't cost a fortune. (And you still have the issue of charging the car off of the grid which is mostly powered by fossil fuels....) Until then, I see hybrid technologies as the only way to go if you wish to be ecologically sensitive.
I for one would rather see the development of a cost-effective, sustainable bio fuel as a replacement for gasoline. I really like internal combustion engines!
Sounds more like a whiner that can't let go of his ICE engine. Sure who wouldn't want a motor with a thousand parts, 14 thousand regulators and a multitude of things to break down and don't forget the high cost and cost of regular maintenance that requires...oh yea... oil to lubricate it. All that instead of a simple electric motor. HMMM. Oh yea... let's not forget that we could STILL be chained to the pump and dealing with an over-priced commodity (oil or biofuel) to power our car. I prefer an electric with a solar panel array on my property to power it. Yea, electrics aren't for everybody, but that argument is mainly for people who have stock in oil companies and those who don't properly research electric technology, and it's use for Americans. Broad, misinformed drool, spoken by an oil lover, not a scientist or engineer.
Not sure if Jim was referring to powering the car "off the grid" or getting power off OF the grid. Powering "off the grid" is generally accomplished without fossil fuels.
Or it could be someone who puts 40000 miles a year on their vehicle like I do. I'll stick to ICE or hybrid as long as I'm getting more thaan 50 miles from the nearest city of a population of at least 200000. Besides electric plug in cars only move the pollution from the tailpipe to the smokestack. As for photovoltaic charging of the batteries, Solar cells are not economically of environmentally viablle. It requires more energy and produces more greenhouse gas to produce the pure silicon and make the solar panel than you can recover or offset from the panel in it's lifetime. I know this because I helped to develop a more efficient silicon purification process that is in beta testing right now, and it still doesn't balance out energy wise. Solar cells have their purposes but saving the planet isn't one of them.
I wish the cost of electricity was just the energy cost. My PG&E electric cost ranges from $0.04 to $0.54 based on the amount I use and the time of day, and results in an average cost of $0.18 for 800KWHr. The natural gas energy cost to make a KWHr is around $0.03 so balancing on energy cost alone doesn't reflect what the consumer pays from the pocket. Why electricity has to cost 5x to 10x of what the energy cost is complicated but when you remove the higher tiers of "time of use" electricity by using solar PV then the cost analysis changes.
There have been disruptive technologies, the first one I remember was the HP35 calculator. It was costly to be an early adopter. Then CDs for music, took way too long. Now will EV and PV solar be disruptive? I don't think they are disruptive, but they do offer another path, or choice. And in some cases they work very well. But there will always be choices and using a slide rule or listening to vinyl is a preference but no longer the mainstream. I'm looking forward to a true 'auto' mobile, one that drives itself, charges itself so I can do something besides dealing with traffic!
> Sounds more like a whiner that can't let go of his ICE engine.
I clearly stated that I really like internal combustion engines. I don't consider it to be 'whining' when I mention the FACTS that electric cars are simply not practical yet for the majority of drivers in the USA.
> Oh yea... let's not forget that we could STILL be chained to the pump
I don't mind the pump so much, and I clearly remember gasoline being under $2 a gallon. I have no idea what the heck happened since 2008.
> I prefer an electric with a solar panel array on my property to power it.
Good for you. I prefer an ICE powered car, and buying pump gas. As with electric cars, solar power just isn't 'there' yet for me now (and I worked in the solar industry before).
Yea, electrics aren't for everybody, but that argument is mainly for people who have stock in oil companies and those who don't properly research electric technology, and it's use for Americans. Broad, misinformed drool, spoken by an oil lover, not a scientist or engineer.
I am an engineer, I don't own oil stock (well, unless it's in my 401K) and I was stating facts about the limitation of electrical energy, and my opinion towards liking internal combustion engines. Way to go off on me like a single point of view, left-leaning, daily-koz reader.... Please tell me where my 'misinformed drool' is, when I only state that existing electric car have limited range and a long charging time?
Not sure if Jim was referring to powering the car "off the grid" or getting power off OF the grid. Powering "off the grid" is generally accomplished without fossil fuels
I meant charging the car via the electrical power grid, not in your backyard off of an array of solar cells, over four sunny days.... ;)
What was UBM's entire Avnet Drive for Innovation series other than a hyped-up infomercial for UBM, Avnet, Chevrolet, and all of UBM's advertisers vying to ride the coattails of one of the biggest growth markets in electronics? http://www.driveforinnovation.com/?cid=TOLTechPaperNL
Yet the series was interesting, informative, and got people excited about EVs. Many readers probably looked into the car further and because of that, especially if they saw that Volt at one of the tour stops or subsequently drove one on their own, they might now own one or plan to within the next few years! That was serving the technology, the public, and I'll bet was consistent with the goals Avnet and UBM set out to achieve.
@Elizabeth--Realism is good!! There are comments here about needing government influence to get to the right end point. I don't disagree, but there is a big question of when to start applying influence. Perhaps it is too early to be picking winners and losers? As another reader said, the world is nonlinear and constantly changing. 20 years ago we were racing to build LNG receiving ports in the Gulf so we could buy more natural gas. Now, it looks like we will have a surplus and they are re-engineering the ports for export!! I bring this up becuase a NG-hybrid of some design would be better than a gasoline-hybrid and better than a pure EV for the foreseeable future. The problem is really infrastructure; it isn't too hard to optimize today's combustion engine technologies for NG, but there are very few places you can refuel. Does that sound familiar? So, some are racing to put charging stations in. Initially they might be free, or government subsidized, but quickly will become pay, and guess what, that changes the equation even more. So why aren't we racing to build NG refueling stations too?
I lay all this out not to promote a technological path, but to point out that any treatment that looks at one option and tries to paint it in the best light is intentionally misleading. So keep asking for realistic reviews! Thanks.
First, great article! Neutral to the issue of "green" energy, as it should be. My only complaint (and a pet peeve of mine) is to the use of the term "start-stop hybrid". THAT"S NOT A HYBRID (it's just a gas car with an oversized starter motor). Unless it's motivated by electric energy, it's not a hybrid.
As to the pessimism, it's well due! "Green" energy (along with the anti-carbon extremists) has been the next big thing for as long as I've been alive. And I'm no spring chicken (and neither is "green" energy). Or, for that matter, how about electric cars? They have been around LONGER than gas cars, and after more than 100 years are still irrelevent to the vast majority of car owners.
At some point, unrealized hype (and its fantasy driven cultist followers) becomes stale, even to people who want to believe.
BTW - I drive a hybrid and have been searching the market for a practical electric car for more than 15 years. Still waiting...
I enjoyed the article. It puts production into perspective. In other industries, there are curves for projections of volumes. It would be nice to see the curves and not just 10 year projections, but the point is well made that the various forms of electrics are not immediately going to replace existing technology.
I am a tall / 230 lb person, so generally believe most of the advances in efficiency are restricted to the little people of the world. A couple of years ago, I supplemented my F150 pickup with an economy car to avoid the high cost of fuel, but still need the utility of the pickup, so keep it parked until needed. (I am still getting used to sitting in an egg crate (Toyota Echo) along side trucks on the highway.) I recently did my first test drive of a Prius and was reasonably impressed with the regenerative features, but quickly realized this was not a car for passing others on the rural 2 lane highways and is best used by rural mail carriers or in town delivery/taxi... The Prius happens to have the same 1.5L engine in my Echo, but driving characteristics are entirely different.
I recently have read of the Nissan system to coast the engine while maintaining a 25V battery system for electrical needs. I think up to 10% gains from this kind of technology while not hybrid, allows using smaller engines and getting most of the fuel efficiency of the hybrid is going to become mainstream for all manufacturers in 5 years timeframe. I am not sure how this fits into the categories of this article, but 10% mileage enhancement, if one can retain reasonable passing performance is going to be a winner.
Not really sure if Weldon has ever really driven a Prius. I have absolutely no problem passing anyone in my Prius (even full of adults). Underpower comments like this show that the writer has not really done the research they claim.
akwaman, passing most motorist is easy, I do it all the time in my 48HP 1969 VW. because you can pass motorists all the time does not mean the prius is not underpowered. I'll take my 48HP Bug aginst your prius any day. Please stay to the right where you belong.
I think we all agree that the sticking point with EVs is the battery or other energy storage device. There is no denying the great amount of energy stored in just a gallon of gasoline. In fact, there is so much energy, that the available waste energy of even today's higher efficiency internal combustion engines can be used to heat and cool our automobiles.
So let's quit arguing about how underdeveloped EVs are and let's emphasize where their use is most advantageous. Let's not (at least not yet) sell the EV as a highway cruiser that can go from your house in Suburban Chicago to Granddad's house in central Wisconsin. Let's sell it as a local-use errand-runner and grocery-getter. Let's make the EV's price attractive and avoid building technical tours-de-force so that "everyman" and "everywoman" can afford to buy and maintain them. As a local-use vehicle, the battery pack could be sized to allow heating and even air-conditioning. And I'm not talking about some micro-sized car worn one on each foot, but a compact-size vehicle that can haul Mom or Dad, the kids, and groceries with some comfort and in reasonable safety.
This, I think, would expand the customer base, increase customers' familiarity with electrics, and bring in funding to pay for reseach to develop high efficiency, energy-dense storage devices such as novel battery chemistries and supercapacitors, and higher efficiency motors.
OK, so express what you like or dislike about your Prius rather than put down my viewpoint with the off handed comment... I am not attempting to put down the Prius and I know that folks that own them are pleased with the mileage and performance they get. Many alter their driving habits per the display which is a bit distracting to the first time driver...
It was my impression from the 30 minute test drive my wife and I took at Rushford, Mn. This region is hilly. One has to stomp the peddle on any car to climb up and down the hill sides in that area and the Prius does not have the git-up to pass on these 2 lane slope hillsides... The MPG metering dropped down to around 13 MPG on these slopes and the car was clearly working overload to pull the grade. This wasn't flat land where many folks probably take their test drive.
I am not saying the car is not engineered well for it purpose of recovery of energy by regeneration. Simply that I felt for the same engine, that the Echo has more "get up" with the manual transmission and ability to downshift and control applied torque. The Echo is no show piece car by any means and the airo dynamics suck. Just that it happens to have the same motor. I am the 2nd owner of the echo and it has 230K miles and has had nearly 0 problems for prior owner and myself which speaks volumes about the Toyota engineering.... The Prius has far better styling and airodynamics and road comfort. So any other comparison other than impression of drive train is clearly unintentional from my part. I was only expressing my impression of the abilty of this car to accellerate when one needs it for passing.
From this viewpoint, if one can run a larger engine using the Nissan approach and coast it part time to achieve similar fuel mileage, then I would think that a better solution for the overall machine cost.
I also looked seriously at the battery life of the Prius and was impressed that Toyota has done it's engineering as there has been a lot of hype about cost of battery replacement, yet all indications I could find was the there is not available information for mean time to failure for the battery packs due to the very low failure rates. Toyota switched to Li ion in 2010 and one expects better performance than the prior usage of metal hydride cells. The sales folks at the small down dealership were very informative and spent 30 minutes talking with me about their impression and knowledge of the battery life and issues. They had recently obtained and resold a Prius with 245K miles on the original battery. They informed me that they had discussed with the local Toyota dealership in Winona, Mn and learned that the dealership has yet to purchase and install their first replacement battery pack.... So, from this first hand discussion and my subsequent investigation of the internet materials regarding battery life, my research went a long ways toward debunking the hype that we have seen about concerns regarding early battery pack failure failure and replacement costs... the battery pack replacement costs have come down to around $3K for new replacements (including labor and exhange of the old pack).
So, I not only test drove it, but I have been seriously investigating a purchase when I did so. I simply am impressed by the approach by Nissan to achieve similar gas mileage using alternate means which I would view would be more economical for cost. Having said that, I will say that I have not test driven the equivalent Nissan model to be able to provide similar critique of road experience.
Best regards to you and your family in the new year... - Weldon
I have as you do concerns about battery life. I guess I am thinking old fashioned, but a gas engine can last "forever" if maintained properly. To put a mileage life on the batteries seems weird to me. What if you treat it bad, does that drop significantly? I don't trust batteries lasting even a percentage of the amount that they are claimed to(in our electronics they sure don't!). I also do not think they have had time to be tested...Gas powered cars can be sold after using them for ten years. When do the motors start to use more battery than when they were new? What happens to battery powered cars after ten years? Just throw in new batteries like a remote control? What if the car is beat up, is it worth buying new batteries for? To me that's like buying a used car and throwing in a new engine. Guess I am old school, but I'll wait and see how it all pans out.
The cost of battery pack replacement for a Prius is $3K. It is claimed that a used one can be obtained from a salvage yard for around $500, although my recent search did not find an available one, but I did locate battery pack cells on e-bay that can be used for replacement/repair with the extra effort to balance the cell profiles. So there is also a refurbishing process, but one needs to be well educated about safety in handling high DC voltages.
If the criteria for purchasing a EV were simply the cost of replacing the battery pack, then I would have never purchased another vehicle with ICE due to the cost I incurred for replacement of two transmissions at nearly $2K each. Given that the mean time to failure for battery packs is somewhere above 200K miles, we all know that the scrap yard is full of ICE cars that haven't reached 200K miles and burn lots of oil due to various reasons. In the specific case of the Prius, because the cost of replacing the battery pack is coming down to the point of replacement cost for engine or transmission in a conventaional car, then you need to begin to take a balanced approach to look at failure rates and number of potential replacement components. Interestingly enough, the Prius' drive transmission is far simpler than a conventional transmission. Hence, one talks about battery packs vs transmission replacement costs. From this viewpoint, I came to the conclusion that it's not as big an issue as folks have made it out to be with the exception of the final arguement that the electric vehicle repair is far more specialized at this point in time as compared to conventional automobiles...
Cadman, LOL... Lots of folks repair cars and don't just buy new. My vehicles last to 150K-200K miles, so a transmission replacement is not wanted, but falls into the category of "expected maintenance" at some point along the way. The point is that the battery pack is simply a replaceable component of the car, just like other components of the ICE vehicle's drive train.
Here is how it is done with a $1800 remanufactured battery...
Not so difficult, but one has to be very safety minded and respectful of the DC voltage.
I agree. More perspective and less hype is just a realization that pure EV vehicles are probably further away. And start-stop hybrids are going to carry a larger bit of market share in the shorter term. It's really good news for the response to the technology overall among consumers.
Smartphones give people something they like, want, or need. EV's don't do that, save maybe a "like" for low emissions (which is specious) or to be environmentally fashionable. They're otherwise a lesser performing and more expensive solution to what people already have. Is there any wonder why they're not flying out of showrooms like iPhones? If EV's were really what people wanted you wouldn't have to obfuscate sales figures, the demand and deployed fleets would speak for themselves.
Smartphones give people something they like, want, or need. EV's don't do that...
People don't want or need to lower their fuel costs? Fuel for an EV costs about half that for the highest MPG hybrid generally available, eg, Prius.
People don't want a car that's inherently smoother and quieter than anything else on the road? Why are they buying Lincolns, Cadillacs, Lexuses, etc.?
They're otherwise a lesser performing and more expensive solution to what people already have.
You have not been paying attention to Automobile magazine and Motor Trend (and other reviews) where their Car of the Year, a Tesla S sedan, blows the doors of the perfomance of cars like a BMW M5 and costs about $3000 less, not including huge fuel and maintenance savings (and a $7500 tax credit). That is NOW.
Lower cost EVs in the $20k class with better batteries may be a few years away, but I wouldn't bet it will be MANY years away. And SOME price premium is warranted to get the lower maintenance costs and quality experience (quiet, smooth, high start torque) of an EV. Have you ever added up all your yearly car maintenance costs? You might be in for a surprise.
My next car will be electric (BEV), and I can't find a reason why here in the US at least one electric car per household isn't completely feasible. I know the batteries are expensive but so is gas. The ~$60 per week I spend on gas translates to about $175/month of energy savings which adds >$10k to the price I can pay for the car. I drive less than 50 miles per day 95% of the time, and when I need to drive farther I can trade cars with my wife, or rent a car for that matter. All the naysayers are just resistant to change and can't see the forest through the trees. It is a better solution for everyone, and years from now I will look at the person in the gas car at the signal light and feel just like I do now when I sit down at an outside restaurant and someone lights up a cigarette.
Wishful thinking and manipulation of statistics won't do it.......At least not for the small group of informed consumers.....We need commitment by the department of energy or the department of transportation at both the federal and state levels to limit and maybe reduce the influence of foreign and domestic oil and gas companies.....There is absolutely no reason why we should be continuing to depend on fossil fuel at the pump...notice I did say at the pump, I would expect energy suppliers to continue to burn fossil fuel until such time as geothermal, wind, or solar, or whatever comes of age. The US state department has the power to change the future but will it ever have the will ? I hope so, because they control the destiny of our childrens children.
Sorry, but you lost me when you spout the typical lament that all we need is government "limits" and influence.
Oil and gas (i.e fossil fuels) ARE and will continue to be THE only viable, PRIMARY source for powering personal transportation. As you did acknowledge , things will change as othere technologies "come of age". That is what we all must realize. But do not fall into the trap of reliance on government..... case in point - we still have no better (arguably worst) position when it cometo foreign oil dependence than in the early 1970's...
I've been in Research and Engineering since 1965.....I've had the opportunity to sit and listen when I was young and participate when I got older in conversations with some real "Heavy-weights"of the engineering community......No matter what the product...... Progress always came about when the Government put-up the money..... nobody else has pockets as deep as uncle sam !.........Witness the Manhatten project, walking on the moon, the F117. The electric vehicle (a government research project for the post office back in the 70's) Without Government sponsered research the US is doomed.....In the old days the government would own all of the equipment at a facility and let a contractor operate it.......Do you really think the oil companies are cable of the same level and do they have the good of the US public in mind......I think not......There are no Henry Fords left in America.......they moved to China thanks to state department policies.....Demand that the state department stop.
And I will feel OK knowing that I resisted the "borg" collective. If you do not like the outside restaurant that services its smoking clientel, go somewhere else! As far as the stoplight, I can get my childish thrill knowing that my Pontiac will blow your doors off! May not be practical, but satisifying. Just because you demand all live within your world vision, does not mean we all will!
Have you ever added up all your yearly car maintenance costs? You might be in for a surprise.
Yes, I have. I have a somewhat unique among consumers perspective on BEV's because I have one, and have 10 years' worth of operating data on it. During the same period I owned (and still do) a "gas guzzler" Mercury Marquis. I can say, with copious data to back it up, the Marquis is far cheaper to own and operate per mile than the EV. Not a comprehensive study to be sure, but living with an EV for that period of time taught me a lot of things about EV's, energy and transportation in general.
The ~$.04 per mile electricity cost is a compelling selling feature but the battery cost per mile put the EV behind my 20mpg ICE right out of the chute. Factor in a single electronic module or battery repair or replacement and you're even further behind. A new motor controller, BMS or battery charger can easily cost as much as a rebuilt ICE or transmission. I would consider the ICE no less reliable than a motor controller or BMS as each are equally complex in their own way. Oil changes and basic maintenance/repair for an ICE are relatively cheap and easily budgeted. A power/driveline repair or failure on an EV is rarely simple or cheap. A damaged or failed battery pack can render an EV beyond economical repair. EV proponents quickly play the ICE repair/maintenance card when defending EV costs but ICE reliability has improved tremendously in the last few decades. I've had terrific reliability and low repair costs with all my ICE vehicles over the last 30 years. I don't think my experience is unique. Time will tell if EV's are more or less reliable than ICE platforms.
The Telsa is a poor basis for comparison because I, nor few others would no sooner buy a $100K EV than a $100K ICE, no matter how "nice" it is. My Marquis is more powerful and rides a lot quieter and smoother than any EV I've ever driven. Whoops, I guess that's an unfair comparison.
It's not about saving the planet for most people, including myself. It's about affordable transportation. If a BEV shows up on the market that makes economic sense in its target market, it will succeed. Otherwise, not. It's pretty much as simple as that. Fabricating artificial value doesn't make it somehow affordable to those who don't have the money. I can buy a near-luxury ICE vehicle for what a compact Ford Focus EV costs today. For now, the ICE is still the best choice for nearly all consumers. Unless there is some giant breakthrough in batteries soon, I don't ever see that changing. The arguments for saving the planet, funding wars for oil, tailpipe vs smokestack emissions and all that is just a bunch of crap because I can't control any of that. All I can control is the check I write to pay for transporation so I can continue my way of living, which is all most people do. Make EV's viable in "Joe Sixpack" market, and they *will* be flying out of showrooms like iPhones. (BTW, has anyone studied the impact all these smartphones are having on the planet?)
In all fairness there were aspects to owning an EV I really like but they're not so great I'm willing to spend many thousands of dollars more to have.
I absolutely second your opinion based on real life experinece
EV costs more money per mile of use than EV with equal vehicle size and equipment,
But that said I still drive OKA NEV for in town short drives in Burbank, CA and Las Vegas, NV.
When CHARGE POINT charging was FREE, it was "almost" economical, now they want $2.00 per hour, with the 2kW I can put in in that time that costs more to drive than a HUMMER at 7 MPG !!!
So no more public charging for me, and thus no trips that are more than 16 to 20 miles round trip from home.
PS: I have one OKA in CA and two in NV
Battery replacement costs add up to about 18 cents per mile, idential car with 2 cylinder gasoline engine gets 42 to 45 MPG in city so even at $4.00 per Gallon in CA that is at most 10 cents per mile !!!
FREE incentives, like registration cost for annual "tag" and FREE parking for EV in California are also now 100% Gone.
I wasn't saying the total cradle to grave ownership costs yet favor EVs over ICEs; I stated otherwise that hasn't happened yet. But it will happen. Yes, your Marquis is a good choice for low overall ownership costs, but it's been discontinued. Most serious EVs (not Coda, Fisker, etc.) and plug-in hybrids are increasing in sales and popularity.
It's true we don't have much EV reliability data over many years, but any automotive engineer would confirm that there should be a lot more reliability inherent in an EV. I've not had to open the hood of my LEAF even once in 20,000 miles.
I also wasn't saying the Tesla S is affordable for most people. Just that it's practical at its price point, and both cheaper and higher performance than many highly coveted ICE cars that no one questions on viability in the marketplace.
Looks like every few weeks there is an article about this or that EV future, a future that since it;s announced hype in 2008/2009 has never happened !
And never will.
It is as simple as this, in PURE cost per mile driven or per hour of operation EV costs MORE to operate than conventional internal combustion engine.
Electric power is ONLY practical if you can have any equipment plugged in ALL THE TIME, that is why electric trains or Troley Busses are both viable and cost effective.
But once you include a battery that if Lead Acid you need 900 lbs of the lead to equate the energy storage that is in one Gallon of Gasoline, and where you haul all this weight with you at all times, the cost equation is almost EVEN.
But all EV proponents forget one seriosu thing, every batttery has limited useful lifetime, people with Golf Cars know this, and people with NISSAN LEAF are just finding out, while BMW with their EV Mini experiment already knows it.
Once you add the cost of battery to the cost per mile equation, the EV becomes a luxury - that is why BMW leased them at $800 per month, for which you can have a 7 series, with no "range anxiety" attached.
CODA is almost out of business, Aptera gone, Bright atutomotive gone, Azure Dynamics gone, Fisker running out of money and their battery supplier A123 bankrupt, Think gone, Wheego ???
The only few companies that are not 100% dependent on EV will survive the financial blow (like NISSAN) - but other will become extinct by 2020 if not much sooner like in 2013....
Remember the 2 billion California Hydrogen Highway Hyper of 10 years ago ?
Remember the almost as expensive Electric Chargers in California from 20 years ago ? The signs on highways have not yet all been removed, but the chargers are long gone or inoperative.
Other than Golf Cars and NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) there is no future for EV in USA !
Hey the prediction is that in 2016 in USA people will buy 45,000 or more electric golf carts - WOW
Even the total sales of TATA NANO (not electric) in India are less than that !!!
CODA is almost out of business, Aptera gone, Bright atutomotive gone, Azure Dynamics gone, Fisker running out of money and their battery supplier A123 bankrupt, Think gone, Wheego ???
Did you ever buy a Computer Shopper only about 15 years ago? If you did you would have noticed how many PC companies there used to be--between dozens and thousands, depending on how they were counted. Now it's basically down to Dell and HP and they are both struggling to survive. Using your logic, personal computers were a passing fancy and will never take hold.
One of the things that I love about the technical media is that there is usually a presentation and discussion of opinion using some form of rational logic [unlike the ancient media]. This does not, however, apply to the discussions about EVs. For some reason, these discussions bring out the busy bodies, conspiracy theorists, purveyors of false logic, and much more.
Most of us have seen new product successes and failures. There have also been products that were clearly beneficial and advantageous but were extremely slow to be adopted. A simple improvement, synthetic motor oil, was used in WWII, common in aircraft in the 1950s, available to consumers in the 1960s, and marketed by the conspiracy laden oil companies in the 1970s. Synthetic oil required no major thought, paradigm shift, or infrastructure change - yet it was slow to be adopted as opposed to the iPhone. The lesson here is that no matter how good a product might be or how beneficial it might be, it will not be adopted until folks WANT it. Folks may want it for whimsical reasons [like a pet rock or a new ring tone] or they may want it for logical reasons [like a 'life alert' necklace] - but they still need to want it.
Oil company conspiracy theorists, 'stupid consumer' theorists, et al, should focus their energy on doing something that actually promotes the cause instead of feeling better by claiming that the boogey man is blocking EV acceptance.
The financial justification crew might as well hang it up. Do you know how many automobiles [homes, TVs, smart phones, video games, etc.] are purchased using real financial logic?? Remember that SUV sales were at an all time high when lower cost alternatives were available - folks buy what they WANT to buy, often even when they cannot afford it.
BTW, I love EVs - especially when they are built to make gobs of torque.
The statistics, or, more correctly, the projected assumptions, are saying what the media want them to say. The numbers may be carrect, as they appear to be this time, but the assertions are a work of fiction, beyond any doubt. But we need to understand that individuals don't go into the news business because they want to spread the news, they go into the news media to "change the world." That is not my assertion, it came from a study by some university that offered degrees in the news media realm.
So what we really have is a large collection of "spin-meisters" representing that their pet thing is winning. As we often find when we dig deper, the reality is often a bit different. That may be why engineers have a reputation for not being so much fun, which is because we often discount the bleating mass marketer's hype, and we don't run with the crowd. At least, I don't.
It is amacing how once and always again I find US citizen using a filter to have the world fit their believes. I remember over many years going to Comdex Show in Las Vegas and have the taxi driver dreaming about this being the biggest electronic show in the World. Over the years those same taxi driver started to learn that their biggest of the world was just a minor show form the pure size perspective. They learned this from the foreign clients they were driving around.
Every year the hurricans start to impose a bigger cost on your country, even afecting those not directly involved through the increase of insurance fees.
The ice on the poles is melting closer to the worth case scenarios, so you might go to Florida to visit those large cities sumerged in the Atlantic Ocean, remembering that using new technologies to get access to oil made you continue brning oil in an ever increasing rate! Lets hope the metan in the oceans will not melt and polute the plant.
Ever year more and stronger tornados affect your country with a increasing number of death. But of course as smart politician of your country said: We are the land of God and so this cannot be true, God would not do this to us.
All of this besides beeing extremely expensive for the whole economy that has to pay the bill, you are loosing the time to implement change.
One of the comment contributors did say it right, to my believe. The goverment has the deepest pockets and has to spped up the solving of the many undoubtfully right weaknesses of todays technical solutions. But with ever increasing deaths at US schools, powerful people with deep pockets, it is probably better to have every school boy and girl have a weapon to protect itself!
This is typical for the US in many areas!
Take the debt! Europe is going through a painful restructuring adapting its economy and its goverments to stop using the money of next generations. The debt of the US per capita is much worth than that of the EU. And you have to compare the US to the EU, not to individual countries!
Wake up America as you have done in the past and bundle your energies and resiurces to fix your country. Stop suffering from tipical islands people behavoir. The North American continent is a big island that make its people blind.
Hellmut - you have managed to deliver one of the most fact-free rants I have seen in a long time.
You say, "Every year the hurricanes start to impose a bigger cost on your country." The fact is, we are in the longest period in our history without a major (F3-F5) hurricane strike. We just went through the longest period in our history without any hurricane strike at all.
You say, "The ice on the poles is melting closer to the worth case scenarios, so you might go to Florida to visit those large cities sumerged in the Atlantic Ocean." The summer melting of the (floating) Arctic sea ice has absolutely no effect on sea level. The measurements of the land-based ice on Greenland and Antarctica are so close to zero change that any trends are within the margins of measurement errors. Even if you accept the maximum reduction rates, they would contribute less than a millimeter per year to sea level rise.
US government scientists this year examined the recent record of sea level measurements, using satellite altimeter measurements, satellite gravity-change measurements, and ocean heat content measurements. They concluded that the average sea-level rise rate during the satellite era has been 1.3mm/year, without any acceleration. That comes to 13cm (5 inches) per century. Does this require radical actions?
You say, "Every year more and stronger tornados affect your country with a increasing number of deaths." Again, completely wrong. Strong tornados (F3-F5) show a long-term decreasing trend. There has been an increase in the reported number of weak tornados (F0-F2), but that is due to better detection from new technologies like Doppler radar and personal video cameras. We are presently in the longest period in our history without a single tornado-caused death.
You say, "All of this besides beeing extremely expensive for the whole economy that has to pay the bill, you are loosing the time to implement change." Americans spend 5 times as much on heating as on air-conditioning. A warm year actually gives a major boost to the economy due to reduced heating costs. Even the IPCC now agrees that there have been no trends in extreme weather -- see their recent Special Report on Extreme Weather (SREX).
You simply have no idea what you are talking about.
Dear Curt, you are absolutely right! Germany has decided as a hobby, as we are too wealthy, to give up completely power generation based on nuclear plants. Germany because of the same reason has decided to change the whole grid to fit the needs for regenerative energy! Germany is taking heavy efforts to switch completely to regenrative energy. Germany is investing billions of Euros to reduce power consumption in housing and industry. All of this because Germans are known to be day dreamers and have difficulties to understand technology!
Some island states in the South Pacific are buying the right to relocate their whole population to another state because their country is in the process to get covered by the ocean. Of course dear Curt, they all do this because they are too rich and there is not really a need for it!
But to be honest I consider it brave how you are willing to represent the lag of knowledge by many in the USA! But of course, as the whole univers just exist since a couple of thousand years after God build it in 6 days to rest, due to the effort it took, on the 7th!
As to energy consumption in the USA makes me remember a secretary working for one of the largest US semiconductor companies in the Silicon Valley, that put on the heater because the temperature in the builing was too low, while outside the temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit!
The 20th century has been the US century, were the USA have deafeted totalitarian and criminal regime in Germany, were the USA have contributed in an very important way to develop societies to democracy, to the freedom of the individual. The 21st century will that not see persist.
Hurrican Sandy, one of the most expensive hurricans in history and what happened to New Orleans is just because scientist have been able to measure hurricans more precisly!
I am writing all this, because it is my believe that the benefit anlysis I read here is assuming 2 things I consider wrong, and were I am wrong if Curt is right. One that we can continue generating CO2 consuming fosil energy sources which also means using traditional combustion engines and second that it will continue to be so that oil stays as "cheap" as it still is today!
The whole issue is far more complex and multifacetic than that what the discussion is showing! If the 2 assumptions I am listing in the former paragraph and which would confirm what Curts believes, are wrong, than the question is if a society wants to be an early adopter defeating the problems and finding creative and cost effective solutions which will make its industry boom! Germany is known to have a booming industry while most of the rest of Europe is suffering from an US started economic crisis. The US is also been impacted heavily by the crisis. If we analyze this from the perspective of the US automotive industry, the US automotive industry has lost aprox. 6% market share while German automotive manufacturers are wining marketshare. Wheer are the Fords and Chryslers?
Germany since about 24 years has made dramatic efforts to restructure the framework in which the industry works. This is very painful but the result is a booming industry! Its industry, forced to by the politically set framework has adapted itself with the well known results! Germany is continuing restructuring itself and tremendous costs that have to be covered on top of the huge costs the German reunification. The result is a continuous restructuring and improvement of the competitive situation now and in the future. Do you see something similar taking place in the USA? Is this because the US industry is so agead of everybody else that it does not need that? Your country is frozen by a ridiculous and irrational fight between the 2 mayor political parties! End of February the next financial cliff will be reached while the debt is growing. The ratings of the USA are starting to deteriorate which will increase the interrests for the debt.
Helmut -- I notice you did not even try to refute a single point I made.
Are you talking about the Germany that is planning to build up to two dozen new coal-fired power plants to make up for the shortfall from its shuttered nuclear power plants? Plants that will burn the filthy high-carbon brown coal that you strip mine?
Are you talking about the US that has reduced its CO2 emissions to below its 1992 levels (no other developed country has done that) from its rapid conversion to clean low-carbon natural gas?
Are you talking about the Germany that imports huge amounts of electricity from France's nuclear power plants on days when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow?
Are you talking about the US that has turned into a net exporter of natural gas and is on path to become a next exporter of oil within the next 20 years?
Are you talking about the Germany where many major industries are looking to move many of their large plants out to avoid the high cost and low reliability of energy supplies they anticipate?
You provide anecdotes without context -- I provide data from scientific research. Hurricanes and tornadoes are not getting worse. The US has always been vulnerable to them than Europe is. You make irrelevant snide remarks about creationists, but you are the one who believes the world was this benign Garden of Eden without extreme weather before humans created industrial society.
Go look at the actual sea level from those Pacific islands you are concerned about. Nothing is happening. Those islands are poor and overpopulated, so I understand why they would want money from developed countries and try to move some of their population off.
Dear Curt you claim issues massively that are partly based on partial knowledge. You claim to have scientific data on which you base your statements, but I see no reference to such a document. I do not want to engage in the duplication of the absurd arguments given on environmental meetings from the UN.
The basis of my arguments is what I do consider a fact and it is that if we continue polluting the environment burning fosil carburants that have the sun light of millions of years stored and which by releasing them within a couple of decades and CO2 with them to my believe based on information I have living here in Germany is starting to show catastrophical consecuences.
The second key issue is the delay or inability to adapt the industrial structure of a country leading to serious economic problems. The fact is Germany has gone through the restruturing and is continueing to do so. The result is economic wealth and leadership in technology. The opposite is economic downturn and the loss of competivity and an explosion of national debt. Further the USA is showing a total inability to address the problems you have due to partisanship of the parties.
So when we return to the starting pont of my comment, to judge the activities to change the propulsion system of cars from combustion of fosil materials to pollution neutral technologies, you have to make up first your mind of the 2 basic assumptions that define what approach is meaningful to somebody arguing about those early offerings.
Is the generation of CO2, not from a bit less than 3 billion people in the world were only those in the first world were generating pollution when I was a kid, to the 7plus billions today were China, India and the people in the other far east states are participating and therefor generating pollution, not an issue?
Are you or anybody assuming the increase of the cost of energy will continue like in the last 30 years or will it grow faster when the real costs are billed?
Do you answer that both those assumptions are no issue, then why shoulkd we loose ourselves in data of different source? The USA will cover its demand of the next 15 to 20 years burning the fosil energy sources available through new technologies and probably even start expoerting them. The result is a continueing growth of pollution like in the last decades. The result is a loss of those 15 to 20 years to adapt its infrastructure to renewable energies and as we are dealing with in this thread continue using combustion engine cars.
As to the coil based energy plants you mention in your response your giving an example of partial knowledge! As discussed in other threads here, one issue is the storing of energy harvested when there is light and when there is wind. Those coil based plant plans are not progressing, because the experience in the last years has been that those only switched on plants when a lag of energy exists at certain times make their operation not profitable, because renewable energy usage has preferences.
As to the high cost of energy. There is a law in Germany that companies whosse competitivness is affected by energy prices are left out of paying aditional fees due to the costs of changing to renewable energies. As a consequence no German company is forced to leave this country due to energy costs!
As to the CO2 levels. Yes, Germany, as a mayor industrial country has done so and surpased those goals.
As to the import of energy from the nuclear plants from France. Over the year 2012 Germany is still exporting energy and not importing net. Such a phrase is what I call partial knowledge! Energy is dealt with at a trade center like you do with other raw materials through the whole of Europe. In such a dinamic market which works similar to a stock exchange, you buy and sell at every moment. So the view of the net of a total year tells you if by stopping all operations of nuclear plants from one day to the other in Germany after Fukujima could be compensated or not.
As to natural gas. We have many pipelines to Russia which deliver natural gas. We have the complete infrastructure in place, including the storage of the gas for weeks of demand. Efectively this is one of the approaches to store energy that benefits from an existing infrastructure and is being discussed as of now. When there is an over offering of energy from wind, sun or thermal energy from the heat in the ground, this energy could be used to generate natural gas replacement from CO2 in the atmosphere and store it in the existing natural gas infrastructure. Than power plants that generate extra electrical energy when there is too much demand and to little wind and sun from that energy source.
But as I wrote, the issue is much more polifacetic. You might have read, that the european energy producers are working and implementing huge power plants based on solar energy around the mediterranean sea. You might have heard from a place called Sahara? You might have heard that the south of Spain has plenty of sun and is very dry? Wellthose are much better places to generate solar energy based electricity.
But again this is also only one face of the issue. Another one is to adapt the grid, in Germany and through the whole of Europe to transport electricasl energy via continuous high voltage power lines.
So the reslt of this many aspects of the change from fosil energy to renewable energy sources represents a huge restructuring effort and a huge study and development of many different technologies, which in a mix all together under the forces of the market will result in know how which will allow i.e. German companies to gain leadership and collect the profits of early involved players in the market.
All of this will not take place or take place much more slowly in the USA in the next 15 or 20 years if by burning your newly made available energy sources, that have the not so funny side effect that gases that come out with the water while washing your dishes i.e. start to burn! Combine this with your debt problem and than you might understand why real friends of the USA and its people, and I consider myself one, are worried!
Now this place is one were the leading engineering community discusses technical issues and its scares to see how partial knowledge and a preset mindset is preventing those capable to start fixing the things end up trying to confirm their already made opinions. If here this is the case, what do you expect those to do and judge that have less knowledge?
EV vehicles are a platform that is searching for the proper way to replace fosil combustion based car engines to something sustainable. As I have pointed out ones and again, the answer is polifacetic. If you continue burning fosil material as an energy source, if the total picture is ignored and not taken into account, an EV vehicle willnever be a good offering.
IMO, all the discussions about the economics of electrical vehicles vs those fueled by fossil fuels ignore the real cost of the energy. Perhaps it's because it's too difficult to measure, or perhaps it's because we would like to ignore the issue. Likely somewhere in the middle.
With a few exceptions, the cost we pay for fossil fuels (and the electricity generated from them) does not include the indirect costs of the waste products - CO2, NOx, ground level ozone, etc. I know there is a wide variety of opinion about these issues, but it is kind of hard to ignore the smog in larger cities, or the dramatic increases in atmospheric CO2 in the past century. Perhaps the effects are not enough "in your face", or occur on time scales longer than a human lifetime, so they are harder to appreciate. But there are costs, and we are not paying them. Yet.
I perceive that current-day battery EVs fit into the "getting there" category. GM's EV1 was a valuable learning experience, but it was a DOA product - waaaay too short a range to have any real value. "Nice try," GM! The Leaf and Volt, are a lot better. They are "getting there," but they're far from "a dream come true," and I expect that in 15 years, we look back at them and again say, "nice try."
However, the Leaf is good enough that, if my family did need two cars, I probably would buy one, and in fact would most of the time drive it, instead of my 2009 Prius. However, the range is still too short to avoid needing a gasoline-powered car in the garage too.
Before I bought a partially-electric vehicle, I would not have guessed just how much gasoline engines would come to gross me out. Driving on electric feels so clean, quiet and elegant, that when the engine kicks in I feel like I'm jumping back a couple decades, back to the age of dirty, noisy and kludgy.
I really do wish I could drive electric all the time, but, again, the current crop of EVs is still firmly in the "getting there" category.
Engineers at Fuel Cell Energy have found a way to take advantage of a side reaction, unique to their carbonate fuel cell that has nothing to do with energy production, as a potential, cost-effective solution to capturing carbon from fossil fuel power plants.
To get to a trillion sensors in the IoT that we all look forward to, there are many challenges to commercialization that still remain, including interoperability, the lack of standards, and the issue of security, to name a few.
This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
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