Electric Cars – it’s all about the battery

I own an electric car (on my second one now) that I use for around town. It’s fine for short jaunts, which is the majority of driving. However the limiting factor is of course the battery and the range associated with it. While I can get about 40 miles of city driving, I could probably double that with a lighter, more efficient battery. While I know some people pooh-pooh electric cars, I think mine is rather fun. With gas prices headed toward $5 a gallon, I’ll have even more fun.

My electric car, shown above – a bit like a “smart car”, but slightly larger. My first was little more than a glorified golf cart. This one is full featured.

From the American Chemical Society

New high-performance lithium-ion battery ‘top candidate’ for electric cars

Scientists are reporting development of an advanced lithium-ion battery that is ideal for powering the electric vehicles now making their way into dealer showrooms. The new battery can store large amounts of energy in a small space and has a high rate capacity, meaning it can provide current even in extreme temperatures. A report on this innovation appears in ACS’ Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Bruno Scrosati, Yang-Kook Sun, and colleagues point out that consumers have a great desire for electric vehicles, given the shortage and expense of petroleum. But a typical hybrid car can only go short distances on electricity alone, and they hold less charge in very hot or very cold temperatures. With the government push to have one million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, the pressure to solve these problems is high. To make electric vehicles a more realistic alternative to gas-powered automobiles, the researchers realized that an improved battery was needed.

The scientists developed a high-capacity, nanostructured, tin-carbon anode, or positive electrode, and a high-voltage, lithium-ion cathode, the negative electrode. When the two parts are put together, the result is a high-performance battery with a high energy density and rate capacity. “On the basis of the performance demonstrated here, this battery is a top candidate for powering sustainable vehicles,” the researchers say.

###

The authors acknowledge funding from WCU (World Class University) program through the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation.

ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “An Advanced Lithium Ion Battery Based on High Performance Electrode Materials”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/ja110522x

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252 Responses to Electric Cars – it’s all about the battery

  1. Latitude says:

    This is a cute toy of people that actually live in towns.

    I’m rural, it’s 40 miles just to get to a town that has anything…………

    …and when I do go, I need to be able to actually haul something

  2. johnboy says:

    when you come around the bend and see my 11,000 pound dump truck//tell me how you feel????OH WAIT you will ban that and i’ll be out of work???

    REPLY: And your point is….? My electric car is about the same size of a gas powered VW bug. I’m sure VW owners will feel just as intimidated by other large vehicles. My very first car was an Austin Healey Sprite. Now that’s an intimidating ride, especially when you are always worried about Lucas, “The Prince of Darkness”, in the back of your mind.

    I live about 2 miles from my office. The car does just fine co-existing with other traffic in the city. – Anthony

  3. DJ says:

    Sorry, Anthony, but you’ve just ruined your image as a shill for Evil Big Oil….as suggested by some of your detractors.

    There’s an electric car club here in Reno, in case you’re interested, and some members have some pretty interesting hardware, and the expertise to go with it. One member I worked with (we’ve both retired) has several EV’s, and that’s all he drives except for long trips.

    Email me if you’d like some contact info.

  4. Eric N. WY says:

    I have seen some of those cars here in Wyoming and I’m amazed that they can stay on all four wheels, with the wind the way it is around here. Must be some pretty heavy batteries.

    REPLY: A low center of gravity is always a plus, that’s one advantage. You never have to worry about a bunch of kids tipping over your car. – A

  5. chuck says:

    Don’t lithium based batteries lose charge in cold weather? What happens when it is 30 below? Also, does your electric car have heat, and if so, how much?

  6. Mac says:

    Electric cars are a bit like nuclear fusion reactors – always one step away from success.

  7. Pull My Finger says:

    Firstly, “Duh”. The inability to produce batteries with a range longer than that of a riding lawnmower has always been the problem. And from what I’ve read they haven’t got much better in the last 15-20 years since the EV1 but cars continue to get heavier due to more safety regulations.

    Secondly, the charge time of these things is prohibitively long, even if there were charging stations at every gas station in america they would still be impractical.

    Third, how many times can you recharge these batteries before they become useless? If it is like every laptop battery I’ve owned, the answer is “not too damn long”.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with electric cars, but they are entirely impractical for use outside an urban environment at this point. “Come on kids, into the Smart Car with all your luggage for a trip to Disney World!.. uh wait…”

    What is the issue with Hybrids? They actually work but no one seems to be really embracing that technology. Not devoted enough to Gaia I’m guessing.

  8. ew-3 says:

    Have spent several years working with Li-Ion batteries in portable GPS devices.
    Virtually all Li-Ion batteries are made in China. Not so much for the labor cost, but because of the EPA. Making these batteries is a major environmental disaster. And mining the raw materials is also a problem.
    But just as the green crowd ignores where the electricity for charging these batteries comes from (mostly coal), they prefer to ignore the environmental problems in battery manufacture. Mostly, I guess, because it’s not in their back yard.

  9. Ralph says:

    It is not just the battery – it is also about the power source.

    The majority of electrical power is still fossil fuelled, and so an electric car is still putting out pollution of all kinds. The only difference, is that it is putting them into the countryside, instead of the town. So you eat the pollution, rather than breathing it.

    However, electric cars are LESS efficient than a European diesel, in terms of fossil fuel consumed. This is because a diesel drives the wheels. An electric car needs to create electricity ar 45% efficiency, transmit it, store it in a battery, and them turn it into motive power.

    My 5 yr old Citroen C5 will do 48 mpg on mixed driving (UK gallons). An electric car of the same size and weight will do about 40 mpg.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think electric cars are great. One day they will rule the world. But we need a better battery, and we need nuclear power to generate the electricity.

    .

  10. Fred Harwood says:

    Keep us informed, Anthony, as the technology changes.
    I’ve two questions. What does a complete recharge cost, and how is space heating provided?

    Thanks.

  11. nc says:

    So what happens when they decide to hit you with road tax? I live in a rural setting up north where I suspect a lot of the raw resources to build your car oringinates from. In a rural setting one has to drive long distances so why am I penalized with road taxes and you are not.

    Rural areas supply the raw resources for the goods civilization craves and we are being penalized for it.

    Oh I am not against electric cars, maybe fine in a warm non snowy urban setting but just pay your fair share of taxes.

  12. Jerry says:

    Anthony does the greens keeper at the golf course allow you to use your car on the course? :>)

    REPLY: I don’t play golf, and no it is too wide. – Anthony

  13. Pull My Finger says:

    Additionally no one seems to really look at the huge strides gas engines have made in the last 40 years. I have a 1970 Trans Am, pre-emissions control, that gets about 10 mpg and has 360hp from a 6.6L engine. Five year later a 7.0+ engine was getting half that horsepower and worse gas milage due to emission controls. Go from 1975 to 2005 with even more restrictive controls, much heavier weights overall (safety, AC, AWD, power everything, etc) and a 2.0L engine with a turbo can get 300hp and 24-27 mpg. There are plenty of perfectly decent very small engines under 2.0L that put out well over 100hp naturally aspirated, and could get well over 40mpg if they were powering cars like the first gen Fiestas, Beetles, Civics, etc. But no one wants tin cans of death with no AC, crank windows and optional AM radio.

    Gas engines are not the problem, the expectations of our cars as an extension of our homes is the problem.

  14. Sun Spot says:

    $5.00 a Gallon how does that compare to 60 (to 80) cents a kilowatt electricity to charge your car, that’s what we are paying for solar power and 23 cents (and up) a kilowatt for wind or Bio-power in Ontario.

    P.S. what’s he total cost of powering an electric vehicle, I presume the electricity you charge your car from is generated by coal. What if your generating station is natural gas isn’t it more efficient simply to run your vehicle on natural gas? My brother in-law works for Enbridge and they have dual fueled vehicle, gas or natural gas.

    REPLY:
    I pay about 14 cents a KW/H so not an issue – A

  15. Ike says:

    Thats not a Smart? If its Chinese, then I would guess that they will never sell that thing in Europe ie Germany as long Mercedes Benz produces and sells the Smart here. Wasn´t there even some copyright lawsuit?

  16. shytot says:

    I think hybrids are the best way forward especially if governments want to save fossil fuels. However you look at it the battery needs charging – I believe that it’s better to do it on the move rather than when you run out of volts. I wouldn’t want to rely on all those wind turbines to have capacity to cover the upside if we all went to electric vehicles ;-)

    I agree with your usage scenario – a lot of people in cities could benefit from the use of smaller EVs, however, it only works if they are cheaper (or same price) as petrol equivalents – that is definitely not the case today in the UK.

  17. Grant from Calgary says:

    All I know is… I have shares in tesla motors because I think the model s will sell like hula-hoops. 300 mile range, 0-60mph in <5 seconds. What's not to love?

  18. shytot says:

    Just read a comment from chuck – my mate has a hybrid Lexus and he has noticed that the consumption (fuel mileage) is worse in winter than it is in summer – due specifically to the engine cutting in earlier because the battery is colder.

  19. ES says:

    A low center of gravity is always a plus, that’s one advantage. You never have to worry about a bunch of kids tipping over your car. –

    Like this?

    Ahttp://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/new-dutch-sport-smart-car-tossing.php#

    REPLY: Sure with a gas engine, you can do that, you can also tip over VW bugs. But not an electric with a bunch of batteries – A

  20. johnboy11 says:

    all this talk of smaller&electric//how are you going to get 8000lbs of top soil delivered to your house 35 miles out of town??every year in Mass. they increase my registration fee /inspection fee etc…pretty soon it will just now be worth working….THEN YOU CAN HALL ALL YOUR STUFF IN YOUR E.V.???????

    REPLY:
    You are completely missing the point, though I think you just like to rant. You need a bumper sticker that says “MY OTHER CAR IS A DUMP TRUCK” or “MY OTHER CAR IS A PICKUP TRUCK”

    You wouldn’t buy a VW to haul topsoil, would you? You don’t buy an electric car to replace a pickup or dump truck. You buy it for local commuting. – Anthony

  21. Grant from Calgary says:

    @ ew-3

    There are lithium deposits in The USA also. Panasonic is the cutting edge company for most EV batteries. Panasonic is a Japanese company. The batteries can be recycled. Other types even more efficient batteries will hopefully take thier place with R&D. There’s a Moore’s Law for batteries of about 8% per year according to Elon Musk.

  22. Robert A says:

    It was an MG Midget for me – after that all cars seem big. It was huge fun and I survived it okay, even the many times I had to beat on the mechanical fuel pump with the back end of a screwdriver.

    We had 5 Midgets at my University and 4 gas caps. The first thing you did after class was find another Midget and steal the gas cap. The second thing was beat on the pump.

    It was so low you could turn almost anywhere at almost any speed and there is an element of safety in that. But I do have to admit the earlier point that the smaller cars get, the less safe.

  23. Dr. Bob says:

    The overall carbon emissions associated with battery vehicles is highly dependent on the source of electricity and the efficiency of conversion of grid power to battery power. California is blessed with very low grid average power, but other parts of the US have much, much higher carbon intensity for power production. You can look up your local carbon intensity for power at: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/how-clean.html

    So, California ARB (CARB) calculated the carbon intensity for electric vehciles and found that they are only about 40% lower than gasoline vehicles on a CO2/mile basis. With California grid average CO2 emissions l/3 to 1/2 those of other locations, when you take an EV out of California, the carbon emissions become nearly double that of gasoline vehicles. This is the real silly part of regulating CO2 when what we need to be more concerned with is dependence on imported fuel. We have lots of coal for power production and could use that coal to produce transportation fuels and power that would decreasee the demand for imported crude and fuel.

    To help stabilize our economy, we need to develop all resourcers available and minimize the use of those resources as best possible to save them for future generations. We don’t need to chase issues like CO2 emissions which many lead us to do stupid things like trying to capture CO2 from a power plant and store it underground. This will take 30% of the power plant output and accomplish nothing but burn more fuel to make the same net power.

    This is probably a topic for a very good discussion

  24. jorgekafkazar says:

    “My very first car was an Austin Healey Sprite. Now that’s an intimidating ride…”

    Golly. Yeah, I had an MG about that time. I’d be on the freeway and look over and see a truck whose wheels were way higher than the MG. For all its faults, no car has been as much fun since.

  25. Larry says:

    I really can’t see the logic for an electric car. The batteries don’t have the energy density of fossil fuels and take huge amounts of power to produce. The plug-in prius produces more co2 per mile on electric than it does on petrol (from the UK grid) – and on petrol it still has to drag the battery around. The short range means it will never be used anywhere near full range and so the rest of the battery pack is wasted. Batteries lose power when not being used, and so energy is wasted on trickle charge. Batteries degrade with time, and the next generation makes the last generation worthless. The only reason why they would be anywhere near financially viable nowadays is because governments charge far more tax on fossil fuels for transportation than they do on electricity generation. It is hard to take seriously the argument that funding them will bring the technology closer because batteries and motors are in such high demand anyhow. If there were to be a case for electric cars it would be where the battery was cycled regularly and in stop start conditions. Taxis or public transport. Even if they do eventually charge fast enough with long enough range to be used as general family transportation they are decades off being used for heavy goods vehicles so are a solution to such a tiny sliver of fossil fuel consumption they are meaningless. They do shift electricity usage from the daytime to the night – when there may be excess available power – but that could be achieved by using the batteries without the car (which would show how inefficient they are compared to the power required to make the batteries) saving the whole issue of transporting such a low energy density medium around. The power required to charge the next generation will be far larger than the current generation (to allow faster charging) so any investment in grids are likely to need updating – and can you imagine the size of the power generator next to a motorway service station if we ever get electric cars and 5 minute charging?

  26. Robinson says:

    $5 per gallon? We’re paying well over $8!

  27. Bryan A says:

    I wonder how these others have jumped past the 40 mile range while the USA lags behind
    The British “Lightning”
    Lightning Electric Car promises to deliver performance rivalling anything currently on the market. The Lightning GT will boast 700+bhp and should completely erode any doubts about the performance capabilities of electric cars. Three versions of the GT are currently planned for a 2008 release, – a luxury model, a lightweight sports model capable of reaching 0-60mph in less than four seconds and an extended range model designed to travel up to 250 miles on a single 10 minute charge.

    Or Tesla Motors
    http://www.teslamotors.com/roadster/specs
    promising 250 miles on a charge for the sport model and 300 for the new sedan

  28. Tom says:

    @Pull My Finger said:

    What is the issue with Hybrids? They actually work but no one seems to be really embracing that technology. Not devoted enough to Gaia I’m guessing.

    Well, the issue with most hybrids is that they are half the size, twice the cost and less fuel efficient compared to my turbo diesel estate. Does a nice ~60mpg in mixed urban/country driving (admittedly real gallons, not those things you mess with in the States).

  29. Pull My Finger says:

    The Tesla is an impressive car, but it will sell about as many as the Dodge Viper since all it really is, is a high performance toy. A very cool toy, but still a toy.

  30. Tom Bakewell says:

    948 CC’s of pure road terror! All managed by that dreaded SU electric fuel pump. What memories!

    REPLY: I had the 1270cc, what a hot rod! – A

  31. Third Party says:

    Electric cars haven’t made much progress over the last 100years.

    “The Detroit Electric Car Company made more than 12,000 Electric cars between 1907 and 1939.

    The original 1922 selling price was $2,985, which is equivalent to $38,000 in modern times.

    This car has a top speed of 25 mph and a range of perhaps 60 miles.”

    http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z17973/Detroit-Electric.aspx

  32. johnboy11 says:

    also all this talk of using natural gas to power cars???HOW AM I GOING TO HEAT MY HOME/AT WHAT COST[ALL YOUR GOV ACTION HAVE EFFECTS ON THE PEOPLE]

  33. Paul Westhaver says:

    Anthony,

    You said: “I think mine is rather fun. With gas prices headed toward $5 a gallon, I’ll have even more fun.”

    I like you Anthony but your logic left you temporarily. Where did your electricity come from that charged your batteries. As well you know it came from an outlet in your home that is powered by that same $5 a gallon gas or oil or equivalent.

    So that being the case, how can driving it be fun for that reason?

    You are still paying for propulsion… from the grid… through 2 energy exchanges.
    That is not fun.

    REPLY: Well it costs less than $2 to charge overnight at the night rates, so it isn’t a concern. I like the technology, the owning of a unique vehicle, and yes driving the car is in fact fun. – A

  34. Pull My Finger says:

    I absolutely agree Tom, was just stating the lesser of two evils (Hybrid vs Electric).

    Tom says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:31 am
    @Pull My Finger said:

    What is the issue with Hybrids? They actually work but no one seems to be really embracing that technology. Not devoted enough to Gaia I’m guessing.

    Well, the issue with most hybrids is that they are half the size, twice the cost and less fuel efficient compared to my turbo diesel estate. Does a nice ~60mpg in mixed urban/country driving (admittedly real gallons, not those things you mess with in the States).

  35. PaulID says:

    Anthony where did you buy your car and roughly how much did it cost?

    REPLY: I’ll have a future post on all that – A

  36. Don Adams says:

    Anthony,
    14cent/KwH? Really? I seem to remember a post about your exhorbitant PG&E bill. I live down the road a bit from you and after you get past PG&E’s skimpy lifeline allowance, the marginal rates jump to 28 and 40 cents per KwH. And with AB32, I expect electricity rates will go up even further to offset all that dirty CO2 :). So given the laws of thermodynamics, which states that effeciency is lost as you transform one kind of energy to another, how is an electric car less polluting than a gasoline or modern diesel engine? Now if we were building nukes, I would have less an argument with the notion of electric vehicles. Finally, as bicylcle friendly as Chico is, wouldn’t a bike be even better?

  37. Jeff says:

    Electrics are great … second cars … in the south, during the winter …

    Hows the AC in that thing ? Or the heater ?

    Would an electric scooter be just as useful ?

  38. Smokey says:

    Ralph says:

    “Don’t get me wrong, I think electric cars are great. One day they will rule the world. But we need a better battery, and we need nuclear power to generate the electricity.”

    I agree. EVs will gain increasing market share. But due to arbitrage, the cost of electricity needed to power electric cars will necessarily rise as EV’s begin to number in the millions, so nuclear power will be required [unless the AGW insanity runs its course and more fossil fuel plants are built].

    Gas and diesel powered vehicles have gotten much better over the past thirty years. I recently bought [and later sold] a car with a V-6 that got a combined 24 mpg [highway/city] with a 268 hp engine [!] and a six speed automatic transmission. The tires actually chirped when changing gears under full power. That kind of performance from a V-6 would have been unthinkable in the ’70’s.

  39. Sean Houlihane says:

    I’m getting 47-50 UK mpg from my petrol hybrid, and at the moment cost of any extra cells seems to outweigh the benefit of trying to make it plug-in. The battery packs are scary power engineering too… A little over 100V, at 100A (which is not far off the main feed for a small house). The hybrid does have a value, it means I can get decent performance and excellent economy for my commute.

  40. Ralph says:

    As an aside – Professor David Mackay has written an influential book called Renewable energy Without the Hot Air (also available free in pdf format, if you Google it). This book is very influential in the UK government and media, with many quotes from it.

    In this book, Prof Mackay makes the highly misleading statement that electric cars are five times as efficient as fossil fuelled cars. This figure was obtained by comparing apples and oranges – lightweight electric vehicles vs the average US gas guzzler, and source fuel (petrol) vs electricity at a socket. I fail to see how a highly intelligent and rational professor could make such a misleading claim, without understanding the implications of this claim. This is prima face evidence, in my opinion, of deliberate deception.

    This deliberately misleading figure (5x as efficient) has been quoted widely. However, after several complaints, Prof Mackay has qualified and withdrawn this statement, both to myself and to The Sunday Times. In actual fact, electric cars are less efficient than an equivalent European diesel, as I reported earlier.

    .

    Prof Mackay also makes other dubious assertions, like we can run transport on renewables (mainly wind). However, the good professor completely fails to mention that the wind is intermittent, while I want to drive every day. During the December cold snap in the UK, wind power was non existent. Had we depended on wind for transport, the UK would have ground to a halt.

    He also fails to mention the fact that to run electric vehicles for the whole nation, we would have to double or treble the number of power stations. Yes, that is how much energy we use in transport.

    I am all for electric vehicles, but this is a policy that needs to be fully thought through, and not promoted by uber-Green activists who want to realise a rediculous pipe-dream (the good professor is an ultra-AGW supporter). Government needs all the facts, before implementing an energy policy, and not the deceptions, half-truths, and outright lies that are being promoted by the Green brigade.

    .

  41. pkatt says:

    :) Its a roller skate. I think electric cars are probably quite fine if you live in a city and only do short jaunts. I bet you have a gas car sitting somewhere though, waiting for the long trips. I drive a 86 Subaru sedan.. I bought it for $600. That is about my car budget. Toys are great if you can afford them. But if the greens were really serious about getting more folks into their cars they would find a way to make them less expensive.

  42. eto says:

    What is the model/make of that car? It looks pretty nice.

    REPLY: I’ll have a future post on the vehicle – Anthony

  43. Tom says:

    Take away all the special tax breaks and government subsidies for all forms of energy production, and let the market decide. If an electric car makes sense then, go for it.

    (Note in passing, a major power line in my area failed today and my home is currently without power. Funny that.)

  44. richcar 1225 says:

    I believe the solution is a natural gas powered Chevy Volt. Natural gas is at an all time discount to oil and it does not have to be imported. With the Volt there is no range anxiety. With a fifty mile range on the battery and say 150 miles from the natural gas tank there are no problems. Maybe we could even gas up at home.

  45. Pull My Finger says:

    Pisha! Americans only measure lawnmower engines in cc! The Trans Am comes with a lovely 6555 cc engine. (yes, I needed a conversion tool) :) For being considerably heavier than those little brit rods it only sits very low to the ground.

    Tom Bakewell says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:33 am
    948 CC’s of pure road terror! All managed by that dreaded SU electric fuel pump. What memories!

    REPLY: I had the 1270cc, what a hot rod! – A

  46. reason says:

    I think the mindblock most people have against electrics is this:
    The car is meant to be purchased in-addition to what you already have.

    My wife drives the SUV family-mover, and 95% of the time, my car has an occupancy of one: myself. In case of emergencies and the occassional convenience, it is nice that my entire family will fit into my car, albeit not as comfortably as in the SUV.

    If I were to get an electric car for commuting, it would need to either
    a) be cheap enough that I could own / operate it in addition to the two cars we already have, or
    b) be large enough to replace my current sedan, and accomodate myself and three passengers.

    Right now, the only electric car that has my attention is the Nissan Leaf.

  47. Andy says:

    You might be saving on gasoline as it skyrockets, but watch your electric bill! It will be interesting to see which is actually cheaper, particularly when California hits rolling blackouts again due to electrical power shortages.

  48. GaryP says:

    I would love a cheap, single seat, electric car for my 9 mile trip to work. Then I could leave my regular car at home for long trips. But, how are they in snow and cold? Is there a defroster? If its a fair weather car, I might as well stick to my 650 motorbike that averages 65 mpg.

  49. Richard M says:

    Now, about peak lithium …

  50. Neo says:

    With 48% of all electricity generated from burning coal, one has to ask why we need a “coal-burning” automobile ?

  51. Ralph says:

    >>Dr Bob
    >>So, California ARB (CARB) calculated the carbon intensity for electric
    >>vehciles and found that they are only about 40% lower than gasoline
    >>vehicles on a CO2/mile basis

    That is not comparing like with like.

    If you compare Anthonies car with new VW Polo diesel, you will find that the VW Polo does better than the electric vehicle. (about 85 g CO2 per km for the Polo)

    And even this is not a fair comparison. The VW Polo is bigger, faster, safer, and carries much more fuel than any electric vehicle of the Smart Car size. You cannot get away from the fact that the electric vehicle has many more stages for the energy to go through, before it gets to the wheels. It HAS to be less efficient.

    Only with the advent of mass nucler power, will electric cars make sense for the majority of drivers.

    And regards the questions on price, that is a red herring. Until governments get around to slapping a fuel tax on motive electricity (and they will), electric vehicles will always seem to be cheap to run.

    .

  52. Sean says:

    A key barrier to LPG car is that many enclosed parking structures not do not accepting them due a supposed explosion/fire risk. LPG tanks have vents so the risk no-longer a real issue.

    These batteries also explode with impact /heat / short circuits.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21IySOMmFU4&feature=related

    I know petrol cars do also, but a lot of work has been done in car design to avoid this – position of tank – automatic disconnection the battery in case of shock.

  53. Ralph says:

    >>Dr Bob
    >>So, California ARB (CARB) calculated the carbon intensity for electric
    >>vehciles and found that they are only about 40% lower than gasoline
    >>vehicles on a CO2/mile basis

    That is not comparing like with like.

    If you compare Anthonies car with new VW Polo diesel, you will find that the VW Polo does better than the electric vehicle. (about 85 g CO2 per km for the Polo)

    And even this is not a fair comparison. The VW Polo is bigger, faster, safer, and carries much more fuel than any electric vehicle of the Smart Car size. You cannot get away from the fact that the electric vehicle has many more stages for the energy to go through, before it gets to the wheels. It HAS to be less efficient.

    Only with the advent of mass nucler power, will electric cars make sense for the majority of drivers.

    And regards the questions on the price of electricity, that is a red herring. Until governments get around to slapping a fuel tax on motive electricity (and they will), electric vehicles will always seem to be cheap to run.

    .

  54. kiki says:

    the Li-ion batteries are fully recyclable. Once they are dead and no longer usable as a power supply, they will be added to the water supply to keep keeping you happy :).

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E1DE1E39F930A25751C1A96F9C8B63

    dont know how much this toy costs, but I guess for the price difference between this and a regular car, one can afford quite a few gallons of gas. And should we go lectric, especially green lectric, you can expect electricity prices to go through the roof.

    How do I know… well, err, I used to believe in AGW, and spent quite a lot of time researching environmentally sound solutions :)).

    Even donated to greenpeace some years back. They have sent me so many paper brochures since that I am starting to get real worried about the Amazon rain forest..

    Someone mentioned hybrids. The interesting thing about those is that they are not much better than a diesel. You can reduce your gas consumption more by driving non- agressively, and there is also the additional factor of smug. Hey, I drive a hybrid. No sense in walking those 200 yards now.. and you might just push that pedal a little bit harder to experience how good green acceleration really feels. Nature simply doesnt like environmentalism :)

  55. Merrick says:

    The Journal of the American Chemical Society. This is one of the societies I was considering leaving after the Hal Lewis/American Physical Society event. And, believe me, the ACS is FAR MORE AGW/knee-jerk than APS. At least the APS took the effort to put up a sham panel to consider its AGW statement – that’s something the ACS would NEVER do.

    Not that any of this detracts from the interesting article and its import for future energy utilization. It just struck me as a funny connection, today.

    BTW – I didn’t resign my APS membership, either.

  56. Mike Haseler says:

    What most people fail to realise is that energy for transport largely comes down to energy density. Gasoline is absolutely packed full of joules/kg because it is all utilised (except the tank). Batteries on the other hand are always going to be deficient, because the chemical energy is stored in a thin layer which then requires heavy conductors to allow the current to get from the chemical energy storage film to the terminals. PLUS you need multiple cells, plus it’s a two part process whereas half the content of burning gasoline comes from the air.

    Worse still, last time I looked Lead acid needed replacing after 200 charge recharge cycles – which means the cost of battery changes is a significant part of the running cost!

    Having said all that, I’m quite keen on electric – it would be ideal to drive to the station each day! The real problem is finding a chasis to convert that won’t rust in the Scottish rain before it’s paid back the conversion cost.

  57. upcountrywater says:

    As a pedestrian and a bicyclist, I use my hearing to keep my self from getting run-over.
    Electric cars are very quiet when moving under 30 MPH. Maybe install a small speaker playing the sound track of the Absent Minded Professor’s model T. Turn it on when approaching bikers and peds.


    Sound @ 0:30….

    Lead-acid batteries are 150 years old and still the best all around car battery. Be nice if someone would figure out a way to fill a tank with electrons, an ultra-super capacitor like with out plates and a dielectric.

  58. Zeke the Sneak says:

    consumers have a great desire for electric vehicles, given the shortage and expense of petroleum.

    I have no idea what they are talking about. Don’t pin this on “consumers.” Electricity rates are going up along with gas prices – are they implying that “consumers” are so thrilled with their electric bill that they want to get an electric car (along with all their neighbors, exponentially increasing demand)? A diversity of power sources and yes, even gas prices, are a godsend, compared to what electricity rates will be after environmentalists have gotten through “leveling the playing field” for irresponsible, expensive, unsafe, unreliable green energy sources. The consumer has barely anything to do with this; perhaps nothing at all.

    Included in the future prices of electricity, electric car enthusiasts need to calculate the following:
    1. price on greenhouse gas emissions
    2. national renewable energy standard – required use of windmills, etc.
    3. building a new transmission superhighway to carry renewable energy to population centers
    4. smart meters on homes – per the Whitehouse

    This is pure command economy. Consumers are not responsible for any of this. Real consumers love pickups. :-D

  59. Mike Haseler says:

    Pull My Finger says: February 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

    “Pisha! Americans only measure lawnmower engines in cc! The Trans Am comes with a lovely 6555 cc engine.”

    So tell me this: What’s the cc of two chickens and a man pushing a mechanical lawn mower?

  60. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    My heart is a Ford 5.0 L push-rod V-8!

  61. Barry Woods says:

    it’s still most likely co2 powered though…

    so ultimately a bit pointless, some gasturbine/electric hybrids do seem to have promise though..Lotus are devloping this range-extending drive train for other manufacturers.

  62. Wondering Aloud says:

    I would love to have one. But how well do you think it would do at 20 or 30 below zero?

    REPLY: With current battery technology, not well at all, but you really have to get past the idea that an electric vehicle and primary household vehicle are not the same thing today. – Anthony

  63. Paul Westhaver says:

    Anthony,

    I appreciate you explaining that you get away with lower energy cost because you are able to charge during low-demand times.. ie game the grid.

    This ability is extent from the the fact that nearly nobody uses power at night. Were there more people like you, and that is the intent of the electric care producers, then the off-peak power will be more in line with day usage rates.

    I believe ~25% of the US energy consumption is used for transportation.
    With many electric vehicles being charged at night,creating an order or magnitude increase in the night load, rates would skyrocket.

    Have “fun” while you can but the electric car is not a solution unless the grid is supported by nuke power, and batteries get better. I am a battery designer BTW.

    I have been working on this for some time.

    regards,

    PW

    REPLY: I think you are reading way to much into this. Just because I own an electric car doesn’t automatically mean I support crazy flawed wind power schemes. Yes we need nukes and other reliable sources or power. – Anthony

  64. Richard111 says:

    @Ralph says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Well said there. Why hasn’t there been an analysis of the current UK vehicle numbers and the power they use? Fuel supply companies should be able to provide that figure without counting vehicles. Then figure out how much electicity will be needed to equal that consumption. And remember this will be in EXCESS of the current generating capacity.

  65. A C Osborn says:

    Anthony, “I live about 2 miles from my office. ”
    Shame on you that is a nice Walk or Bike Ride, fancy wasting all that electricity.
    Sarc off/

    REPLY: If there was a bike path, sure. But I have to ride on four lane streets, which I don’t like. -A

  66. wobble says:

    I think the electric car is a fantastic concept for urban and dense suburban commuters in this country. And of course, there’s no reason why anyone would need to feel pressured to purchase one if they need more hauling capacity.

    While I can get about 40 miles of city driving, I could probably double that with a lighter, more efficient battery.

    Electric vehicles really need to start offering charging options. A solar cell on the roof would work great for those that park their vehicle outside at work. A small natural gas engine would work great for those needing the occasional extended range (natural gas is all domestic and expected to be capable of handling such greater demand without a price spike – and it’s cheap right now). The charge wouldn’t necessarily need to be enough to run the vehicle at 60 mph, but the engine could be turned on at the onset of a long trip to extend the battery from 40 miles to 80 miles or something.

    Note: I’ll readily admit that I don’t know enough about the supply and disposal of the materials needed for lithium-ion batteries to discuss those issues in detail.

  67. Bill says:

    the battery cost component of hybrids can be as much as $20k and realistically they can be recharged 200-2500 times. thats $8-10$ everytime you plug it in – before elctricity costs. stick with petroleum.

  68. Bill says:

    typo – 2000- 2500 recharges

  69. JohnM says:

    No response on heating the car, Anthony, despite (at least) three people asking.

    REPLY: hadn’t noticed, I do have other things to do you know. It has a ceramic element electric heater. I’ll have a future post on the vehicle details for the curious – A

  70. Adam Gallon says:

    The concept as a city car is fine, but if you’re so close to your office & living in a pleasant climate, get your bicycle out, in fact, you’d probably be better off walking the two miles!
    For a small car, that’s practical, how about the VW Polo Bluemotion.
    http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Drives/Search-Results/First-drives/Volkswagen-Polo-Bluemotion-2010/

  71. Eyes Wide Open says:

    But where’s the discussion about economics? Who wants to drop double the price for an electric vehicle? Certainly not the masses!

  72. Stephen Rasey says:

    Back in the mid-1970’s there was a Scientific American article on using variable density fly-wheels as an alternative to batteries. They were some 3 feet in diameter, spun on magnetic bearings in a vacuum chamber. Their purported advantages over batteries were a) higher energy storage/pound, b) infinite recharge cycles, c) very high speed “recharge”, d) efficient for regenerative breaking, and e) you could demand much higher current from them than you could batteries.

    The ScAm article said that the fly wheel could store enough energy for 30-40 miles, you could park it at an airport for a week and the wheel would still be spinning. But they recommended it as a hybrid with a small gasoline motor-generator to add energy to the flywheel.

    I’ve wondered why that has not been more pursued. There are some practical considerations: You have to keep the flywheel flat and gimble it. The vacuum container must be made to contain a failure….

    … and that might have been the problem. They even had a picture of the interior of the housing after a failure – a mess of fiberglass(?). Perhaps the greatest problem is if you are going to use a fly-wheel to replace energy equivalent of two gallons of gas, then if the flywheel is stopped through accident, then the entire kinetic energy of two gallons of gasoline must immediately be converted into heat and shrapnel.

    I wonder if battery powered cars, particularly Li-based ones, do not suffer a similar problem. You charge them with the equivalent of a gallon of gas. They get damaged in an accident. Does the energy stay locked up in the battery – or might it short out? I think there are still restrictions on the number and size of Li-ion batteries you can take aboard airplanes.

    The worry doesn’t stop with electrical fires. Is there a danger of chemical fire with the material contents of a heavily damaged Li-x battery? Lithium isn’t steel. What happens when it meets water, say from a fire-hose? We have gotten plenty careful about lead in our environment these past 45 years. What are the chances we might be a little cavalier about lithium today and regret it 30 years from now confronted by an increase in neuralgic disorders?

  73. Alan F says:

    The Chinese have been the kings of lithium ion batteries for quite a while now and have had inner city electric cabs in full use for years now. The only real issue reported had been with EOL cost of replacement for the battery assembly which as is said in an earlier post is accelerated by operation in extremes of hot or cold. With charge life dwindling rapidly with load/road grade its success has been as an inner city taxi and small delivery conveyance only.

    What we need to keep in mind with electric cars is the energy, materials and manpower it takes to make and properly dispose of a bank of batteries not merely the kw/h costs of plugging in.

  74. I’d go for one except for the cost of ownership. The road tax, insurance, annual testing etc for two cars is just too much. If one could tax and insure them on the basis that only one car is on the road at a time, it would at least help.

  75. Chris Smith says:

    Is it true that whenever you charge and then discharge a battery you loose 50% of the energy in waste? Something to do with the theory of capacitors if I remember correctly.

    If so then, in getting the energy into that battery presumably there are many capacitors along the way from the source (likely to be a coal plant?) there must be a lot of waste. Four capacitors lose about 80% of the energy.

    Just wondering how it compares to using petrol in terms of efficiency. It still has the advantage that all the pollution can be dealt with in one place (the power station and battery manufacture/disposal) rather than us breathing in all the toxins which come out of a petrol exhaust pipe.

    Sure it might me cheaper per mile for the end user, but that is likely due to some kind of subsidy somewhere along the line?

  76. keith at hastings uk says:

    Come on guys, let’s not be knee jerk negative, electric cars may well fill a useful niche market one day. Problem is they are almost solution looking for a problem, once one dumps the “CO2″ issue. But maybe there is an energy security/peak oil issue in there somewhere. There is certainly a city centre pollution issue, tho’ the very best petrol (gasoline) engines are quite clean I think. Diesels less so, because of particulates, despite filters.
    In the UK, electric cars are stupidly expensive at present and seem to have ranges around 80 – 100 miles for the most part, in peak conditions. So, given UK population density, many journeys and much commuting would be in range. Overnight charge from our household 240v 13 A sockets.
    Of course, how the elec. is generated is of great importance, depending on the “problem” the cars are meant to solve. One idea is “smart meters” to control when such as cars are charged, so as to cope with variable wind power, but I think that is a green fantasy (and don’t want my elec turned off by some bureaucrat…
    As for diesels, UK now has pumps in all petrol stations. I don’t think there are many in the US? hence, also, the popularity of Hybrids. I run a second hand Prius as it happens, and not because of CO2 worries as such.

  77. Tannim111 says:

    As always, the right tool for the right job. For your specific needs, an electric car sounds like it would work nicely.

    Truthfully, though, I’m thinking we won’t see mass adoption until they get to the point where one can haul 3 kids, a load of groceries, and hockey gear, go a couple hundred km without recharge, and charge in a time comparable to a gas station stop.

  78. R. de Haan says:

    Gaining perspective on electric vehicles and the natural resources cliff.
    The argument against the electric car is not that we use fossil fuels to charge the batteries from power plants with 30% efficiency and that we need power plants if the big numbers hit the market but the simple fact that we replace fuel tanks with hundreds of pounds of rare metals. Acquiring these metals requires lots of fossil fuels. Green technologies accelerate the consumption of our resources and therfore
    green technologies are the opposite from sustainable.
    It’s sabotage of our economies masqueraded as a solution for a non existing problem.
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/251134-gaining-perspective-on-electric-vehicles-and-the-natural-resource-cliff?source=marketwatch

  79. Paul in Sweden says:

    REPLY: You are completely missing the point, though I think you just like to rant. You need a bumper sticker that says “MY OTHER CAR IS A DUMP TRUCK” or “MY OTHER CAR IS A PICKUP TRUCK”

    It is the “other car” thing that bothers me. Why the heck are there so many tax perks so some people can have a second car?

    Electric makes sense for some people in some situations. Anthony, I see it makes sense for you. I also see how it makes sense for a celebrity to pull their hybrid out of the driveway where it is parked normally next to their Ferrari, Bentley & BMW when they drive to the red carpet.

    Electric second cars are a luxury and taxpayers should not subsidize luxuries.

    REPLY: And nobody has subsidized mine or the power it uses – A

  80. _Jim says:

    Defrost – I did a search on the thread on the word ‘defrost’ and no hits; how’s that (the defroster, you know windshield defroster) working out for you?

    Would it melt ice or snow off the windshield like we’ve had in our Texas winter this year (and about the ‘heat’ – the cabin heat that is …)

    (You KNOW the question has to be asked!)

    .

  81. bob says:

    Good for Anthony that he can putter around town in an EV. Not everyone lives in a place where that would be practical. EV’s will not be practical for the average commuter until the cost of gasoline reaches a point where alternatives are economically competitive.

    There will always be petroleum available. The problem with oil availability, apart from the obvious political problems in OPEC countries, is that it will get more costly to extract from remaining reservoirs.

    So, what should we be doing? Collectively, we should do nothing! Entrepreneurs are working on dozens of gas vehicle and gasoline alternatives right now.

    The problem will take care of itself if we let economics take its natural course.

    Let the cost of oil and gasoline keep rising, and you will see these alternatives. If EV’s are a decent alternative, where will the additional electricity infrastructure come from? It will be built by the same people who built the existing infrastructure, and that is not the Federal Government. Private companies saw an opportunity for profit, and invested in the future. The same principles apply, today.

    Everything will work out in the long run. The short run is the biggest problem, and we cannot control that, anyway.

  82. mkelly says:

    “Bruno Scrosati, Yang-Kook Sun, and colleagues point out that consumers have a great desire for electric vehicles, given the shortage and expense of petroleum.”

    I think this statement is well bunkum. Consumers don’t have a “great desire for electric vehicles”. It is an option that is open and for some vehicles federeally subsides ie the Volt with $7500 tax incentive.

    The shortage of oil is in question. We don’t know how much is out there to claim there is a shortage. The shortage of gas is govenment caused.

    As for the expense that is again govenment caused. (Not necessarily our gov.) Added taxes, restricted drilling, etc drives up price. Now if Qaddafi went quietly the price of oil would not have shot up so again a government cause.

    We have a almost inexhaustible supply of natural gas on and off shore. Shale gas and methane hydrates can fuel us for 1000 years.

    But the bottom line most of what we are doing with EV’s etc is being driven by the false claim of GW by CO2.

  83. Ralph says:

    >>Richard111 says: February 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

    >>Well said there, Ralph. Why hasn’t there been an analysis of the current
    >>UK vehicle numbers and the power they use? Fuel supply companies should
    >>be able to provide that figure without counting vehicles. Then figure out how
    >>much electicity will be needed to equal that consumption.

    There is a figure here, but it is for ALL transport.

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file11250.pdf

    This report says that transport represents 26% of all UK energy usage (fig 1.4), while only 9% of all energy usage is supplied by electricity (fig 1.2).

    If we assume that half of this transport energy requirement is for road vehicles (as opposed to sea, air and train), then we will require another 13% of total energy supply to be electric, to supply all these new electric road vehicles. Thus we shall need to multiply the current number of power stations by 2.5, if we wish to go towards all electric road vehicles.

    .

  84. pochas says:

    What we need is an induction system so an electric can pick up energy from the roadway. Then you only need the batteries to get out of your driveway.

    I’m an AGW skeptic, but would also like to see evolution toward resource-preserving technologies that leave as much as possible for future generations. But not by means of campaigns of lies and deception.

  85. dwright says:

    I find this interesting: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/ (hydrogen fuel cell)
    Unfortunately the best way to obtain hydrogen is catalytic cracking of fossil fuels; and the huge expense of creating a refueling infrastructure might make it pointless. Neat tech though.

  86. ShrNfr says:

    They make a nice car for around town and the short commute. However, they do have to be a “second car” given the length of time to recharge. I have one. Top speed: 70 mph. Range: 40 mi. Recharge time: 8 hrs 110V, 4 hrs 220V. A non-starter as an only car.

  87. PB-in-AL says:

    Kudos, Anthony. While I am the perfect candidate, commute-wise, for an electric vehicle, I just can’t justify the additional costs associated with getting one, over an ICE. I considered converting my ’91 323, but the cost was upwards of $10k, it would take me nearly 80k miles just to break even, and that’s with gas at $4.50/gal.

    I’ve also looked at the Brammo electric motorcycle. Their prices have really come down. Thing is both my 323 and my old Nighthawk are paid for, both get better than average mpg; I just can’t justify the cost premium to change over to electric.

    Maybe one of those lottery tickets will pay off… ‘course, I suppose I need to buy some first.

  88. juanslayton says:

    Tom Bakewell:
    All managed by that dreaded SU electric fuel pump.

    I wonder if that was the same pump on the Morris Minor? Had one die on the way home from a visit to Palomar Mountain. We reached the nearest civilization with friend Nancy driving while I hung onto the back bumper blowing into the gas filler tube. Ah, the good old days….

  89. DesertYote says:

    One point no one seems to be making regarding wide adoption of electric vehicles is tax. A large component of the price of gas at the pump is tax. The tax is used (at least in sane states, i.e. not Kalifornia) for road maintenance. The money has to come from somewhere. Also the liberal plan is to artificially inflate the price of power in order to force people to conserve. Its to save the earth you know.

  90. gianmarco says:

    “consumers have a great desire for electric vehicles,”
    sorry, thats nonsense. almost nobody want electric cars and thats exactly why there are so few around.

    too much sheer propaganda and misinformation around. once government shift taxes from petrol to electricity, and comparing an electric car with a similar IC powered car with comparable (tiny) power and range, electrics lose on all counts.
    and anyway, there is no electricity production capacity to power more than a tiny amount of EV. more than that and the grid, already strained to the limit in many countries, will collapse.

  91. billsticker says:

    What are the charge times like? Say for example you want to go another hundred miles that day, how long would it take to put enough charge in the batteries?

  92. Mike86 says:

    I was looking at global lithium supply and found this link: http://www.torquenews.com/119/plenty-zinc-supplies-could-replace-lithium-batteries. Turns out zinc-air batteries could be the coming thing. More power and more USA sourcing.

  93. P Gosselin says:

    Lithium is abundant in supply, but often in very low concentrations, meaning large-cale mining projects = lots of CO2 and environmental destruction.
    There are some deposits, here and there, but they tend to be small in size and located in other countries, i.e. more foreign dependency.
    I bet when a complete life-time analysis is done, these little lectric cars with huge batteries are likely hardly better for the environment than cars powered on fossil fuels. They may be worse.
    Face it, it’s going to cost.

  94. Steve says:

    Still waiting for an electric car that appeals to me. I once hoped that they would be available about ten years ago, but it still looks at least another ten years away. My list of requirements include 300 horsepower, 300 ft-lbs torque (momentary), with continuous hp of about 40, 150 mile range with heater and air conditioner running (a requirement here in the moist Pacific Northwest), heated seats, etc.

    In other words, an electric car has to be better, in all aspects, than an internal combustion automobile to get me to switch. Once that threshold has passed, count me in!

  95. P Gosselin says:

    I’m not saying research shouldn’t be done. But we should be careful about ramming them down people’s throats. These things have a way of turning into debacles.

  96. Don Keiller says:

    Just one fly in the soup. The key compound is Lithium.
    Don’t the Chinese have a near monopoly on this?
    Guess where these batteries will be made?
    They will use industrial processes powered by “dirty” coal stations that would have been shut years ago in the West and exported 1000s of miles to the “environmentally”aware Western consumer.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is farcical?

  97. parallel says:

    Good for you Anthony.
    I don’t know why hybrids are always made with the IC engine built-in. People don’t need more than a 50 mile range for most days. To go on the occasional longer trip I like the idea of having a small diesel powered generator that is attached as a trailer. Possibly rented. Not my idea: I saw pictures of a very nice implementation of this by some Australian.

    I still have hopes for the EESU ultra-capacitor made by EEStor. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor (has some errors)
    A 52kW unit is supposed to weigh 336lb and be 13.5 x 13.5 x 11 inches.
    Not only that, it can be fully charged in 3 – 6 minutes, has a virtually unlimited life and a negligible leakage rate.

    Unfortunately for us, EEStor is a private company and it seems impossible to get information about progress. It is already several years late on delivery than inferred by founder Dick Weir, but the Canadian company Zenn is banking their future on it surfacing this year.

    As to the cost and pollution of the electric power required for EVs, the problem would go away if America would only start building liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs). The technology has been proven, they are fail safe and should produce electricity at a couple of cents/kW if the lawyers can be kept at bay. They produce <1% of the radwaste of current reactors and could even eat the radwaste those dinosaurs produce.

    Millions of EVs with EESUs could be connected to the grid when not in use for load leveling.

  98. Lithium is used for treating manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder. It is also used to reduce the frequency and decrease the severity of manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder.

    Sorry, this post is not about AGW.

    For example, the Nissan Leaf will take eight hours to charge with a 240-volt charger that will cost customers $2,200 to install. The fully charged car can drive about 100 miles, Nissan says, though it may go fewer depending on air temperature, speed and other factors.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704654004575517891616896222.html

    I do not understand. It is not Plug and Play.

    Neodymium

  99. Tom Bakewell says:

    @juanslayton
    Jags and Rovers had the horrid SU electric fuel pumps as well. One could get a replacement points kit, but it had seven sets of adjustments and they all interacted (poorly) with each other. I used a string tied to the points to get home once. I’d jerk it every few seconds and the pump would twig along for a few more strokes. How Britain ever successfully motorized is a mystery to me.

  100. ew-3 says:

    Grant from Calgary says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

    The biggest deposits of lithium are in Chile and Bolivia. The US will never get to use it’s lithium as the EPA won’t even let us drill for oil or dig for coal, even though those processes are much cleaner then lithium mining.

    Suspect that while Panasonic is a Japanese company they have their production facilities for batteries in mainland China. One interesting thing to note about Panasonic is they are a leader in super capacitors. These critters are ideal for storing the energy generated from braking, as the battery has a limited charge rate. So for stop and go you can use the super caps on stopping and starting, thus evening out the battery drain.

  101. David A says:

    I would put this in the category ‘expensive toy’, there is no way that it pays out economically, as Anthony already pointed out, he has a second ‘real’ car.

    I don’t know the rules for car insurance in the US, but I guess you need to pay insurance for both (we are a bit priviledged here in the last independent alpine country: you can insure one car, the most expensive one, and put the plates on any of your cars, depending on which one you want to drive), you have to amortise both cars, even if they are not driven, they loose value. There is also the problem of loosing the charge of your ion batteries if you are not driving the car for a few weeks (if you have time to go on holidays, which I hope you do!).

    To make it economical would require to get rid of the ‘other real’ car and see if you can only rent one when needed, if it starts to make economic sense.

  102. DaveF says:

    Bryan A 9:30:
    According to their website, Lightning cars have not yet begun production – it’s now scheduled for 2012; originally it should have been 2008. They are still looking for investors, too. Their motors produce a total of 400 horsepower, not 700 and the top speed is expected to be 125mph. The range is only 150 miles. I don’t think this will set the world on fire.

  103. nandheeswaran jothi says:

    jorgekafkazar says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:28 am

    takes me back.

    some 33 years ago…. oh those cute MGs and TR7s…. great fun. you can pass a truck underneath the the truck ( never tried it. too much of a chicken ). as they say in india… you can ‘undertake’ the truck, rather than ‘overtake’ it.

  104. Pull My Finger says:

    Let’s not forget people that live in apartments, condos, townhouses, etc. cannot install these home charger kits. Which of course kills the opportunity for its best use, in cities. So electric cars are great for high income, suburban home owners, who use it only for commuting to work, as long as they live within 20 miles of their destination.
    Yes, the public is certainly clamoring for millions of these!

    For example, the Nissan Leaf will take eight hours to charge with a 240-volt charger that will cost customers $2,200 to install. The fully charged car can drive about 100 miles, Nissan says, though it may go fewer depending on air temperature, speed and other factors.

  105. Ian W says:

    Its a dark and stormy night and snowing heavily the traffic has been grinding along and its going to take at least 4 hours to travel what should have been a 30 minute trip. The heater, lights and wipers are on…. then you see that the battery charge is right down and eventually all goes dark cold and quiet.

    In a conventional vehicle a good Samaritan can give you a gallon of gas; or you can walk to a nearby gas station and buy one. With an electric car you will need a tow or a low loader to take you to a power point. This is a problem that must be solved and why the hybrids like the Volt make much more sense.

  106. commieBob says:

    Stephen Rasey says:
    Back in the mid-1970′s there was a Scientific American article on using variable density fly-wheels as an alternative to batteries.

    I’m assuming the flywheel would be mounted horizontally so: every time you came to a hill, the car would turn sharply right or left because of the gyroscope effect.

    re. Batteries: Back in the 1970s we had a saying: “There are liars, damn liars and battery chemists.” I’m not in the same industry any more but, as far as I can tell, the saying is still true.

  107. SandyInDerby says:

    Personally I don’t really care what the power source for my transport is. But I have been puzzled by one thing for a long time on this drive to so called clean electric cars (allowing that in town fumes and particulates have been exported elsewhere).

    When we (in Europe) are all driving electric powered cars what will the government tax to replace the fuel revenues lost? Presumably not domestic electricity, as recent world events show even dictators can only push people so far. If we all install home generators (wind, solar, wave, hydro etc.) that will evade taxation as well. Presumably income and purchase taxes will have to rise. In many ways politicians are painting themselves into a corner with this.

  108. Curiousgeorge says:

    While EV’s have their place, I think it will remain a niche market for the foreseeable future. The tech is (barely) suitable for what you said (urban 1-3 people hauler) in reasonably flat terrain (think Kansas/Nebraska), but likely not in the mountain states or cities like Seattle or SF. And until the Tech can be used for commercial trucking (big rigs) it won’t make much of a dent in petroleum usage or that other bugaboo – CO2. Those who wish to participate in this experiment are welcome to do so, but I think I’d rather drive a team of horses and a buggy if push comes to shove.

  109. Zeke the Sneak says:

    And one could always put a Peterbilt 388 air horn on it to be heard.

  110. Jerry Haney says:

    I have owned a Toyota Prius for the past 3 years and driven it for over 45,000 miles with not one problem. I get about 48 miles to the gallon here in Austin, Texas. The car is comfortable with plenty of leg room both in the front and back seats. Behind the second seat is a fair amount of storage. On a trip to Phoenix and back it got 46.2 miles per gallon at about 75 miles per hour with my wife and me in it. It has no problem running at 80 miles per hour. It is a wonderful second car. My other car, a Corvette, is also a great vehicle, but doesn’t get driven much because the Prius is so economical and comfortable.

  111. Tommy says:

    I wonder if it makes more sense for people to buy the car and rent the battery. Make the battery conform to a design standard that is easy to swap.

    If this was done, then it seems to me something similar to a filling station would be possible, but for electric vehicles they swap out your battery and charge you for the difference in measured charge. The station could also send bad batteries to the leasing agent they belong to for replacement.

  112. Curiousgeorge says:

    Anthony, btw you might find some tips here on how to prolong your battery life. http://batteryuniversity.com/

  113. Smokey says:

    Good article on the EV rebate ripoff.

  114. Dave says:

    I smell a (public relations) rat. I’m a materials engineer and every week I see PR pieces come out advertising the latest technology since sliced bread. If even 1% of them came true, the world would be a very different place. Remember that scientific communities other than the climate crowd have to get the word out to defend their own research grants.

    That being said, I’m a big believer in battery research. Someday they’ll get there and this could very well be the technology that revolutionizes the industry. But as for me, I’m still a skeptic (a battery denier?) until proven otherwise.

  115. David Davidovics says:

    I converted a 1996 saturn SL1 to electric over the last couple years using lithium iron phosphate batteries ordered direct from mainland china (I suspect Anthony’s car is available with them as an option). For various reasons already mentioned, it is possible to manufacture and distribute these excellent batteries in the USA or canada (I am in canada), but it isn’t being done in a way that mortal privateers like myself can gain access. While its true that the manufacture of these batteries has an impact on the environment, so too does the mining of coal or extraction of oil or the casting of aluminum engine blocks used to build high tech common rail injected diesel engines – its a completely moot point.

    Compared to lead acid batteries, these are way better than any lead based chemistry and can store twice the energy for a comparable size and weight (Energy density is what limit’s the car’s range). What’s more, you can discharge them down to 20% capacity and still have well over 1000 cycles. If you only go down to 50% DOD, then cycle life will pass 5000 and the chemical shelf life becomes the limiting factor (roughly 10 years). No lead golf car battery can do this! The self discharge rate is also EXTREMELY LOW, and at one point, this battery was in storage for over a year without a loss in capacity that I could measure. Lead batteries need to be topped up every month to prevent them from running down. There is also no liquid to spill, and there are no heavy metals in the battery itself.
    Its also a myth that they stop functioning below 32F.
    They will lose some performance below that, and they are harder (but not impossible) to recharge, but they will still function. I found that internal resistance of the battery actually causes the cell temperature to rise above freezing allowing the battery to accept charge even in cold weather. When driving, a similar effect generates heat inside the cell (this is in fact true for nearly every type of chemical storage battery), once again maintaining adequate chemical reaction for the battery to run the car.

    Can electric cars replace gasoline or diesel cars? NO!! and I won’t listen to anyone that believes that. EVs will no sooner replace the piston engine than diesels will replace gasoline engines. Its just another way to get around and there is room on the road for all types.

    I hand calculated the cost of running my car a while ago and it comes to about $4/charge So far I can pass 80 miles on one charge if my speed is a constant 55 MPH (0n paper, it should be able to do 100 miles in warmer weather). Here in BC, we get a lot of hyrdo and CNG electricity but I would still have done the conversion even if it was all coming from coal.

    Here’s one of my earlier highway tests:

  116. old44 says:

    Anthony, are electric cars in your state powered by gas, coal, nuclear or renewables?

  117. Wayne says:

    I’m driving a 2010 Prius and really can’t understand the EV push when hybrids work so nicely and fit in with our current system. I live in a condo and park underground, so a plugin or EV has no place to plugin. Last year, over the course of the entire year, I averaged 48 MPG in a car that’s fun like a video game every time I drive it, and I could also head cross-country with it if I want.

    It’s like the whole debate over skipping colonizing the Moon in order to colonize Mars. I think it’s foolish to skip the Moon, with all of the things we could learn close-to-home, and I think it’s foolish to skip hybrids to go straight to EVs.

  118. Don K says:

    ***REPLY: If there was a bike path, sure. But I have to ride on four lane streets, which I don’t like. -A***

    Absolutely. When I lived in the Detroit burbs, I used a bicycle for local transportation. I (quite illegally) rode it on the sidewalk because no one in Detroit walks anywhere and Midwestern drivers are spectacularly incompetent. You’d have to be raving nuts or suicidal to share the road with them. California (and East Coast) drivers are much better, but still it isn’t a fair fight, and it’s not a fight you’d want to lose. I would also point out that riding a bike in an old lake bed (Detroit) that is flat as a pancake is entirely different from riding a bike in hilly country. The elderly and infirm can’t (or don’t want to) deal with it. Not to mention snow and ice in places like Vermont where I now reside. I still have a bike, but I don’t us it much. Too much elevation change between me and the grocery store.

    FWIW, Here’s an article about managing to drive a Tesla Roadster from London to Edinburgh — about the same distance as LA to San Francisco or Boston to Baltimore. The trip took 19 hours due to recharging time. Clearly, Electric cars are in their infancy. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/18/bbc_tesla_edinburgh_e_car_shenanigans/.

    Also, my impression is that the USPS has tested every new electric vehicle for decades and found none of them yet to be suited to their needs.

    But I think that electrics/hybrids will constitute a significant part of the fleet in the US by 2030 and probably most of it by 2050. I would guess that hydrocarbon based fuels will be pretty expensive by then.

    Note to someone above. The purported problem with LPG is that unlike natural gas, propane or propane/butane mixtures are heavier than air, so the gas vented from a leak can pool in low spots — presenting both an explosion and breathing hazard. That’s why propane is banned from many tunnels and some other structures.

  119. u.k.(us) says:

    Good to see you having fun with this post, Anthony.
    If I may be so bold, we can all use a post like this, occasionally.

  120. Dr. Lurtz says:

    I think it is fantastic that you have a non-renewable carbon based vehicle.
    Now, where are the 5000 breeder reactors, that the world needs, to power those cars??

  121. Gary says:

    I live 1.5 miles from my office. I’d love to have a little car like that. It’d almost make me feel like a kid again, to have such a novel gadget. Maybe driving to work would actually be fun again? And I agree with earlier comments: what will “Big Oil” have to say about this, Anthony? Aren’t you worried they’ll pull the plug on your microphone? Or worse! Pull the plug on your funding? Because, as we all know, it’s impossible to actually have your own opinion without being financially influenced by some big corporation somewhere.

    Here’s to all those who refuse the mold!

  122. Ralph says:

    >>dwright says: February 23, 2011 at 10:54 am
    >>I find this interesting: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/
    >>(hydrogen fuel cell)

    Hydrogen is even worse than battery power. By the time you have created the hydrogen, compressed it, stored it, put it through a fuel cell, and then driven an electric motor – the losses are horrendous.

    In my calculations, the average hydrogen fuel cell car, would be less than half as efficient as a standard European diesel – somewhere around 20 mpg.

    And for the Yanks on this thread, yes, a large European four-door family diesel saloon can and will do 50 mpg on mixed town and country driving.

    .

  123. MarkW says:

    My only problem with people who drive electric cars is that they aren’t paying gas taxes, which to a large degree, pay for the roads they are driving on. They leave that priviledge to the rest of us.

  124. DirkH says:

    Google “Nevada Lithium” – looks like exploitation of clays (Hectorite) in Nevada is underway to get Lithium. It’s interesting because it’s a different source than the usual salt lakes and pegmatites… looks like miners start looking for Lithium and find it… I expect rising known reserves.

  125. Glenn in Edmonton, Alberta says:

    From two years ago an article regarding the overcoming of lengthy charge rates of lithium batteries: http://web.mit.edu/mitei/research/spotlights/battery-material.html

    Well, two years on and I have neither heard anything about further developments of this technology nor when it will come to market. It could have been a game changer for battery powered vehicles, but like the promised high temperature barium-sulfate super conducting materials from the mid ’90s, nothing signfigant came from it. Insurmountable technical issues overcoming applications in real world conditions?

  126. John F. Hultquist says:

    The only thing I disagree with is the subsidy for the purchase of the car. I do not have a problem with helping* to get charging stations in places where the current level of traffic of Evs will be low. For instance, in some states longish interstate segments might need a charging station. There will be lots of introductions, false starts, and so on. But let’s keep it real.

    *Some states have, and others will have, fees (taxes) for roads –
    http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/02/10/am-washington-state-wants-to-tax-electric-vehicles/

  127. homo sapiens says:

    Electric cars may reduce air pollution for city dwellers but they make no economic sense for the owner. I have a small petrol car for town use which only costs me around £200 per year for petrol (gasoline) even at the UK’s ghastly inflated prices. If the cost of electricity as fuel were 60% less than that of petrol, the saving of £120 would be absolutely trivial relative to the new price of the car. Also, the electric car would probably cost £3000 more than the petrol car (£6000) making any saving illusory. Added to that, the petrol car will not require the colossal expense of replacement batteries after six to nine years.

  128. Gary Pearse says:

    I manage project development and feasibility studies for rare-metals mining and ore processing projects. The first modern era lithium carbonate production project from a hard rock source in North America (spodumene {lithium aluminium silicate mineral}-pegmatite deposit), driven by the demand for lithium batteries for cars, utility electricity storage, etc. will be up to capacity in Quebec, Canada late next year. A second one in Quebec should be also be following shortly after, and a lithium-boron salts project in Nevada is looking promising at early stage exploration.

    http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=Canada%20Lithium&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA

    http://www.nemaskaexploration.com/en/

    http://www.americanlithium.com/index.php

    These companies have Asian strategic partners. As you can see, lithium-ion batteries are a lot farther along than the article suggests.

  129. Common Sense says:

    I get 29 mpg from my 1997 Chevy Cavalier, which I drive 30 miles, one way, to work every day. It still works even in snow, when the temps are below zero, and when the power is out, none of which is true for an electric car.

    Granted, we don’t lose power here in CO often, but they certainly do back east, every time it snows it seems.

    I somehow doubt your little car would do well on mountain grades either, I know the Prius has issues with it.

  130. Ultimately it’s all about the energy/weight_volume ratio. A gallon of petrol (gas over the pond) beats any battery at this game hands down. In the UK an average car with 10 gallons can do 400 miles. The fuel weighs just 80lb and the vehicle gets lighter as you travel. Unlike an electric car, it will keep going at high speed right down to the last drop – no trace of a fall off in power. Refilling is easy and quick – 5 minutes including payment. A spare gallon can be kept in the back should you find yourself carelessly stranded. The electric car needs time to recharge even in the best conditions. The BBC trial recently took the driver four days to go from London to Edinburgh – about three days was recharging – a journey of about 350 miles. A stage coach could do it quicker.

    Now consider an electric vehicle on a cold winter’s night on a high moorland road in Scotland in a blizzard. Power is rapidly falling off as the temperature reduces the emf of the battery. Heating is a no no. – it will rapidly drain what’s left in the battery. The windscreen is already iced up inside and out. The car grinds to a halt at the pass. No dwelling within 40 miles but it might as well be 1000 miles. The car is useless, dead on the moors. The driver must abandon it and either hitch a lift or walk the next forty miles. Oh, and his mobile phone can’t get a signal or its battery has also died – no hope from the cigar lighter charger.
    Compare that miserable scenario with a petrol vehicle. The car is warm as waste heat from the engine is used to excellent effect, warming the driver and keeping the windscreen free of ice and snow. However the driver braces himself for a trip to the rear, pulls out the spare can and in one minute has filled his tank with enough petrol to get him to the nearest habitation. If need be he might phone for assistance – as the battery has power to spare.
    Electric cars maybe OK for city run abouts, but that remains it. Beyond that they are useless.

  131. Wondering Aloud says:

    I think it is really great looking and my wife and I only commute about 3 miles or so each way, most things are within 20 miles. The problem is, the temperature is rarely above freezing from November through March, so it would have to be useable in cold temperatures.

  132. Wondering Aloud says:

    If I am not mistaken your saying I could use it, but not year round so it would have to be an extra car, I’d have to keep two others?

  133. Dr A Burns says:

    There would be a queue for anyone selling petrol as cheaply as $5 a gallon in Australia.

  134. Pull My Finger says:

    Batteries would have to be made to be interchangable, with maybe 2 or 3 max size configurations. You think you can get umpteen car companies to agree on a single conncetivity, power, weight and configuration design? I have heard the Leaf charging recepticles do not work with the older EV type stations that are already in California.
    ————————————
    If this was done, then it seems to me something similar to a filling station would be possible, but for electric vehicles they swap out your battery and charge you for the difference in measured charge. The station could also send bad batteries to the leasing agent they belong to for replacement.

  135. Warren Waldmann says:

    The last big thing in batteries was the Lithium-Metal-polymer battery widely deployed in the Telecom industry in the early 2000s. 20,000 of them were in Telephone company networks here in North Americaby August of 2007. Prior to that there had been battery failures but they were rare and unpredictable and not catastrophic. At some point in 2007 several fires happened and at least 1 of them sparked an explosion which damaged a house near the cabinet. As a result I don’t get too excited about a new battery technology until I have seen it working in the real world for at least 10 years. The history of advanced battery technology over the last 40 years is not promising.

  136. Roger Tolson says:

    Can’t you just put one of these super efficient wind mills on the roof of your EV?…….

    I’ll get my coat………

  137. Lars P says:

    Hey Anthony, 2 miles drive with it must be fun, enjoy!
    I think these el-cars are great for up to 10 miles, but everything above it might not be so optimal as you might need to charge in-between etc.

    SandyIn Derby writes:
    “When we (in Europe) are all driving electric powered cars”
    Brr, I wouldn’t try one yet, my ride is 20 miles to the office or 50 to the other one. How does one heat an el-car at (-) degrees? I cannot imagine an el-car in snow or caught in a blizzard on a 20-30 miles ride, but maybe there is an emergency coal heating stove inside?

  138. Big Bob says:

    I have an ’01 Toyota Echo. Gets 43 Mpg and cost about $12,000 out the door. Has 4 doors and AC. Its basically a Prius without the batteries. The Prius only does a few miles per gallon better. Not realy worth the differance in price

  139. wsbriggs says:

    I’m the delighted driver of a new BMW 335d. I’m looking for a bumpsticker that says, “My Diesel is cleaner than your Hybrid”. After 6000 miles my exhausts are still relatively clean inside – splashes of dirty water are pretty much all the nasties in them.

    It’s as close to driving an electric motor as I can imagine. Monster torque at the low end, 5,000 rpm red line, and you don’t feel the shifts. Mileage? 32.2 commuting on a combo of streets, tollways, and freeways.

    When LENR gets practical I’ll move to electrics.

  140. petrossa says:

    There is this great site on batteries by a battery expert. It says it all in clear, technically correct terms.
    http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/

    I like this one:
    What is the ultimate miracle battery?

    The ultimate miracle battery is nowhere in sight and the battery remains the ‘weak link’ for the foreseeable future. As long as the battery is based on an electro-chemical process, limitations of power density and short life expectancy must be taken into account. We must adapt to this constraint and design the equipment around it.

    People want an inexhaustible pool of energy in a small package that is cheap, safe and clean. A radical turn will be needed to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for portable and mobile power. It is anyone’s guess whether a superior electro-chemical battery, an improved fuel cell, a futuristic atomic fusion battery or some other groundbreaking energy storage device will fulfill this dream. For many, this break will not come in ones lifetime.

  141. GasIsGood says:

    Anthony, please keep us informed about your car, and enjoy it ! My wife wants a Smart Car because they’re so cute and easy to park. We are fortunate to have so many choices for transportation.
    Meanwhile, I love my 4WD Expedition for its safety and utility. Gasoline is a bargain at twice the price compared to walking. And my 27 1/2 gallon tank holds the energy equivalent if 15,000 pounds of Li batteries.
    I hope to live long enough to see practical electrics that are faster, safer, and cheaper than IC. I’m not really concerned about envirnmental impacts one way or the other, everything’s a trade-off. Meanwhile , enjoy your ride!

  142. John Lowe says:

    BYD ( Build Your Dream ) is currently selling an electric car in China called the e6. It will be featured at the NAIA in Detroit in 2011 and at the Geneva auto show. The car is fully electric, uses 600 kg of ferrous-iron batteries and has a range of 300 km. The battery components can all be disposed at local landfill sites. They claim that the batteries can be recharged over 2000 times, is cheaper the lithium ion batteries and maintains 80% of its charging capacity.
    http://www.byd.com/highlight.php?index=2
    For most drivers the battery would outlive the car.
    Yes this sounds too good to be true. However bear in mind that a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s empire has purchased 10% of the company. If what the company claims is true then it would change most peoples opinion on electric cars from toys to being practical options. Although I would be interested in knowing how these batteries do in cold weather before forming an opinion since I live in Canada.

  143. JC says:

    Thanks for the link to ACS at the beginning. This new battery from the folks at MIT blows away the Moore’s law for battery technology. “up to tenfold energy density” (giving Anthony’s ride a 400 mi. range) without the high/low temp. problems.
    Still we desperately need an equivalent leap in superconductor technology given the 50% or more loss in transmission of electricity from the source to charging station. This is indeed great news but diesel is still king for overall energy density and cost per mile in the transportation industry.

  144. Stacy says:

    Is anyone thinking of getting an electric car? Here is your electric-vehicle community: http://www.energyinyourlife.com/article.php?t=100000210

  145. Richard Percifield says:

    I think that the approach that the electric version of the Ford Focus was very effective. It utilizes a battery temperature control system. This system both can heat and cool the batteries extending the overall lifetime of the battery. Removal of heat during the charging phase reduces the charging time by almost 50-75% according to the ambient temps. It is also on a standard car platform, reducing special tooling costs for production purposes. It would not work for me as a vehicle, but it is a step in the right direction.

  146. ShrNfr says:

    fwiw, here is the Detroit News Op Ed on Electrics: <a href="http://www.detnews.com/article/20110223/OPINION03/102230301/1148/auto01/Battery-electric-cars-will-struggle-after-normal-buyers-replace-early-adopters&quot;?All Battery Cars Will Struggle After Early Adopters End Buying

    As I have said, I enjoy mine for around town. But the one way to MIT is 8 miles from where I live. If I take my wife in to her job, drop her off, go home, pick her up and then go home, I am close to flat on my battery. Heaven help me if I have to use my headlights and of course, there is no air conditioner. It’s a NEV, no more, no less.

  147. Phil M2. says:

    Do you make sure that it’s only re-charged on windy days? If not then you are just using the viable coal/gas/nuclear energy and reducing it’s efficiency by 20%. You can extend the range of these things massively by adding a small trailer with a 50Kw diesel generator on board. Or the simpler solution of course is to just have a 50Kw diesel engine and save 20-40% in efficiency.

    Sorry Anthony, this is all feelgood factor with no savings and no science involved.

    REPLY:
    I’m fully aware. Hey, do I tell you what sort of car you should drive? No. This is my choice because it is fun and I’m interested in the technology. There’s no “feel good save the planet stuff” involved. You really shouldn’t knock what you haven’t tried. As for the rest of your suggestion, it is idiotic. You sound like a person from the 19th century knocking the original automobile, espousing on the merits of a horse. – Anthony

  148. BFL says:

    @ Dave: “I smell a (public relations) rat. I’m a materials engineer and every week I see PR pieces come out advertising the latest technology since sliced bread. If even 1% of them came true, the world would be a very different place.”
    And I’m still waiting for this one:
    http://www.blacklightpower.com/pdf/MotivePower.pdf

  149. profootballwalk says:

    I loved browsing through the trolls scratching and spitting over Anthony’s electric car. They’re so deep into their knee-jerk prejudices that they can’t hear the voice of reason. “But can you carry a load of gravel in it?” Yeah, Nimrod, good point. “But I have to drive 50 miles to take a leak!” There’s a real debate winner.

    The truth is that this site is dragged down by the clown posters it attracts. You can hear the talk-radio moron in the background when you read what they write. If I didn’t know anything about the climate debate and I came straight to the WUWT comment section, I’d run screaming and sign up with the Climate Panic squad. It’s a shame, because I usually always find Anthony interesting and reasonable.

  150. Pull My Finger says:

    This was one I’ve been waiting for, I read this when if first came out and was repeated by Rustum Roy, a distinguished, if somewhat loopy, and recently deceased, material science guy. I have literally heard nothing about it since, not even ridicule or derision.
    Combustable salt water.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070913-burning-water.html

  151. George E. Smith says:

    Well we are a three car family; one each, so that each of us can go to where we have to go each and every day. There are no trains that go to where we want to go. There is no such thing as public transportation; what prevents us from having public transportation; public anything for that matter, is public servants unions. When you are most dependent on their “public service”, they go on strike. That is NOT a reliable system; so I don’t use it or depend on it.

    So we have one car that is a 1995, and one a 1996 (mine) and one that is a 1997. I don’t want and cannot afford any extra cars; I can’t even afford to replace any one of the three we already have. Mine already has over a quarter million miles on it.
    That said, I am all in favor of anybody buying and driving anything that is street leagal that they want. Knock yourself out in your Hummer, if you can afford it.

    I once owned a 1956 Jaguar XK-140 hard top coupe. The last good Jaguar they ever built. Mine had the special edition high compression engine that put out 210 Hp. The standard engine was 180 Hp. Mine could climb trees in first gear, and had an overdrive unit as well.

    Nowadays, you can buy a basic Honda Civic with a 300 Hp Vee six engine, just for going to the grocery store.

    I should be able to drive the family back and forth to LA, with no more than 100 HP, and do it with ordinary non-oxygenated 87 octane gasoline, and at least 35, maybe 40 mpg.

    The Tesla is a joke; but if you can afford one; go buy one; just don’t expect me to subsidize it for you. You would think that silicon valley would be ground zero for political and fiscal conservatism, with more entrepeneurs per square foot, than almost any other place on earth. But actually, about 99% of them are straight line socialists; who feed on the taxpayer largesse, to fund their pipe dreams.

    I was just noticing at lunchtime, when I stopped at the local Starbucks for my lunch time decaf. Si Valley, has not changed one iota in 45 years. Back then, all the Fairchild engineers, would go to Walker’s Wagon wheel, on Ellis Street, for Lunch and then happy hour. So they would all sit around and talk out loud about their latest Op-Amp product, or their fledgeling MOS process. Later on, the National Semi, engineers would join in, and bluntly ask you about your new N-channel MOS, or Ion Implant process. If you declined, they would simply say:- Might as well tell me, because I can just take out one of your wafer fab girls and she will tell me. Silly juveniles didn’t seem to understand that the company that paid their salary, might enjoy a six month profitable market window, when that new Op amp hit the street, and after that it would be dog eat dog price war.

    So they would happily give away that six month edge just to sound and look big to the office girls or the fab ladies; or the other young turks.

    Well the same thing goes on today at Starbucks; everybody talking out loud or working on their company iPaeioud on some secret marketting deal or other company secrets. When somebody around me starts yakkiing out loud on their Raspberry, I simply inform them that I work part time for the Federal Government, and I sit around and listen to people’s telephone calls.

    That sometimes shuts them up. Of course I don’t tell them that I work for the Feds, up to Tax freedom day, or that I don’t have time to record their phone childishness.

    Now there’s a chap there every day, who is reading a book on particle Physics; the real thing; I haven’t yet asked him if he is working on some post grad study; but his work is quite safe; the office ladies who look over his shoulder have no idea what Feynman diagrams are; so they think he’s some kind of total geek. He probably is; and seems like a very nice chap as well.

    Yes the whole place is full of naive juveniles from all over the world, and all seem to think that the taxpayer should buy into their dream states.

    But the expectations of public servants, are going to drive all high tech industries out of si-valley, even out of the State of California; and those jobs are never coming back. This will become the leaf blowing capital of the world; anyone who can steal a leaf blower or lawn mower out of your garage, can set up in business annoying the neighborhood every Sunday morning.

  152. Phil M2. says:

    You really shouldn’t knock what you haven’t tried. As for the rest of your suggestion, it is idiotic. You sound like a person from the 19th century knocking the original automobile, espousing on the merits of a horse. – Anthony

    Ok Anthony,

    Why exactly are you using this vehicle. If it’s not for the feelgood save the planet idea then that’s fine. You are doing it for the fun. But this ‘fun’ carries a hefty price tag for no benefits to yourself apart from the ‘fun’. I would never try to stop anyone spending their own money in whatever way that they wish to. I have two young children that would swear that the best possible use of their pocket money is to subscribe to Moshi-Monsters, and they would say that this it the best thing ever created.

    I can only assume that both yourself and my children are having a bit of fun. In every other way it makes no sense whatsoever. In contrast to you suggestion, I would prefer to liken myself to a person from the 19th century knocking the merits of a three legged horse.

    Phil

    REPLY: Why do people buy speedboats when they can sail or row, why do midlife men buy muscle cars or roadsters? It’s fun. But I’m going beyond that. I’m learning useful things, and I may just be able to do some engineering that will turn a profit for me. If not it is no worse than spending money on Moshi-monsters, whatever those are. – Anthony

  153. DirkH says:

    JC says:
    February 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm
    “Thanks for the link to ACS at the beginning. This new battery from the folks at MIT blows away the Moore’s law for battery technology.”

    There is no “Moore’s Law” for battery technologies. All occurences of such exponential growth (transistor size, CPU power, memory size, harddisk size, communication bandwith…) happen in information technologies. Battery chemistry or energy density are completely different beasts.

  154. Dave Andrews says:

    Pierre Gosselin,

    Can’t you just see the future headlines. ‘Greens oppose electric vehicles. The downsides are just too great’?

    Just like they promoted biofuels until they became a reality and the downsides became apparent. Then they tried to maintain they always had had doubts.

    These guys are as bad as politicians.

  155. Janice says:

    I think everyone should drive whatever motive-power vehicle they want. My husband and I have four vehicles, which serve four distinct uses. I also have a small foldaway electric scooter (for sidewalk driving), stashed in my going-to-work car, which I use to get from the parking lot in to the guard station of the place I work. Which is anywhere from 1/4 mile to a full mile. I am unable to walk very fast, so it is almost necessary to have something that can go about 15 mph (and there are some people who can almost keep up with me, the rotters).

    Everyone has different needs and situations. It is good to have these discussions so we can all remember that. If the economy keeps going south, we might all end up in ox-carts anyway.

  156. JC says:

    DirkH:

    You are correct about Moore’s Law. I did not word that well.

  157. Phil M2. says:

    REPLY: Why do people buy speedboats when they can sail or row, why do midlife men buy muscle cars or roadsters? It’s fun. But I’m going beyond that. I’m learning useful things, and I may just be able to do some engineering that will turn a profit for me. If not it is now worse than spending money on Moshi-monsters, whatever those are. – Anthony

    Ok Anthony,

    I’m getting a better idea of where you are are coming from. I’m not anti-planet, I have a sailboat with solar panels and a wind turbine. I’m just very realistic about their contribution to the total daily requirements. To bridge that gap I have a 10kw diesel genny to charge my 24v 1000 kW hr battery bank.

    In terms of cars, if you are a city dweller then you may be able to make it work. As an example as to why it would never work for me and many other rural people. Last Friday, I drove 14 miles to take my 3 children to their Karate lessons. Immediately after the lessons, I drove 320 miles to visit Granny for the weekend. On the Monday I drove 320 miles back. On the Tuesday, I drove 125 miles to work. On the Friday, I’ll drive 125miles home.

    I would spend more time charging my batteries than traveling! I think electric cars would work well in city zones where all other means of transport are prohibited.

    Phil

  158. Don K says:

    Since no one else has brought it up. There is a 100% certainty that the planet will run out of cheap oil. Probably soon. The crew that hang out at http://www.theoildrum.com (Great technical articles on energy at their site BTW) tend to be certain that it is happening now, and many of them seem to be disappointed when they get up in the morning and the lights still work. I’m not that pessimistic. But I think that the more optimistic projections like those of the EIA greatly underestimate future demand from the 5 billion folks who do not live in more or less developed countries.

    So, I would not be terribly surprised to find that in a decade or two, hydrocarbon fuels are a lot more expensive than folks are used to, and sporadic shortages may well be a problem. In that context, electric cars — or maybe plug in hybrids — would make a lot of sense for many folks.

    Time will tell.

  159. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    The problem with lithium batteries is there is insufficient capacity in the lithium mining industry to accept a large expansion in consumption. It takes about 15 years to get a new mining project going for anything other than gold, coal or iron ore (since these are easy to extract).

    The rude law of supply and demand will instantly mug EV’s if any fool politician tries to mandate an expansion in their use. Last year the price of rare earths went up by 10 times, not because they are rare, but because the mining industry can’t keep up, due to green tape & red tap. Same goes for anything except the most common of elements. As soon as the price goes up significantly it makes an EV uneconomic compared to almost anything else – remember wood burning cars in WW2 anyone?

    Same goes for recycling. There is no meaningful lithium recycling industry now, so the production bottleneck if Li EV’s are expanded massively would not be fixed by recycling. Recycling is usually more expensive than primary extraction, so it would need the price to rise even higher before someone could afford to stump up the capital for a new (and risky) plant.

    If a massive expansion of EV’s is required (I personally think not) then the ONLY battery system which can feasibly avoid massive price spiking problems is sodium-sulfur, since these elements are so common and massively used their prices will not be sensitive. Unfortunately sodium-sulfur batteries have certain problems which make their use in mass produced EV’s undesirable.

    This is why no one has heard much about fuel-cell vehicles for a while – the cost of the platinum or palladium used in them has risen so much they are just not economically feasible.

  160. Mike Edwards says:

    shytot says:

    I think hybrids are the best way forward especially if governments want to save fossil fuels.

    Here in Europe there are now a set of Diesel powered cars that outperform the available hybrids without the complexity that hybrids involve. I am considering buying a Skoda Octavia which averages 74 miles per gallon – similar in size and claimed consumption to the latest Toyota Prius – except that you actually get near the claimed mileage for the Skoda, unlike the Toyota. Skoda also have a smaller car – the Fabia – which averages 83 miles per gallon.

    With cars as efficient as these, do electric cars have many advantages?

  161. mat says:

    I live 40 miles from the nearest big town and it seems that no EV will get me there and back on one charge so shopping could take me all day but my classic 85 Sirocco will get me there no prob it starts in the cold it has a great heater and does about 35 mpg 45 on a long run it also cost £250 to buy and £100 to insure and my zx10 super bike is a thousand times better and sorry but no amount of greenwash will ever get me to give up! cold dead fingers and all that !!!.
    Now a leaf is what £23.000 even with a £5.000 subsidy and a Tesla £88.000 + thousands for the charger! how long do the ones like me at the bottom of the pile have to wait to see these cars at about our price band 10/ 20 years/ never? what the hell will the battery’s be like by then ? as the packs cost thousands to replace who the hell would want to take that loss for a service and then sell the car for 400 notes? who will pay for the new infrastructure that will have to cover huge areas of the country to recharge these cars? will EV owners be happy to be taxed more to fund cars for poorer workers who get minimum wage but still need to travel In an age when the transport system mostly goes no where near where you work and cannot cope even before you shove many more of car drivers off the road by taxes and costs in the greenish cause ? who will pick up the bill when the duty on petrol falls and governments look to make it up? only the EV owners? or everyone even if they cannot afford this electric new future and may not even want it

  162. Ken Finney says:

    Can’t wait for the post with the electric car details. I want one too, for my daily 10 mile commute. $10/week would be awesome. I don’t care about the carbon footprint, real or imagined.

  163. JER0ME says:

    How heavy are the batteries? I have a 70 litre gas tank in my wagon. That will take me up to 800km, fully loaded, which is cool. But my point is that will weigh, on average, more than 30 kg.

    Are EV batteries really heavier than 30 kg? I did a quick search, and a lot of people are talking about how heavy they are, but not exactly how much they weigh (if you see what I mean).

  164. Kev-in-Uk says:

    I have read quite a few comments but not them all – so apologies if someone has already asked…but this is directed at Anthony (obviously)
    1) but what is the expected life of your batteries?
    2) how many charges per week are you doing?
    3) how much will replacement batteries cost when due?
    4) what is the capital cost of the batteries per ‘mile’ of usage?

    I am asking genuinely – as I have just recently purchased a 1.2TDi diesel car and can get 80+ mpg – which in UK terms, works out at less than 7 pence per mile.

    If your batteries are say $10k to replace and you do 10000 miles per year for 5 years before replacement thats 20cents per mile? So my query is – is it (going to be)economical?

  165. harrywr2 says:

    Phil M2,

    A good portion of the world can only afford a single vehicle, and it has to do everything.

    For those of us who can afford to have multiple vehicles a lot of savings can come from choosing the vehicle that fits the purpose.

    I have an SUV. I need an SUV for all the reasons others have said.

    I also have a scooter that gets 80MPG.

    I use the SUV when I need an SUV, I use the scooter when a scooter will do.
    What’s wrong with having the ‘right tool’ for the job.
    If I could find an electric car for $10K I would buy one for the Mrs’s.

  166. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    And speaking of wood burning WW2 cars, what do I see but Chiefio has a whole article on them today!

  167. Kev-in-Uk says:

    Mike Edwards says:
    February 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    yep – thats what I have bought – a skoda fabia estate – and it’s pretty damn good to be fair. emissions are supposed to be 89g/km – so no road tax – no congestion charge (if I lived in London – which I don’t) and on a long run, I am getting at least 70mpg.
    It’s not flash – it’s not fast – but it gets from a to b and in reasonable comfort. I am NOT a greenie at all – but I AM a hard cash strapped self employed guy who could do with saving on his monthly fuel bill!

  168. George E. Smith says:

    “”””” Bruce of Newcastle says:
    February 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm
    The problem with lithium batteries is there is insufficient capacity in the lithium mining industry to accept a large expansion in consumption. It takes about 15 years to get a new mining project going for anything other than gold, coal or iron ore (since these are easy to extract).

    The rude law of supply and demand will instantly mug EV’s if any fool politician tries to mandate an expansion in their use. Last year the price of rare earths went up by 10 times, not because they are rare, but because the mining industry can’t keep up, due to green tape & red tap. Same goes for anything except the most common of elements. As soon as the price goes up significantly it makes an EV uneconomic compared to almost anything else – remember wood burning cars in WW2 anyone? “””””

    Well I don’t remember any wood burning cars; but I clearly remember a number of cars; typically Detroitosaurus Maximus;; which were quite rare iN New Zealand (farmers had them) and they were all fitted with “charcoal burners”, which hung on the outside of the bonnet, on the driver side, maybe 15 inches tall, and 5-6 inches diameter, with a pipe for the unnatural gas from heating the coke, to go into the “carburettor”. Don’t remeber how long it took from a cold start. But rubber tires were the big limiter not fuel. Needed the rubber for all of those Spitfires, and Lancasters.

  169. Phil M2. says:

    If I could find an electric car for $10K I would buy one for the Mrs’s.

    I’d buy one each for the kids :)

    I have a pushbike which I use when it’s only a few miles and I’m not in a hurry and have nothing to carry. I just wish I had the time to use it more often as I would be far slimmer than I am.

  170. Ken Hall says:

    I cannot see the point of a car that means I would have buy another car for my longer journeys (about 24 longer journeys per year), or choose to suffer a mode of transport which would get me from my home in Cumbria, to London, slower than a horse and cart, in a vehicle that is less environmentally friendly than my little efficient diesel car. It would take a week to get to London by electric car, more so in the winter when the batteries are far less capable of holding a charge.

    I really wish that they would stop wasting billions on utterly useless electric cars and finally develop hydrogen cars.

  171. Dave says:

    A surprising solution to fuel efficiency over longer journeys comes when you consider that although cars may achieve a high number of MPG, they are bound to follow roads which rarely go significantly close to a straight-line route, end-to-end of a journey.

    http://www.parajetautomotive.com/

    Not quite fully developed as anything other than a toy, but the first practical flying car. Could easily replace the sports car with a simple practical body.

  172. Rik Gheysens says:

    Will the electric car be a good answer in times of shortage of energy? I don’t think so.
    Diesel cars transmit about 40% of the energy of the fuel in mechanical energy.

    And what is the efficiency of EV’s? The energy for electric cars has to be generated.
    – The return of the conversion of fuel into electricity (in power stations) is about 40%.
    – During the transport of electricity there is a loss of about 7%. Return: 93%.
    – Transformation from high tension to the low tension of your battery (feel the warmth of your battery charger): 25%. Return: 75%.
    – Loss of energy in the battery: 28%. Return: 72%
    – Conversion of electric power into mechanical power of your EV: return of 90%.
    Total return is: 90 % of 72% of 75% of 93% of 40% is 18%!!
    And I did not mention the energy needed for heating in winter…
    If, in the future, generating stations will be more efficient (60% instead of 40%), the total return would be 27% (instead of 18%).

    The environmental pollution of batteries is disquieting. What will happen with all these old batteries within 5 to 10 years? The ‘cradle to cradle’ principle of Michael Braungart should be aimed for: “every material becomes beneficial for the next process.”

    A good reason to use electric cars is to reduce air pollution. In many cities of Europe, this is a huge problem.

    Now, in our crazy times of CO2 hysteria, the goverments are promoting electric cars. It is not sure at all that electric cars will reduce CO2.
    In the near future, it is to expect that energy saving methods will again become important. The governments will no longer be able to subsidize the electric cars.

  173. Bob in Castlemaine says:

    Electric vehicles was the subject for my electrical engineering thesis 40 odd years ago. At that time the revolution going on in solid state electronics meant that control systems were becoming quite efficient even extending to practical regenerative braking. Then as now, electric vehicles were practical (unsubsidised) for a variety of short trip niche applications.
    But even in those days battery energy storage capability represented the main limitation and from what I can see that is still the case. It seems that the exotic battery designs being trialed presently have big problems providing a cost effective outcome in terms service life in cold and hot environments, discharge capability in cold and hot ambients and the general weight/performance/life trade-off.
    Notwithstanding, if electric cars or hybrids can compete on a level playing field with conventional I.C. cars, that’s good. I do however object to the government’s hand in my pocket to fund them.

  174. Ken Hall says:

    “All I know is… I have shares in tesla motors because I think the model s will sell like hula-hoops. 300 mile range, 0-60mph in <5 seconds. What's not to love?"

    Spending 2,000 bucks every couple years to replace the batteries, because after the 100th recharge, the range drops to 50 miles? Queuing for between only hours up to several days to recharge when taking long journeys? Because other electric cars take 8 hours to charge.

    Electric cars are not practical at all as a sole car, they are not "green" or environmentally friendly, due to the massively increased amount of energy and carbon produced in their manufacture. And they cost a lot more than more environmentally friendly, more practical cars.
    Between

  175. GregR says:

    Chico is warm, flat, and relatively compact. It rarely snows. Electric vehicles are a good fit, as are bicycles, scooters, and walking.

    For those of you saying that an electric vehicle won’t work for you, don’t buy one. However, please don’t think that your own personal situation is a universal condition.

  176. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ mat says:
    February 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    and others asking about road taxes – there have already been proposals to require GPS devices in vehicles to record miles traveled and report that to the various taxing agencies, which would then be added to your income tax due ( the IRS and State ) in the US ). Trust me, the government will find a way to dip into your pocket.

  177. Ken Hall says:

    “You wouldn’t buy a VW to haul topsoil, would you? You don’t buy an electric car to replace a pickup or dump truck. You buy it for local commuting. – Anthony”

    Which is fine if you never leave your town, or if you can afford two cars, which by itself destroys any notion of being more environmentally friendly.

    It is far more practical and efficient for me to run one small diesel car for 10 years, than to waste money and increase my carbon footprint by getting an electric car.

    Electric cars cannot even come close to competing with gas powered cars, on any front!

  178. I would concur with Warren Waldman – batteries of the size for cars are potential bombs if they short or are involved in a crash – electrical fires are worse than petrol fires, injured passengers risk being electrocuted as well as burned.

    Re exchanging batteries at service stations, another problem: they would be an easy target for thieves, each battery being the value of a gold ingot!

  179. Ken Hall says:

    I have just looked up the price of one of these electric cars in the uk. The bog standard car, a Nissan Leaf, costs 28,000 pounds sterling. I have worked out that this amount of money would allow me to purchase approximately 258,000 miles worth of diesel for my car.

    That is about 20 years worth of driving. For this I get reliable, convenient, practical, long distance motoring in a manner which is more environmentally friendly than electric.

    So for the opportunity to pay a minimal and trivial amount to an electricity company, for car ‘fuel’ I would have to pay out almost 30,000 pounds. To get the car to allow this.

    Or I can keep my reliable little diesel and get to London and back (330 miles each way) inside one day. that would be impossible in an electric car.

  180. David L says:

    What I want to know is that in the summer when everyone had their AC running full blast and brownouts start occuring, what happens when millions of people start plugging in their car? Do they have to turn off the AC? Or do the brownouts turn into blackouts?

    I think electric cars right now are fun when only a few people have them. A massive switchover too quickly may pose problems for the grid.

    I myself am looking into getting an eBike this spring.

  181. Dennis Wingo says:

    Watch what happens when one of these cars get hit by another car and the Lithium Ion Batteries explode.

  182. Dennis Wingo says:

    I have been using LiPo batteries for model aeroplanes for some time now and the energy density is amazing. Pulling 60 to 80 amps at 11.7 Volts! Some folks get up to 100Amps.

    Yea and google Lithium Ion Battery explosions, they are amazing!

  183. Robert Morris says:

    I’ll buy one when it can get from my bit of rural Essex in England to the in-laws’ bit of rural Perthshire in Scotland.

    But I think I’ll be waiting a long time.

    On the other hand, the “end of oil” holds the tempting, golden promise of no more visits to the in-laws!

  184. Mark Miller says:

    Anthony,

    Do you charge your electrical vehicle with a 220 volt line or a 110 line?

    I wish the state of CA would of done as much infrastructure work/development for CNG vehicles as they have done for EV infrastructure. Alternatively for our transportation needs I’d like to leverage some some sunk costs that we have in a 1997 Mercedes Diesel- hopefully Amyris’s biofuel http://www.amyrisbiotech.com/en/about-amyris/business-strategy (or something comparable) scales up so that it is a viable, cost effective, alternative transportation fuel for our older MB sedan and 2002 1 ton Chevy diesel………………..

    The folks down in LA (LADWP) look like they are going to experience a bit of sticker shock in their electrical rates (page 14 of a recent CEC report http://www.energy.ca.gov/2011_energypolicy/documents/2011-02-24_workshop/presentations/05_CEC-Kavalec_rate_assump_feb_24v2.pdf indicates they will the largest price increases in the state between now and 2022).

  185. Dave Springer says:

    DirkH says:
    February 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    “There is no “Moore’s Law” for battery technologies.”

    Yep.

    “All occurences of such exponential growth (transistor size, CPU power, memory size, harddisk size, communication bandwith…) happen in information technologies.”

    There’s one other. Biotechnology. It’s the most important, far reaching one IMO. Microscopic organic self-reproducing programmable robots. The technology is already billions of years old and very well proven. Our challenge isn’t invention but rather reverse engineering. It’s getting really close to reality now and the pace of technological advance is itself accelerating. For example the first complete sequencing of a human genome completed in 2001 took 10 years and a billion dollars. It now takes 10 days and $10,000 dollars. Assembling DNA from mail-order code snippets into error free genomes is progressing at a similar time/cost reduction pace. Before too much longer we’ll be designing custom programmed bacteria on engineering workstations like we design microcomputers today. The critters will be able to build just about anything with atomic precision. The race is on right now to get genetically engineered cyanobacteria producing hydrocarbon fuels out of wastewater, CO2, and sunlight. One startup called Joule Unlimited was just issued a patent for one that produces tank-ready diesel at a rate of 20,000 gallons/acre/year anywhere the sun shines strong and nutrient rich water is available (municipal wastewater is like ambrosia for these cyanobacteria) at the equivalent price of diesel produced from $30/bbl crude oil. They claim to be able to plug different genes into the same critters to produce a wide range of hydrocarbon fuels – diesel was just the first one. They’re building a pilot plant about 20 miles from where I live in south central Texas right next to a municipal wastewater treatment plant. This is where our fuels will come from in the not very distant future and CO2 will become a commodity with restrictions on how much you can remove from the atmosphere instead of how much you can add to the atmosphere. Keep in mind that once synthetic biology is mature you’ll be able to build anything that can built out of carbon compounds starting from a microgram of pre-programmed bacteria. Carbon and carbon compounds are exceedingly flexible construction materials. You won’t build a house out of wood anymore, for instance, you’ll grow it out of soil, air, sunlight, and water just like you grow a tree. Being able to produce just about anything almost for free using atmospheric carbon as the basic construction material means atmospheric carbon becomes a limiting factor and there will have to laws about how much you can harvest. Sounds like science fiction but it ain’t.

  186. Janice says:

    I think I will hold out for the Pu238 batteries. You can get a good 40 to 50 years of full power from them. And at night you can power and warm your house with them. We will have to build a few more breeder reactors to get the raw material . . .

  187. _Jim says:

    profootballwalk says February 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm


    The truth is that this site is dragged down by the clown posters it attracts. You can hear the talk-radio moron in the background …

    WOW .. project much ? (Mr. Olbermann)

    Can I ask what did your ‘idealogical’ hero dealt with today?

    .

  188. _Jim says:

    Don K says February 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm:

    Since no one else has brought it up. There is a 100% certainty that the planet will run out of cheap oil. Probably soon. The crew that hang out at http://www.theoildrum.com (Great technical articles on energy at their site BTW) tend to be certain that it is happening now …

    And it’s been “happening now” for how many years (now) Don?

    One of these they’re going to be right, but, the winner of that pot is going to be in a (year) time frame beyond ours …

    .

  189. Dave Springer says:

    David L says:
    February 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    “What I want to know is that in the summer when everyone had their AC running full blast and brownouts start occuring, what happens when millions of people start plugging in their car? Do they have to turn off the AC? Or do the brownouts turn into blackouts?”

    What happens is the law of supply & demand kicks in. The price of electricity rises until demand falls to what the grid can supply. Increasing the capacity of the grid (it would have to have several times current capacity if a lot of people start driving electric vehicles) is prohibitively expensive because it has to expand horizontally. You can’t just string more or bigger wires in the existing space nor can they be stacked vertically as high tension lines need too much separation. Thus the only solution is to widen the footprint putting more towers parallel to existing towers. That in turn requires acquiring additional right-of-way in many cases buying it from private property owners (through voluntary sales or more often through condemnation and remuneration at fair market value). Obstructionism from reluctant private property owners makes this a long expensive process. This is one of main reasons I’ve not been very excited about electric vehicles aside from the price of niobium and copper to make all the drive motors and the price/performance of batteries. Electric vehicles are as much of a boondoggle as ethanol from corn if not moreso. I think you are perfectly right that they hold very little potential widespread interest unless some sort of science-fiction power supply like Iron Man has in his chest becomes reality. That’ll happen right around the time we begin using matter-transporters like they have on Star Trek which would then make electric vehicles obsolete anyhow. :-)

  190. kuhnkat says:

    It has probably been said several times in comments already, but, with no increase in dependable, dispatchable generation capacity, isn’t jumping into electric a boutique business?? We couldn’t even start to generate enough power with our current plants to provide the electricity for a siginificant percentage to use electric transportation.

    With the current regime in power it doesn’t look like power is a priority.

  191. Pamela Gray says:

    Here is my worry.

    For those of us who live and work in spread out rural areas, we will not have sufficient voting power to keep from getting shafted. This happens all the time in Oregon. The I-5 corridor dictates what we in rural areas have to suffer financially so they can feel good about saving Bambi. All the while, we need to eat Bambi because that is food grazing out our back door while the packaged stuff is 10’s of miles away. The price of oil, if we refuse to dig, will turn us rednecks into rather angry rednecks.

  192. Bernd Felsche says:

    Anthony’s found a niche for his EV.

    Germany’s Der Stern magazine “erred” recently when it published an article on electric cars. The article is in German (translate.google.com does an OK job).

    Here’s a (manually) translated extracted:

    Automotive expert Professor Willi Diez regards the electric cars available to Germans such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Peugeot iOn as tools for advertising rather than protecting the climate. They serve primarily as “good PR” for the companies and authorities who are the main buyers; in quantities of “homeopathic proportions”.

  193. Dave Springer says:

    To whoever was asking about the power/density of batteries compared to liquid hydrocarbon fuels…

    Let me know right away when an electric passenger aircraft goes into production. Except for a couple of very exotic expensive solar powered low speed single passenger experimental planes there ain’t no such animal. Electric powered aircraft are restricted to R/C model planes because you can’t begin to approach the energy/density of liquid (at room temperature so they don’t require exotic storage tanks) hydrocarbon fuels with batteries no matter how much you are willing to pay for the batteries.

  194. Bernd Felsche says:

    Almost 200 comments and none that deal with the linked article. Oh for shame!

    Even a cursory glance reveals a 14% reduction in capacity in fewer than 20 charge cycles when the cell is heavily loaded. Even at 0.5C, the electrolyte shows pronounced (5%) degradation in 200 cycles. I hope that I’m mistaken in my interpretation of the results.

    There are no temperature-related factors discussed in the article; which are crucial to deploying any battery technology to automotive use. Also, there is a lack of discussion of chemical stability, flammability and other safety aspects. Given those serious omission of performance characteristics and the reported cycle-life characteristics, the conclusion of the article:

    On the basis of the performance demonstrated here, this battery is a top candidate for powering sustainable vehicles.

    Is IMNSHO inappropriate.

  195. Phil R says:

    Pull My Finger says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    The Tesla is an impressive car, but it will sell about as many as the Dodge Viper since all it really is, is a high performance toy. A very cool toy, but still a toy.

    And if you can afford it, you still get the $7,500 taxpayer-funded incentive. Nice to see where my tax dollars are going.

  196. Jimbo says:

    My only comment is based on irony. Anthony and Steven Goddard are loathed by Warmists yet Anthony drives an electric car and Goddard rides his cycle a lot. Most Warmists are watermelons. As for me I fight like crazy everyday to save energy = money and nothing to do with co2.

    Good night all.

  197. Jim says:

    When I look that car I do not think it will be a big seller.

    Just can’t picture people in Tennesse driving around in that with a
    six-pack in the front seat. Also, where do you install the gun-rack!

  198. earls mf says:

    Have fun paying for your $4+ gasoline, [snip].

  199. Björn says:

    What almost everbody seems to forget when talking about the merits of the electric car , is that (apart from the limited range between charges) there is ,so far, usually a limited lifetime on the batteries that do more than nullify any fuel savings achieved over their lifetime , typical battery lifetime is around 3 year ( ~ 1000 full charges ) , and fuel savings $ maybe something 1000$/yr or 3000$ per batterylife, and that leaves you quite short when faced with an 8-10 thousund $ bill for replacing the worn out batteries.

  200. rukidding says:

    Currently a fossil fuelled car has 1 battery an electric has 10 or more.If we are to replace all fossil fuelled cars with electric do we have enough batteries and what is the battery life.?

  201. feet2thefire says:

    One of the really big news about batteries is the work being done with graphene, a form of pure carbon crystal that was discovered in 2004.

    These headlines more or less speak for themselves. Graphene apparently will play a part as both quick-charge battery terminals and as supercapacitors.

    Gizmodo (Sep 18, 2008) — “Graphene Could Become World’s Best Battery” —
    http://gizmodo.com/#!5051545/graphene-could-become-worlds-best-super-battery

    GreenCarCongress (26 November 2010)— “Graphene-based supercapacitor offers energy density comparable to NiMH battery, but with rapid charge and discharge” — http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/11/liu-20101126.html

    PopSci.com (July 15, 2010) — “In Stores Soon: Graphene-Enhanced Li-ion Batteries That Charge In Minutes” — http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2010-07/coming-soon-graphene-enhanced-li-ion-batteries-charge-your-gadgets-minutes

    NetworkWorld (July 19, 2010) — “Graphene cuts battery recharge times –
    Batteries with Vorbeck’s graphene material could reach devices next year” — http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/071910-graphene-cuts-battery-recharge.html

    Graphene is the most amazing material to come along in a long while. It is basically the underlying material that makes up graphite. But while graphite is several layers thick, graphene is only 1 to 10 atoms thick crystalline “nano-sheets”. It has amazing properties that include being superior to silicone as transistors, better than teflon (it seems so far) as a non-stick coating, and it has extremely high thermal properties. New applications are being found about every month or so, many of them very surprising.

    Take a look at those links and Google “Graphene battery” or just “graphene” to begin learning about it.

    Put together with the Thorium MSR nuclear plants being developed in China and the 200,000 year supplies of Thorium that China has (and the U.S. I believe probably has even more), the energy equation of the future may not even need to include fossil fuels at all. The technology either now exists or is being developed to take us into the 22nd century oil free.

    That is what I see on the near horizon and on into the future: Thorium reactors producing electricity that we use in graphene super-capacitor cars that charge all but as fast as a fill-up now takes. Who knows what range they may have, but it will certainly outstrip what we have come up with so far.

    And this is just the first generation of graphene applications. Who knows what the future holds? I can see small models of Thorium reactors at every “gas station,” perhaps on every residential block and in every parking garage. Decentralization of energy may be the democratization/webification of energy.

  202. psi says:

    Just in the interest of sharing information (do not, I repeat do not, follow my investment strategies….:) readers who have not heard of the mysterious Eestor, which is allegedly producing a game changing capacitor that has the energy density of a battery but can charge and discharge in a matter of minutes instead of hours, may be curious to read here: http://www.theeestory.com/. If nothing else, it is a fascinating saga — like Watts Up one of the most interesting places to lurk and read on the internet.

    Cheers,

    psi

  203. B. CH.E. says:

    The ACS (an ardent AGW supporter) was mentioned by a couple of contributors above. Recently they published an article dreaming about the future when all our power was “sustainable” The hooker is that they were talking about the cost of all this as being in the range of $1.3 trillion (yes, that ‘s with a T.) A lot of the cost was for constructing transmission lines to bring the electricity from the southwest where the solar energy panels would be to the concentrations of power users.
    It’s true that we import too much of our crude, and much of it from unreliable sources. However, natural gas from shale is now in surplus in the USA, and plans are being made to export it (instead of importing LNG as was planned a few years ago.) If we were serious about energy independence, we could make gasoline and diesel fuel from coal (the Sasol process as practiced in South Africa) or from shale oil, or natural gas. A few years ago ExxonMobil and later Shell were talking about a plant to convert natural gas in Qatar to liquid fuels. I believe these plans were dropped in favor of liquifaction plants. No doubt gasoline from such sources would cost more than gasoline from crude at less than $2 a gallon. But as gasoline cost goes up and the Middle East is in turmoil, the price of crude will certainly escalate. What stops this kind of practical solution is our government’s obsession with carbon dioxide generation. Sooner or later, with lines at gas stations, the public will wake up and demand solutions.

  204. feet2thefire says:

    @Dennis Wingo February 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm:

    Watch what happens when one of these cars get hit by another car and the Lithium Ion Batteries explode.

    Yeah, Ted Turner was all hot to trot about steam cars (I am going to say around 1980 or so). Then one day he saw a prototype with steam passages in the sides of the car. He asked what would happen in the case of a side-impact crash.

    I leave it up to you what the answer was…

  205. a jones says:

    Well I hate to drizzle the cold rain of hard reality backed by dependable calculation on the exciting party about wonderful electric cars. Tee Hee.

    Not to be unfair to most WUWT readers, as expressed above, they are generally a pretty hard headed bunch of realists.

    As I have said before I posted an article on electric cars cars on Jeff Id’s blog a while back about how we did it over thirty years ago. Of course in the light of comments and reflection I could have written it better but when was that not so? what is done is done.

    Its here:

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/electric-cars/

    To address the more specific question of the core of any electric vehicle, the battery, more correctly the accumulator, but I will use the term battery here, what does the above excited announcement mean?

    Very little. The inventors/developers are to be congratulated on devising a new cheaper electrode but the cell is still in the experimental stage and frankly on their own figures not that promising.

    Consider this. Very roughly if you burn 1 Kg of liquid hydrocarbon you will release about 12 Kwhr of heat which your modern engine depending on design and usage will turn into work at an efficiency of between 25 and 50 percent. The combustion draws the oxidant from the air and rejects the reaction products, chiefly water and CO2 to the atmosphere.

    A battery delivers electricity which can be turned into work more efficiently, at best
    around 90 percent, but it has to provide both the reagents in the REDOX reaction as well as an intermediary to promote the reaction and finally of course structure and containment.

    Now very, very roughly, in theory, and only in theory, a battery might achieve about one tenth of the stored energy for weight as a liquid hydrocarbon fuel: so about 1200 Whrs per Kg.

    In practice real batteries don’t get anywhere near this, more or less around a tenth is the best they can do, 120 Whr per Kg is typical today. And of course the battery suffers losses in charging, up to 20% of charge and to a lesser extent. up to 10% on discharge.

    Why such poor performance? Well essentially the problem is getting sufficient amounts of reagent into the REDOX reaction. This is not so much a matter of chemistry as physics and engineering. There is of course much talk of increasing the surface area of electrodes with nanotechnology etc. which can make for increased charge/discharge rates but does not address this basic problem.

    Nor does cell chemistry as such, there is only a very limited choice and a balance has to be struck between energy density and stability. For instance the Lithium cell has a high EMF and so energy density but its range of voltage over discharge/charge and sensitivity to temperature makes it quite unstable and liable to suffer acute thermal runaway as various manufacturers and laptop users have discovered.

    This is essentially a cell management difficulty and there are engineering solutions, practical but not necessarily cheap, which also limit performance.

    35 years ago we elected for a NiZn cell, the Drumm cell which was so obscure that none of us had ever heard of it. In fact Dr. Drumm, an excellent chemist, had realised where Edison went wrong with his NiZn cell and produced a very practical cell, so good that it was used to power electric trains and heavy goods vehicles before WW2.

    Dr. Drumm’s chemistry was entirely right but his physics and engineering left something to be desired. As was common in those days I was sent to sort the problem out. Which did not prove too difficult, within a few months we could build a battery for small electric cars which managed about 90 Whr per Kg with a 1000 cycle deep discharge cycle.

    We were very conservative about this and as I said in the article listed above we could then have possibly pushed it up by 20% and observed we could do better than that today: in fact having back of the envelope calculations I think we could easily double that figure. And NiZn is not only cheap but recyclable.

    Would that be good enough?

    Barely so.

    Modern cars are bigger and heavier and worst of all are driven faster with very high aerodynamic losses. Back then it was thought an improvement of three to four times, which maybe now in reach, might be sufficient. Nowadays you probably need more like eight times. Can batteries do that? NO.

    Not Nohow.

    Kindest Regards

  206. hotrod (Larry L) says:

    feet2thefire says:
    February 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    @Dennis Wingo February 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm:

    Watch what happens when one of these cars get hit by another car and the Lithium Ion Batteries explode.

    Yeah, Ted Turner was all hot to trot about steam cars (I am going to say around 1980 or so). Then one day he saw a prototype with steam passages in the sides of the car. He asked what would happen in the case of a side-impact crash.

    I leave it up to you what the answer was…

    Same thing will likely happen with the electrics. The “issue” no one wants to talk about, is what happens when you have a dead short across a high capacity, high current battery — a kilowatt class arc and lots of flying molten metal.

    Wait until some green advocate gets rear ended by a truck and his children in the back seat get incinerated in a ball of plasma from a near instantaneous discharge of the battery.

    At least a gasoline fire can be controlled and extinguished, where an uncontrolled electrical discharge from a battery pack of this capacity will be a spectacular light show, and will instantly ignite any nearby flammable materials in the lightweight auto construction (can we say burning magnesium components and flash fire from vaporized aluminum and fiberglass/carbon fiber composite).

    I have a great deal of respect for high energy density electrical storage devices such as super capacitors or high energy batteries. It would be wise for the general public to understand that catastrophic sudden discharge of these batteries is a probably result of some accident scenarios, and to plan accordingly.

    Until the electric car manufactures demonstrate that this is not a risk, I am not buying (even if I had the money to throw away on a fad product).

    Larry

  207. u.k.(us) says:

    a jones says:
    February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm
    “Well I hate to drizzle the cold rain of hard reality backed by dependable calculation on the exciting party about wonderful electric cars. Tee Hee.”
    ========
    Yet, you did it anyway.
    What does that say about you.

  208. a jones says:

    u.k.(us) says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    That I am an old curmudgeon of course. But one who happens to know an awful lot about electric cars.

    Kindest Regards.

  209. Patrick Davis says:

    “hotrod (Larry L) says:
    February 23, 2011 at 8:50 pm”

    You can also get some pretty sparks from two 400a/h batteries connected in series. And even something as little as Ni-Cad battery in a laptop can cause severe burns and start fires.

    I understand Toyota still does not have a returns policy for its battery packs in their hybrid cars.

  210. AndyW35 says:

    I think people forget that electric cars are only now coming into play and that cars driven by petroleum products neither had the range or performance when they first started.

    Petrol is now 135p per litre in the UK, or about $9 an imperial gallon.

    Andy

  211. Perry says:

    Replacing Anthony’s existing batteries with new technology batteries would be frightfully expensive. MasterVolt wanted to charge up to £5000 for one super dooper marine battery in the UK. I made my excuses and hung up. ;<{

  212. Sean says:

    I found driving electric 106s nice. Wonderful acceleration, and no gear changes. So silent we had a special lesser horn to beep people to get out of the way. You expect to hear a car, and with our electrics you did n’t.

  213. u.k.(us) says:

    a jones says:
    February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm
    =============
    The post wasn’t about electric cars, but I’m sure one will be coming.

  214. a jones says:

    u.k.(us) says:
    February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    a jones says:
    February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm
    =============
    The post wasn’t about electric cars, but I’m sure one will be coming.

    ——————————————————————-

    ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Kindest Regards

  215. Larry in Texas says:

    Oh, Anthony – I think it is going to be a LONG time before these vehicles become economical enough to justify their existence. The battery technology is going to have to improve by leaps and bounds to make them as useful as a conventional internal combustion engine or a hybrid vehicle. I have a hybrid, and I think hybrids are better because they allow more cruising range while saving gasoline (I get 34.3 combined mpg right now, and I don’t have to charge up!). It’s a good thing you have only two miles to commute. If you had to drive around the San Diego area like I have to drive around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you’d be hard pressed – especially since the Volt (if that is what you have, I don’t know) requires only premium gasoline. If it’s all electric, never mind. But I’d rather keep my hybrid.

  216. richard verney says:

    Anthony, the car looks very smart. My dad, about 15 years ago, swopped his Lotus sports car for an electric car. It was very impractical but at least he only lived a few miles from town and it was perfectly adequate for town use. In fact it was a bit of a novelty and when my dad use to go out to the pub or restaurant, they would run a lead to the car and charge it up. This was necessary since my dad lived in a hilly/mounainous area where performance soon dropped off.

    My gripe is that Green technology is never as green as the ‘Greens’ would have one believe. Windfarms are a classic example which have not resulted in the closure of a single conventional power station and the carbon footprint of manufacture and installation is huge. Hybrid cars are another example. The CO2 footprint of manufacture of those vehicles is significantly greater than an ordinary car.

    So too electric cars. The daily Mail is today running an article suggesting that they are more dirty than diesel. See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1360062/Watchdog-says-electric-cars-dirty-diesel.html

    There have been significant advances in the efficiency of small engines and the greenest form of motoring is to have a small and light car (for the majority of ones use) with an engine of about 1100ccs.

    The reality is that the present state of alternative technologies is not such that a switch to green technologies is yet a practical proposition nor does it yet do anything to save the environment.

  217. Marek256 says:

    ‘it’s all about the battery’ ultracapacitors will solve the problem soon or later.

  218. William Willis says:

    British scientists have developed a synthetic petrol produced from hydrogen which will be commercially available in 3-5 years and works in current petrol powered internal combustion engines without modification. It will cost around 90p per gallon (about a dollar?) before taxes and it produces no harmful emissions – real or imagined.

    http://crave.cnet.co.uk/cartech/uk-researchers-invent-artificial-petrol-costing-19p-per-litre-50002478/

    I don’t think electric cars have much of a future.

  219. John Marshall says:

    Not only is it battery life, and cost of replacement, it is also about thermodynamic efficiency. Every energy conversion suffers an efficiency loss. Lean burn petrol or diesel is more cost effective and more efficient and easy to refuel. Do not worry about CO2 plants love it and it is not a pollutant.

  220. Roy Milner says:

    It is certainly not beyond the wit of modern engineers and scientists to create vehicles that produce little or no CO2. I’m looking forward to witnessing these new developments. What will also be interesting is the reaction of the more politically motivated environmentalists. I’m convinced that no matter how “clean” personal vehicles can be made there will be strong resistance from a vocal set of political environmentalists. Having “clean” options will make this more apparent as time goes on.

  221. Dan Smith says:

    At least you aren’t advocating that the rest of us be forced to own electrics if they aren’t practical for our lifestyle. Other commenters have made good points about the source of energy for electrics being carbon based for the most part. Don’t forget that the much ballyhooed Chevy Volt is being subsidized by tax breaks and stands no chance of succeeding without government support.

  222. Pete H says:

    Why does it have a filler cap Anthony? (see the picture!)

    ;-)

  223. Pete H says:

    Marek256 says:
    February 24, 2011 at 1:06 am
    ‘it’s all about the battery’ ultracapacitors will solve the problem soon or later.

    In Shanghai they are running buses using “Super Capacitors” with good results until the hot months of July and August. They then have to load the bus with dry ice to keep them efficient!

  224. Jose Suro says:

    Cute car! It would be great if the discussion here could go to figuring out how the carbon footprint of your vehicle would compare to say the 2010 Ford Focus Econetic (European Diesel Model) if you had to use coal powered electricity for charging. I’m not very good at calculating energy densities, kWh to miles etc., so maybe someone here could chime in.

    The Ford uses no electricity (external), has 109bhp and will take you 74.2 miles on a gallon of diesel. It is a regular compact car with four doors. So, with 24-mile per day commuting specs (5-days a week) the Ford would burn around 84 gallons of diesel in a year, a bit less than two drums of the stuff…..

    Best,

    Jose

  225. Patrick Davis says:

    “Jose Suro says:
    February 24, 2011 at 5:13 am”

    Top Gear (UK) sort of covered that. But yes, the diesel was the better option. Yay go green, consume more!

  226. Juergen says:

    EV or hybrid is not solving the problem, it is just another form of moving a mass from A to B. You need the same energy for that.
    Reducing the size, weight and maximum speed of the vehicle and the maximum load that can be added, then the reduction of engery/cost can be achieved no matter what source of energy is used.
    Also consider that the transformation of energy from one form to another form has a loss as well the transportation of that energy from the source of creation to the destination of usage.
    You can’t avoid the law of physics.

  227. John Marshall says:

    I haqve just worked out what we pay in the UK for diesel, per UK gallon which is 25% larger than yours, and it is equivalent to $9, or about $7 per US gallon, so you are much better off in the USA than us here in the UK. Can I live with you?

  228. Rik Gheysens says:

    Rik Gheysens says:
    February 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm
    To be complete, the source of my comment came to a large extent from Koen Van de Moortel, who wrote in the readers’ letters column in the Flemish magazine Humo (23 February 2010 – Belgium).

  229. Peter Brunson says:

    Who makes the car?
    Where can I get one?

  230. KR says:

    Lovely car, Anthony!

    Personally, I’m still in favor of the “battery exchange” option. Better Place (http://www.betterplace.com/) looks to be moving ahead on plans for multiple countries, including Australia, putting out car-wash size stations that drop an empty battery pack out of the belly of the car and snap in a fully charged one. 5 minutes and you’re back in business!

    The drawback, of course, is that you need a standardized battery pack with under-car access.

    Battery charging rates are getting better, but they’re not going to match gas fill rates until we get hypercapcitors instead of batteries.

  231. Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:

    IF these electric vehicles became prevalent, which they won’t due to the fact that they are only expensive toys for those with high incomes, there would have to be a mileage tax, and a high per mile tax to have funds to keep the roads in a good state of repair. The fact is that all electric vehicles are being subsidized by the fuel-tax-paying gasoline and diesel powered vehicle owners.

    Of course, I am old enough to have lived through the late 1970s fuel shortage days. All of the above schemes were tried, CNG powered vehicles (severe lack of fueling stations, so the vehicles had to have dual fuel capability. Tanks holding the CNG weighed several hundred pounds, and when driven with CNG, performance was dreadfully poor. With all of that additional mass, handling characteristics were also terrible.

    In the end, when gasoline became once again available, it was the end of the line for these alternative fuel use vehicles.

    I saw the other day a new concept in diesel engine design (Japanese), and that a huge diesel engine has been constructed which halves the fuel usage for the same power output. http://www.vincelewis.net/bigengine.html

    It has some features which greatly extend the life of the engine. Brilliant new design.

    All of the electric vehicles are no more than death/maiming traps. Last I looked, half of all fatal vehicle accidents were at speeds of 25 mph or less. Drive exceedingly careful, Anthony.

  232. Battman says:

    Anthony:

    I have just acquired an EVA electric car (1978 AMC Pacer) which is in process of being restored. When ready I will install new lead-acid batteries, obtain performance data, then install a li-ion battery of equivalent or larger capacity. I will be very surprised if the range can be doubled. In the era of 1960 to 1995 electric cars generally achieved 4 miles per KWH at 50 mph. The published info on the Chevy volt suggests that it delivers about 3.4 miles/KWH (some guesses are required).

  233. JohnH says:

    I, too, can only give two cheers for electric cars at present; but think them a worthy area for research. At present they’re far from carbon-neutral due to manufacturing processes, including manufacturing replacement batteries at fairly frequent intervals, even if nuclear provides re-charging current. I’d like to see a rigorous carbon cost / benefit analysis in parallel with any financial cost/ benefit analysis. But in addition I’m concerned about environmentally disastrous mining techniques for materials such as lithium, cadmium, rare earths used for modern magnetic materials and so on.

  234. Olen says:

    People who want electric cars should be able to buy them but people should not be forced into them because those in government want it and because that same government intentionally taxes, restricts oil exploration, drilling and refining to make conventional transportation too expensive. Forcing such a technology on the people is a fast track to poverty and limitation of easy affordable transportation.

    The technology is not in place to replace conventional transportation in the free market. And the justification for imposing the technology is based on a fraud.

    Someone commented the automobile at the start of its development was not that efficient and that is true but as it improved and the cost went down the public in the free market saw the benefit of the car, truck and tractor and the horse and buggy business went out of business.

    Bottom line let the free market determine the availability and purchase of vehicles.

  235. daniel says:

    This thread would demonstrate – if needed – how much we’re proud of our cars !

    Now about batteries, definitely the key component, success factor of any electric only car : this paper shows how the now traditional lithium-ion batteries may be improved.

    Would you have heard that here in France, an independent group (Bolloré) is developing his won electric car with an internally developped battery proprietary technology : lithium-metal-polymer.

    If my understanding is correct – a dare assumption – this techno would offer a key advantage : as a ‘dry’ battery, this would stabilize the device, avoid excess of heat, and minimize any risk of explosion.

    If some around @ WUWT has any clue…

  236. Mark Miller says:

    Laurence (8:28 am 2/24/11):
    “In the end, when gasoline became once again available, it was the end of the line for these alternative fuel use vehicles.

    I saw the other day a new concept in diesel engine design (Japanese), and that a huge diesel engine has been constructed which halves the fuel usage for the same power output. http://www.vincelewis.net/bigengine.html

    It has some features which greatly extend the life of the engine. Brilliant new design.

    All of the electric vehicles are no more than death/maiming traps. Last I looked, half of all fatal vehicle accidents were at speeds of 25 mph or less. Drive exceedingly careful, Anthony.”

    Laurence,

    Your right that diesel engine is HUGE! I hope they will be able to scale down the technology so that the efficiency gains (i.e. “half fuel usage for same power output”) can show up in a standard automotive and commercial truck diesel engine space. If I happened to live in the LADWP (say Hollywood) service area, was concerned about the smog in the city (ozone levels) and I was in the market for a new transportation vehicle I would more then consider a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. I don’t happen to live in the LADWP service area (which has the following residential electrical rates-

    2. Monthly Rates
    High
    Season
    June – Sep. Low
    Season
    Oct. – May
    a. Rate A – Standard Service
    (1) Energy Charge –
    per kWh
    Tier 1 –
    per Zone Allocation $ 0.07020 $ 0.07020
    Tier 2 –
    per Zone Allocation $ 0.08520 $ 0.07020
    Tier 3 –
    per Zone Allocation $ 0.12000 $ 0.07020
    (2) ECA – per kWh See General Provisions

    //www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp000536.jsp )

    If I was concerned about CO2 levels I might be a bit concerned about the source of power (and the location it was in generated in if was worried about smog in the LA Basin) for my home charging station. For LADWP it looks like this-

    2009 Power Content Label

    Energy Resources
    LADWP Power*
    (Actual Mix) LADWP Green Power** (Actual Mix) 2008 CA Power Mix***
    (for comparison)
    Eligible Renewable**** 14% 100% 2%
    -Biomass & waste 2% 32% <1%
    -Geothermal 1% <1% 1%
    -Small hydroelectric 6% <1% 0%
    -Solar <1% <1% <1%
    -Wind 5% 68% 1%
    Coal 41% <1% 33%
    Large Hydroelectric 4% <1% 18%
    Natural Gas 30% <1% 42%
    Nuclear 11% <1% 5%
    Other <1% <1% 0%
    TOTAL 100% 100% 100%

    * 93% of LADWP Power is specifically purchased from individual suppliers.
    ** 100% of LADWP Green Power is specifically purchased from individual suppliers.
    *** Percentages are estimated annually by the California Energy Commission based on the electricity sold to California consumers during the previous year.
    **** In accordance with Los Angeles City Council’s action on 10-5-04 for File No. 03-2688 (RPS).

    I live in Northern CA- PG&E's service area. PG&E's power content doesn't have much coal (lots of hydro, natural gas and now some wind, solar and geothermal) anymore. Unfortunately, for most residential customers in PG&E's territory their AVERAGE price for a kw/hr of electricity is currently $.182 per kwh. Lots of folks- like my neighbor- pay a lot more then this average price. Their marginal cost is $.39 kwh for most of summer as they are in Tier 4 usage with their e-1 meter schedule- http://www.pge.com/nots/rates/tariffs/electric.shtml#RESELEC

    Tier 1 $.122
    Tier 2 $.139
    Tier 3 $.280
    Tier4/5 $.389

    PG&E Power content- 2010 ENERGY
    RESOURCES PG&E POWER MIX*
    (Projected) 2008 CA POWER MIX**1
    (For Comparison)
    Eligible Renewable 15% 2%
    • Biomass and waste 4% 0%
    • Geothermal 4% <1%
    • Small hydroelectric 4% <1%
    • Solar <1% 0%
    • Wind 3% <1%
    Coal 2% 34%
    Large Hydroelectric2 16% 18%
    Natural Gas 47% 42%
    Nuclear 20% 5%
    Other 1% 0%
    TOTAL 100% 100%

    I would likely feel a bit guilty about not paying any sales tax for the electricity I use to charge a Leaf…. In the best of all worlds if I happened to work at a green company in the LA Basin they would likely have a free (to me) charging station that I could use to charge my Leaf. Being green is good (and it looks like it might be cost effective for an EV owner in LA too) as I might not have to pay anything for my transportation fuel.

    Mark

    PS How about a carbon fiber LNG tank to keep the weight down……………..

  237. Beesaman says:

    Ah the sight of cognitive dissonance hitting a blog…

    I quite like some of the newer electric motorcycles, unfortunately they don’t sound right!

    http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s/

  238. derryman says:

    Like virtually all discussions that I have seen on electric vehicles, almost everyone is ignoring the real problem with electric vehicles, and it aint the batteries. No even if we had super hyper batteries beyond anything we can think of now, with huge energy densities and charging rates measured in 100s of amps, electric vehicles will remain a niche product.

    The more fundamental problem is how you get the electricity from power station into the battery. Copper wire has fairly restrictive limts on how much power you can put down it (at the sort of max voltages that are workable).

    Think of it like this; imagine that all filling (gas) stations pumps had a maximum hose diameter of 1/32 inch, and that all deliveries to said station had to be by 2″ pipe line.

    Ah, but we will charge up at home you say, well in that case the charging rates are even smaller due to the maximum power ratings of domestic wiring (usually around 6kw per circuit).

    If you want to charge up a reasonable sized vehicle( there is a reason why EVs tend to be on the small side) and drive it, partially loaded, a reasonable distance – say couple of hundred miles – then you are still looking at recharge times measured in many hours even if you do have “hyper capacitors”.

    Sadly electric vehicles are a technological dead end. However for some people they do presently offer some reasonable cost savings, however this is almost entirely due to the excessive level of tax/duty on motor fuels.

    BTW a standard US gas pump delivers energy at the rate of about 20 megawatts.

  239. George E. Smith says:

    I recently watched a very interesting Japanese program, about a new electric car they were developing. The company already had a successful small electric vehicle, and they were four wheel drive, motor in wheel designs. The existing car had a problem in that the electric motor rpms were far too high so they needed an epicyclic gear box on each motor to reduce the wheel rpms (about 1000 rpm was needed at full road speed.

    So their new design, used external rotor electric motors, so their was a large radius multipole wound thator, and a permanent manet outer rotor, made up from rare earth laminated magnets. Since the motor circumference was no large, they could put in multiple poles, and cut the motor RPM and eliminate the gear box.

    So each wheel had one of these large diameter low RPM multipole motors; so no gear boxes and the like. Of course they put a lot of design effort into lowering the total weight of the vehicle to improve the battery charge mileage.

    It struck me; and they made no mention of the problem; but if you build a car, designed to have a very low total weight, and you use a low rpm motor in each wheel, you have a very lightweight car, with a very high (relative) unsprung weight. The brakes such as they would need would also be in each wheel and part of the unsprung weight as they are on most modern vehicles.

    Although the low RPM multipole motor is a great idea in my book, to eliminate any need for a gear box, I think they need to get both the motors and the brakes out of the wheels to lower the unsprung weight; otherwise they are going to have a car that drives like a prairie schooner, and shakes itself and its occupants to bits.

    Much better to have both inboard motors, and inboard brakes, and have light weight constant velocity universal joints to drive the wheels.

    Just my observation. Obviously these dudes imagined their car was going to drive around on billiard table surfaces; rather than on actual roads with bumps.

  240. re AndyW35 – ”I think people forget that electric cars are only now coming into play and that cars driven by petroleum products neither had the range or performance when they first started.”
    Well, actually, they have been around as long as internal combustion vehicles: we HAVE given them time and they are still no more than toy runarounds…

  241. old engineer says:

    Anthony-

    While I would like to see electric cars become practical, they can’t meet my needs yet.

    You are right about it being all about the batteries. The first electric vehicle I had anything to do with at the research institute where I worked, was in 1975. Of course it had lead-acid batteries – lots of them. But the conviction then was: “with 10 years of research we’ll have the battery problem solved. “ Ten years later, in 1985, that was still the mantra. Ditto 1995. Don’t know about 2005, because I had retired by then. But for at least 35 years the battery solution has been just around the corner.

    Whether from Tesla or the new Nissan Leaf, or any other electric, I put the range estimates in the sales pitches in the same category and computer projections of future global temperature. Show me some real world data!

    For example from the official Nissan Leaf website:

    http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/index?dcp=ppn.39666654.&dcc=0.216878497#/leaf-electric-car/range-disclaimer/index

    “your Nissan LEAF™ is built to go 100 miles on a single charge*
    how far you’ll go will depend on a number of variables
    DISCLAIMER *Based upon EPA LA4 test cycle conducted in laboratory tests. See http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml . Gradual loss of capacity in battery will result with time and use. Actual range will vary depending upon driving/charging habits, speed, conditions, weather, temperature, and battery age”

    The EPA LA4 test cycle (officially known as the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule) is an approximately 20 minute long laboratory test cycle that simulates city driving. It has a max speed of 56.7 mph and an average speed of 19.59 mph. About 20 percent of the time is the vehicle is stopped. The accelerations are a leisurely 3 mph per sec. (that’s 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds). The horsepower requirements are for level ground, and while the official ambient temperature specs are 68 to 86 degrees F, most labs run the test at between 70 and 75 degrees F. Also the A/C and heater are off.

    So if that describes your driving you may get 100 mile per charge when the car is new.
    Let’s wait a while an see what the auto magazines have to say about the leaf”s range in the real world.

  242. manstoke says:

    Or, you can do what I do which is run a 10 year old skoda diesel on home made Bio made from recycled chip fat. Costs around 20p/litre with a fuel consumption equivalent to derv of around 46-48 mpg (UK gallons) Car was cheap and the only up-front cost was the purchase of the oil converter kit. No alteration to the car was necessary so if I run out away from home I can fill up with ordinary diesel to get me home. A local restaurant supplies all the oil I need and the rest (methanol and reagent) I get delivered.
    Electric vehicles are great in principle but until they sort the batteries, Ill stick with the oily stuff

  243. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    @ George E. Smith from February 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm:

    The issue of “unsprung mass” was attacked before when wheel motors were discussed, see near the end:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/23/bad-news-for-green-technology/

    It may have some relevance on some applications, like with buses retrofitted with wheel motors (see link). These utilize the proven generator set (gen-set) concept, engine drives generator, electricity powers motors through electronic controls (includes regenerative braking), with a battery between gen-set and the usage. In this case, fuel use is cut by half. There were questions about the suspension but it doesn’t appear to be a problem.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22328/

    Complete wheel motor units can be designed with the suspension built in, to be bolted to a frame. The following isn’t my idea of an ideal car, for sure, but it has a pic showing the concept:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/19651/

    As for ride quality and the rest that gets dredged up for “unsprung mass” complaints against wheel motors, we’ve come a long way in suspension technology since the days of leaf springs and nothing else. Also mass at the wheels may go up, but you can get rid of axles, driveshafts, and other components that contribute to unsprung mass, thus it might not be that much of a difference.

    I laid out here what I’d like to see in an electric vehicle, there was subsequent hashing out of “unsprung mass” and other issues. I’m no fan of plug-in electric vehicles, due to batteries and other issues. But I do favor wheel motors and an electricity-based propulsion system, using a gen-set, due to system simplification, reduction of inefficiencies, and other benefits. The major thing to note is the technology has long been used in industry, what’s needed is repackaging not groundbreaking innovation. This is happening, has already happened elsewhere, and it does work, and works well.

  244. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From manstoke on February 25, 2011 at 11:34 am:

    Or, you can do what I do which is run a 10 year old skoda diesel on home made Bio made from recycled chip fat. (…)

    I’ve researched bio-diesel before. I noted the problems with corrosiveness, actually more of a solvent-type issue, how older diesel engines may have to have the fuel system seals and hoses updated to Viton or similar to withstand the use of bio-diesel. Also diesel at the pump has many additives for engine life etc, and specified characteristics that the engine controls are expecting for maximum performance and efficiency.

    I concluded bio-diesel would be great for home heating, as diesel and #2 heating oil are basically the same and interchangeable for heating, and oil burners are universally designed to handle either #2 or #1 heating oil, with #1 being kerosene, a known solvent. But for vehicles, it’s better to stick with standard at-the-pump diesel.

  245. Bernd Felsche says:

    KD Knoebel,

    Please try to waste some time reading up on the theory of automotive suspension.

    Not only are your assumptions that support the “viability” of hub motors for general automotive use demonstrably false (e.g. brake temperatures), you, like so many others assume that roads are smooth and that cars are always driven on clean, dry billiard tables. The vertical displacement of a wheel suspension has to be of a higher magnitude than what can be accommodated in the hub of a wheel.

    Suspension travel on modern cars isn’t there for “fun” and to frustrate those trying to change a wheel quickly. The travel is required to smooth pertubations; reducing stresses on all the sprung elements of the vehicle as well as its occupants, and to maintain contact with the road’s surface as much as possible for safety. A suspension whose wheels can’t closely follow the contours of the road results in poor braking, road-holding and handling. i.e. it compromises safety.

    Further, regenerative braking is highly unlikely to replace mechanical braking. Least of all because mechanical brakes are safe. The work even without the engine running or the availability of electrical power in the vehicle. The second reason is that the battery and electronics cannot handle the braking power; the vehicle’s kinetic energy that needs to something else in a very short time in an emergency. Typically less than 4 seconds from 100 km/h.

    Do the arithmetic. That’s of the order of 100 kW for 4 seconds. And longer from real motorway speeds… Where are the batteries that’ll accept that sort of charge? At 50 to 60°C on-road.

  246. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Bernd Felsche on February 26, 2011 at 8:02 am:

    KD Knoebel,

    Please try to waste some time reading up on the theory of automotive suspension.

    I already did that, darling, back at the other WUWT article I linked to.

    Not only are your assumptions that support the “viability” of hub motors for general automotive use demonstrably false (e.g. brake temperatures), you, like so many others assume that roads are smooth and that cars are always driven on clean, dry billiard tables. (…)

    No, darling, I live in central Pennsylvania, where we have potholes and other road imperfections, road debris like assorted tree pieces and rocks, snow, ice, rain, hills, and even curbs. I especially dislike the current usage of low-profile tires as they are unrealistic, especially the combining of them with aluminum alloy wheels instead of traditional steel, and have noted the anecdotal reports of increased tire and wheel damage.

    Further, regenerative braking is highly unlikely to replace mechanical braking. (…)

    Regenerative braking, where the motor is used as a generator to drain off kinetic energy, has a long history in industry in many applications where it must be reliable. It is often combined with dynamic braking, where a motor is briefly fed current that otherwise would make it reverse direction except with the goal of stopping the rotation suddenly, also an AC motor can be fed small amounts of DC to lock the rotor in place. Mechanical brakes are not needed.

    (…) The work even without the engine running or the availability of electrical power in the vehicle. (…)

    I specifically mentioned still having mechanical brakes as an emergency backup in the other article, darling.

    (…) The second reason is that the battery and electronics cannot handle the braking power; the vehicle’s kinetic energy that needs to something else in a very short time in an emergency. Typically less than 4 seconds from 100 km/h.

    Do the arithmetic. That’s of the order of 100 kW for 4 seconds. And longer from real motorway speeds… Where are the batteries that’ll accept that sort of charge? At 50 to 60°C on-road.

    As mentioned at the other article, darling, as is found in industry, resistor banks are used. Current generated during regenerative braking that cannot be sent back to the current source, be it AC mains or batteries, gets dumped to one or more resistor banks, where it is transformed to heat. Thus while with mechanical braking the heat generated is at the wheel, which leads to considerable stresses, with regenerative braking nearly all the heat can be safely dumped to the atmosphere at a location other than the wheel, and can even be utilized for other purposes such as warming the engine air intake or heating the cabin.

    And yes, there are electronic systems found in industry capable of the equivalent of stopping a car or truck traveling at 62 mph in 4 seconds or less. As stated that’ll be for emergency use, not routine, thus the required system can be smaller than otherwise. If manufacturers wish to balk at the size and/or cost, they might try to blend in a touch of mechanical braking in emergencies so they can use an even smaller system. But if the current generated is merely dumped to resistor banks with no attempt to make it suitable for returning to the source, little more is needed than suitable mechanical relays costing not that much money and occupying not that much space. It can be done, and has been done in industry.

  247. Josualdo says:

    Robinson says:
    February 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    $5 per gallon? We’re paying well over $8!

    Yes, about 8.3 around here. But bottled water is much, much costlier.

  248. Josualdo says:

    kiki says:
    February 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Someone mentioned hybrids. The interesting thing about those is that they are not much better than a diesel.

    Yes. Some time ago I met someone who had bought a hybrid, something I was curious about; he was very happy because his hybrid did… the mileage my diesel Polo did, we found out. We were both rather put down. And that’s one of the problems with hybrids.

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