The only satisfactory way to make the longer trips is with a hybrid vehicle. But that feature adds a good bit of both cost and weight.
The tradeoffs between range and battery mass is a relationshipo that should succumb to calculus and algebra. There is undoubtedl one best ratio.
But how about, as an alternative choice, making the on-board power generation device removable. So for daily driving that never went over 25 miles the car could be a plug-in EV, while for longer trips it could add an engine-alternator package that also included possibly extra batteries. So that the vehicle could then drive and not need to stop and recharge. The challenge of course would be that most folks are not competent to chaild a til-lamp bulb, much less connect and mount a generator pod. But even if it were an option that could be rented from the dealer it could solve the problem of recharging on long trips where the aqvailability of charging locations is unknown. At least, I see it as an option that should get a bit of consideration. It is possible that I have overlooked some serious flaw in the concept, but possibly not.
I agree with you naperlou. I've said for years that the biggest hurdle for truly sustainable technology is the user. Right now, we're looking for cheap and green ways to keep the same lifestyle. EVs aren't the best option for long distance. Over half of the world's population lives in cities. If EVs were used for short trips, we'd be exponentially better off and breathe easier.
The new VW e-Up! is a nice example of where EVs can find great success and mass appeal. I just watched a review on DWnews that highlighted one feature I rarely hear about--low cost maintenance and repair.
I've carried a gallon of gas only 10 blocks...it gets heavy after just two.
Charles, your article really hits the key point; there is no question:
The price of batteries will eventually drop and gasoline costs will slowly rise. Plug-in hybrids will grow more popular. Then, when battery costs reach the critical point, large swaths of consumers will graduate from plug-ins to pure electrics.
TJ & Naperlou, the PHEV was designed specifically for folks like you that want a car that can do both the local commuting all electric, but have the gas back-up for long distance. Of the 35,488 miles on my Volt, 29,957 have been all electric. That's 84% electric. Back to Charles's point - the PHEV is clearly the stepping stone while gas prices rise, battery technology improves (gets cheaper and lighter) making our way to all electric once the range has caught up.
BTW, battery swapping will NEVER be a viable option as long as there isn't a standard size, capacity, connection, and controls. I don't ever see this happening.
TJ, that is precisely what I say to people. The example I often use is the situation when you run out of fuel in an ICE. If there is a gas station nearby. then I can walk there, buy a gallon of fuel, and walk back. Almost anyone can carry a gallon of fuel if they need to. And you can carry it a reasonable distance. It weighs less than a gallon or water. Believe me, I have done it (when I had old British sports cars with Smiths guages)/. With a battery, weighing hundreds of pounds, this will not happen.
Battery changeouts have been talked about for decades. Tesla makes a machine that costs $500K. The batterys cost about $25K to $40K. So, even if one were going to set up a swap station, this would cost a lot. And you would need a different machine for each car, at present.
This whole idea of equivalence has been overlooked. It is the source of range anxiety and a number of other phenomena associated with EVs.
The electric solution has to be equal to the vehicles in current use. Either charging availability has to be as convenient as a Starbucks (on every corner here), or the range has to be equal to an average ICE vehicle.
It's bad enough that I have to constantly monitor the charge for my smartphone. In that situation, charging opportunities abound. Not so for EVs.
All the battery breakthroughs bandied about have been evolutionary in nature. The solution here is going to take a revolution. Something that is not simply experimenting with different chemistries.
My first impression of 'long range' is a highway drive between cities. I had heard of a 'solar powered' bus. It turned out that a solar farm was used to power the charging station. Right now solar power panels on the car roof just won't make a long range vehicle.
The other interpretation could be 'long range between charging at home'. I have also heard of concepts of inductive charging. When the car is stopped at a traffic light, charging coils allow a small recharge. The infrastructure involved would be expensive.
Rather than just a better battery, some other technology may be required to help to achieve long range.
There's another issue, naperlou, which has for the most part flown below the radar. Earlier this year, the LA Times reported that "Tesla collects seven environmental credits (per car) from California's Air Resources Board. It can sell those credits for $5,000 each to other automakers..." This means that Tesla can net as much as $35,000 for every Model S it builds, THEN place the federal and state subsidies on top of that. See links below.
Mydesign, you have a good point. The elephant in the room is that subsidies for electric cars are going to the rich. Musk seems to be a great and ambitious guy, but he has overpromised as well. His original plan was a BMW 5 Series competitor. He ends up with a car in the 7 Series price range. It may be a great car, but it will not make much of a dent environmentally or in terms of oil comsumption. So, when these guys say pure electric with a 200 mile range at $30K to $40K, take that with a grain of salt. It is not likely. If you have to have a ICE powered car to go places an EV cannot, then you are also talking luxury, not necessity. I am already hearing rumblings about the subsidies. Tesla's success in California has exposed this, since the state has subsidies as well. The cost is starting to hurt. These will be gone soon.
The other elephant in the room is the buying habbits of American drivers. What are GM, Ford and Chrysler selling a lot of these days? Pick-up trucks and SUVs. I also hear that SUVs are starting to sell better in Europe, of all places. To get more range out of EVs you need to lighten them up. The trend among buyers is to go to heavier vehicles.
If you are looking for a decent four seat car you can get one new for under $15K with incentives. These are the small cars. I was looking at Dodge Darts with my son. The car is nice, and with the conventional 2L engine gets 36MPG highway. With a more expensive 1.4L turbo it gets 41MPG highway. The 2L model can be had, with reasonable options, for $14K+. If the EV is $30K and I still have to worry about range, well, who is going to win out?
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
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