This makes a lot of sense, as there are still limitations to pure EVs that just aren't practical for the average car driver. But hopefully as battery technology improves, the interest in EVs will be on the rise again. Plug-in hybrids are still a better and more energy efficient option than gasoline-powered cars, but they still depend on the electrical grid for their recharge, making them overall less energy efficient. Someday it would be great if pure EVs had the same or even greater range and feature sets as hybrids.
Battery energy, recharge and cost will definitely improve, Liz, but we're going to have to wait a while before we get to the point when pure EV range matches hybrid range. It looks like lithium-ion batteries won't get us there. Take a look at this blog post from Donald Sadoway, MIT battery expert, to learn what battery scientists are thinking.
I agree that downsizing and increasing efficiency will extend the life of the internal combustion engine, combined with hybrid technology to reach mandated mpg in the future. What I'm waiting to see is an IC engine that uses compressed natural gas or compressed air to eliminate petroleum fuels.
I'd be ecstatic for a renewable energy source that would eliminate my need to stop at a "station" every 300 miles or less.
There are plenty of fossil fuel alternatives that COULD be more efficient than standard gasoline although they all have some downside that makes them too costly to manufacture for the masses. (ie. Natural gas, propane, hydrogen)
And renewable resources are still a way's off (Biodiesel, Ethanol, solar, compressed air, hydrowater power, electricity, etc...), both from a cost AND efficiency stand-point.
Somehow, eventually, before I die of old age, I would welcome an alternative (or combination of alternatives) to the ICE. Just think: How many other technologies do we have that have gone virtually unchanged for over 100 years? (yeah, I know... quite a few)
And, yes Mr. Murray, Donald Sadoway hit the nail on the head.
Propane and Natural Gas have been around since the 70's - 80's. A couple local farmers had their pickup trucks converted for it when I was young. Both reported far less efficiency and power. Couple that with a lack of refueling stations in town and they really regreted the decision.
I'm not sure why they did it to begin with. I think it might have been a Carter era tax write-off coupled with the fact that they could refuel in the field, as most of their irrigation wells ran on NG.
Fortunately (sort of), the engines burnt-out fairly quickly (>100K) due to lack of lubrication from liquid gasoline. Newer engines have come a long ways to fix the value burning issue, but you just can't get around the lack of efficiency. Just like diluting gas with Ethanol; you reduce the energy density and it with take more fuel to the work.
To Watashi, The reason to convert to LNG is that the US has far more natural gas resource than we have oil. We either have to import or convert to LNG.
But LNG is far more efficient because it is already a gas at ambient temperatures, and does not leave unburned carbon residue like gasoline. It does have less power however, because it has less density. That can be overcome with higher compression ratios, a turbo charger, or a super charger.
LNG does not wear engines faster. In fact they last more than 4 times longer. That is because the combustion temperature is lower, and there is no carbon to foul the valve seat. Valves are not lubricated by liquid gasoline, but by additives, which have not been necessary since 1975, when all valves and valve guides were made harder. Shorter lifespans indicate excessively lean mixture, not anything inherent with LNG. LNG trials on commercial fleets show LNG to be vastly superior as far a engine longevity.
I was speaking to the advantages/disadvantages of that day. The trucks were designed for leaded gas (how many remember that?). Engine hardening hadn't even been considered at that point. And yes, I am aware that additives do the lubrication, much like the lead used to.
Korea has an extensive LNG infrastructure with LNG being an option on new vehicles. They don't have a problem with it, although they don't have the performance car culture that we do.
You are correct. I just wanted to make sure anyone else reading did not get the impression LNG would still wear valves these days. And it is true power is an issue in the US. But the US must catch up to Korea in LNG utilization. Oil is not good for the future of the US.
Hmm...well, that's a shame about lithium-ion...but perhaps there will be some breakthroughs in energy harvesting? If pacemakers can run on a human heartbeat--the very thing they are regulating--what about batteries recharging on the power of a car engine? I know it's a much bigger fish to fry and maybe I am just dreaming, but some kind of regeneration of energy could be an option in the future.
The advantages of start-stop operation and regenerative braking are big pluses, as well as avoiding the range issues. And if volume of the plug-in hybrids start to spike, you can see where it would gain significant momentum. Excellent post, Chuck.
I briefly mentioned this on other related posts concerning hybrids and MPG. But driving habits of the average commuter is far from optimum for MPG. In fact, I see most all hybrids blow past me on the freeway doing 75+ MPH. I ask you, how are they optimizing the technology when they have the accelerator pushed to the floor?
Even more amazing to me is the guy that insists on being first and I always seem to catch up to him driving a modest 60 MPH in my 45 year old car! He may get better MPG than I in regards to technology, but not by much. If the ICE is going to be around another 50 years and the MPG requirement conitues to rise, automakers have to take the driving away from the driver. I object to this vehmently, but I cannot see any way around the driving habits. I think people go and buy a hybrid, expecting 50 MPG, get disgusted that they are lucky to top 30 MPG, and then blame the automaker. No one takes responsibility for their own actions and only the force of government (in the form of CAFE) makes our cars small, wimpish, and plastic! We all be driving a Renault Robin (check out the top gear video, hilarious).
All cars get worse gas mileage when you drive in a less-than-economic fashion. To dispel the myth about hybrids, I took a 2000 mile trip in my Prius, Drove, well... let's say in excess of the speed limit (70) most of the way, and recorded 47 mpg average on the trip. My wife doesn't even know what it means to drive economically, and she still gets well over 40mpg when she drives the Prius around town. It is sure easy for people to guess what it's like to own a hybrid, to guess how much/little power, guess how much gas mileage they could get under those hypothetical conditions, but as a scientist, I like to rely on facts instead of what I 'want' to believe. Don't worry, the ICE will be around in 50 years... in MUSEUMS.
I think my point was... that you don't have to sacrifice speed to get great gas mileage from a hybrid. Obviously, driving really fast is not the way to optimize mpg. I was simply pointing out that hybrids don't suffer as much from bad driving habits as one would guess (barely getting 30mpg is a guess). It is not a guess that any hybrid driven in any manner would yield FAR better mileage than a GTO driven with the lightest foot. We all know that driving a GTO is all about optimizing mpg. Remember back in the Carter years when the speed limit was lowered to 60 mph? That was to save millions of gallons of gas, because old ICE tech got worse gas mileage with every MPH over ~60mph. With a GTO, you are either racing (while watching the gas guage move in real time), or treating the gas pedal like you have an egg under the pedal. GTOlover, (depending on the length of commute) you could buy a hybrid or electric, and the savings in gas each month would probably cover the entire cost of the car. It's a real shame to have a car that cool (GTO) and have to drive 60mph all the time.
I do not disagree with you. A hybrid is on my radar. Just have to have the financial capital to get it (soon).
By the way, that 45 year old car, I wish it was a GTO. It is the cheap version, 6 cylinder Tempest. So my monikor is only a wish at this time. Even trying to race this thing is slow, so I opt to get the most out of MPG.
Close Charles, it is a 1968 Tempest. Looks good, but is not the fast car that is embodied in the GTO. I guess old age has tempered my desire but not my imagination.
My point is that car manufacturers continue to squeeze everything they can out of the cars we drive. At some point in the future, the technology changes (my preference), or the manufacturers take over the driving to optimize MPG of the vehicle for the owner (not prefered).
The problem with smaller engines is the lack of start up acceleration to traffic speed. Once you reach traffic speed, surprisingle small engies will cruise you along.
With an electric booster for start or lane change, a vehicle could be made for the average speed. The long steep hill might be a problem, but if the boost is given a 2-3 mile range it will still be small and will deal with most hills.
Such a small elecric boost could be an electric motor right in the drive train, after the transmission and always rotating, making power to recharde the start battery as you run.
2012 Prius Plug In - Charge 120V about 3 hrs takes 3.05 kWHr which give about 10.2 miles range (3.4 m/kwhr)
30 mile commute on 101 from Morgan Hill to San Jose– 50 MPG gas only and 75-80 MPG fully using 3.05 kwhr battery charge (as high as 106 MPG in slow traffic) driving to keep acceleration in the "ECO" zone
2015 Prius Plug in will have 60 MPG gas only with 20 mile range battery
Rates with PG&E
E1 = Tier 1 (up to 363 kwhr) = $0.13; Tier 2 (up to 471 kwhr) = $0.15; Tier 3 (up to 725 kwhr) $0.30: Tier 4/5 $0.34
E9A Part- Peak (winter – weekdays 7 AM to midnight and weekends 5 – 9 PM) = Tier 1 (up to 363 kwhr) = $0.10; Tier 2 (up to 471 kwhr) = $0.12; Tier 3 (up to 725 kwhr) $0.30: Tier 4/5 $0.34
E9A Off- Peak (winter – not part-peak times) = Tier 1 (up to 363 kwhr) = $0.05; Tier 2 (up to 471 kwhr) = $0.07; Tier 3 (up to 725 kwhr) $0.16: Tier 4/5 $0.20
Calculated Breakeven Point between gas and electric charges
$3.40 gas = $0.23 kwhr
$4.00 = $0.27 kwhr
$4.60 = $0.31 kwhr
Concern, when gas prices went down it was better to use gas instead of charging at home (charging at work is free, work pays about $0.16 kwhr commercial rates) since charging the car (even if done at night during off peak rates) would push cumulative usage into the Tier 3 rates running the furnace during the day at the higher tier 3 rates (e.g., $0.30 kwhr - $0.07 kwhr = $0.23 kwhr which would be $3.40 gas). With the 2015 Prius the breakeven point would be even higher so customers would need to balance gas prices, electricity prices and electric conservation (e.g., use CFL, disconnect phantom loads, etc) to stay in lower tier rates (or live in areas that don't have tiers) vs the additional cost of the plug in hybrid.
Concern, 10 miles is nice EV range but not really long enough unless you are driving around town. 20 miles would be better and then switch to gas engine if you need to go further.
Concern, in the colder weather the engine would start automatically for climate control defeating battery only operation (once warmed up them it would go to EV mode).
Agree that EV demand will go down and PHEV demand will go up as gasoline prices continue increase.
I could use an EV for my commute but there have been situations (e.g., need to drive to Monterey after work and then return home) where the EV would not have had the range and absent a back up gas car or finding EV charging station/waiting for the EV to charge, it is much better to have the PHEV and just drive to where you need to go on gas instead of having range anxiety.
Comment, Ford C-Max Energi is PHEV with 20 mile range and 47 (EPA)/~40 (reported) MPG with better handling/interior than Prius. Not that I dislike the Prius which drives OK and consistently gives great gas mileage but the C-Max was not available when the Prius was ordered and would have warranted serious consideration in side by side comparison.
The Plug-in Prius is a joke. My 3 year old technology Volt goes 40 miles on a charge, was eligible for the $7,500 tax credit, and looks and drives WAY better than a Prius. Anyone that continues to ride the Prius wave calling themselves green is either ignorant or just plain stupid.
I totally agree that Pruis technology does not seem to be keeping up with the other plug-in hybrids, it is actually kind of disiappointing. I don't believe owning a Prius has is stupid at all, unless you are buying new. My Prius has saved me a ton of money, and is a great car, but to look at the new cars and technology coming out, the Prius pales in comparison to other PHEVs. There are some great hybrid, plug-ins and electrics coming out now that deserve consideration.
It would be unwise to buy a Chevy Volt unless you have a substantial commute. A 2 mile drive to work would make a Volt a poor choice, unless cost was not the driving factor. The gasoline savings would never compensate for the increased cost, longer commutes make a Volt a great choice.
This article is somewhat of a no brainer. Almost all pure EVs live in California because of their outrageous regulations. In most parts of the country, we all have very hot and very cold days. Running heat and air conditioning off a battery simply isn't practical since they can use far more power than the actual driving. Government Motors saw this when they modified the Volt to be a plug-in hybrid. The engine is great for providing heat in the winter and extra power for air conditioning in the summer.
I make one-day trips from Chicago to Boston several times a year in my Prius with the cabin temperature set at 68, the speed set at 75, and get a consistent 47 - 49 MPG. You simply can't do that using a pure EV. There's no way I'm going to purchase another expensive care dedicated to short commutes. The pure EV was doomed from the start. Automakers create them only to appear 'politically correct' to satisfy the environmentalists who are very unlikely ever going to purchase one of them.
THe REPORTING on the study is almost more revealing that the study itself. It does highlight the pervasive dishonesty in the media when it comes to this subject. Selective reporting of figures and manipulation of data to give a false impression just shows the agenda (leftist liberal environmentalism) must be advanced.
The pure EV is certainly not ready for prime-time yet, but the ultimate goal is to have all cars running on batteries or capacitors with regenerative technology. The benefits of all electric are a no-brainer. They are less complicated, less moving parts, and depending on the energy source, can be entirely free of harmful emissions without regulations or expensive regulatory devices. Additionally, the processs of giving away billions of dollars/yr to foreign countries will end.
Battery density is doubling every 10 years and there is no reason to believe that anything will change. Lithium may be nearing it's peak density, but there is alwyays something to take it's place. When Ni Metal Hydride batteries reached thier peak density, Li took over. There will be something else tomorrow, even if our puny minds can't think of it today.
Unfortunately the pure electric vehicle is NOT less complex than one with a standard IC engine. The motor may have fewer moving parts than a typical engine, but there is also a whole lot of complex electronics controlling that motor, plus the complex electronics to manage that $10K battery pack. ($10K is what the replacement will cost the owner, just wait and see). In addition there is the complex battery cooling system, which is not trivial, and also that regenerative electronic braking system. So while it may look like a simple collection of "boxes", the EV will be very complex. AND it is painfully clear to some of us that the mechanical portion of the engine is the most reliable part that there is on a car these days. MOST of the drive system failures are in the electronics. So please don't tell us how wonderful the electric vehicle with it's 25 mile range, (Air conditioning running) is. And why would I consider owning a car that I know will need a $10K battery replacement in five years?
William, you obviously have never really looked under the hood of a car in the last 30 years if you think that an electric is more complicated than an ICE. about 5 moving parts vs. hundreds, and electronics on every system of that engine, all controlled by a computer. Talk about electronics? I once diagnosed a fuel supply problem in a JEEP grand cherokee. There were 5 different electronic devices involved in simply delivering fuel to the engine, and that wasn't including the injectors themselves and the electronics involved in gettint just the right mixture of gasses in each chamber. Your old fashioned desire to stick to old technology is not fooling anyone who is actually visiting reality. You fool very few with your constant drooling over antiquated technology.
Ever driven an electric golf cart? Do you think they need complicated drivetrains... Nope. They don't have gears at all. Will they go fast? Yup. (without a governor, they are incredibly and dangerously fast) I commonly drive golf carts, with only a few lead-acid batteries in them 15 miles on one charge (2 rounds). Granted... it's not Li with complicated cooling (which is not that complicated only). But it shows the simplicity of electric.
And... Don't put words in my mouth, I never said anything about a 25 mile electric, you (William K) just say that as smoke and mirrors to try and support and un-supportable point.
***The future of cars is H2 and fuel cells. Simple... clean... renewable... fast.
You can argue about batteries all you want, but I will take a tank of H2 and drive farther on one tankful using a fuel cell, than anything that takes gas of any form. This is the future, and the technology is here today.
No, it is hybrids that make no sense in the long run.
Hybrids suffer double the weight and complexity of an internal combustion engine, and are probably triple the weight and complexity of an EV. They have no future once gasoline is too expensive and enough EVs are purchaed to give them similar economy of scale.
It is true you can't run heat and cooling off the batteries, but no one with any sense would ever have done that. The standard means of accomplishing those tasks in the real world are not electric, but with liquids. For heat, all one has to do is adapt a mountain climbing catalytic heater that runs on tiny amount alcohol. For cooling, most of the world relies on water evaporation, as in the common swamp cooler. Neither are heavy, complex, or expensive.
Nor is there any reason for EVs to be constrained to short commutes. Two easy alternatives would be to rent generator trailers or develop battery swap stations as sort of a club membership.
These are not at all difficult problems to overcome, if one really wants to. But I would guess the real problem is that the oil industry, as well as the automotive industry, simply do not WANT to over come these little problems, because they don't want to make EVs. Event the Chevy Volt clearly indicates a lack of interest, because it is about 3 times heavier than it needs to be or should be.
LNG, or more likely CNG, is another option that does make sense, but there are some real barriers to it's adoption as a major-use fuel in the US. The main problem is a lack of enough places to buy it. In addition, connecting a high pressure filling line is much more complex than sticking a nozzel into the filler tube. After seeing the problems that some drivers have with putting gasoline in their cars, LNG fueling would be a disaster for many people. It is a nicer to use fuel, but far worse to work with because of the much higher pressure.
Liquid Propane systems are similar, but the basic pressure in a system with liquid in equilibrium is a bit over 300PSI, which still is high-pressure enough to be a challenge to deal with.
The USA does have a lot of natural gas, and if we had the infrastructure it would have been a great choice.
I agree, William K. There are barriers to the adoption of CNG, but it does show some promise. One of the barriers is its lack of energy per volume. Because it takes up so much space on board the vehicle, little cars are going to have a problem. Big trucks with more space for CNG tanks are better candidates for now. The good news is that it doesn't suffer from the cost barriers that EV batteries still face.
@Charles: the way to compensate for the less energy per unit volume of CNG is to put more of it in the tank, often by means of going to a higher pressure. Instead of 2000 PSI, use tankes that run at 5000 or even 10,000PSI. One other possibility that I have not seen implemented is getting that gas to do some work as it expands, prior to combustion. Running the alternator with a turbine driven by the gas as it drops from the very high tank presure to the 300PSI injection presure is an interesting option.
Another option is reforming the natural gas mix into propane, which can be a liquid at more reasonable pressures. That may not be as easy as I wish, but it would work.
I do agree with William K, in that high pressure is the way to carry more energy, but it should be H2 we are compressing in our vehicles for energy. Also made, is a good point about Americans and there overall challenge with mechanics like pumping gas. Devices are being designed with this in mind, to make it easy for people to 'pump' H2 gas into thier cars. It can be done, and is being done in Norway and Europe where they have re-fueling stations that... get this... humans actually manage to use these refueling stations on a daily basis.
AND... get this... you can run H2 gas in your ICE!!!!
Just change the timing to just after top dead center and run a new fuel line and mount an H2 canister where the gas tank used to be. You can still have your antiquated technology with hundreds of moving part and electronic devices and computers, and no one will care, because you will have the repair bills, and your car will spit out water instead of noxious fumes.
I'm not sure the auto execs have any understanding of what comes out of their mouths. These are the same folks who in part let the oil industry and the fear of socialized medicine bankrupt them; not just their limited understanding of technology.
My fellow Americans are stuck in the paradime where energy, (gas) is arguably everywhere. So simple logic tells you that if technology can make charging faster, (already being worked on) and ubiquitous, (not so much yet), pure electrics will surely overtake hybrids. However, the marketplace is about diversity and profit. Therefore as technology developes what may seem low cost now will not be so in the future. Besides, the proponents of big oil never cease to amaze me at how they like to bamboozle others out of our tax money. They want us to forget the tax payer funded environmental, health, and military costs associated with propping up their companies!
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