I had a similar experience, Hank-4. I learned to drive on a 1965 Bel Ait station wagon with no AC, no power steering and a stick shift. It was tough to parallel park and tough to learn on, but after that, every car seemed easy to drive.
My impression is that the energy harvesting suspension tale has been rather completely debunked. On most roads there is just not enough suspension travel to generate enough power to be worth the effort. Of course, gravel roads with the washboard potholes would be the exception, but most folks avoid those where there is any other choice available. All that you need to do to prove that is put a temperature monitor on a shock absorber and then wrap it with insulation, and watch the temperature rise as you drive. Not enough energy to be worth the expense of collecting it, given the small amount of power that the alternators use. And in addition, there would be a much smaller amount to recover when stuck in slowly moving city traffic.
Likewise, regenerative braking would not work out very well in typical slow city driving, although it could be worthwhile in a more suburban scene.
For any energy harvesting scheme to be worthwhile, the amount of energy available must be adequate, other wise, just because it can be done does not mean that it is worth doing.
Hey Brooks, I agree that practical EVs will be available long before fossil fuels give out. It will happen slowly. At some point fossil fuels will become so expensive that EVs won't seem so dear. Plus, EV technology developments will bring down the cost of EVs.
You are asking the right general question, you aren't using the best tools to analyze the answer.
1) I admire you are looking at EVs for a family car, but, be aware, that the technology isn't ready for main stream, you when you buy an EV are being an Early adopter, and need to be a savvy user. Buying an EV car today is much like buying a personal computer in 1983, you need to be Nerd Friendly and willing to play with the technology.
2) The measures to analyze a car isn't Curb weight but you probably want to consider Grams CO2/KM or Levelized Cost/ KM. Why do you care what the weight is? Are you going to pick it up? Weight matters within the same format and type, it matters less comparing an EV to a hybrid to a ICE engine. EVs perform great on crash because they are heavy, that low battery keeps them from turning over and handle momentum.
3) By 2020, electrics will have fully invaded the market, but, right now EVs are closer to the 1930's then the 1980's. That means you have to consider Daily Range requirements and then consider Weekend range requirements and then family trips. When i was a kid, my parents would buy tiny little cracker box cars, Mom had a Fiat 128 and Dad drove a Toyota Corolla. You could fit 2 adults and 3 kids in the back but for trips out of town, they would rent a car for the holiday, usually a station wagon, so we could take the dog, coolers, luggage, etc.. With an EV, you may need to do that for awhile.
4) Level 3 chargers are growing fast, right now what is a "Adventure" figuring out how to go cross country on electric, is rapidly turning into a task equivalent to driving a diesel or propane car. You will need a map of the stations, but you are unlikely to find yourself range challenged. http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/results?utf8=%E2%9C%93&location=&filtered=true&fuel=ELEC&owner=all&payment=all&ev_dc_fast=true&radius_miles=5 THere are 181 Level 3 chargers nationwide, soon there will be more. What you need is enough range for daily driving
5) The Hybrids are the gateway drug to an EV, consider a Prius V mini wagon, or a
Toyota Highlander Hybrid or a plug in Prius,
6) WHat powers your grid drives your carbon loads, but you can buy power from clean sources. In DC, we can buy electricity from Clean Currents, what prevents you from
opting for Clean electricity? Also, you can get a 2 KW solar array and go to generating your own clean power for the car.
If you want a big family van or 7 passenger car, the EV's aren't really there at good price points, but, if you can delay 2 years or look at a Leaf or FIT EV or Spark EV as a supplemental car, the market is expanding fast.
For recharging an EV from a solar charger, the big challenge is that most solar chargers work poorly in the dark. And given that the classic work schedule has one away from home doing work during the sunshine hours, that winds up being a problem, and I don't see an easy way around it , except to have two battery packs and charge them on alternate days. BUt that is both expensive and a lot of work.
The effort required to obtain a charging station at a place of employment is certainly not trivial by any stretch. In addition there is always the probability that some others would choose to park in that spot, either to use the charging connection or else just because they could. Perhaps it would be easier to do in some prts of the country and at some employers, but my preference has been to work at the smaller organizations that are not so very gifted with all kinds of resources. Besides all of that, my EV would still need charging on those days when I don't go to work. In addition it is not clear that there would be enough solar electricity available from a reasonably priced array to charge an EV in the time of available sunshine. And in this corner of michigan we often have days that would not power solar charging at all. So while solar generated electricity is probably a good idea in principle, it is probably not the best choice for charging up a car.
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