# Electric cars are a pipe dream

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Syzygys, May 20, 2010.

1. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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The Prius plugin might be a good option for you. Cheaper than a pure electric and has an 11 mile range on batteries alone. And if you ever have to drive 1000 miles unexpectedly it will do it.

A friend of mine has had a Ford C-Max Energi for a year (somewhat larger battery, good for about 20 miles) and has never put gas in it. It still has the tank that came from the dealer. With the engine running so seldom maintenance is going to be a lot less frequent.

3. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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I have an electric bike with a 1000 watt motor and a ~1kWhr battery; it will easily hit 35mph. I often commute to work on it.

5. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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* So the price to buyer is 75,550 yuan or 12,360 US dollars. That should cut down pollution in Beijing, etc. as almost any one who can afford to live there can afford at least one (perhaps a "husband & wife" set) for all that Geely, one of the world's largest car maker, can crank out for more than a decade.

Some Chinese are very rich - spend money like it was water. Here is first of 10 examples:

Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2015

7. ### danshawenValued Senior Member

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Diesel locomotives (trains) only use their diesel engines to power generators that in turn powers the high torque multiphase electric motors that turn the wheels with sufficient force to propel entire freight trains forward. Even with rails that are relatively flat, stiffer gradients still pose a problem for railway engineers.

With autom0biles, steeper gradients posed by both terrain and drivers who demand snappy performance for their road-hogging and aggressive two wheel maneuvers may pose less of a problem with the self-indulgent gasoline powered vehicles available today, but sooner or later, the fossil fuels that power them will diminish and make them too costly to own before going away completely. When that happens, there had better be some other plan for powering the farm equipment we depend on to plant, grow and harvest our food, to say nothing of the military vehicles and aircraft we depend on to keep the world safe for freedom and democracy. There can be no freedom (or democracy) without taking responsibility for it. It's the same for the entire planet and its limited resources.

You and your families may balk at energy miser commuter vehicles like the Leaf that don't have the raw power of, say, an F-150 (just like the one your dad drove on his farm), but are you really prepared for the consequences? If every commuter driving in the non-hov lane continues to demand to drive one of those, someday a low powered commuter vehicle may be the least of your concerns. This is probably why such folk also like to purchase lots of firearms. At the rate US consumers seem to embrace such gas guzzlers, that day will come sooner rather than later, and by the way, you will also eventually run out of ammo. I hope I am long gone before they all finally run out of squirrels for dinner.

The folks who demand to light their homes with Edison's warm incandescent electric light bulbs instead of LED or compact fluorescent lighting will someday wish they had some of that wasted electrical power we squandered heating lamp sockets since Edison's day back to replace the candlelight or darkness we will be left with. Maybe the Amish have a point. You don't see many of them driving F-150s either, do you?

8. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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I agree that in many applications, high energy storages density, liquid fuel may be essentially necessary, but do you know than ethanol in a gasoline IC gives slightly more HP than gasoline does? * In Brazil new cars have a window sticker that tells the Km/ liter, the horse power, and (full tank range, I think) for both fuels as almost all new cars are now "flex fuel."

The alcohol range is only about 70% as great as gasoline, but that makes little difference to small airplanes used as "crop dusters" - they must soon and for more of the pesticide etc. they are spraying, and the slightly greater HP and lower per hour flown cost of ethanol have made many, if not most, crop dusters, alcohol fueled now.

A little more than decade ago, Scientific American, I think it was, listed the 50 most important inventions /technologic developments in the prior year. Two were in the field of aviation - one was Brazil's development of the alcohol powered crop duster.

I think conversion of no-spark, high-compression heat ignition diesel to either gasoline nor alcohol is not very feasible but as alcohol gives more power for plowing than gasoline does and gasoline tractors do exist, I think getting tractors off oil is very feasible.

13. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Those two don't really go together. You don't need the same range; you just need a reasonable range. For example, you can easily drive across the country in a Tesla model S, stopping every 4-5 hours to recharge for 30 minutes - and the entire car costs under \$150,000.

14. ### Russ_WattersNot a Trump supporter...Valued Senior Member

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While his numbers don't seem right, he is right that you need the performance and cost and charging station availability.to be the same in order for people to have a reason to buy it. Otherwise they are sacrificing something and have to pay more to get it.

Tesla will be fine: they're the Apple or maybe Bose or Beats of luxury car manufacturers. People are willing to pay more for less just for style points. But an average consumer level all electric with true mass appeal is still decades away.

IIRC Tesla's "you can drive across the country" thing is a meaningless marketing gimick: there is only one route, so if you don't live on that route it doesn't help you. Fortunately, a Tesla owner can just use his Range Rover for trips the Tesla can't make. For the non-rich who don't have extra cars that may not be an option.

15. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Diesel is not as available as gasoline - and yet still people buy them for some reason.

In addition, electric offers something that gasoline cars don't - the ability to refuel at home or in parking lots.

There are currently two routes, and due to the Tesla's range, there are only a few places in the US where you cannot get to via Tesla's charger network. (Of course if you add in conventional chargers there is no place you can't get to.)

16. ### Russ_WattersNot a Trump supporter...Valued Senior Member

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That is a bad comparison by several orders of magnitude. But sure: when Tesla charging stations become as ubiquitous as diesel stations, I'll agree that it is no longer a problem.
True, and that is nice but nowhere near as important for broad application as acessibility of charging away from home.
Fair enough, but again, that means you have to take Tesla's routes.
I don't buy that, considering a DJ from Philly was on a remote broadcast from the Poconos last week and had issues. Are you sure you are accounting for the round trip?

It is only last year that it even became possible to drive across the country on the first route, but with the country's midsection being 1250 miles high, two routes can still cover less than half of it.

Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
17. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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16,918
Not sure what you heard. From downtown Philadelphia to the Pocono Mountain Visitor's Bureau is 80 miles. The range of the Model S is 265 miles. So even assuming he was going an extra 20 miles into the mountains, and assuming some battery degradation, he can still make it round trip without charging. (If he does want to charge, there are ~30 J1772 chargers between those two places.)

18. ### Russ_WattersNot a Trump supporter...Valued Senior Member

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He calculated 90 miles (presumably from his house) and said he had a 200 mile range, which is for the 40 kWh version (208 by EPA estimate). But with highways, mountains and heat, he wasn't confident in that safety factor. If it started getting close, the only charging station in the Eastern 2/3 of the state is 5 miles west of Philadelphia, but if that would help him or not would depend on exactly where he lives....

It worked out for him though -- some engineer or maintenance guy wired-up a charging cable just for him at a utility shed at the ski area (which is why he was talking about it -- to thank him). Good to be famous.

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20. ### DrZygote214Registered Member

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A long recharge time should not really be an issue for the average driver since you can just plug it in overnight (unless of course, you are a "lazy bastard" like in the 2nd post of page 1). Expense is an issue, but truthfully a normal car that costs 20k is still freakin expensive. Most people do not really buy the car. They get a loan from the bank, and so the bank actually owns it and can repossess if you default.

Aside from all that, batteries are not the only possible power source. Super Capacitors are already being used on some Chinese buses (and they recharge very quickly, in the time of a bus stop). There are more promising SuperCap materials being researched that have energy densities approaching or exceeding Lithium Ion batteries, and SuperCaps have no chemical problems, way less fire hazard, way more lifetime, and can charge more quickly plus supply more energy more quickly.

Nevertheless, I don't think the American model of transportation has a real future, no matter what it's powered by. A single vehicle transporting a single person is just such a waste. You're transporting a lot of deadweight just to move one person around, and traffic and accidents are huge when you have that many vehicles.

Get economy of scales on the bus, light rail, metro, airplane, whatever. Petroleum will run out eventually. We will use whatever is available to us afterwards.

21. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Not even close.
They are definitely higher POWER density. However, current battery solutions can max out even the fastest EV chargers, so there's not much to be gained by going the capacitor route. They may have some advantages for very small packs for high performance hybrids though.

22. ### elteValued Senior Member

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1,287
We need much smaller cars. Public transportation is very inconvenient compared to having a vehicle instantly and personally available. It's so much that way for me that I ride a bicycle 99% of the time, and the busses pass nearby occassionally, yet it has been years since I rode one. Besides that, the bus schedules are almost indecipherable.

I have read recently that researchers are homing in on the structure of an ultracapacitor. In the ebike community, we call it vaporware, since 90% of the time such reports are premature. Such a capacitor, however, was said to be able to have the power density of presently available lithium batteries.

23. ### DrZygote214Registered Member

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http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20090195961
http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publ...&FT=D&date=20030109&CC=WO&NR=03003466A1&KC=A1

It quotes "up to 15 MJ/kg" right away, but the figure they get in the second link is 1.66 MJ/kg which translates to 461 Wh/kg. Last I checked, LIon batteries today get like 200 or 250 Wh/kg. Of course that cited supercap is not available today but that's why I said "being researched". Still, I agree with elte that these reports are usually premature, but at least my cite was the patent itself and it has very detailed descriptions of the components and working porcedures.

There was a table entry for this in Wikipedia's Supercapacitor article, which you can see on the 2015 Jan 27 version in the article's history (search for "480 Wh/kg")...but some dummy accidently deleted it while fixing picture alignments on Feb 08. Trying to make him aware, not much luck so far, you can follow the talk page about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Elcap#Edit_of_Supercapacitor_Arcticle

Depends on where you live. A city like Seattle or Portland has pretty darn good public transport (and not just busses, but light rails or metros), and most places you want to go are very nearby in the dense city. A city like Orlando is a joke. Busses come once per hour and you usually have to go a lot farther because it's not as dense as the city.

Yea a bike is great, but again depends on where you live. Seattle or Portland would be pristine. Florida...they'll take a right turn on green and run you right off the crosswalk (both peds and bikers) and look at you like you're crazy.

The greater point I want to make is about vehicle deadweight. Average 4-door car weighs somewhere around 3,000 pounds. Average driver weight is like 175 pounds. So 94% of that gasoline is burned to transport deadweight. Now average bike weight is somewhere in the range of 25 pounds.