Electric cars are a pipe dream

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

  1. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    What is available today? Well I could get a Leaf or a more expensive Volt, if a Leaf fits my needs then that what I'll get.

    But as a paid peanuts graduate students a car period is not in my range or needs and I got a bike and a bus pass.

    Lets see the average commuter drives 40 miles a day, a Nissan Leaf got 100 miles range, so it could at least supply a majority of commuters needs, in other countries like japan the average commuter drive is even shorter. Add in the Leaf costs several thousand less than the Volt and that is probably why the Leaf is selling more.

    Oh I'm all for that, its just we could do even better going full electric.
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  3. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    The real world has a way of intruding on those stats:

    It actually only gets 73 miles under drive tests meant to simulate real-world driving.


    So just consider, you live in Boston and it's the Winter and you are driving 20 miles to and from work in the dark with the headlights, heater/defroster and windshield wipers running and you get stuck in the typical hour long commuter traffic jams and so it's questionable if you will make it home, and even if you do you'll be sweating it out the whole day, something noone wants to do and yet that's a very normal situation for American suburban to city and back commuters.


    Yes the Volt costs a bit more, but for that you get unlimited range and no worries while stuck in traffic in the winter with the heater running and since the Volt isn't being sold outside the US yet, so that's not a valid comparison, in the US where they are both being sold the sales of these vehicles thus far tells a different story:
    Volt: 928
    Leaf: 173

    Of course, this is early and things could change so that it's hard to make predictions, other than the sales are paltry for both vehicles at this price point (even including a $7,500 tax credit).

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
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  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    You are only pretending to reply or don't actually understand what I said, which was:
    "Too bad the US did not import the Flex-Fuel technology from Brazil and sugar cane alcohol from many new tropical fields back when it could."

    Never have I suggested Brazil alone could supply its own alcohol fuel needs and those of the CURRENT gas-hog US car fleet. I have ALWAYS said "tropical cane alcohol" , not "Brazilian alcohol" and admitted some tropical forests would need to be cleared as the Ohio forest etc. was in the US to produce land for crops and homes (and higher incomes for the locals). Switching to a global transport system using tropical cane alcohol (and doing all the other things I have said are essential for the switch) could make many millions of low skill jobs instead of sending Billions of dollars to the Oil rich Arabs to fund the terrorists with.

    Unless global population can be reduced we have no choice but to convert currently unused land to productive use. I have also noted that much more telecommuting and non-fossil fuel public transportation* are ESSENTIAL to get the world off the petroleum tit for fuel.

    Why do you keep inventing the straw horse of "Brazil cannot supply all the alcohol needed" ? Is that because you don't want to admit it is possible to transform the global mobile energy system to a sustainable, non-nuclear one? Or do you have some financial interest in replacing oil with coal to generate electric power? If neither of these, what is reason for you repeatedly constructing this straw horse, as if it were something I had suggested somewhere?
    * Again, super flywheel buses are my choice. They are not tied to trolley power lines so can make detours if fire trucks have closed part of their normal route, etc. There is no practical limit on the number of deep discharge cycles like a battery has (They will last longer than the bus will.) and they store at least as many kWh / kg as the best battery can. They don't require any expensive materials, like rare earths, to make and can recharge (spin up the flywheel) at the end of the bus route only while driver takes a 10 minute coffee break, although full recharge in 30 minutes would be less capital in base transformers and the on-board motor generator. etc. (They must be rated for the power level which can be lower, the longer the recharge interval is, but unlike a battery, there is no fundamental limit on how fast the recharge could be.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2011
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  7. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    What a hypothetical, like one of those "We got a terrorist and there are 30 minutes until a bomb goes off, how do we get him to talk... therefor we should make torture legal!" scenarios? Well some questions, how much power will the lights and heater take per hour? because from what I could find its about 55-65 watts per headlight bulb (assuming standard Tungsten-halogen and not something more efficent) so that 100-200 watts there, and for air conditioning its between 500-1000 watts, running both of those would be at worse 1.2 kW per hour, and the Leaf has 24 kWh battery supply so that means you would lose 5% of your range just sitting there per hour, no sweat!

    Hell actual testing has been done so lets look at the real world numbers: a Leaf in a traffic jam managing only 15 miles travel per hour in -10C weather can keep going for 4 hours (62 miles range). How far you want to go 20 miles or its it 40 miles total, what ever its in range, NO FUCKING SWEAT!

    *that technically the same source that you quote, its matter of processing what you read I guess.

    Quite valid, why is it not sold outside the USA, hum? Likewise the Nissan leaf it not being marketed in the USA heavily. Total sales regardless of country is a better figure.
  8. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    BS, it's not a hypothetical.
    If I buy a car it has to work for all my needs, not just most of them and since Winter comes every year and traffic jams happen all the time and if I'm in a Leaf heading home at night, when it's 10 degrees outside and traffic isn't moving I'll be sweating even with the heat off. By the way, none of these systems let you charge to 100% capacity or discharge to 0% (too tough on the batteries, so your margins are less than you think)

    Except it is a sweat, indeed the article says the range can drop down to 47 miles, but that's with a brand new battery that is fully charged. Drivers won't always have that luxury and batteries won't always be brand new. Lithium batteries will decrease in capacity a certain percent per year, exactly how much won't be known until they are in use for some time (high temperature locations like our SouthWest are likely to be pretty hard on them)

    So yeah, if you own a Leaf you will have to think about nearly every excursion you make if it is over 30 miles one way, or if its multiple stops and then factor in the weather and the traffic and so on. Until recharging stations are very common, the Leaf will remain a small niche player. The question is how long will that be. Because of the cost, the US has thrown a LOT of money at it and is building a lot of recharging stations in 5 states, which is where Nissan is doing the heavy marketing for their vehicle.

    Don't agree, and besides the Leaf has been heavily marketed in thoose 5 states because that's where they are building the charging infrastructure to try to get it accepted. Tennesse, California, Oregon, Arizona and Washington are all big marketing pushes on the Leaf, but with only 173 sold since they went on sale last December, pathetic sales would be an accurate description.

  9. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    "Someday" meaning "within a year from today," there.

    And there are a dozen other rare earth projects underway in various other countries (Australia, Canada, etc.). China doesn't have any particular advantage in rare earth deposits - just more willingness to subsidize the environmental costs of extracting them, by poisoning its own people.

    And yet, the largest seller of cars in China is... GM. Followed by Volkswagen. The Chinese companies all together only account for like 1/4 of the market there. Most of that being knock-offs of foreign designs.

    And yet, GM is the #1 car seller in China. There's a lot of development, manufacturing acumen and intellectual property that goes into a modern car. Companies that have been at it for decades have a big advantage in that regard. That's why China provides so many incentives for them to bring operations to the country and partner with local manufacturers.

    No, it wasn't. The first commercial flex-fuel car was developed and sold in the United States. It was called the Ford Model T, and was widely sold in the US more than a century ago.

    But, who cares? Flex Fuel is never going to be anything more than a niche market outside of Brazil.

    You forgot Japan.

    And that BYD car will never be competitive internationally, because it infringes a huge number of competitor's copyrights and patents. Like most Chinese-branded cars. That China can produce knock-offs of successful foreign designs, does not say anything particularly impressive about them. But it does mean that they'll get their pants sued off, if they ever try to market this stuff in a country with serious intellectual property laws.
  10. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    I think the market is bigger than you suspect.
    It's pretty big in the Corn Belt, but you can now get the fuel in 40 states, but the good news, is your car doesn't care what you put in it, can't find E85 then use gas (a lot of which is now up to 10% Ethanol anyway).

    E85 Stations
    As of July, 2009, more than 1,950 U.S. fueling stations offered E85 to the more than 7 million FFVs on U.S. roadways.

    There are 2,349 stations today that sell E85


  11. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Like I said: a niche. 7 million vehicles, out of 255 million on the roads. 2000 E85 filling stations, out of 122,000 gas stations in the country. You could quadruple that, and you'd still be talking about a small niche. Also, most of the owners don't even realize that they have flex fuel vehicles at all. It's all just car companies abusing a tax loophole.

    And let's note that even the areas in the corn belt where these things are popular wouldn't sustain that without massive federal subsidies (both of the corn itself, the ethanol fuel, the cars, the protectionism from Brazilian ethanol, etc.). This stuff is actually costing more than using petroleum, once you factor in the massive subsidies at every level of the industry.
  12. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Only because of your own irrational fear, the actual tested numbers show you will have the range you requested with surplus.

    Invalid complaint, I gave you your scenario, show that its been actually tested and that you would still have plenty of power left for the range you desired. The theoretical numbers don't even need to be considered when the real ones are present.

    For a different scenario! That one was at 6 miles traveled per hour, at 30C (86F), of which you would have to be in that traffic jam for nearly 8 hours before you ran out of power. How many 8 hour traffic jams have you been in during the heat of summer where you managed only six miles of travel every hour? I can only image that scenario happens often in Hell, regardless if its electric or gasoline.

    Battery loses aren't expect to be more then 25% after 7.5 years or 100,000 miles, and it warranted for that so if the battery losses more they have to give you new one.

    Also don't label all Lithium batteries together, that energy, power density and life cycles with different lithium chemistries is order of magnitude difference, For example Altair's Lithium Titanate cells are warranted for more then 25,000 cycles, that's several decades of use.

    And that is the reason why, factoring in range has nothing to do with it.

    The same time it will take to get plug in hybrids into a majority, decades.

    The Leaf has been launched in 4 countries and in all of it them it cost more per dollar then in the USA, yet they managed to sell thousands. The Leaf sold 3,484 in Japan only, so clearly how much demand for them an how effectively they are marketed is variable per country: you can't compare Leaf sales in the US against Volt sales in the US, it would be like comparing Chevy car sales in Japan verse Toyota car sales in Japan.
  13. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Well I guess everyone has his idea of what a niche represents, but still E85 production is growing by over 1 million vehicles a year, so it's not that small of a market.

    US E85 production:

    2006 1,011,399
    2007 1,115,069
    2008 1,175,345
    2009 1,049,478

    Or maybe put it this way, the EV makers would be ecstatic with just 10% of these sales.

  14. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    First of all, it has NOT been tested by actual consumers in real life situations over a long enough time to bet on those numbers.

    It's very telling that the EPA right out of the gate cut Nissan's estimate of real life range on a brand new battery down by more than 25% to 73 miles. Given a 20% reduction in capacity (but within their warranty) that's a paltry 58 miles. Now make that the dead of winter, at night and 40 miles would be pushing it.

    And the fears are not irrational. It's just that you keep starting out with a brand new battery and a full charge, but I pointed out that drivers won't always have that luxury.

    That's what REAL WORLD means.

    The battery won't always be new and they will get in late at night and have to get up early in the morning, the can have a power outage overnight (you need over 7 hours to fully recharge a Leaf using 240 Volts/16 amp circuit and it's not unusual for people to get home after midnight and have to be back out by 7 in the morning), they have to run the kids to school prior to doing their morning commute, they take the car out during the day to go to lunch etc etc. All sorts of things to make that commute a nail biter.

    So like I said, you've owned the car for a while the battery doesn't hold but 80% of the original charge and you didn't have time to charge it all the way up the night before and you are sitting in traffic, in the dark, when it's 10 degrees outside and traffic isn't moving and you are sweating bullets.

    Not an inrrational fear.

    And maybe why the sales of them in the US are so pathetic.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  15. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Oh so your just going to appeal to the unknown and assume the worse. You know what all hybrid electric will fail after 25,000 miles, all testing in controlled setting show that should not happen, but they haven't actually been tested in real life for that far and long, so there for I assume the worse, your logic.

    The EPA 73 miles was under intense conditions including varying turning off and on the heaters, air conditioners, etc. The EPA test was designed to replicate real driving conditions and is not a high mark. For your scenario you should use the 62 miles range at -10C in a simulated traffic jam managing only 15 miles travel per hour, minus from that 20% after 100,000 miles of driving life and you get 50 miles range under those extreme and horrible conditions, that would be far closer to what you want then the EPA's testing. That is still enough range to get to your home, again after having to spend hours in a traffic jam, in the cold, using a worn out car! So the fear is irrational!

    Oh the hypothetical! Hey here one, you come to your gasoline powered car and it won't start because its mechanical engine with all it moving parts is far more prone to breaking down then a electric car, and your stuck. Maybe its the distributor head, maybe a bad spark plug or fuel injector, maybe the fuel pump, I had all those problems and had to repair them my self! I've had all those problems and had to fix the car my self, its the hazard of having old cars, yet I didn't bite my nails before I sat in the drivers seat hoping it would work.

    Well gee if that was true I wonder what kind of logic the Japanese buyers were using? They get snow and traffic jams and all the hazards of life, yet they have been buying these things up.
  16. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    But not everyone's ideas on that are equally valid or meaningful.

    For example:

    The size of a market is not determined by its growth rate - indeed, high growth rate markets tends to be exactly the miniscule ones. And the question of whether a market is a niche or not depends on its size relative to the larger market, not it's absolute size (let alone, growth rate).

    You could keep those growth rates for another decade, and still not amount to 10% of the US auto fleet. That's a niche. There is no sign of flex fuel becoming anything like a plurality of cars, ever - there simple aren't enough ethanol sources to support that, absent some revolution in its production.

    That one market is bigger than another that barely even exists in the first place, hardly disqualifies the former as a "niche."
  17. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    One of my better customers in the early 1970's was a Ford engineer who designed Ford ethanol vehicles that were sold in Brazil. They weren't knock - offs, he actually designed the engines, Ford built them and they were sold in Brazil. I figured that Ford likely had something to do with the design and fabrication of the Ford flex vehicles that were also sold in Brazil - in such quantity that they had to start selling them in the US despite a lack of ethanol sources.

    They haven't removed the sulfur from the diesel burned in the trucks around here, Arthur. The clouds of thick, foul - smelling gray-black smoke are obvious to the eye, as is the throat - closing choking sensation when I breathe that crap. I would be very happy if they did choose to remove it though.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    On the other hand, I saw my first in - use commercial hybrid - bio diesel semi - truck and trailer today on the road. Also, all of the "gasoline" I buy is 10% ethanol. That is what is available here now.
  18. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, they have.

    ULSD is all that is being produced as of Dec 2010.


  19. Success_Machine Impossible? I can do that Registered Senior Member

    I think that electric cars represent the ideal. Electric cars have many things in their favor:

    - clean

    - quiet

    - very efficient (only 5% losses from battery to motor, only 7% losses from powerplant to charging station, only 40% losses at powerplant using highly tuned constant-speed turbines, could cut energy consumption by transportation sector in half)

    - non-polluting (electricity can come from a non-polluting sources)

    - flexible (stationary powerplants can use a variety of fuels that can't be used in vehicles)

    - batteries can be swapped faster than gasoline cars can be refuelled (see Better Place videos)


    The only remaining argument against electric vehicles is their cost. Electric vehicles are undeniably more expensive than the vehicles with IC engines.

    What ideas are out there that would tackle this problem?
    What might reduce the cost of electric cars?

    Getting the ball rolling, perhaps....

    - ask Tata Motors how they do it?

    - carbon credits?

    - manufacturing process?

    - materials?

    - salvage value?

    - maintenance contracts?

    - smaller cars?

    - ??????
  20. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    The cost is merely the price of novelty. Think of what a flat screen TV cost when they first came out.

    As time passes, the price will fall.
  21. Success_Machine Impossible? I can do that Registered Senior Member

  22. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    None of those apply.

    Indeed, many of those processes were developed in the highly competitive world of auto-manufacturing, which is already pretty much the pinacle of our manufacturing ability.

    These cars are built the exact same way any other of their cars are manufactured, the fact that the drive train is somewhat different doesn't change the highly efficient manufacturing techniques GM, Toyota or Nissan apply to these cars.

    The batteries used in EVs are already mass produced in massive quantities and there is not likely to be any big change in the price of Li-ion batteries (except upward) as materials represent from ~90 to 95% of their cost.

    So any big cost reduction in batteries would be from a technical breakthrough, not an evolutionary process.

  23. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    From your linkie.

    Yeah, the transition is still "in process", which is likely why my complaint stands for now.

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