Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

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Thread: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

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    Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting


    Detroit News European Perspective

    The electric car is about to conquer the world ... again.

    Every time there is an oil supply crisis, the price of gasoline jumps, or warnings about carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced global warming hit new hysterical highs, the electric car solution isn't far behind.

    It usually doesn't last long. Battery-powered cars in the past have been too expensive, too heavy, too ugly, would leave you stranded if you turn the air conditioning on, and just couldn't perform like a regular gasoline-powered automobile. They mostly still rely on energy from coal-fired power stations, so the CO2 source is merely moved, not eliminated.

    But news of the imminence of electrification is everywhere. Could this finally be the hour of the electric car? The almost messianic nature of the enthusiasm for all things electric suggests an overwhelming success. The harsh reality of market forecasts by organizations like CSM Worldwide suggests the opposite.

    Article continues at link....

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20090...+less+exciting

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Interesting article.

    Love the possible implications of this part.


    Close to acceptable

    Roger Thornton, Global Product Group director for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles for automotive consultant Ricardo Co., said battery-powered cars and plug-in hybrids are getting close to having an acceptable performance for prospective buyers.

    They face two big tests.

    "There are two huge issues: the cost of the battery and range, which for battery vehicles is very specific and limited.

    There's no reason an electric car should be more expensive than a regular car but for the battery.

    Solving that would be a big driver in getting costs down.

    As for range, buyers will have to manage that and get used to it," Thornton said.

    Will batteries or plug-ins be the most successful in luring customers?

    "You will see a number of different powertrains competing alongside each other for a significant period of time.

    Different solutions will appeal to different people with maybe four or five different types," Thornton said.

    Will electric power just be limited to a small niche, or make big inroads into internal combustion engines' share of the market?

    "The truth is somewhere between the two.

    The idea that electric will displace internal combustion engines is wrong, and vice versa.

    You will see continued expansion of the power train mix, and there will be lots of different types.

    What's right for middle America won't be right for India or Europe.

    We expect from 2015 and beyond 2020 that internal combustion engines will still be numerically dominant, but there will be a very distinctive change from where we are now," he said.


    No contact with reality

    This is too modest a target for Green Mobil's de Selliers.

    "The producers are ready, the technology is ready, and all they are waiting for is the buyers, and that will only come with (government) incentives.

    As soon as you get this, it will take less than 5 years to get 20 percent of the (European) market (with battery powered cars) and 20 percent with hybrids," said de Selliers.

    Projections from automotive consultancy CSM Worldwide suggest that enthusiasm for electrification has lost all contact with reality.

    CSM said it reckons global production of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles will reach 132,000 in 2015; that's barely featuring on the market radar and a derisory market share of about 0.1 percent.

    That total includes major manufacturers, but excludes small, niche manufacturers of little city cars like Norway's Th!nk, and the NICE (not internal combustion engine).

    Hybrids -- that's including so-called strong hybrids like the Toyota Prius, and mild hybrids like the Honda Insight -- will reach just over 3 percent of global production.


    Small volume

    Alex Woodrow, director and head of research at British consultant Knibb, Gormezano and Partners, also downplays electrification.

    "My view is that vehicles such as battery electrics and plug-in hybrids will only have small volume through 2015, growing past 2015, but still relatively low overall.

    Battery costs will remain high for the foreseeable future, which means for 2015, at least, evolutions of current power trains (internal combustion engines) will be the norm," Woodrow said
    - and if by some chance you 'solve' the battery cost problem you still have all the rest to contend with.
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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Let’s look at this subjectively for a moment:

    Exactly how much range should an electric vehicle have to be viable? 100 - 200 - 300 miles? How about enough to get you back home where you can conveniently recharge the battery during off-peak times? Think about this for a moment - isn't that exactly how much you need on average? For 78% of Americans - 40 miles range is enough. Now, does that mean that Americans never travel more than 40 miles per day - of course not!

    So the next most important thing is to eliminate the problem of "range anxiety". Oh no, I can't go there to lunch because I will exceed 40 miles for the day and be stranded. The serial plug-in electric vehicles with range extenders solve this problem. If, for any reason, you run out of battery - the internal combustion engine turns on automatically and powers a generator to drive the electric motor. Yes - you burn a little fuel. It can be E85 or just plain old commonly available gasoline. It's OK. We actually have oil left. Lot’s of it. And if we transition to electric cars, we can, at the very least, stop buying oil from the most objectionable sources. You know - the ones that hate us and in some case would like to kill us. That is only about 22% of the oil we import, so relax - if you need to drive to grandmas or a distant airport on occasion - you can easily do it in a Volt or similar electric vehicle.

    Now - has anything changed to make electric cars more viable? Yes - battery technology has improved steadily. Specifically, energy density and the ability of the new batteries to be recharged over 10-15 years of use. The understanding that 78% of us travel 40 miles or less per day, combined with the range anxiety eliminating range extender will allow us to use fewer of the expensive and heavy batteries. Also, capacitor/battery combinations are making in-roads as are capacitor only solutions (albeit less so).

    What about the idea that that dirty old coal will be burned to charge your battery? Well, less than half of the electricity generated in the US is from coal. Also, there are only about 2000 power plants (commercial) in the US and we know where ever last one is located and who owns them. Why is this important - because we can control the emissions from these plants. And with so few - we can monitor them. In sharp contrast - there are about 60 million cars and trucks that are a lot more difficult to regulate and monitor for continuous compliance. Yes - I saw you remove that catalytic converter after you passed the smog test. And, of course, there are other sources besides coal including hydro, nuclear, natural gas, wind and other solar etc. so we can transition from coal or at least require that the emissions from coal fired plants be reduced. And lastly, try to remember that the internal combustion engine is only about 20%-25% efficient where as commercial power plants are typically 2 - 3+ times as efficient. So using energy from the power grid is ultimately less polluting and has the potential to change the world. Imagine what the world would look like if we didn't send $700 Billion dollars out of this country to purchase oil. Some of which is purchased from countries that do not like us.

    Sure the cost will be high at first, but that did not stop Tesla from selling 100% of their capacity to build their sports car even though it cost $100,000. The Volt is estimated to cost $40K so after a $7.5K tax credit it will cost $32K to purchase. Is that a little high - maybe but, I suspect that there will be waiting lists. Will the prices go down quickly - you bet they will. Will it take time to replace, let’s say 22% of the fleet. Sure it will. How many cars do the best models sell in a good year 250K - 300K (admittedly optimistic)?

    Is it just hype - or has the time come for plug-in electric vehicles to change the world?
    Last edited by edsuski; 06-27-2009 at 12:16 AM.

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    The E-Rev concept is the best plan of attack. You eliminate "range-anxiety" while also providing a decent electric range in the attempt to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.
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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Hello edsuski, nice to see a fellow, strong VOLT supporter posting.

    A couple of things come to mind.

    1. ) That 700 billion in petroleum product imports you mention needs correction for our oil and petroleum product exports.

    We do not want to jicky jack the presentation like so many do in the Prius camp - and then lose credibility.

    Can't remember exactly now what it was w/o looking it up maybe minus 150 billion - for the time period when your 700 billion dollar number for imports was accurate ????

    2. ) Its a personal choice for sure, but I'd rather have reduced dependency on ME oil than a 100% dependency on China - for anything including rare earth magnets - and related.

    Matter of fact, given what we really need is more along the lines of a new fuel approach for everything not just cars, lets just go for a hydrogen 'economy' and get rid of dependency as much as possible on anything from anywhere including all of the ME, China, and Japan.

    Besides, it'll be cheaper in the long run, waaaay better for the environment, and for the American economy in general.

    Then we can perhaps get back to exporting manufactured goods again.

    That's just one of the many great things about the VOLT isn't it - down the road it doesn't have to still be stuck with 'just' a battery

    .

    Go GM - and the VOLT
    Last edited by AMERICA 123; 06-27-2009 at 01:16 AM.
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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    I do not care, just make V8's, ultra low emmissions, when we run out of gas, this problem will take care of itself.
    No need to was tax payer money on it.

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    The reasons EVs have failed in the past are less advanced technology and lack of incentive. There was a huge incentive for EVs in the '90s, CARB's ZEV rule, but EVs went away after it was revised. Now the technology is a bit more advanced and the incentives are the new CAFE rules as well as the public's desire for alternative transportation. GM is changing the rules with E-Flex/Voltec so you can have the benefits of an EV with the security of an ICE.

    I think offering a range of powertrain technologies is the best way to move forward. If we keep telling ourselves that the conventional ICE is the best way to do it then we will never progress. We need to diversify our transportation propulsion systems as we are doing with electricity generation.
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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    You want exciting and electric??? Check out this Electric Datsun that runs the quarter in 11.5 sec @ 111 mph!

    http://www.opb.org/programs/ofg/vide...ic-Drag-Racing
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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Quote Originally Posted by AMERICA 123 View Post
    Matter of fact, given what we really need is more along the lines of a new fuel approach for everything not just cars, lets just go for a hydrogen 'economy' and get rid of dependency as much as possible on anything from anywhere including all of the ME, China, and Japan.

    Besides, it'll be cheaper in the long run, waaaay better for the environment, and for the American economy in general.

    Then we can perhaps get back to exporting manufactured goods again.

    That's just one of the many great things about the VOLT isn't it - down the road it doesn't have to still be stuck with 'just' a battery

    .

    Go GM - and the VOLT
    I do believe vehicles like the Volt are the answer. The first generation vehicles will deliver enough range to allow 78% of us to use virtually no oil to commute to and from work. As the range continues to increase, with improved storage systems, on second and third generation vehicles that number will get closer and closer to 100%.

    Quickly, if not already, the oil consumption in the US could drop to such a low level that we could rely on North American oil only (once enough such vehicles were in use). This is the important point – there is no need to completely stop using oil. To restrict the solution to zero oil results in nonsensical solutions such as Hydrogen.

    Hydrogen has been a diversion from the real solutions for far too long. It will never be viable until the needed infrastructure to deliver it is in place and the most modest estimates put that 10-15 year away and many billions of dollars down the road. And even then – only once we start to deploy the infrastructure. (Keep in mind that electricity is already deployed to virtually 100% of our homes TODAY).

    The bottom line is that it takes more than twice as much energy to travel a mile using hydrogen than it does to simply charge a battery. Hydrogen has never made sense from an energy stand point and may one day be recognized as simply a diversion from solving the real problem while we continued to burn Middle Eastern oil.

    Those of you who still think hydrogen in passenger vehicles makes sense simply because we can make the cars or have read in a fringe science journal that "biological" hydrogen is just around the corner you should find this article by physicist David MacKay interesting. I will quote from it below. Go to this link to read the whole article:http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science...rgy/index.html


    "Before I close, I would like to say a few words about the idea that "the hydrogen economy" can magically solve our energy problems. The truth is that, in energy terms, today's hydrogen-powered vehicles don't help at all. Most prototype hydrogen-powered vehicles use more energy than the fossil-fuel vehicles they replace. The BMW Hydrogen 7, for example, uses 254 kWh per 100 km, but the average fossil car in Europe uses 80 kWh per 100 km.

    In contrast, electric vehicles use far less energy: as little as 20 kWh per 100 km, or even 6 kWh per 100 km. The problem with hydrogen is that both the creation and the use of hydrogen are energy-inefficient steps. Adopting hydrogen as a transport fuel would increase our energy demand."

    by David MacKay
    Reported on CNN.com

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    The problem with setting distance goals with electric vehicles is that you don't take into account time. While most Americans may only drive less than 40 miles a day, how long does it take? If you have a commute where you're stuck in traffic for several hours a day and need either the heat or AC will you still have the charge to make it home?

    Just because the vehicle isn't moving doesn't mean the battery isn't being drained.

    Cars like the Volt are the answer, not EV's.

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    I think E85, through Cellulosic Ethanol production, will make a much bigger impact and fits most peoples needs much better than an electric vehicle. No need for a small electric vehicle, when you can have your big truck with similar overall emissions.

    As more and more waste to fuel plants get up and running, more Americans will realize that an E85 vehicle using this fuel produces less emissions than a plug in using coal.

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    People will not buy a car that could strand them.

    All you have to do is listen to the shrill bleatings of CR jockers that get all worked up over a couple of hundredths of a defect on their survey to know that. Having only to drive too far before needing a tow truck is not going to fly with the mass market.

    Voltec solves the EV's fatal flaw.
    Last edited by eaton53; 06-27-2009 at 11:00 AM.
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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Quote Originally Posted by AMERICA 123 View Post
    Hello edsuski, nice to see a fellow, strong VOLT supporter posting.

    A couple of things come to mind.

    1. ) That 700 billion in petroleum product imports you mention needs correction for our oil and petroleum product exports.

    We do not want to jicky jack the presentation like so many do in the Prius camp - and then lose credibility.

    Can't remember exactly now what it was w/o looking it up maybe minus 150 billion - for the time period when your 700 billion dollar number for imports was accurate ????

    2. ) Its a personal choice for sure, but I'd rather have reduced dependency on ME oil than a 100% dependency on China - for anything including rare earth magnets - and related.

    Matter of fact, given what we really need is more along the lines of a new fuel approach for everything not just cars, lets just go for a hydrogen 'economy' and get rid of dependency as much as possible on anything from anywhere including all of the ME, China, and Japan.

    Besides, it'll be cheaper in the long run, waaaay better for the environment, and for the American economy in general.

    Then we can perhaps get back to exporting manufactured goods again.

    That's just one of the many great things about the VOLT isn't it - down the road it doesn't have to still be stuck with 'just' a battery

    .

    Go GM - and the VOLT
    I have to say that my next car might well be a Volt. Why, because is makes sense for me any this country. Middle East oil is one of this country's biggest problems. Just under 1/5 of our total national indebtedness is spent on that commodity every year. If I am correct, most of the oil we consume is used to make motor fuels. On top of that, the ICE engine is woefully inefficient. 25%-30% of the energy of gasoline is converted to motion. 70% is lost to heat and friction, not to mention that you have millions of vehicles that have to be monitored for emissions. A colossal waste of resources.

    Electric motors are 95% efficient. That translates to 95% of the electric I charge to my battery pack is used to put the vehicle in motion and run its systems. The range extending motor can be tuned to run at its highest efficiency, which means that I'll get the most efficiency from the liquid fuel I'm burning. That liquid fuel doesn't have to be gasoline either. Cellulostic Ethanol, E85, Biodiesel maybe.

    I have heard that the Volt can get up to 150 MPG and that the cost per mile to operate is far less than a conventional car ( not taking into account the additional up front cost).

    It will be initially more expensive up front. However, does anyone remember how much a big screen plasma TV cost in 1999? I remember looking at a Pioneer Plasma that cost $10,000. You can get one now, the same size, for about $800 now. Voltec upfront costs will go down.
    Last edited by PeteM143; 06-27-2009 at 11:06 AM.

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Many many great, well thought out points here guys,. Thank you for your insight and knowledge on the subject!
    After reading all the posts the first thing that comes to mind is that without this diversity, there is no one right answer. All of these things put together are the only answer to an extent. That is what makes the Voltech platform the right answer.
    Battery power plus a power plant whether it be powered by Gasoline, E85 or hydrogen keeps us from relying on one source and we can spread out the choices. Even Solar power once caught up to efficiency can be another part of the energy solution. Only with several sources can we avoid the monopoly of only having one choice and one source. Just my two cents.

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    Re: Electric cars attract hype, but reality is less exciting

    Great find Plane, Good balanced article.

    I do not think that pure Electric vehicles will be a major part of the automotive fleet and will at best sell ~ 1 million units a year in the U.S. (more like 500,000) which in a 16 million unit market is 3-6% of the total. Most of these Electric vehicles will be used in actual Fleet duty (Electric Utility staff, delivery company, etc.) where the range fits the daily driving requirement and the extra cost of an ICE can be eliminated, other markets would be urban owners who only drive a few miles daily and would only require a re-charge on a weekly basis.

    Hybrids will make up more of the vehicle population with somewhere between 10 and 20% of the total (1.6 to 3.2 million in a 16 million market), with the Volt being the better choice. As the article states "range anxiety" is a real problem and one that will affect the pure Electric market. The Volt is a much better solution since it is more efficient than a Prius, is easier to convert to plug in since it has more battery capacity and eliminates the range anxiety issues.

    The largest perctange of our "oil" problem remains Cellulosic Ethanol and other alternative fuels that reduce waste pollution issues while producing a renewable fuel that will employ thousands and can be used by millions of current vehicles as well as hybrids like the Volt. For a small cost compared to Hybrids the ICE can be modified to better utilize alternative fuels higher octane and narrow the efficiency gap between it and gasoline. Other viable alternative fuels are LPG and Natural gas that can be used in existing vehicles with conversion kits that are resonably priced and will pay for a percentage of the vehicle fleet. We also need to use existing Diesels to lower our consumption while new technologies are brought on line.

    The bottom line is that we need all of these options along with more domestic supply of oil and natural gas to get us to true energy independence - there is a reason they say we need a "Comprehensive Energy Policy". It takes many solutions to solve the single problem - there are no single "sliver bullets".

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