Is the Tesla Model S Green?

English: Tesla Model S Prototype at the 2009 F...

Tesla Model S Prototype at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EVs indirectly pollute, and the Tesla Model S appears to result in greater effective CO2 emissions than an SUV

Guest post by Nathan Weiss

The EPA tells us 51% of total CO2 emissions result from motor vehicle use.  As a result, many environmentally-aware consumers buy hybrid and electric vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, in an effort to reduce their CO2 emissions.  One can easily picture these consumers exclaiming “wealthy Republicans are destroying the planet!” when they find their Prius driving next to a ‘one percenter’ in a BMW.

According to the EPA, the Toyota Prius V generates 212g of tailpipe CO2 emissions per mile driven, while BMW offers a host of vehicles that generate less than 140g of CO2 per km (225g per mile) driven.  In fact, there are now quite a few new vehicles on the road that emit between 240g and 280g of CO2 per mile driven, including the Chevy Cruze and the base model Honda Civic.  Hop into a Honda Civic hybrid and your tailpipe CO2 emissions fall to just 202g per mile.  So where does the Tesla Model S stand in terms of effective CO2 emissions? 

Tesla Motors implies that the Model S sedan effectively emits 176g of CO2 per mile driven, although we believe the power consumption estimate Tesla uses for these calculations – 300 miles per 85 kWh consumed – is unrealistic.  Furthermore, unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, electric vehicles utilizing lithium-based batteries suffer charging inefficiencies of roughly 10% to 20% and often consume meaningful amounts of energy when they sit idle – especially in cold weather.  If we incorporate charging and idle losses, using data provided by Model S owners, we calculate that the effective CO2 emissions of an average Model S are roughly 394 g per mile.  It gets worse:  Other research shows the massive amounts of energy needed to create an 85 kWh lithium-ion battery results in effective CO2 emissions of 153g per mile over the life of a Model S battery, based on our assumptions.  When the CO2 emitted during the production of the battery pack are incorporated, we believe the total effective CO2 emissions of an 85 kWh Model S sedan are 547g per mile – considerably more than a large SUV, such as a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which emits 443g per mile!

Despite the substantial effective CO2 emissions of the Model S sedan, Tesla received $465 mln of low-interest loans from the DOE and the $82,000 average list price luxury sedan benefits from a $7,500 Federal tax credit, as well as various state and local incentives – including a $2,500 tax credit in the state of California.  In addition, government environmental credit schemes required other auto makers to pay Tesla more than $40 mln in 2012 to “offset” the emissions of their gasoline engine-equipped vehicles with credits from the more heavily polluting Model S.

More:

http://www.uniteconomics.com/files/Tesla_Motors_Is_the_Model_S_Green.pdf

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145 thoughts on “Is the Tesla Model S Green?

  1. …many environmentally-aware eco-sanctimonious consumers buy hybrid and electric vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, in an effort to reduce their CO2 emissions feel greener-than-thou.

  2. Didn’t we discuss this sort of chain-of-energy 5-7 years ago before WUWT became the internet phenomena is so richly deserves to be? (Congratulations on the 3 year consecutive Best Science Blog award, by the way)

    Nothing has changed. As true today as it was back then, even without the chain of loss to deliver electrical energy.

  3. Here’s Canada’s newest entry in the two door golf cart market…the ZENN ! ! !

    Zero Emissions…No Noise….holds cases of beer AND two sets of golf clubs !

  4. Windmills increase co2 instead of reducing co2, and now we find that electric cars do the same. In addition the use of ethanol increases co2 emissions. I wonder if there is any so called green technology that actually does what it’s protagonists claim. Maybe LED lighting is the silver lining to the green party cloud.

    And then we have power stations converted to wood chip burning by shipping the wood chips across the Atlantic. I’d sure like to see a comprehensive co2 audit for that idiocy.

  5. In all fairness, they should also calculate how much CO2 is used in the production of the typical non-electric, non-hybrid car. . . . .

  6. Lady Thatcher had a minor degree in chemistry. I know of no other politician that has had any background in science (not including social science) beyond high school. Therefore governmental agencies act within a void of scientific knowledge and reasoning. Idealists can promote their venue with little or no pragmatic challenge. Where are today’s Benjamin Franklins and Thomas Jeffersons ?

  7. .
    And take one of those Teslas north, into a Canadian winter, and turn on all the heating, seat heating and de-misting, and then see what happens to your effective MPG and CO2 production.

    I did go onto the Tesla site to see what they say about heating, but it is not mentioned. I am assuming that the waste-heat an electric motor cannot heat a car interior (otherwise an electric motor cannot be 98% efficient). That means battery heating, and I would suggest that will halve your range and double your CO2 emissions? Any more accurate calculations for this?

    .

  8. A Tesla weighs more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is also longer. A Jeep Grand Cherokee can haul more people + cargo, etc. The JGC no need for government grants. There is no energy density problem with Jeep products, and of the fuel tank goes dry you will not be required to buy a new fuel tank. Parking a Jeep at the airport for a month will not cost $30,000 in repairs.

    On the plus side for the Tesla, many places are looking at programs that will partially recharge your battery at a discounted rate but will not partially fill your Jeep tank. This makes no sense to subsidize a Tesla owner.

    http://www.plugincars.com/questionable-price-structure-walgreens-electric-car-charging-107402.html

  9. Green logic is always superficial – if something “looks” green (like wind or solar) it assumes that
    it IS low carbon. Looks, as they say, can be deceiving.

  10. Zenn abandoned their lead acid powered golf cart and laid off all their employees except for executives and their secretaries. Sounds like Fisker? At least with subsidies Tesla is still in business making a product. Did I say nicely subsidized?

  11. Despite these woeful energy consumption figures, Professor David Mackay, a UK government advisor, is still pushing the lie that electric vehicles are 5x as efficient as fossil fueled cars.

    Free pdf book on renewable energy (for government ministers):
    Claim is bottom of page 120.

    http://www.withouthotair.com

    What the disingenuous professor has done, of course, is to ‘massage’ the figures:
    a. He has assumed the fossil fueled car is a US gas-guzzler.
    b. He has assumed that the electricity for the electric vehicle comes free – with no costs or inefficiencies of electrical power generation.

    Now that is plain deceitful. And since Prof Mackay is the chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (sic), and this pdf book was designed for government advice, this is tantamount to “Misconduct in Public Office” and the good professor should be charged under that statute.

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/misconduct_in_public_office

    .

  12. @Ben Wilson

    You beat me to it, Ben. How much CO2 was released to manufacture that gas tank, fuel pump, carburation/injection system? How much for the oversized, periodically replaced non-regenerative braking system? Etc, Etc. The comparison gets really complicated in no time at all.

  13. “The EPA tells us 51% of total CO2 emissions result from motor vehicle use.”

    The EPA says 1/2 of the world’s auto C02 emissions come from US cars.

    US vehicles, including boats, planes, etc., produce about 1.2 Billion metric tons of c02, annually.
    Electricity generation causes about 2.4 billion metric tons of C02, annually.

  14. How much CO2 is produced building that SUV drivetrain? This author has an ax to grind. Instead, he should be sharpening his pencil. JP

  15. And yet still we have Professor David Mackay, the chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (sic), claiming that electric vehicles are 5x as efficient as fossil-fueled cars.

    Free pdf book from this site.
    The claim is on p120

    http://www.withouthotair.com

    What the professor has done here, is to assume that:
    a. The fossil-fueled car is a bit of a gas-guzzler (not a diesel).
    b. That the electricity for the electric car come free, with no costs of inefficiencies of production from fossil fuels.

    Claims like this are highly disingenuous, to say the least, as in normal circumstances an electric car is actually some 30% less efficient that a European diesel. (And that is without taking the lithium battery manufacture and inefficiencies into account.)

    Since the professor is a chief scientific adviser and the publication is for ministerial usage, it is likely that Professor Mackay is guilty of ‘Misconduct on Public Office’, and should be charges accordingly.

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/misconduct_in_public_office/

    .

  16. Ben Wilson says:

    April 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

    “In all fairness, they should also calculate how much CO2 is used in the production of the typical non-electric, non-hybrid car. . . . .”

    Ben, the point is electric and hybrid are advertised as C02 free or reduced which they are not, by a long shot.

  17. It should be easy to extend their range:

    Simply hook up a trailer full of spare batteries. ;-)

  18. Well worth reading the full report. Excellent display of critical thinking and analysis. Why cant the greens do this? The author has given Tesla the benefit of the doubt at almost every turn and the results are still wildly unfavorable. He could have included an allowance for the lack of robustness of the batteries which could require replacement sooner than the 8000 mile interval claimed by Tesla. It would be highly interesting (and I suspect most revealing) to see a detailed profile of who is buying these things!

  19. So I have spent a good amount of time in the Santana Row Tesla showroom; even spent $26 on a Tesla hat; but only because it happened to be Subaru blue.

    But I do have to say, I was quite impressed with a lot of the Tesla model S design, and I told them so. But I also told them what a silly idea it is, when you can store so much more energy in a gallon of gasoline.

    One incomprehensible design choice, didn’t make sense to me, and stll doesn’t. If you look at the rear of the chassis (they have a complete body less chassis there), you will see they have two electric motors axially arranged behind the step down trasmission gears that drive the two rear wheels.

    Well that is what you think you are seeing. The two L&R step down gears, are actually a perfectly ordinary differential, except direct drive to the cage, and no right angle drive. So why the hell the complication, and inefficiency of a differential, when you have two separate motors.

    Well the answer is simple; you DON’T have two separate motors. You only have one motor in fact, a 290 KW three phase AC motor. The other “motor”, is actually a DC to three phase AC rotary inverter. It’s about 60 years, since I knew exactly how to do that, so I don’t know, what that is all about.
    Well you see, if they had just put in the parallel step down gears, sans differential, and two identical brushless DC motors; they probably would have to change the name to the model S EDISON.

    So any of you modern electric geeks out there (I know you are there), can yo splain to us, how the rotary inverter works, and why go that way, rather than brushless DC ?

    I did ask why they didn’t go with in board disk brakes at the rear, just like the 1954/5/6 Mercedes W196 formula one GP cars, and the 300SLR sports cars of the same vintage. I’m thinking they also went inboard brakes at the front, but my mind is fuzzy on that. Yes I know I can giggle it up and find out.

    Naturally, the Tesla chap had absolutely no idea, why the hell you would want inboard brakes on a sports car, even if only on the rear. I can see eschewing them on the front, so you don’t complicate the steering; but Tesla brags about their astronomical tree climbing torque. So if you have so much drive torque; it likely equals or exceeds the maximum breaking torque; both of them being limited by the tire coefficient of friction.
    So then you don’t have to worry about braking torque shearing the drive shafts, if you put the brakes inboard. Well they still didn’t understand why you want to do that if you have room.

    So when you build the model GES Tesla, Mr Musk. I’d like a no differential twin brushless DC motor job with in board rear disk brakes. I’d also like it if your engineers, can find a less vulnerable crash resistant location for the modest battery cooling heat exchanger (radiator).

    It’s a very nicely done car: but it is still a silly idea. But the capitalist in me says people with more money than sense, should be separated from it as fast as you can clean them out. But how about giving us taxpayers a break, and make your yuppie customers foot the real bill for their spendthrift ways. And I really liked the old Roadster model too. You should build it again.
    Makes the chevy Corvette look like the piece of junk, it is.

  20. Interesting but a little fact challenged. A quick check of today’s EPA website shows 34% of CO2 emissions from electricity generation, about 29% from all transportation. Perhaps you meant 51% of transportation emissions are from cars?
    And, you cannot add the CO2 in making the battery to the Tesla without also adding the CO2 from making a comparable car engine/ transmission. Fruit salad comparison.
    The stronger point is that at current relative efficiencies, electric vehicles are about a wash when powered by coal generated electricity, while still horrendously expensive and range limited when compared to today’s autos and hybrids. Which is why the Nissan Leaf is a failure, Fiskers is near bankruptcy, and I suspect Tesla will be too once everyone at the Googleplex has bought their expensive toy.
    All that said, there are still a range of hybrid like ideas that make economic sense at present and probable fuel prices in most places, and which should be seeing much wider adoption. Here, the US lags Europe in idle off, DCT, regen braking, electric turbo, and similar innovations that do not even require a traction battery like the Prius has. Up to 25%. Fuel savings at minimal ( few hundred rather than few thousand) of additional vehicle cost.

  21. With all the talk of “green” vehicles lately, I was beginning to feel a bit guilty about driving my large pickup truck and two 500+ HP Porsches, but now I will sleep soundly!

  22. It can take four days including a recharging stop every hundred miles (or less if you drive with the lights and heater on!) of up to 10 hours each to drive the new all-electric Nissan Leaf from London to Edinburgh. As Christopher Booker has pointed out, In the 1830s, a stagecoach could do the same journey in half that time.

    P.S. DarrylB Angela Merkel was also a chemist.

  23. I am confused.
    I am Canadian and I live in Vancouver which is under siege from the likes of Suzuki Corporation err .. I mean Foundation. The ‘Sustainability’ zealots are working hard to ‘get us out of our cars’ and have managed, for now, to grab hold of the levers of municipal government so that ANYTHING for bikes and against driving is lauded and paid for with my taxes. But.. just for a minute.. let’s imagine they succeed in removing every single fossil fuelled car off the road in all of Metro Vancouver.
    A single car manufactures, according to the EPA, about 5 tons CO2 per annum.
    Our government run insurance scheme reports about 1.6 million motorized vehicles in all of Metro Vancouver, so taking ALL of them off the road would offset 1.6 million x 5 tons = 8 million tons CO2 per annum.
    Right? Well not exactly.. you see, except for aviation fuel which is refined right here, most of the fuel we are burning is refined in the USA and imported into Vancouver. So we would not only have to take all the cars off the road, but we would have to continue to buy the gasoline and diesel from those Americans and store it somewhere in tanks FOREVER, since you could never be sure that those business minded Americans wouldnt sell it to themselves instead of us, or failing that, ship it off to the largest consumers of automobiles on the planet… the newly well heeled Chinese. Neither would sequester the fuel, methinks.

    Now… displacing a gasoline car off the road with a Tesla, amounts to the same thing. Unless the fuel you WOULD HAVE burned is sequestered forever, then surely it will eventually be burned somewhere else, maybe next week or maybe next year, but it will be burned.

    So here we we’d be smug in Vancouver..feelin’ green, pedalin’ bikes in the rain, and destitute since we can’t do business anymore, and have to pay massive taxes to finance public transit ( electric buses, elevated trams and subways only dont you know ).

    Meanwhile…let’s look at what taking all our fossil burners off the road would accomplish..

    1 coal fired electric plant emits somewhere between 10million and 20 million tons CO2 per annum.
    For the sake of argument, let;s peg an ‘average’ coal fired electric plant near the middle at 16 million tons CO2 per annum.

    So that means if this medium sized city and all its municipalities took every single car off the road AND sequestered all the fuel they would have burned, then and only then could it offset the CO2 emissions from 1 half of 1 average coal fired electric plant.
    Now according to the Guardian(Tuesday 20 November 2012, Damion Carrington), a green/left leaning organ, China is in the process of building a planned 363 coal fired plants while India plans 455 coal fired plants. The Chinese alone bring an new one onstream every 5 days.

    So we could get ourselves ‘out of our cars’ 100%, build some tanks to hold the fuel we would continue to buy and sequester, and then we really can proudly choose which half of one coal fired plant will offset of the 1200 or so being planned worldwide. .. Half a Chinese one? or Half an Indian one?
    Perhaps the optics would be better than if we chose one of those new German ones. You know.. the ones they are building to use when the wind doesnt blow since they are closing down the nuke plants.

    So.. I am confused. What happens to the fuel when you buy a Tesla?

  24. One other defect that electrics have; if you weigh the car, before and after driving 300 miles, you will find it still weighs the same. My Subaru Legacy weighs about 45-50 pounds less after driving 300 miles; wonder what causes that.

  25. There have been about 5000 Tesla cars sold sold far, the lowly Chevy Cruze has sold 250,000 units in 2012 alone. The thing is, everyone seems to like electric cars but almost nobody actually buys them.

    If electric cars ever become competitive with gas/diesel cars I’ll but one, but I don’t expect them to become competitive for at least another 20 years.

  26. Of course, none of these comparisons of which vehicle is “greener” matter at all unless you truly believe that CO2 in the devil incarnate. If it finally becomes clear that CO2 has a miniscule effect on climate (as I believe) none of these “green” things will matter or be needed. No more solar, wind, or Teslas.

  27. The CO2 produced by each subsidized dollar also needs to be factored into the total equation. People and companies consume energy in order to produce the wealth that is taxed and then subsidize the vehicles. It’s worse when you consider that much of that money is borrowed from less efficient places like China. Borrowed subsidies effectively continue consuming CO2 because it takes energy to produce the dollar to pay the interest. It goes on and on.

  28. John Slayton says (@11:22 am) responding to Ben Wilson:
    “The comparison gets really complicated . . .”

    Hi John,
    Best reason I know to keep politicians far away from the process of picking such things to support with tax-payer money. They haven’t done well with “climate science” either.

    Another question: Is there an electric pick-up that will pull a 4-horse trailer and all related gear from Biggs Junction [el. 67 m] on the Columbia River south to Madras [el. 683 m] and the grasslands to the southeast.? That’s only 97 miles with most of the elevation gain in the first 25 miles. That’s only half the “get there” part of the trip, and then you are in an open field with no electricity. Perhaps the future will not allow such activities as horse camping or just camping, boating, fishing, mountain climbing/hiking and otherwise visiting remote locations. Sad.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    DarrylB says:
    April 10, 2013 at 10:48 am
    “Lady Thatcher had a minor degree in chemistry. I know of no other politician that has had any background in science (not including social science) beyond high school.

    Read this and you will know of two:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixy_Lee_Ray#Academic_career

    There were and are others.

  29. John Parsons says:
    April 10, 2013 at 11:24 am
    “How much CO2 is produced building that SUV drivetrain? This author has an ax to grind. Instead, he should be sharpening his pencil. JP”

    John, there is a reason EV’s are at least 2.5 times as expensive as comparable ordinary cars (comparable as longs as you don’t wanna drive more than the battery makes; and it is warm enough to not need a heating, and cool enough to not need an A/C, I should add). Part of that reason is the resource usage; and the price of any resource is a direct expression of energy usage in getting and processing the resource.

    So, if E/Vs needed, say half the energy in the making than an ordinary car, I would expect them to be about half as expensive. And in that case I would already own one, because I need to be thrifty. Besides, I would love driving a vehicle with an electric motor due to the simplicity, robustness and high torque starting at 0 rpm.

    Unfortunately, no EV maker will sell me a new car for 5000 EUR. Instead they want 25,000 EUR (if they actually grant you ownership of the battery). Some of them are desparate to sell EV’s – they made so many of them, you know. Renault and Nissan for instance.

    So why can’t they sell them for 5000 if the resource usage is as low as you claim, John? Enquiring minds want to know.

  30. There’s a significant error in the g/kwh calculation on the low side – you can’t use mixed sources to calculate the emissions from an electric car, you have to use incremental. Incremental is going to be quite a bit higher, because it’s pretty much all going to come from natural gas. Calculating this way will result in a significantly higher g CO2/mile.

  31. Obviously, george, your Subie doesn’t get enough exercise and is sweating too much.
    Remove the taxpayers subsidies from those pretty electrics and if they are competitive, they will survive and flourish.

  32. The “greenness” could become more true if the electricity was generated by nuclear facilities. I once believed this was Sam Bodman’s motivation for going ahead with the ridiculous ethanol subsidies while he was Bush’s second term Secretary of Energy. I just imagined a behind the scenes quid-pro-quo of “I’ll subsidize corn gas if you get serious about nukes”.

  33. Rud Istvan says:
    April 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm
    “Here, the US lags Europe in idle off, DCT, regen braking, electric turbo, and similar innovations that do not even require a traction battery like the Prius has. Up to 25%. Fuel savings at minimal ( few hundred rather than few thousand) of additional vehicle cost.”

    The first thing you have to do to catch up with us is double the price of gasoling through taxation.

    Still keen?

  34. Just another White House (desperation sets in months before Der Führer and the High Command commit suicide in the Richard M. Nixon situation room) propaganda urban legend.

  35. Well when I read ” Tom Swift, and his Electric Car.” as about an 8 yr old, I thought it was a nifty idea. I also thought leaping from the top of a 150 ft pine tree and flying, was a nifty idea. But I really liked the view from the top, and the flying part never worked too great at lower altitudes, so I never did try that. And I got my A*** whacked every time I climbed that tree anyway.

  36. “even spent $26 on a Tesla hat;”
    No doubt a far better investment than the vehicle itself. You will be able to sell this on Ebay a few years from now for thousands!

  37. You beat me to it, Ben. How much CO2 was released to manufacture that gas tank, fuel pump, carburation/injection system? How much for the oversized, periodically replaced non-regenerative braking system? Etc, Etc. The comparison gets really complicated in no time at all.

    We can approximate the comparison with a comparison of the weight of the respective vehicles, I imagine (similar amounts of energy used to manufacture them per pound/kilo.)

    So, what are the weight comparisons?

  38. DarrylB says April 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Lady Thatcher had a minor degree in chemistry. I know of no other politician that has had any background in science (not including social science) beyond high school.

    .. I’ll take “Noted Neurosurgeons” for $200 Alex…

    *ding*

    Who is Dr. Ben Carson?

    .

  39. All of the above also ignores the the fact that transmitting electricity hundreds of miles, via countless transformers, is a very inefficient way of meeting the high energy needs of transport, heating and hot water supply. Losses down the line account for between 30% and 50% of that generated, with a further 10% in the vehicle, excluding friction losses in transmission and drive systems.

  40. Electrics are the way to go! You get preferential parking next to the door at Ikea, free electric power by others (at least in Vancouver mandated recharging stations) and endless subsidies for the roads and services you use, all financed by the gasoline taxes other motorists pay for you.

    Watts (pardon) not to like?

  41. george e. smith asks why use a 3-phase motor and not a brushless dc motor?

    Well, the 3-phase motor used in the Tesla *is* a brushless DC motor. It just happens to employ 3 field coils instead of two (4-quadrant arrangement) or more.

    There is a reason why 3-phase is used in power transmission: it results in the least use of materials for transmitting continuous power. Because of the 120 degree phase current rotation in three conductors, there is always current flowing through at least two conductors, so there is always transfer of power to the load.

    A two phase motor has similar benefits to continuous power transmission as the three phase motor, but it requires four conductors to realize instead of just three. In fact, any phase arrangement other than three requires more than three conductors to realize.

    The 3-phase “inverter” in the Tesla is simply a big version of the ordinary automotive alternator. Its called an inverter because it turns mechanical rotation into 3-phase AC current. It is easy to turn that current into DC by using some high current capacity rectifiers.

    -BillR

  42. george e. smith says:

    April 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I had a rotary converter some 50 years ago. It was a double ended dynamo. You drove one end with a/c and picked dc off of the other end of the isolated rotating armature. Power the other end with dc and you could pick of a/c and the opposite end. Sadly I had to throw it as part of a deal with my wife on one of our many house moves.

  43. Betapug says:

    April 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    How about renewing the batteries after 3 yrs at a cost of $6000 !!!!

  44. I’m not going to argue about how energetically efficient electromobiles are – they are not very efficient. However the comparison provided here is not very fair.
    The “effective CO2″ comes from current average CO2 production per unit of energy – where? In the US? Or is it average world value? If you charge your car from a nuclear reactor, you make zero CO2 emissions, for instance. So the relative CO2 emissions depends on where do you charge your car or what technology is at present used to generate that electricity. If you charge your car in France, you are definitely generating less CO2 than e.g. in China.
    Moreover, if you calculate how much CO2 is generated on making the battery, you should also calculate how much CO2-expensive is making of a normal car motor and add that up to its account, too.
    There’s just no good way to compare these two.

    The good thing about electric cars is – they don’t generate pollution (and I don’t mean CO2 here) at the place where they are used. And that’s a blessing for cities and any crowded areas in general.

  45. What would those numbers be in a country that was nearing a 0-emissions grid?(for both production and longterm use)

    What would they be for the SUV then?

    That’s the point of driving electrics and hybrids; because the tech CAN limit or erase emissions in the longterm, not because they are zero emissions vehicles today.

  46. They are super fun to drive/ride in – acceleration is amazing. If you are a speed junkie, they are pretty awesome. The original sportster model is even quicker

  47. I have often wondered, in my naïve layperson capacity, why GM didn’t continue to make Chevrolet Geo Metros. I have two: a 1991 station wagon, now off-white, that cost $7,000 new and still gets 52-55 miles per gallon of regular gas (possibly a bit less with the ethanol), and a 2000 mostly red runabout ($11,000 used with 17 miles on it) that gets 42-48 mpg. Both are still good cars, though the 91 is looking well used by this time. It seems to me that, if we had the technology in 1991 to get 55 mpg in a nice car, it is a crying shame to expend so much time, energy, money, and resource capital to produce more expensive vehicles that don’t do as well. I may get the 91 Geo painted one day soon; we’ll see how it does the next 22 years.

  48. What about the use of rare-earth minerals in lithium-ion batteries? How green is that? And how do you foster energy independence when China controls so much of the rare-earth minerals market and has signaled their intentions to reduce the export of the raw rare-earth minerals ore and instead use the ore to manufacture the end-products in country instead? That is, instead of being able to buy the raw ore or refined minerals, China is going to build the batteries and export those instead. How exactly is that green?

  49. My simple calculation is as follows.
    Add up the total real cost of a product, including all subsidies it has gained.
    See how much coal this money would buy.
    That is a fair ball park measure of the CO2 produced by the existence of this product.

  50. Ryan says:
    April 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm
    “What would those numbers be in a country that was nearing a 0-emissions grid?(for both production and longterm use)

    What would they be for the SUV then?

    That’s the point of driving electrics and hybrids; because the tech CAN limit or erase emissions in the longterm, not because they are zero emissions vehicles today.”

    First of all, that magical country would of course have no problem at all synthesizing some hydrocarbons from CO2 and H20, so the net emissions of the SUV would be zero.

    Second, that magical country does not yet exist. To make solar panels and wind turbines you need rather large amounts of energy; that energy comes from fuels and from Chinese coal power plants.

    Theoretically, you could make them with the output of already existing solar panels and wind turbines, given you install huge batteries in the factories of course so that the machines don’t stop all the time; but as you now use energy for the production that is probably 10 times as expensive, your next generation of wind turbines and solar panels would also get 10 times more expensive and so on (that’s the reason nobody does it that way).

    That leaves you with nuclear energy. Good luck with that. The Greens will make your life hell; if there’s anything that can be used even better than demonizing a trace gas that is necessary for all life to politicize the population, it’s nuclear. For the moment it still kinda works for the French, but they have other problems anyway, amongst them a huge heap of unsellable EV’s.

  51. I’m actually a real fan of electric cars – but I’m waiting for the one with the lead box in the boot, which doesn’t need to be refuelled for 20 years.

  52. “In addition, government environmental credit schemes required other auto makers to pay Tesla more than $40 mln in 2012 to “offset” the emissions of their gasoline engine-equipped vehicles with credits from the more heavily polluting Model S.”

    I couldn’t figure out what Elon Musk, who is a very smart guy, was doing with this. Now I see the scam. Get paid by your competitors because the government holds a gun to their heads to get them to fork over. Nice.

    For the folks asking about politicians with science degrees, Angela Merkel.Ph.D. Physics. It doesn’t matter. She is closing the German nukes because of the high probability of tsunamis in Bavaria. /sarc off.
    A large proportion of the electorate is regarded by politicians as being utterly stupid. They are right but will do anything to get re-elected.

  53. “in a nice car” re Geo Metro

    I expect you are in a very small minority in this sentiment. Cars are about so much more than transportation and MPG.

  54. No AGW religious zealot will believe these numbers. Driving a hybrid or electric car is a simple way for the econuts to displace their guilt. Why they are self-loathing and what they feel guilty about I have no idea.

  55. Wow, that Tesla is quite a stylish looking electric coal-powered automobile. I prefer gasoline-powered ones though. Anyway, here is some earlier news about their electric coal-powered competition …

    Revived Detroit Electric to unveil Tesla Roadster rival on April 3

    Detroit Electric, a brand responsible for building electric cars in the early 1900s, has been revived after more than 70 years of inactivity – or as their marketing team would prefer: Recharged, Rebooted, Reborn. The company plans to unveil their first all-electric car in the modern era on April 3 in Detroit.

    [...]

    As such, it comes as little surprise at the new Detroit Electric sports car would resemble a Lotus. The car may retail for around $135,000, we’re told.

    http://www.techspot.com/news/52023-revived-detroit-electric-to-unveil-tesla-roadster-rival-on-april-3.html

  56. According to Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph, the whole point of electric cars is that when they are connected to a home in the EU with a Smart Meter, any surplus energy from windmills is used to charge the car, but any deficit of energy drains the battery to put energy in the National Grid.
    In other words the night time temperature falls, the demand for power increases, so the electricity you used at 8pm to charge up your car is then drained from your car battery to put back in the National Grid.
    I do not fully understand how DC power can be turned into AC power and how failure to get to work due to no charge in your car battery can help the EU economy. However I also cannot understand how, chemical energy, to heat energy, to kinetic energy is less efficient than chemical energy to heat energy to electrical energy to kinetic energy?
    If all the energy is derived from wind or the sun it all makes sense, but energy from the wind and sun only contributes about 3% of the total energy consumption of the EU, UK and USA. Fossil fuel will reign supreme for may years to come.
    Will renewables take over?
    I very much doubt it.
    Will the Earth heat up due to an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere of 80 molecules per 1,000,000?
    I doubt that even more!
    Will the b******t continue from climate “scientists”?
    Without a doubt………………………………….. until the funds dry up!

  57. Jim Smothers says:
    April 10, 2013 at 10:40 am
    /////////////////////////////////
    Jim

    The Citroen was a great car, but the most innovative car of the last century was the Lancia Lambda. That was the brith of the modern motor car as we would recognise it today..
    It was the first car to have
    (i) unitary construction (almost every car has such construction whereby the bodyshell is effectively teh chasis) leading to a light but stronger vehicle.
    (ii) a trasmission tunnel that lowered the centre of gravity rather than having the body built up high, thereby greatly improving road holding by the reduction of roll
    (iii) to have independent front suspension (all cars now have independant front suspension)
    (iv) whilst not a first, it was one of the few cars to have brakes on all 4 wheels.
    It also had a narrow angle v engine which gave a compact engine and allowed much more passenger space length for length of car.

    Electric cars will only be green when people can charge them via solar, off grid. Wind of course is no good since wind requires nearly 100% backup by conventional generation which puts out CO2.

    My Dad had an electric some 25 years ago. It was not very practical because of its limited range. However, since it was a novelty whenever he went out to a restaurant or to a pub, they would run out an extension lead so that he could re-charge his car whilst eating. Just as well since in the winter especially at night, the car would lose performance after about 20 miles (my Dad lived in a hilly part of the country and there was a noticable drop off in climbing up hill).

  58. Ryan says:
    April 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    What would those numbers be in a country that was nearing a 0-emissions grid?(for both production and longterm use)

    What would they be for the SUV then?

    That’s the point of driving electrics and hybrids; because the tech CAN limit or erase emissions in the longterm, not because they are zero emissions vehicles today.

    You should work out the power requirements for all the electric cars on the roads and how that would be met. Remember that is power over and above what is currently (sic) supplied to homes and businesses. In the UK which is trying to become your ‘mythical country’ there are warnings of rolling blackouts as the ‘green’ power systems are not capable and never will be of just supporting the existing demand. Now imagine a medium size town where everyone is trying to charge up their cars for tomorrow’s commute. Now multiply that up for every town and city in that mythical country. The power grids themselves do not have the capacity let alone the generation capacity.
    The idea is not scalable.
    Not only that of course the world is already approaching ‘peak lithium’. So someone will have to invent a new high energy capacity battery.

  59. If Tesla’s CO2 per mile is as bad as this, and the Tesla Corporation knew it, then Tesla committed a fraud when it didn’t pay the CO2 penalty. And if the numbers were behind receiving the subsidy/incentive, then there is another fraud. Plus conspiracy to defraud at the highest levels.

  60. “””””…..richard verney says:

    April 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Jim Smothers says:
    April 10, 2013 at 10:40 am
    /////////////////////////////////
    Jim

    The Citroen was a great car, but the most innovative car of the last century was the Lancia Lambda. That was the brith of the modern motor car as we would recognise it today…….”””””

    So what year did this Citroen introduce independent front suspension. The VW had both independent front suspension, (trailing arm, and torsion bar “springs”; front and rear. The design of course was lifted straight out of the 1934-1938 rear engined 6 litre supercharged auto union grand prix car.

  61. By the way, Tesla claims that their battery plan involves a provision for recycling the batteries for the lithium. I used to recycle scrap gallium arsenide, and gallium arsenide phosphide (from LEDs) to get six and seven nines purity raw gallium. We supplied about 50 % of our total gallium input from recycling.

    Know nowt about lithium chemistry, but is recycling any more difficult than cycling rocks to get it in the first place. But that’s another energy input problem.

  62. “””””…..

    Stephen Richards says:

    April 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    george e. smith says:

    April 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I had a rotary converter some 50 years ago. It was a double ended dynamo……”””””

    So Stephen, if the DC in produces rotation and torque (has to under load), why the hell would you not just use the rotation, and leave the alternator end off. Makes entirely no sense to me, unless you actually have a use for three phase or even one phase AC. Dunno where the power control electronics is; on the DC in or on the AC out side.

  63. “””””…..William C Rostron says:

    April 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    george e. smith asks why use a 3-phase motor and not a brushless dc motor?

    Well, the 3-phase motor used in the Tesla *is* a brushless DC motor. It just happens to employ 3 field coils instead of two (4-quadrant arrangement) or more……”””””

    William, it is trivial electronics to produce three phase AC from DC. So you can drive your three phase AC brushless DC motors, just fine using electronic inversion.

    I understand why three phase works; same reason that straight six cylinder engines work smoothly.

    Still seems like unnecessary steps to me.

  64. The Tesla S AC motor produces 290 -300 KW ; well actually they don’t say whether that is AC power in or rotary power out. Well that is 400 horsepower. My high compression 3.4 litre 1956 Jaguar XK 140 hard top coupe came up with 210 BHP, and that was enough to scare the horses.

    So if you use your Tesla S for zero local pollution round town, when do you get to use the other 360 HP ??

    But as I said before, I am quite im[pressed by the quality and cleanliness of most of the TS engineering design, which doesn’t change the fact I think it is a silly idea.

    That 300 mile (epa says 276 I think), is really only 138 mile range, because your own garage is the only place you know you can recharge it.

    Even fighter pilots know that you need to get back to the carrier to refuel; betting on the air tanker, can get you wet.

  65. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/10/is-the-tesla-model-s-green/#comment-1271486

    Why use 3 phase motors and go to the trouble of running an invertor to go from DCVolts (not to mention the loss of efficiency) ?

    Well I woudl guess that it would be to do with speed control.

    The DC motor driving the 3 phase invertor can run at constant speed (how do you change the speed of a DC motor again ?).

    Modern 3 phase drive controllers are pretty amazing and very efficient; so running the 3 phase motor under light load will cause lttle to no current to be drawn from the battery – compared to when under heavy load. It is just so much easier to do good speed control with a modern low voltage drive unit; I would guess the loss in efficiency from having all that mechanicl spinning around stuff is easily made up by efficient 3 phase motor control. Effectively the drive control will ALWAYS follow the most efficient sped/torque curve when responding to demand. Of course it could also be programmed to give high acceleration for those who want the ‘sports car’ feeling

    Common in industry now days – rip out the old DC drives and old in-efficient AC drive controls & replace them with the ultra high efficient low/medium/high voltage 3 phase motor control systems. A boiler/gen set in a factory I look after is saving 5% of its oil/gas use by running new drive controllers for the induced & forced draft motors – they used to control air flow by using dampers & constant speed motors.

  66. “””””…..peter_dtm says:

    April 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/10/is-the-tesla-model-s-green/#comment-1271486

    Why use 3 phase motors and go to the trouble of running an invertor to go from DCVolts (not to mention the loss of efficiency) ?…..””””‘

    Well Peter, I will take your word for it. I did say it’s been 60 years since I seriously studied rotary things. And if you say it’s best this way, that works for me.

    So let’s say I can make an efficient constant speed DC-three phase AC motor drive power inverter. Why would I want to integrate it into the AC motor itself, rather than put in a pair of AC motors, 86 the differential, even possibly the step down gears, and directly drive the separate drive shafts from separate motors. Then the rotary inverter can be located anywhere; no need to be part of the drive train. Close so no long wire runs.So does the AC run at fairly constant frequency: it would seem you would want to, but don’t need precision frequency control.
    As I recall, magnetic type things are most efficient, when copper (resistance) losses are equal to Iron losses, (hysteresis, and eddy current losses), and efficient small magnetic things do run hot.

    Tesla are confident they don’t have the Boeing dreamliner battery problem. Battery is liquid cooled, so it has a radiator heat exchanger, which is modest in size, but seemingly vulnerable right out in front, in the fender bender zone. I think they could find a safer place, given what a loss of coolant failure might do to the battery; not to mention the car. BUt EM IS a smart guy, so I am sure they tried out in spirit, all the possible architectures. It’s a royal frustration, walking into the showroom, and finding nobody who knows the design. They ALL were enthusiastic folks, and they didn’t mind me photographing the chassis, up the ying yang, which I did.

  67. george e. smith says:

    Hi George

    can’t say about the mechanical arrangements – as described it does sound overly complex. I just work for a controll company that also does a lot of drives (though process is my baby not drives & motion).

    Supposition time – Frequency will presumably have been chosen to give a good weight/size factor for the AC motor – doesn’t need to be too accurate – but since it is probably part of the dc drive controll side it may well turn out to be very stable; just because it doesn’t cost anything less not to do it properly ! And if the frequncy is steady; the chopped wave form driving the motors will be just that bit more efficient and easier to predict (bet they have a nice model built in to the AC drive; one with few enough parameters that it actually describes the real world pretty well !)

    I would have expected (again drives are not my speciality; just things I need to know about) each wheel to be direct driven by its own motor; and as you rightly point out; you can put the dc inverter anywhere you want ( design considerations : gyro effects and weight for the invertor may influance how they’ve done it – how fast does that dc motor run ?).
    Why have gears on an electric motor ? Again may be some efficiency calculation using a faster running motor – or they just decided they didn’t want direct drive because of ?? space constraints ???

    My first experience of a set up like this was a Kelvin Hughs marine radar set about 1978-ish which used an invertor to get from :

    ship’s 440 3 phase 50 Hz to DC.
    Then from DC to several different ac voltages

    so it actually did everything twice !
    – up to 1.5KV – down to dc through an scr & caps … iirc for the magnetron drive; and what was to become the 12V power rail; and supply the 3 phase scanner motor at some very exact frequency so the radar plot ran at an exact refresh rate; way way more acurate than anyone needed. BUT it was done like that so they could put the same set up on any ship – 330V- 440V 50-60 Hz and not worry that ships power can be filthy ( nominal 440/50Hz clould be down to 330V 40 Hz for a few 10s of cycles — ugh !) but it was fun listening to the thing running when the ships power was fluctuating all over the show … the DC-AC invertor stage ran as solid as a rock – load variations weren’t much – 20%ish on the scanner per rotation; in near gale conditions and around 80% step changes going from stand-by to full pwer….
    Once I got used to the idea it was actually quite a smart (for its time) solution. Just horribly mechanical ! I have a vague memory they described the whole thing as a Rotorary Transformer

  68. peter_dtm says:
    April 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm
    Why use 3 phase motors and go to the trouble of running an invertor to go from DCVolts (not to mention the loss of efficiency) ?

    Well I woudl guess that it would be to do with speed control.

    Also torque, (that pete did mention) I work with elevators and for the last 10 to 15 years all the DC motors and drives are being replaced with 3 phase AC motors and drives. The buzz word is Vector drives with encoder feedback, which alows for full torque at 0 rpm. The DC motors and drives can’t meet that low rpm torque control.

    I don’t know what the other dc motor is for unless they are using it for regenating power back to the battery, but some ac drive put regerated power back on the grid now, so one would think it would be easier to do that electronically.

  69. Anthony Watts says:
    > Other research shows the massive amounts of energy needed to create
    > an 85 kWh lithium-ion battery results in effective CO2 emissions of 153g
    > per mile over the life of a Model S battery, based on our assumptions.
    > When the CO2 emitted during the production of the battery pack are
    > incorporated, we believe the total effective CO2 emissions of an 85 kWh
    > Model S sedan are 547g per mile – considerably more than a large SUV,
    > such as a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which emits 443g per mile!

    Can someone show me these calculations? Or how to do them for
    myself?

    Such claims remind me of ridiculous claims as to how much energy is
    needed to manufacture a CFL.

    However, I do see that conversion efficiency from heat energy to electricity
    is almost 50% when and where that’s going well, and there are transmission
    and distribution losses. From heat source to wall plug, the efficiency is
    typically of a percentage in the mid 30′s.

  70. George/ pete

    My typing took to long & missed your last comments,

    An Ac drive will change the voltage and frequency signal for proper control.
    The speed of an AC motor is related to the frequency of the supply, ie a 60 HZ motor run at 30 HZ will run at 1/2 full speed. the voltage is also adjusted roughly in line with the frequency (voltage is changed for proper control).

    A DC motors speed is related to the voltage, a 100 VDC motor will turn at half speed at 50 volts,

  71. to try and put it a little better.
    The speed of an AC motor is based on the frequency supplied to the motor.
    Drives also adjust voltage and current going out for torque control only.

  72. Plus, drives hooked up to the grid, will take AC in, turn it into DC, and convert the DC back into a digital AC signal for exact control of the frequency.

    To add math, an AC motors speed is calculated by RPM = (Frequency x 120)/Poles.
    RPM= revolutions per minuet, frequency in HZ and number of poles in the motor(always an even number). so a 4 pole motor @ 60 HZ will run at 1800 RPM, there is some slip so actual will be around 1750 +/-.

  73. One of these passed me the other day. The way he was driving, he wasn’t reducing anything.

  74. “””””…..DJL says:

    April 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm
    George/ pete

    My typing took to long & missed your last comments,…..”””””

    I believe you are correct on that DJL. A DC motor winding; assuming a permanent magnet motor, has near zero resistance (ideally), so at zero speed (clamped) the current draw is astronomical, so it creates enormous torque, so unclamped it starts turning in a hurry, and once rotating, it acts asa generator, and generates a back EMF directly proportional to rotation speed. That opposes most of the applied Voltage. So you have I = ( V – BEMF) / R and the speed will run up until the current is reduced down to what is needed to maintain the load torque.

    In the AC case, you get a rotating field at the drive frequency / pole pairs Ordinary AC motors run at a slip frequency so as you say a 60 Hz two pole does about 3500 rpm instead of 3600, and < 1800 for the four pole. Then there are AC synchronous motors, that have no frequency slip, but have a rotor phase offset, that grows with load, so the 4-pole locks onto 1800. Since the force- phase slip relationship is non-linear, and depends on field and pole geometry, the actual phase offset is a property of that motor design.

    I have two AC synchronous motors, one is two pole 3600 rpm, and the other is six pole 1200 rpm.

    Both designed for 24 Volts rms at 60 Hz. They are little jewels; size 5 motors ( 0.5 inches diameter). They drive a pair of worm gears on the ends of a differential, that then drives a big 360 tooth spiral bevel gear to run a telescope drive. The both motors runs off a crystal controlled roughly 60 Hz two phase drive to run 26 seconds per day slower than the earth's rotation rate. That compensates for the atmospheric refraction for about three hours each side of the zenith, so you can follow a star for about six hours total with only about one arcsecond error. The 3600 rpm motor is used for fast slewing back and forth. The 1200 rpm motor drives a single start worm, while the 3600 rpm drives a four start worm, so they actually have a drive ratio of 12, between drive and slew.

  75. Bjorn Lomborg: Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret (WSJ March 11, 2013 Opinion page)
    is a great piece on how ALL electric cars come off the assembly line with a huge carbon footprint thanks to the CO2 generated in the creation of the battery components.

    His main point was that a Prius has a footprint of 30,000 lbs of CO2 on the showroom floor, while a similar sized gasoline engine has only 14,000 lbs. The gasoline car generates more CO2 per mile, but the electric car needs to be recharged usually from a fossil fuel source. He figures the battery powered car emits 6 ounces CO2 per mile, the gasoline car 12 ounces CO2 per mile. Given that, you must drive the battery powered car 90,000 miles before it will have a full-life carbon footprint less than driving a gasoline powered car the same 90,000 miles. —– PROVIDED you don’t have to replace the battery in those 90,000 miles — and you will.

  76. Lomborg also referenced a study by the BBC about the practicality of charging times and long trips:

    Consider the Nissan Leaf. It has only a 73-mile range per charge. Drivers attempting long road trips, as in one BBC test drive, have reported that recharging takes so long that the average speed is close to six miles per hour—a bit faster than your average jogger.

    To that I have a Solution: ** U-Haul Battery Pack Trailors !!! **

    Instead of waiting for an hour for a recharge, you check in one trailer and get another. Once you get good at it and are a customer in good standing, It ought not take more than 10 minutes. There will probably be a Full Service Lane, too. It also eliminates lots of problems with battery packs that get old. Of course, the theft risk of towing a $20,000 trailer will give you pause. And there is the chance that a trailer isn’t available when you drop one off.

    Finally, there is that pesky image of a Tesla pulling a U-Haul. (Sweet!)
    I won’t be able to look at a Tesla without the mental picture of it pulling that trailer. :-)

  77. peter_dtm says April 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Modern 3 phase drive controllers are pretty amazing and very efficient; … It is just so much easier to do good speed control with a modern low voltage drive unit; …

    Common in industry now days – rip out the old DC drives and old in-efficient AC drive controls & replace them with the ultra high efficient low/medium/high voltage 3 phase motor control systems.

    … commonly found in today’s top-of-the-line clothes washers was well, to the consternation of hams (owing to the EMI produced that is apparently not, or not-so-well filtered/shielded form escaping or propagating from those units!)

    Sample: http://lists.contesting.com/_rfi/2009-09/msg00019.html – Note also the discussion which follows at that link.

    These 3-phase motors (with solid state controllers) are also the basis for the new small, high-power “brushless” motors used to power _electric_ RC (remote control) model aircraft (vs the small gas engines or DC brush-type motors as well).

    Brushless 3-phase motors work in conjunction with an “ESC” – Electronic Speed Controller

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_speed_control#Brushless_ESC

    Perhaps a little intro now for those not steeped in this motor technology and also includes a pro/con list of attributes:

    http://www.thinkrc.com/faq/brushless-motors.php

    .

  78. Lomborg also referenced a study by the BBC about the practicality of charging times and long trips:

    Consider the Nissan Leaf. It has only a 73-mile range per charge. Drivers attempting long road trips, as in one BBC test drive, have reported that recharging takes so long that the average speed is close to six miles per hour—a bit faster than your average jogger.

    To that I have a Solution: U-Haul Battery Pack Trailors !!!

    Instead of waiting for an hour for a recharge, you check in one trailer and get another. Once you get good at it and are a customer in good standing, It ought not take more than 10 minutes. There will probably be a Full Service Lane, too. It also eliminates lots of problems with battery packs that get old. Of course, the theft risk of towing a $20,000 lithium-ion battery trailer will give you pause. And there is the chance that a charged trailer isn’t available when you drop one off.

    Finally, there is that pesky image of a Tesla pulling a U-Haul, even if it has racing stripes. I won’t be able to look at a Tesla without the mental picture of it pulling that trailer. :-)

  79. DirkH

    “So why can’t they sell them for 5000 if the resource usage is as low as you claim, John? Enquiring minds want to know.”

    And just how low did I claim they were Dirk?

    The author adds the CO2 cost of the batts on the EV, “based on our assumptions”. That “assumption” needs some supporting documentation. He also talks about “idle” losses of lithium ion batteries in the 20-30 percent range. Lithium ion batteries are known to have very low “idle” losses. It’s why the can sit on a store shelf 10 years and still be guaranteed. He needs to support that claim too. If the owner of the Tesla installs a PV system like Anthony’s, this author’s figures get blown away faster than a Tesla blows away that Honda Civic he compares it to.

    He goes on to list a number of tiny cars that have tailpipe emissions nearly that of the Prius. But, the Tesla S is an extremely fast, large luxury car (0-60 in 4 sec.) He fails to compare it to vehicles of a similar category.

    Anyway you cut it though Dirk, an emerging technology is going to cost more than a mature technology. When economies of scale become equal, that equation can reverse. Governments often underwrite or otherwise support emerging technologies until they become tenable for the private sector. Examples: Fracking technologies, space technologies (such as GPS) even the Internet.

    The Tesla S is a very cool car. JP

  80. John Parsons:

    At April 10, 2013 at 11:08 pm you say

    Anyway you cut it though Dirk, an emerging technology is going to cost more than a mature technology. When economies of scale become equal, that equation can reverse. Governments often underwrite or otherwise support emerging technologies until they become tenable for the private sector.

    One could debate the value of such an “underwrite”. But in this case there is nothing to debate.

    Electric cars are NOT an “emerging technology”.
    Electric motors pre-date internal combustion engines
    and
    electric cars pre-date diesel and petrol cars.

    Does that mean that Ford and GM need subsidies so their “emerging technology” of internal combustion engined cars?

    There are more internal combustion engined cars because they are cheaper, more efficient and have longer range than electric cars.

    Richard

  81. @John Parsons:

    The author adds the CO2 cost of the batts on the EV, “based on our assumptions”. That “assumption” needs some supporting documentation. He also talks about “idle” losses of lithium ion batteries in the 20-30 percent range. Lithium ion batteries are known to have very low “idle” losses. It’s why the can sit on a store shelf 10 years and still be guaranteed.

    The problem is that the battery is not like a regular car engine, it is more a ‘consumable’. My old Diesel had over 400,000 miles on it when it met it’s demise. That was about 25 years after it was made. For the cost of a single battery pack, the whole engine could have been redone for another 400,000 miles. Now compare to the battery pack: They do not last decades. They are consumed in years. So a consumable of which you will consume many.

    Also those 10 year lithiums are NOT the rechargeable ones. Rechargeables have a fairly stiff static loss. They are often flat in weeks or months.

    As I type this, I’m using my (fairly good maker) laptop on “life support” power cord. It is about a year old and has a 20 minute max battery life now, then dies suddenly (so the auto shutdown can’t work and it’s a crash). That isn’t unique…

    @All:

    From what I remember of the Eng. Society meeting at Tesla, where the engineers talked to us (a couple of years back) the reason for the AC motor was low current drain at starts along with great speed control, while being efficient. The reason for the other one was to be a very efficient DC generator to recharge the batteries in a controllable and battery kind way. IIRC (that is a bit suspect for a one off meeting a few years back…) it was hard to get both into one motor/generator skin while being both electrically efficient and battery kind.

    Also, IIRC, there is a enough waste heat to be sucked out of their high density battery pack and motor cooling to act as cabin heat. Say you are pulling 40 kW and have 10% loss, that’s 4 kW of heat. Like 2 electric stove burners on high… They spent a lot of time talking about heat management in the battery pack… and some way cool things in the drive motor optimizing.

    Less sure about this, but I think the reason for the gearing was that it gave you 3? things. A smaller more efficient motor since rotation rate optimum was decoupled from vehicle wheel speed, better ground clearance for the motors, and better sprung weight since the motors were not part of the sprung axle parts. (Diff. gear has swing arm, IIRC, though that was an early prototype model we saw… so don’t know if this is the same…)

    Something like that, anyway… (Never expected to need to remember any of that years later ;-)

    Really neat car. Then again, with California electricity hitting $0.39 / kW-hr now and headed for $1/2 per kW-hr “soon”, not going to be charging a “electron guzzling car” any time soon…

    Oh, and another musty thing: From years and years ago, the total efficiency of a mechanical drive Diesel beat the pants of an electric motor drive due to the chain of losses in the electric system (most of them ignored when people talk e-Cars). Fuel to heat engine (loss) to generation (loss) to transformer (loss) to transmission (losses and more transformers) to home transformer (loss) to charger (loss) to battery charging (loss), to idle standing (loss), to battery discharge (loss) to motor controller (loss) to motor (loss) to shaft / wheel drive. At even small percents, all those steps of losses multiply… and some, like the controller, can be 10% easy; as can battery charge / discharge / standing. It’s just not a very efficient process. Fuel in Diesel to wheels is very effiicient. (Large ship engines even more so at over 50%).

    Neat toy for around town and in the local hills if you make $1 Million a year and have a second car for longer trips and skiing…

  82. If you buy a Tesla you will need to walk a lot whilst it recharges. Trips over 50 miles are out at night or in cold weather. A horse is better.

  83. Subsidies aside, CO2 is not the point of Tesla cars (all models, S, X, Roadster). It was always to demonstrate that electric cars do not need to look or perform like milk floats. Detroit Electric seems to get that too. Of course they still have a very long way to go to be practical but then how practical is a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport (similar performance on public roads and similar miles per fill-up).

  84. John Parsons says:
    April 10, 2013 at 11:08 pm
    “And just how low did I claim they were Dirk?”

    You evaded any such claim; so is 50% too low? Whatcha say? 75%? I’d go with that as well; I have use for a sub 100 km range car.

    “The author adds the CO2 cost of the batts on the EV, “based on our assumptions”. That “assumption” needs some supporting documentation. He also talks about “idle” losses of lithium ion batteries in the 20-30 percent range. Lithium ion batteries are known to have very low “idle” losses. It’s why the can sit on a store shelf 10 years and still be guaranteed.”

    Google the difference between a non rechargeable Lithium cell and a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. You know not what you are talking about.

    “Anyway you cut it though Dirk, an emerging technology is going to cost more than a mature technology. When economies of scale become equal, that equation can reverse.”

    The ingredients of an EV are mature technology. For Renault and Nissan, building the vehicle around those ingredients is mature technology. Some parts like the transmission and the generator fall away, reducing the cost.

    Setting up an assembly line to produce a new kind of car is something the bulk producers do every five years for each of their lines; i.e. ALL THE TIME. This is their CORE EXPERTISE; they stay in business because they know how to set up the next assembly line.

    I don’t care whether Tesla’s are handmade and bespoke and whatnot; I was explicitly mentioning the Nissan/Renault products because they have intentionally targeted a bulk production, trusting in promises by EU politicians to have a million EV’s on the road real soon now. So they tried from the start to reap all the economies of scale you aim for when setting up a car factory. They now have two years worth of production sitting on parking lots. If they’re halfway smart they haven’t installed batteries.

    As for the Li-Ion batteries: I don’t know what Tesla puts into the Tesla S but they crammed thousands of notebook batteries into the Tesla Elise or what it was called. They did this BECAUSE the notebook batteries were a mature mass produced item.

  85. Phil’s Dad:

    I write to knit-pick and to provide a request in response to your April 11, 2013 at 4:01 am which says

    Subsidies aside, CO2 is not the point of Tesla cars (all models, S, X, Roadster). It was always to demonstrate that electric cars do not need to look or perform like milk floats. Detroit Electric seems to get that too. Of course they still have a very long way to go to be practical but then how practical is a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport (similar performance on public roads and similar miles per fill-up).

    Perhaps that demonstration is the purpose of Tesla cars and – if so – then it has been fulfilled.
    But, so what?

    Electric milk floats and golf buggies are built, sold, and used because they are the best option for their purpose. Most golf buggies would be petrol powered if petrol-powered golf buggies were more economic, more convenient, and useful than electric golf buggies.

    Similarly, petrol powered cars are built, sold, and used because they are the best option for their purpose.

    And this does raise the issue of subsidies.

    It is not reasonable to subsidise luxury items that have no purpose except as rich-boys-toys.
    Super-cars are luxury items purchased for fun. There would be public outrage if Bugatti and Ferrari cars were subsidised from the public purse.

    As your analogy admits, purchase of Tesla cars also has no purpose except for their use as rich-boys-toys. Perhaps you would be willing to point this out to your Parliamentary colleagues?

    Richard

  86. Here in the UK we have the ludicrous situation of tax incentives being given to company car drivers to drive these low-CO2 emitting vehicles (not to mention large cash discounts funded by the taxpayer). The figures used to determine the tax base for the cars are, of course, the manufacturers idealised numbers, assuming the cars are driven economically. In the real world, company car drivers don’t generally have time to drive like saints, so my taxes are wasted.

  87. John F. Hultquist:
    Another question: Is there an electric pick-up that will pull a 4-horse trailer and all related gear from Biggs Junction [el. 67 m] on the Columbia River south to Madras [el. 683 m] and the grasslands to the southeast.?

    Can’t argue with your point, John. But hey, when your batteries poop out halfway out of the Columbia Gorge, you’ve got four good horses….

  88. I’m now confused. I need help. Nathan’s article begins “The EPA tells us 51% of total CO2 emissions result from motor vehicle use.” Call me suspicious, but I assume EPA’s remarkably high percentage refers to the global ‘man-made’ part of total CO2 only – and not all the natural occurring stuff (all respiration including cellular, photosynthesis, volcanoes, natural wildfires, decomposition, calcification, flatulence, natural fermentation, etc., etc.).

    A Request. Bearing in mind that only 0.0314% (1 x 3,200th) of the total atmospheric volume is CO2 (with 96.775% of this measly amount occurring naturally), does anyone have a ‘reliable’ CO2 emission percentage breakdown for all the other ‘unnatural’ man-made ways we make this stuff? If you cannot provide it, please point me in the right direction. It would be interesting to see because I doubt wether the EPA’s remaining 49% is enough to cover it.

    Excluding 51% for ‘motor vehicles’ (EPA), I need the remaining 49% breakdown for:

    Burning of oil, kerosene, paraffin & paraffin wax.
    Burning of coal, natural gas, peat, ethanol & nitro-methane.
    Burning of timber, bio-mass, charcoal manufacture & incineration.
    Global alcoholic beverage market’s CO2 emissions from all fermentation (plus beer dispensing).
    Worldwide carbonated soft drinks industry & decaffeinated coffee process emissions.
    Bread, snack foods & baking industry (yeast & sodium bicarbonate used everyday worldwide).
    Other foodstuff manufacture & processes (yeast extract, modified air packaging, dry ice).
    All refrigerant gas (incl. air conditioning).
    Global industrial processes (welding coolants, lime kilns, sand blasting, laser cutting).
    Propellants (extinguishers, air bags, life jackets, exit slides).
    TV, stage, film & theatre (smoke effects, CO2 stunt cannons, etc.).
    Controlling Ph of water (sewage treatment, swimming pools).
    All lime scale removal products, liver salts & denture cleaning products.
    and . . . . Anything we throw on the garden compost (peelings, clippings, garden waste).

    Unless someone can prove me wrong, I doubt that the EPA percentages are true.

    PS
    I now have a light-hearted multi-page PDF entitled:
    “May I please ask sir, just how much man-made CO2 there is up there in the sky?”
    Based on HCA’s fairy tale ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.
    Anthony, please e.mail me if you feel your WUWT readers may like to see it.

  89. I have one and I love it. Here is why:

    1. I don’t care about the CO2 “emissions”. In a perfect world I would live in a region rich in hydro generation but I do not.
    2. I do not buy gas from who knows what country. My fuel is LOCAL to North America / USA. This is my MAIN point. I would rather use our coal/natural gas.
    3. It is stylish, fast and fun to drive.
    4. It seats seven ( kids 10 and under in rear facing seats ) which is very convenient for me.
    5. Loads of space for bike/groceries … you name it. It is bigger than you think.
    6. I bought it because I can. You buy a big truck because you can. It’s a free world to buy what we like and I never complain about huge SUV’s or trucks idling on the road next to me.
    7. I have no issue with range. I get into my internal combustion engine vehicle and drive it if I have to go more than 200 miles in one trip ( two or three times a year ).
    8. Superchargers are fast and free ( about 45 minutes to recharge )

    OK – it’s time to rip apart my arguments …

  90. “Lithium ion batteries are known to have very low “idle” losses. It’s why the can sit on a store shelf 10 years and still be guaranteed.”
    Others have already pointed out that this does not apply to rechargeable Li-ion batteries, where losses are more typically something like 10% a month (if the battery is in good shape), which is still better than rechargeable batteries..
    Furthermore a multiple-cell system must have a load-balancing system, otherwise some of the cells may be damaged or even have a thermal runaway if the battery is rapidly discharged or charged. This system must be on even when the car is idle, since the cells will self-discharge at slightly different rates. The load-balancing will inevitably use some power, so a multiple-cell system will actually discharge faster than a single cell.

  91. E.M.Smith says April 11, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Fuel to heat engine (loss) to generation (loss) to transformer (loss) to transmission (losses and more transformers) to home transformer (loss)

    And just what are those ‘losses’ that everyone claims yet no one quantifies (esp. with DATA)?

    .

  92. E.M.Smith says April 11, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Also those 10 year lithiums are NOT the rechargeable ones. Rechargeables have a fairly stiff static loss. They are often flat in weeks or months.

    An experience to the contrary on a good-sized sample lot.

    In 2008 while working on wireless infrastructure development at a Cisco-purchased company, during the move to the GWB campus in Richardson I inherited a box (literally) of some 30 to 40 rechargeable Li Ion ‘candidate’ or evaluation cells date-coded 2004 … these had been acquired for evaluation for incorporation in the ‘Surfer’ line of subscriber equipment (transceiver).

    Of the 30 or 40 cells, most were still exhibiting non-dead characteristics and took a charge. 10 or so exhibited no cell voltage and did not revive upon a ‘charging’ attempt. The cells that survived have been incorporated in flashlights and cordless drills and are operable *still* today (2013)!

    All of these cells were equipped with the usual ‘supervisory’ circuit (meaning they had some sort of continuous current drain to start with) to cut-out the load under shorted conditions, etc.

    I have found that NiMH cells have what seems like the highest self-discharge rates; my several Dell Latitude laptops with half dozen NiMH batt packs require regular rotation thru a laptop for a refresh charge whereas the later-model Latitude Dells with Li Ion require refresh charge cycles far, far less often … but don’t get me wrong, Li Ion cells heavily used and deeply discharged will deteriorate much more quickly than cells treated more gently.

  93. The amount if slant in this article is shocking. I really wish ICE vehicles are scrutinized just as much as EV vehicles.

    When we look at evs u start seeing all this cost of energy manufacturing numbers factored in and idle waste bla bla bla. Is the cost if fractional distillation free and without pollution? And thats just what goes into making the fuel before u go on to burn it in your car.

    I can understand people being resistant to change. But let’s play a little game. If every car on the road were powered by batteries. And these batteries were a standard 200kwh pack. And every gas station was actually a solar station. And everyone had solar panels on their roofs as a grid contribution thing. I’ll be willing to bet that not only will the global individual carbon footprint drop considerably it would also be greatly localized.

    In a 100 years of fossil fuel use look at what it has done to our planet. Do any of these critics realize that in 100 years we have done more damage to the planet than in the 10,000yrs before it? I don’t know, but I would think that EVs and solar systems should be given as much support as humanly possible so the tech in those fields will grow as fast as possible. Like what is wrong with people? In what planet and what future can using fossil fuels ever be better than a solar and battery electric setup? Yes its not viable now, but that’s cause its pioneering tech. It will never become viable without support. And EV is not going to suddenly go 500miles on one charge and cost $20k unless there are those willing to spend $70k to go 250miles now. Call such people whatever you want, but theys are in the long run doing more for the planet by simply laying the groundwork for where our future could go. Show me a car made in the first year of ICE cars that could sit up to 7 people, haul grand Cherokee laugauge do 500+miles and priced at a point that would allow the average consumer buy it and you can call me an idiot. It took over 100 years for Cars to get tons where they are today. And the model s hasn’t even been out for a year and some look for every single way to talk it down?

    Come on….. Get real people.

  94. richardscourtney says:
    I think the answer to your question is in my post at April 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm in the thread at
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/08/are-climate-models-realistic-now-includes-at-least-february-data. If not then please feel free to get back to me.

    Thanks Richard. Useful info. As you know, you could add weight to your study by including the Northern Hemisphere’s April to Sept increase in natural CO2 forcing through photosynthesis (with more prevalent land mass) compared to Southern Hemisphere CO2 forcing from Oct to March. Probably like you, I always argue that some unreasonably high CO2 measurements are fudged to where on our planet they’re taken and what growing season months prevail. We’ve posted quite late on this thread – so I’ll wait for another topic (with CO2 relevance) to post comments and see what the response is then.

  95. David says April 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

    In a 100 years of fossil fuel use look at what it has done to our planet.

    Yup. Convinced me: Longer lifetimes, paved roads, sanitary sewer systems, water purification and delivery systems to water ‘taps’ in every public building and nearly (probably out to four or five 9′s, i.e. 99.9999%) every human habitable structure (house), a very capable hospital system with critical Emergency Room care services, fire and rescue systems complete with trained paramedics, CareFlight helicopter accident-victim transport services (comes in REAL handy far saving time in transporting motorcycle-car accidents) and LOTS more I don’t have time to list …

    Thanks David, I had forgotten about all that …

    .

  96. For this to be a true comparison, one should consider all the non similar parts between a gasoline and electric vehicle. You cannot simply add the battery to the EV’s equation and compare it to ONLY the tailpipe emission of a gasoline vehicle.

    A truer comparison would be:

    EV: emissions of electricity to charge, emissions to produce batteries, emissions to produce electronic motors

    Gasoline vehicle: tail pipe emissions, emissions to refine oil, emissions to build an engine/gas tank/alternator/possible other components not found in an EV.

    Beyond the ‘green’ factor in an EV, it also takes away reliance on refining oil for our vehicles (which they say is running out? or at the very least, is becoming more and more expensive to refine). An EV can get electricity from renewable sources like hydro, wind, solar, etc.

    Also, the emissions is a per mile equation but batteries is fix variable. If you amortize the battery missions over 100,000 miles as opposed to 200,000 miles (or life of the EV), the ‘effective CO2 emissions’ will be much lower.

  97. David says:
    April 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

    3rd para down last line:

    “I’ll be willing to bet that not only will the global individual carbon footprint drop considerably it would also be greatly localized.”

    REPLY
    I agree with Jim (April 11, 2013 at 8:24 am).
    If the sales pitch for driving electric vehicles emphasised that “a reduction in toxic emissions and harmful pollutants cannot be guaranteed (due to how the source of the electric supply originates) – but it will directly reduce toxic emissions and harmful pollutants being released from your car”, then fine.

    But, reducing “the global carbon footprint” as you say is now irrelevant and so “last year”. Fact: The minuscule amount of CO2 is not going to cause armageddon – be reassured. If they said that the world was warming up due to Nitrogen, then we would have a reason to start seriously worrying!

  98. richardscourtney says April 11, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Electric milk floats and golf buggies are built, sold, and used because they are the best option for their purpose. Most golf buggies would be petrol powered if petrol-powered golf buggies were more economic, more convenient, and useful than electric golf buggies.

    I think there are a couple of other aspects here that need to be considered:
    (1) “noise”, ie. the audible sound produced by an electric GC in operation is minimal vs that of an ICE powered GC,
    (2) ‘byproducts’ of use; I have yet to witness a really clean-burning small ICE (verily, I think they are exempt from emissions rules, no catalytic converters etc., which go a LONG ways to making the exhaust from today’s car cleaner!),
    (3) Ease of use: no engine ‘start’ required per se for an electric GC vs something ICE powered.

    An observation: Our local parks department uses a little vehicle called a “Gator” to move manpower and materials around … the Gator is not quiet, produces noticeable ‘products of combustion’ (exhaust fumes, noticeable a few hundred feet away when the wind is right even!)

  99. GeeJam:

    I am understanding your post at April 11, 2013 at 7:59 am to say that my answer to your question is adequate for now. I am posting this so you can correct me if I misunderstood and ignore this post otherwise.

    Incidentally, our paper does cover the issue of differential sequestration.

    Richard

  100. _Jim:

    re your post at April 11, 2013 at 8:55 am.

    It seems you overlooked my phrase “more convenient”. This is surprising because you boldened the sentence which included it.

    Richard

  101. re: richardscourtney says April 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

    An exculpatory phrase to be sure; I also covered areas (‘pollution’ and ‘noise’) not expressly covered by the exculpatory phrasing.

  102. Richard,

    You say, “Electric cars are NOT an “emerging technology”.

    The new technology for EV’s is energy storage, not four wheels and a motor. JP

  103. I can understand people being resistant to change. But let’s play a little game. If every car on the road were powered by batteries. And these batteries were a standard 200kwh pack. And every gas station was actually a solar station. And everyone had solar panels on their roofs as a grid contribution thing. I’ll be willing to bet that not only will the global individual carbon footprint drop considerably it would also be greatly localized.

    You are asking us to throw away something that works for something where the benefit is speculative and possibly even false (ie, continued CO2 production is somehow going to destroy us or maybe only make more plants grow.)

    I think you have to get real. Give us real numbers on the benefits. Tell us the real cost not some scary made up scenarios.

  104. John Parsons:

    I am copying all your post at April 11, 2013 at 9:54 am so it is clear that I am attempting to answer what you wrote

    Richard,

    You say,

    “Electric cars are NOT an “emerging technology”.

    The new technology for EV’s is energy storage, not four wheels and a motor. JP

    Sorry, that does not cut it.

    The development you specify is part of the power system of an old technology which pre-dates the internal combustion engine.

    According to the same logic Ford and GM cars should be subsidised because they continue to develop fuel injection systems as part of the power systems of their cars.

    This development of fuel injection is directly analogous to the “energy storage” in electric cars because not long ago internal combustion engines used carburetors and not fuel injection systems.

    I repeat,
    Electric cars are NOT an “emerging technology”.
    Electric motors pre-date internal combustion engines
    and
    electric cars pre-date diesel and petrol cars.

    Richard

  105. John Parsons and _Jim:

    John Parsons, much time has passed since I answered your point to me but my reply is still in the ‘bin’. I will make another post if it does not appear in another hour.

    _Jim, I note your post at April 11, 2013 at 9:45 am. If you have a real point then I will address it.

    Richard

  106. _Jim: Any particular page in that doc applicable to the issues at hand?

    Well, now, lemme see. If your interest is finding real data (which seemed to be the case from what you wrote) then I would recommend a quick scan of the whole document, including references to other sources.

    On the other hand, if you simply want to reply to Smith, take a look at p. 19. It suggests the complexity of the problem, revealing that losses vary widely from one utility to another. But if you read the whole document you discover that losses from out-of-state generators to the state line may not be included. (There is an interesting discussion toward the end of specific losses from Hoover Dam, Palo Verde, etc.)

    Do the losses they use or assume come close to the losses claimed by Smith above?

    So far as I read, Brother Smith did not put forward a specific figure, so I can’t say whether this document refutes him or not. But the worst performer on p. 19 is Los Angeles Water and Power, with projected losses of 11.89%.
    .
    Just gonna ‘throw the document’ at me huh? (Not expressly an RC trick eh?)

    RC is like my cardiologist. I try to stay away from him as often as I can.
    : > )

  107. John Parsons says:
    April 11, 2013 at 9:54 am
    “The new technology for EV’s is energy storage, not four wheels and a motor. JP”

    The energy density per weight of Li Ion batteries is ten times lower than the energy density per weight of hydrocarbons. It looks like they have made a mistake there – the performance dropped! Are you sure they are trying to develop an energy storage?

  108. David says:
    April 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

    get real people

    THE given driving factor for moving to ev is CO2 emmisions reduction.

    So given that all evs claim to have ‘zero tail pipe emmision’ we need to examine that claim in reality (get real !)

    So it is most hightly relevent how much CO2 is actually generated from birth to death of a vehicle.

    And if; as appears likely; the total birth to death savings of CO2 is marginal then the whole thing is a dream (dreams; of course are not real)

    Batteries are an older technology than ICE. So are electric motors. ICE didn’t require subsidies to get the world moving. EVs will only be usefull when the battery power density starts to meet that of petrol/deisel and soem way is found to enable fast charge or battery swap out. SWAP battery packs for an EV ?– go on; just how much does that battery pack weigh ? Power density again means the ‘easy solution’ is an engineering; material handling nightmare. Get real; most people don’t know how to handle 50kg properly never mind over a tonne.

    EVs are GOOD for some things; as mass transport providers they are rubbish; and to be quite realistic; they are likly to remain so for the forseeable future

  109. Richard Sharpe: ‘And every gas station was actually a solar station.’ (and other statements).

    What you are advocating does not add up. The electrical power recovered by solar panels is not sufficient to run electrical vehicles. Houses might generate 2kw (in the sun), panels on a gas station might be able to generate 20kw, but a viable electrical vehicle requires at least 15kw. So unless you are planning on having one gas station’s worth of solar panels for every car, you will never be able to generate enough power for transport from the sun.

    Like you, I wish that this wasn’t the case. But, check the figures, you will realize that your dream does not add up. We use power for much more than transport. It is used to pump water, transform materials, agriculture, goods transport, etc. The more we increase the price of power – the more we push ourselves in the direction of the stone age…

  110. Hi Richard, Just got back from the dentist, so I wasn’t dodging you. I appreciate that you don’t “bail”. I’ll reply to your comment(s) once I catch up. Looks like I largely agree with what you’ve said. See ya. JP

  111. “””””…..David says:

    April 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

    The amount if slant in this article is shocking. I really wish ICE vehicles are scrutinized just as much as EV vehicles.

    When we look at evs u start seeing all this cost of energy manufacturing numbers factored in and idle waste bla bla bla. Is the cost if fractional distillation free and without pollution? And thats just what goes into making the fuel before u go on to burn it in your car……”””””

    David, one thing you can say about the human energy system history, is that since we used every waking minute clambering around in fig trees, collecting free clean green renewable non carcinogenic energy, up to today when we have coal, oil, and natural gas supplying most of our energy, the energy system has been self bootstrapping. It got to where we are, using just the energies available to us. There was nobody else, or nothing else from whom we could steal energy to subsidize our energy consumption.
    And we also know that the human species did not take off and multiply to today’s numbers, until we discovered fire, and stored chemical energy. Social groups eventually discovered that the free clean green renewable forms of stored chemical energy could not keep pace with our need for more energy. Witness the places abandoned and desertified, after burning all the trees; Rapanui for example.
    So it was only fossil fuels stored over millions of years, that has sustained humanity, sans government subsidies. The system fed itself; so now we have the largest single beneficiary of our “big oil” fossil fuel economy, is the US treasury, and it uses those appropriated funds, to feed and clothe those who seek to destroy this productive system.

    So when EVs can carry their own weight, and not burden the existing systems that are self sustaining, then it will be time to talk of displacing “old technology” with the new.

    As it is, the US department of energy, has not yet made available to us, even enough energy to apply the 35 Newton centimetres of torque it took to bolt in my new Titanium cored tooth.

    I wish Elon Musk and Tesla, all the success in the world; but don’t start scrapping what is supporting you, until you demonstrate that you don’t need anything else supporting you.

    And David, the one absolute truth in your missive that WE can believe, is when you said:
    “I don’t know.” That’s your problem right there David. Come back when you don’t need to tell us that.

  112. richardscourtney

    Hi Rich, Thanks. The only pain was the bill. A 140 dollar Carmel candy. Should’a known better.

    Rich, I basically agree with you. The only real point of difference is that I can see the new work on battery technology as emerging tech. But your point is well taken.

    My real beef is this author’s obvious bias. I mean comparing a Tesla S with a Honda Civic? A fairer comp would be something like a Mercedes S. About the same price and accoutrements (although the Tesla blows the doors off the Merc).

    Merc 15/21mpg

    Civic 28/36mpg

    Civic 0-60 ~9 sec

    Merc 0-60 ~7 sec

    Tesla S 0-60 ~4 sec

    If the author compared apples to apples, his own “assumptions” (which I’d like to see) would show the Tesla with much less CO2 emissions than a comparable gas burner. Not even close. JP

  113. DirkH says: “The energy density per weight of Li Ion batteries is ten times lower than the energy density per weight of hydrocarbons.”

    But Dirk, we don’t dump a half a pound of the lithium battery into our atmosphere every mile we drive.

    What if we could double that energy density? That’s a game changer. If our governments gave the same support to battery tech development that it did for franking technologies or satellite technologies, that could happen. Best, JP

  114. John Parsons:

    It is nearly midnight here so please understand if you want comments from me which do not occur for several hours. I am pleased that your dental issue seems to be solved.

    All your posts seem to resolve to being about need to develop large electrical energy storage in small physical volume. And you say to DirkH

    What if we could double that energy density? That’s a game changer. If our governments gave the same support to battery tech development that it did for fracking technologies or satellite technologies, that could happen.

    Sorry, but no, that could not happen.

    Immense amounts are being spent worldwide on attempts to achieve what you desire. And they have been for a long time.

    If such electrical energy storage were possible then it would reduce need for electricity generation (and for power stations) by about a third.

    It would also enable useful personal electric vehicles and permit intermittent sources (e.g. windfarms) to provide useful electricity.

    The problem is not research funding. It is lack of any idea of how to do what is required. When there is a theoretical idea for the desired device then industry will throw money at R,D&D to provide a workable and commercially viable device because the returns from it would be so great.

    At present electric vehicles, windfarms and tidal energy systems are being subsidised when they have no possibility of being commercially useful because they each require an energy storage device which does not exist.

    Richard

    PS I prefer Richard to any diminutive.

  115. I take GREAT and PROFOUND offense at calling fear of carbon dioxide “environmentally aware.”
    Every living thing derives all its tissues from the biochemical reduction of carbon dioxide. It is the foundation of Life.

  116. Richard,

    I notice you’re not trying to support the author of this post. And that was what I was taking issue with.

    I did a little research and it seems to confirm most of what you say. The exception being your comment, “Sorry, but no, that could not happen”, to my suggestion that it might be possible to double battery density. I don’t know if you meant ‘no’ to the physical possibility or ‘no’ to the government enabling. From the quick research, it appears that a doubling of energy density won’t do it for EV’s. Looks like it’ll need to be about a quadrupling of E/D for that. A doubling would apparently make a PHEV directly comparable to an internal combustion engine in both cost and weight, but for an EV (with a 300 mile range) it’s going to take a big technical move (4X E/D).

    There’s certainly no physical, read: physics, reason that can’t happen; but we’re a long way from home.

    Cheers, JP

  117. John Parsons:

    I am replying to your post at April 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/10/is-the-tesla-model-s-green/#comment-1272899

    (Please note my use of the link to your post which I learned in the ‘New WUWT’ thread. It is a new toy and this is my first – although here pointless – chance to use it).

    Firstly, it is pleasing that we seem to have found some common ground, but there are two points of fundamental disagreement.

    You say to me

    I notice you’re not trying to support the author of this post.

    No, that is a misunderstanding.
    I do agree with the article but the main reason for my agreement is not mentioned in the article so I have been explaining it.

    The article claims emissions from electric cars (ECs) are comparable or greater than emissions from internal combustion engine cars (ICECs) when total system is considered. This is true for several reasons.

    The easiest reason to understand is that pressure to adopt ECs encourages people to have more cars: i.e. an EC for local travel and an ICEC for longer journeys. An example of this is explicitly stated by ‘meteorologist aka weather guy’ in his post at April 11, 2013 at 6:31 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/10/is-the-tesla-model-s-green/#comment-1272273

    He says he purchased an EC and

    7. I have no issue with range. I get into my internal combustion engine vehicle and drive it if I have to go more than 200 miles in one trip ( two or three times a year ).

    And that brings us to my main point which concerns why all the arguments in the article and the point by ‘meteorologist aka weather guy’ are true.

    There is no known or as yet imagined method for storing large amounts of electrical energy in small physical volume.

    As you say, there is no known physical reason why such large electrical energy storage cannot exist.
    But so what?
    Until somebody imagines a viable method for the electrical energy storage then there is no possibility of developing a device to do it. No amount of research funding can change this because there is no hypothesis or theory to research.

    Similarly, there is no known physical reason why a method to enable time travel cannot exist.
    But so what?
    Until somebody imagines a viable method for time travel then there is no possibility of developing a device to do it. No amount of research funding can change this because there is no hypothesis or theory to research.

    Subsidising electric cars in hope of the needed device for large electrical energy storage is as rational as subsidising a warehouse in hope that a time travel device can be used in it.

    Richard

  118. … and just where does the energy to recharge an electric car come from? Don’t know if that was factored in or not.

  119. Here is an interesting chart showing various battery technologies on a semi-log graph of
    Y-Axis: Specific Power W/kg
    X-Axis: Specific Energy Wh/kg

    It shows various flavors of LI-ion, NIMH, NICd, with an apparent emphasis on the Gaia HE 60Ah Li-Ion

    A similar chart that shows more families of battery technologies, including super capacitors, Lead-Acid, Ni-Cd, NiMH, Na-NiCl2, Li-Polymer, Li-Ion in three configurations (High Power, Mid Range, High Energy (low power)) The chart very well shows the trade-off between Power Density and Energy Density.

    What is missing from this chart? Hydrogen-Oxygen Fuel Cells, Coal, Methane, and Gasoline. Where would they plot?

    Coal and the others are way off the chart! The batteries top out at 180 Wh/kg. Coal has a thermal energy of
    6700 Wh/kg.
    Burn it in a 40% efficient coal fired power plant and you get 2680 Wh/kg coal in delivered electical power. Take the width of the chart, expand it 14 times to the right. Coal plots in the upper right corner.

    That energy density gives you 1 GW-day per 100 car, 10,000 ton coal unit train. That train, if filled at the Black Thunder Coal Mine, a 70 foot seam in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, will cost you about $120,000 at the mine, less than $300,000 delivered.

    To store 1 GW-day in Li-Ion batteries, you would need a battery bank of 140,000 tons. Picture 14 coal unit trains filled with Li-Ion batteries and wiring. At 2.5 Whr/US$ and 180 Whr/kg, that’s $72/kg. Times 140,000 tons is US$ 10 billion. All to save $300,000 worth of delivered coal for a GW-day of on-demand electricity? To break even, you need to recharge that battery bank 33,600 times — 92 years of charge and discharge every 24 hrs. But there is another problem: LI-Ion batteries cannot cycle a tenth that many times.

    Now, to be fair, we are only counting the coal weight. A battery’s weight is composed of the cathode and anode. Were we to count the oxygen used in the combustion of the coal, the specific energy at 40% efficiency for electrical generation would be 730 Wh/kg (C+O2), 6 times bigger than the best battery. But coal isn’t rechargable — just cheap and
    plentiful!
    And the air is free.

    What about H2_O2 fuel cells? Hydrogen is 143 MJ/kg = 40 KWhr/kg H2 But that is only 2 parts of the 18 (2+16) parts of the H2O.
    So that would be 4400 Whr / hg (H2O) Practical efficiency is 40-60%, Theoretcial maximum eff is 83% without heat recapture. So a fuel cell could deliver electrical power at 2200 Whr / kg (of 2H2+O2). It is a theoretically rechargeable system
    However, if we include the weight of the storage tanks and the fuel cell, then 580 Whr/kg (for 5000 psi H2 composite tanks) can be reached. (Fig 3) The trouble is you cannot mine, pump, or grow hydrogen. You must make it.

    Methane is 55.6 MJ/kg. = 15.4 KWhr/kg (CH4) CH4 has a weight of 16. combustion products are CO2 + 2 H2O. So add 2 O2 = 64. Total weight is 80. Methane converted to electricity at 40% efficiency = 7 KWhr / kg (CH4) or 1400 Whr/kg (CH4 + 2 O2)

    Gasoline is 46 MJ/kg = 13 KWhr/kg Gasoline is about C8H18 (weight 114). It takes about 25 O to combust it. Use a 40% electrical conversion, 5200 Whr/kg gasoline (not counting the air) Or 1150 Whr/kg (gasoline + oxygen) Unlike Hydrogen or Methane, gasoline is a well behaved liquid at room and operating temperatures. It has a much higher KWhr/liter energy volume density than either liquid hydrogen or LNG without their handling problems. Only coal has a higher energy per volume density without going nuclear.

    So when it comes to energy storage in vehicles, it is pretty hard to beat gasoline at 5200 Whr/kg of fuel. Use it in a 40% efficient air breathing gas turbine generator that powers a car and tops off and replenishes 180 Whr/kg Li-Ion batteries for peak power and regen breaking energy capture.

  120. An out come the minions! Greetings ignorant americans and deniers alike. Welcome, to the forefront of the war of words. Its really great to be here with you tonight on Bullsh*t mountain. As only good judgement allows, I feel compelled to outline some very obvious downfalls with the conclusions made based on the facts provided as limited as they are. WARNING: The closed and stubborn minded may already be tuned out at this point so please if you have, dont waste your time reading. Go eat another hamburger and dig your own grave faster so that future generations may have a chance to live on this earth before we suck all the oil and resources out of it.

    Do you know what the numbers 1.8L and 50 MPG means? Then let me explain. The reference to 1.8L is 1.8 liters (litres) and it refers to the volume of the piston bores. That’s the thing inside the engine that goes up and down every time the spark plug fires and ignites the fuel/air mixture inside the engine. I.E. The smaller the number the less the engine needs to do its job. The comparison this article makes between a prius and a BMW is only tailpipe emissions. nothing was spoken of MPG convieniently. But the numbers are very clear, 1.8L and 50MPG. The engine uses less gas to function and goes farther per mile. Im not sure how to make it more clear. As far as the emissions, those numbers are gathered from a car that is at or close to 0 miles, as tested by the EPA. Just because the BMW has a more complex emissions system, and more expensive, that does not mean that it will work forever. After about 20,000 miles the emissions system starts getting clogged with, well emissions because gas by nature is a very dirty substance to burn. The cost and carbon footprint it takes to keep making new emission system component and replacing them is not factored into the total footprint of the car. Of course the author was very keep to include the carbon footprint of making and replacing the battery on the tesla. How convienient!

    If you feel comforable driving your 5.7L hemi after reading this article then by all means keep doing it! Everyone knows you arent to blame for your ignorance right? I mean you are a god fearing, heaven seeking american. You are always right. Who needs to dig deeper? Greed can be used for good. Make sure you tell them that at the pearly gates. They will surely let you in.

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