# Electric cars are a pipe dream

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

1. ### Success_MachineImpossible? I can do thatRegistered Senior Member

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That's the same video that I linked to. It shows the battery swap taking place in just 1 min 15 sec. Maybe Better Place has improved their system since you last checked, re-designed it better, and got rid of time-consuming things like washing the underside of the vehicle (which can be done after the battery is swapped out), and a conveyor system (which can be replaced with chocks, or dropped entirely). All the things you think are necessary might not be needed at all.

Do you own a Volt? If not, why not?

How would the performance of the Leaf stack up against the Volt if it's battery capacity were increased until the two cars were the same price?

3. ### Success_MachineImpossible? I can do thatRegistered Senior Member

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Sounds good. Looks similar to the Diesel-Electric Hybrid that Volkswagon was showcasing a while back, which is their new-improved iteration on the "One-Liter Car" theme.

Looks like the Japanese are betting on all-electric. IMO, there will be a threshold where people will say that an electric car is better than a hybrid. The two cars are both coming out in 2013, so we'll see what their price-performance comparisons are in a couple years.

5. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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No, I'd seen that "demo" years ago, so it is old.

The description of the current process, which includes washing and the 5 minute time is from their March 23, 2011 press release, so that's more indicative of the current state of affairs (I presume that's the kind of thing that they learned from their first real life test in Tokyo).

No, I don't drive that much to justify it's cost. The Volt only makes sense if you put at least 35 miles per day on the car and that's about twice as many miles as I drive each year. The Leaf wouldn't work either since during the week I don't drive much (I work from home) I still take too many local trips on the weekends that would exceed it's range. One of my common trips is to go camping and not only would it be hard pressed to carry our gear, there would be no place to recharge it once I got there. The Leaf is for Urban dwellers and I think for some time it will only appeal to people who need it primarily as a daily commuter car but where they have two cars and the other one can handle the longer trips.

I think the extra weight/size of a larger battery would quickly become an issue in the Leaf. The extra weight of the battery would hurt acceleration, handling and performance and if you would be hard pressed to increase the size of the battery because all the free space that is available in the car is taken so you would need to rob the already small amount of trunk space.
Back seat Leaf passengers already complain because they can't put their toes under the front seats.

Arthur

7. ### Success_MachineImpossible? I can do thatRegistered Senior Member

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Their March 23, 2011 press release describes a 5-min battery switch time that is similar to a car wash, but it doesn't say the underside of the car is washed. This video is from 2008 and shows two distinctly different battery swapping stations, one that resembles an automated carwash with a conveyor, and a second that resembles a self-serve carwash with carbooths & chocks. It's an animation, and the video you linked to is a year newer, 2009, so they've demonstrated the type that resembles the carwash. However, they didn't have a conveyor system, and the batteries weren't on two different shuttles moving in the same direction as the car. They shuttled the batteries laterally in their 2009 video, which completed the swap in a little over a minute.

The design is obviously changing and improving, and you might be mistaken. It doesn't make sense to me that they would have a 2009 process that completes in 1 min 16 sec, and later in 2011 have the slower process take 5 mins. That doesn't make much sense when the earlier version was faster. But I'll leave that issue open though because there were videos on the Better Way website that froze up for some reason and I wasn't able to view. The 5-min swap would make sense if there were a few cars lined up waiting, like at a gas station. So maybe 5 mins is more realistic: you pull into the station, there's a few cars ahead of you, so you're waiting. Then it makes sense that it would take 5 mins. IMO that would be a realistic timespan, in a city, with high customer volume.

From a design standpoint, toe room I think is something that can be fixed. From experience standpoint, trunk space isn't necessarily all that useful. I bought a hatchback for the cargo space, and ended up almost never using it. The trunk in my car is used solely for sandbag, shovel & other emergency kit for winter driving, and that could just go on the floor behind the driver seat. I tend to use the front passenger seat for groceries, briefcase, etc. Even the back seats are usually without passengers.

I wonder if they could produce a version of the Leaf that matches the price & performance of the Volt, by sacrificing the trunk or whatever.

8. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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In the March 23rd release, the most current information available, they said it takes 5 MINUTES.

In their description of the process itself they said:
Neither the Conveyor or the washing is shown in the demo which is why it goes so fast.

But they say REAL WORLD is 5 minutes.
Put real people in line making calls on their cell, women doing their make-up, kids changing playlists on their Ipod and it will be more like 10 minutes.

You can't use your narrow set of personal needs to determine what the general buying public needs/wants.

Arthur

9. ### Success_MachineImpossible? I can do thatRegistered Senior Member

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Well, I scoured their website and found the paragraph you quoted. So, their video seems to contradict their description. I'll assume it's an approximation. Obviously their AIM is to perform the operation in less time than it takes to refuel a car with gasoline.

They are getting the ball rolling on electric cars, making it at least possible to travel any distance without charging a battery. But I don't think their current model will be the final one. Things just keep getting better.

10. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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It's not just time it's also space required because the battery switching stations will never handle as many cars as a typical gas station can. The swap lane is simply too big and too complex to compared with simple pumping stations and because of the mechanical complexity of the machinery it's unlikely that the swap station can be staffed by a pimply faced kid just out of high-school.

Just think how many gas stations like this exist and consider that you need to swap batteries much more frequently than fill up with gas, so what would a battery swap station look like that could handle as many cars as this station with 24 pumps?

It would be HUGE and signifcantly more expensive to build and staff and maintain.

Now look how many of these there are in Atlanta:

http://www.quiktrip.com/storelocator/Locator_SearchResult.aspx

That's nearly 120 stations for just one brand of gasoline in one city in the US.

So when I read that they are going to open 9 swap stations in all of Israel that doesn't really mean that much.

Arthur

11. ### SkepticalRegistered Senior Member

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1,449
I do not believe there will ever be battery swap systems.

Why not?
Simple. Such a system would require all the EV makers to agree to a standard battery. Within 10 to 20 years, there will be dozens of models of EV on the roads. It is predictable that the makers will see replacement battery packs as a substantial generator of extra profit. As such, they are not going to have a bar of any standard battery pack that can be bought from a competitor.

With dozens of different battery packs, swapping becomes completely impractical. The need will be, instead, rapid recharge, and longer range. New battery technologies will give us this, but not for 10 to 20 years.

In the short term, EV's will be a niche market for shopping carts and short range commuter cars. Charge overnight at home, or in the workplace car park.

12. ### Success_MachineImpossible? I can do thatRegistered Senior Member

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The standard battery pack might be the smallest type required. Larger vehicles will need two, or three, or more.

Like how a TV remote needs two AA batteries, but a remote controlled car needs eight of them.

The holy grail is obviously a battery that you just plug in, charges in 2 minutes, and gives the car a range of 200 miles. We're closer to that than we were 10 years ago, but it might be a long time. Battery swap stations are one possible solution among many.

13. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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Nope, the battery isn't a convenient rectangle, it's shaped to match the free space in the car, which is why it has a big hump to use the space under the rear seats. Two standard batteries wouldn't fit in a truck or larger car because the free space doesn't line up.

http://www.betterplace.com/the-solution-batteries

By the way, that orange thingy is also important because that meshes with the shifter in the car and is used to control the forward/reverse switch. Two packs wouldn't work because the shifter on the second pack wouldn't switch when you shifted the first pack.

Indeed, different cars would have to have totally different shaped battery packs to match their available free space which is why there is only one car model being made for these packs.

So you want a swappable battery car then you have to buy a POS Renault.

Ugg.

Arthur

14. ### Success_MachineImpossible? I can do thatRegistered Senior Member

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365

Damn! Maybe something better will come out in a few years. I want an electric car, just because they're so quiet. I wanna hear the music playing on my car stereo for once over the noise of the engine. Plus, I think efficiency is just a totally worthy goal all by itself.

15. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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Success...maybe you could track down one of these used:
http://www.corbinsparrow.com/

Looks like the company went bankrupt though.

Edited to add: but these guys apparently bought and updated their designs.

http://www.myersmotors.com/

If you commute alone a lot, and don't mind owning a second vehicle...there ya go.

Further edited-one catch: you need a 20-amp outlet...am I right in remembering that most wall sockets are ten amps?
You'd need a heavy-duty socket.

Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
16. ### Stoniphiobscurely fossiliferousValued Senior Member

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There is a need for just such a vehicle. Hopefully someone out there is working on bringing it to market.

EDIT: most standard 110-20 Volt wall receptacles are 15 amp circuits, though some are 20 amp.

17. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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Well there ya go if you don't mind spending $30,000 for a 1 passenger vehicle ~45 mile range, that comes with a very modest 1 yr/12,000 mile warranty and zip safety features because it's registered as a motorcycle so normal passenger car rules don't apply (you might have to wear a helmet depending on what state you drive it in) So for$1,000 LESS than that you could own one of these:

http://autos.yahoo.com/2011_lexus_ct_hybrid_200h/

Now that's a high end Lexus hybrid that gets 43 mpg in the city.
That's impressive for what's generally considered an entry level luxury car.
It also comes with a 70,000 mile/6 year powertrain warranty and an impressive list of safety features.

Which means if you drove it 10,000 miles a year your monthly gas cost, at $5 per gallon would be less than$100.

Sweet.

Or for half that you could buy one of these:

http://www.hyundaiusa.com/elantra/

A crash tested car which has 6 airbags, ABS breaking, room for 5 passengers and luggage and you could use the $15,000 you have left over to pay for the gas (at$5 gallon) it takes to drive it 10,000 miles per year for 10 years and use the $3,000 you save on electricity (@ 15c kWh) to pay for your normal wear and tear because it comes with a 10yr/100,000 mile warranty and gets 29 city 40 mpg highway . Of course after using the car all this time it would still be worth a few thousand down towards it's replacement or to give to your kid as their first car (your kid would have been 6 when you bought the car). Hmmmm? Wonder which one a rational consumer will choose? Someone who doesn't mind spending the same money as the Lexus but getting a lot less of a car and can deal with the limitations of the Leaf's range and thinks that by buying it they are saving the planet might buy the Leaf, but so far sales don't indicate that many buyers are so inclined. Someone who has the money to spend, doesn't sweat the$100 month fuel bill and want's the extra safety along with luxury and high end features would pick the Lexus.
Someone who is on a tighter budget but still wants a decent balance between comfort, safety and price would more likely go for the Elantra
Someone on a real tight budget would clearly pick the Accent (see my post below this one).

Arthur

19. ### Stoniphiobscurely fossiliferousValued Senior Member

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Good job Arthur, this is what the site is here for.

IMPO

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

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And they are typically connected in series to get at least 200Volts.

How do you imagine that the connection from one battery to the next in the series string is made, INSIDE THE CAR, by the automatic battery swap machine?

Note these high current, high power connections must be very solid - at leasT as good as those on the standard 12V lead-acid battery's connections to the car's heavy cables. They are lead posts with very-tight wrench-tighten clamp. The recharge at home battery has none of these problems as the charging current will be much smaller than car needs when passing up a hill and no battery to battery interconnections exist to be re-made after EVERY SWAP.

Just one more reason why battery swap idea is DoA, unless you can only buy one type of EV, which remains the same year after year (at least in all the battery connection / swap details).

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

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More Chery picking:

"... Chery Automobile Co, China's largest domestic brand, said Friday its global car sales rose 25.9 percent year on year to 61,240 units last month. The figure represented an increase of 73.3 percent month on month as the auto market picked up momentum after February, when demand slowed over the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday break, said Jin Gebo, Chery's spokesman.

In March, the automaker, sold 11,820 cars overseas, a new post-financial crisis high and up 57.1 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, its sales in the first quarter of the year climbed 11.8 percent year on year to 182,870 units. ..." From: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2011-04/09/content_12297934.htm

Chery is not a big international car maker, yet, but is selling many more cars that all electric vehicles combined, even now, and orders of magnitude more in five years I bet. If I remember correctly, Chery is building an assembly plant (car parts sent from China as much lower import duty on parts) in Brazil and will be selling in Brazil before end of 2012.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2011
22. ### Stoniphiobscurely fossiliferousValued Senior Member

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Well, I recall that the Chinese declared a while back that they were going to dominate the electric car market when it happens. Chery has been on the up - tick for quite a while now.

23. ### X-Man2We're under no illusions.Registered Senior Member

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If the World does evolve towards EV's in a big way China is certainly one of the few Countries who can pull it off.We know the US isn't going to do anything with EV and renewables anytime soon.