Study: Electric vehicles have little impact on US pollutant emissions

nissan-leaf[1]A new study from North Carolina State University indicates that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.

For Immediate Release

Release Date: 01.21.14

A new study from North Carolina State University indicates that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.

“EDVs” is a catch-all term that includes hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

“We wanted to see how important EDVs may be over the next 40 years in terms of their ability to reduce emissions,” says Dr. Joseph DeCarolis, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the new model. “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.”

The researchers ran 108 different scenarios in a powerful energy systems model to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. They found that, even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants.

“There are a number of reasons for this,” DeCarolis says. “In part, it’s because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place. For example, passenger vehicles make up only 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

“From a policy standpoint, this study tells us that it makes more sense to set emissions reductions goals, rather than promoting specific vehicle technologies with the idea that they’ll solve the problem on their own.”

The energy systems model also showed that key factors in encouraging use of EDVs are oil price and battery cost. If batteries are cheap and oil is expensive, EDVs become more attractive to consumers. “That’s consistent with results from other studies,” DeCarolis says.

The paper, “How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter to Future U.S. Emissions?,” is published online in Environmental Science & Technology. Lead author of the paper is Samaneh Babaee, a Ph.D. student at NC State. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Ajay Nagpure, a former postdoctoral researcher at NC State who is now at the University of Minnesota. The research was supported by National Science Foundation grant CBET-0853766.

###

The study abstract follows.

“How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter to Future U.S. Emissions?”

Authors: Samaneh Babaee and Joseph F. DeCarolis, North Carolina State University; Ajay S. Nagpure, University of Minnesota

Published: online January 2014 in Environmental Science & Technology

DOI: 10.1021/es4045677

Abstract: Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles—known collectively as electric drive vehicles (EDVs)—may represent a clean and affordable option to meet growing U.S. light duty vehicle (LDV) demand. The goal of this study is twofold: identify the conditions under which EDVs achieve high LDV market penetration in the U.S. and quantify the associated change in CO2, SO2, and NOX emissions through mid-century. We employ the Integrated MARKAL-EFOM System (TIMES), a bottom-up energy system model, along with a U.S. dataset developed for this analysis. To characterize EDV deployment through 2050, varying assumptions related to crude oil and natural gas prices, a CO2 policy, a federal renewable portfolio standard, and vehicle battery cost were combined to form 108 different scenarios. Across these scenarios, oil prices and battery cost have the biggest effect on EDV deployment. The model results do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend towards lower system-wide emissions as EDV deployment increases. In addition to the tradeoff between lower tailpipe and higher electric sector emissions associated with plug-in vehicles, the scenarios produce system-wide emissions effects that often mask the effect of EDV deployment.

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68 thoughts on “Study: Electric vehicles have little impact on US pollutant emissions

  1. If this reality were to be put into effect, the Tesla would drop like a rock … or stop like one, like Clooney’s (?), for example.

    If as a society we choose to focus some of our efforts, it would be nice to actually achieve something. Even a Great Wall, especially if it were built around Washington, D.C.

  2. “emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide”

    An embarassment to NCSU. Carbon dioxide is babies’ breath and plant food.

  3. Nearly all of Tesla’s profits are te result of carbon offsets from regular vehicles. Most of Tesla’s customers are upper income coastal residents buying a third of fourth car. How much more does a working class Chevy buyer pay to make the rich coastal resident feel good and Mr. Musk rich while accomplishing nothing for the environment?

  4. This pretty much confirms the back of the envelop calculations I made a few weeks ago, in
    which I came to the conclusion that passenger cars only comprise about 18% of total
    emissions. Since the reduction in emissions is rather modest for each car, it was obvious to me that electric cars won’t have any impact at all until the grid is emission-free, an even then
    will not amount to much. Pretty much the same old thing – govts pouring tons of money into programs that can’t have any significant effect. Nobody bothers to do a detailed study before the politicians rush to pass yet another pointless, but expensive, law. And Tesla is raking in over $20,000 per car in govt subsidies and the car’s owner another $7500+. Obscene.

  5. The only electric vehicles that have thus far been successful and invaluable are personal mobility scooters. I am getting older and my choice of mobility scooter will be a harley powered trike with the special white tyres that do not leave skid marks.

    Electric vehicles will be a failure until some thing that makes it’s own electricity can be found.
    Charging vehicles off the grid to reduce CO2 is about as sensible as squeezing soap as a propulsion system.

  6. The cost of batteries is a reflection of the large amounts of raw materials that have to be moved to produce them (mining trucks & even electric shovels have to run off of some form of energy, after all) & the further (energy intensive) processing to get the good bits out of the ore. Subsidizing that would hide the cost from the car buyer, but inevitably end up costing far more total money per unit, which has to come out of somebody’s paycheck eventually. & the subsidies don’t change the energy expended to produce the refined product (which isn’t going to be very much nuclear or hydroelectric in the near future in the places where the stuff is dug up & processed).

  7. In Ontario Canada 50% of our energy is nuclear. So EV could easily be called Nuclear Vehicles.

  8. I would have though EV would increase emissions as the majority of electricity come from coal, nevertheless personally I think EV will be the saviour of utilities they just need to come down in price as they are doing and have more significant penetration into the global market…

  9. 1 gallon of gasoline has 33kwh of energy. About the amount of electricity a large house uses in a day. How many gallons of gas a day do you use in your car? How much must the capacity of the grid be increased in were all driving electric?

  10. SideShowBob says:
    January 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm
    I would have though EV would increase emissions as the majority of electricity come from coal
    ==============
    40 modern compact cars with one passenger each pollute the same amount as a 40 passenger bus. However, the bus runs whether it is full or not. The cars however never run when they are empty of people. Thus, the cars will never pollute more than the buses, but the buses will often pollute more than the cars. for a given number of people miles.

    Thus, the idea that we can cut pollution by moving people out of cars into buses is also false. Cars are very efficient because both their route and their loading is more efficient than running large buses on fixed routes with uncertain loads.

  11. I’m going to completely ignore any considerations of CO2 emissions, as I don’t think that is a goal worth expending resources on. There are some advantages to EVDs in reducing other (real) pollutants, or rather shifting the emission location away from major urban areas. However with current battery technology, I don’t see them having any practical effect even in that respect as absent regulatory mandates, they will never come even close to the assumed 42% of US passenger vehicles.

    What will likely make a significant difference is a practical liquid fuel cell (methanol seems to be the most promising current candidate). All the advantages of liquid fuel internal combustion engines without the combustion. But we don’t have a practical fuel cell at present and are unlikely to develop one as long as R&D resources are devoted primarily towards reducing CO2.

    Now if in the course of achieving real transportation improvements you happen to also reduce CO2 emissions and thereby appease the Carbon Cult, that an added bonus. But it should never be the main objective.

  12. “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.”
    ————–
    It would be if it obama issued a proclamation that gasoline powered cars were illegal and that everyone must purchase a Chevy Volt.

    If he can tell us what medical coverage we must buy for our own good, why wouldn’t the above be a logical step in his extension of his “executive powers”?

  13. Mark and Two Cats (6:31pm) says:

    Bookmark that comment – - just might be uncomfortably prescient in the next 3 years.

  14. Mark and Two Cats (6:31pm) says:
    ————————————————————————-
    Struth. Would “the war on coal” fail to convince anyone?

  15. Car & Driver magazine recently did a comparison test between a Tesla and a Ford Model T. That’s right; a Model T. I believe it was a 1910 version. It’s cold out and I’m curled up in bed so I’m going on memory (not good at my age) rather than getting out of bed to grab the magazine. Anyway, I believe the run was from Michigan to New Jersey. The only stops were for fuel (a few minutes for the Model T) or recharge (a few hours and a hotel room for the Tesla). 103 years of improvement to the electric car has now enabled it to beat a 104 year old gas car. The Tesla got to New Jersey 1-2 hours earlier. Whoopee!

  16. I wrote about this some years ago: here http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/electric-cars/

    What depresses me is that we had all this well researched and tried and tested forty years ago and along come some whizz kids who think they can bypass the laws of physics: well they can’t not for all their whirligigs etc.

    Equally depressing of course is how advocates ignored and tried to disappear the sound climate science of forty years ago and replace it with a political agenda based on CO2 by corrupting good work to meet their ends..

    Nothing new there of course, there are too many of such frauds over the years to list, and like all the others this one is dying: which does not mean it may not have few twitches in its tail.

    It is the way of world I suppose but it is all very sad.

    Kindest Regards
    .

  17. I would suggest that the money, cash and bank transactions, flows into Obama’s accounts, those in the USA and Kenya, as well as Switzerland needs careful accounting and a checks-n-balances approach against the IRS and Department Of Energy in regards to Obama’s “Benefits” needs to be actualized at once.

    Obama is the Stoner-N-Chief and we need protection against his FUBARs!

  18. Of course, the additional demand on the electric grid of some 102,000,000 electric autos* charging 16 hours out of every 24, coupled with the SCOAMF’s shutting down of power plants, won’t do anything detrimental to the price of electricity or anything.

    *0.42 x 243million

  19. I have been dying to ask a question about the range on hybrids and EV’s. I remember reading
    that the Chevy Volt had a “Combined fuel economy” or some such term of 200+ MPG. Their
    claim was that the car could go 40 miles on electricity alone. I read later that they were actually
    getting between 25 to 35 miles per charge.

    I also read that even the mileage of the Internal Combustion Engines on the hybrids was being
    greatly exaggerated. So along comes Elon Musk, who claims 400 mile ranges on the highest
    capacity battery with his Tesla. My question is this: Has Elon Musk managed to create a
    Lithium Ion battery with power density several hundred percent more efficient than the Chevy
    Volt?

    If so, this would be earth shattering news. But I also read an account of an automotive
    journalist who took a Tesla for a drive and the battery crapped out after about 60 miles.
    This makes sense because there is a bit more room for the battery in a pure EV.

    I am not an engineer, but someone on this site may be able to answer my question. There
    is a lot of evidence that suggests that there is a whole lot of fraud going on around here,
    and that is not even counting carbon credits, fake battery swaps, government subsidies,
    power plant emissions, etc…

    If this is a scam, it needs to exposed!

  20. “Much ado was made by the auto press early last month when the Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan was the best-selling model in Norway in September. October’s figures are out, and last month’s volume tells a different story with 98 Model S deliveries, or 0.8 percent share of all passenger vehicle sales in the country that month…”

    http://www.ibtimes.com/tesla-model-s-sales-norway-down-significantly-october-september-benefitted-pre-order-bump-1453974

  21. Was there really the need for a STUDY to tell us that use of electric cars, which are powered almost exclusively BY those damn dirty FOSSIL FUELED power plants, would not decrease emissions?

    The problem is the tree hugger fringe simply isn’t very smart. They have a very hard time thinking about complex issues – perhaps the result of being medicinally ‘treated’ all the time … why thayt electricity- it just comes out of the wall socket. Do dirty emissions there, we just plug into that nice clean electric outlet …

    Yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket – clean outlet – clean power.

    Same reason they all think solar and wind are great ideas. WHile ignoring that solar and wind required inefficient on demand power from dirty fossil fueled plants – for the 70+% of time no wind or sun available.

    Despite overall emissions in the EU down appx 1.5% due to decreased demand due to recession … Germany’s emissions, despite a strong shift to renewables, are UP 1.3%.

    There ARE places for wind and solar … guys like Anthony and residential point of use based solar a good example. But even Anthony’s solar, while great for Anthony, likely (a) places a burden on the existing grid and infrastructure, (b) requires dirty and more inefficient Peaking” (on instant demand) plant power (as opposed to efficient base load plants that run near 100% capacity all the time), to cover the 70+% avg period there is no sun, and (c) likely receives a subsidized at or near “retail” payment for excess power sent to the grid and not the wholesale price paid for most ‘bought’ power.

  22. I’m with the majority of you guys above:

    THUMBS UP — for pointing out that electric cars are a waste of time and money.
    THUMBS DOWN — for promoting the AGWers’ unfounded speculation about CO2.

  23. To be clear I still think systems like Anthony’s are a net positive. They are often/usually good for owners. But I believe they need to pay a fair share of the costs incurred by the grid and that they should be paid a fair wholesale rate for power supplied to the grid.

    And while battery storage technology is not remotely available on a large commercial scale basis – it would take a commercial building full of current battery technology to supply even a few hundred homes with enough power to get thru just a single night between solar powered days – battery tech could supply much of the needs for a residential property. Couple with onsite nat gas powered backup generator and a single family home could be sustainable without a grid connection.

    All those batteries are expensive though, highly toxic and of limited lifetime, and present a significant safety concern – to occupants and firefighters as well.

  24. “My question is this: Has Elon Musk managed to create a Lithium Ion battery with power density several hundred percent more efficient than the Chevy Volt?”

    No, just much bigger. From what I remember, the Volt’s battery is pretty small, because it can switch to the gas engine for long trips.

    Besides which, Teslas are probably mostly sold in locations where people aren’t using them in non-ideal conditions for electric cars, like forty below zero winters.

  25. I am just a layman here, but I managed to determine that the big battery Tesla S CLAIMS a capacity of 85kwh. I also found the efficiency of an internal combustion engine. 1 gallon of gas
    = 36.6kwh.

    Good luck trying to find the HP, voltage or the efficiency of the Tesla electric motors! They are
    a more closely guarded secret than the nuclear launch codes.

    I do not even know if the 85kwh figures are for real.

    If Tesla refuses to publish these figures, I can only conclude that Elon Musk is a bigger con
    artist than The Music Man, Elmer Gantry and the Rain Maker!

    It seems to me he has been seduced by government subsidies and carbon credits. Tesla Motors
    has never seen a dime in profits in the 10+ years it has been in existence! Piss a half a billion
    taxpayer dollars away and then add $7,500.00 for each vehicle sold. Then add tens of millions
    of dollars in “Carbon credits,” the only reason Tesla is currently showing a profit.

    It gets better: The buyers of these cars are also eligible for subsidies for the charging
    hardware and their monthly electric bills!

    Unless someone can convince me otherwise, I smell a fraud on the order of Piltdown Man.

  26. Sure, emissions of nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide from power plants will increase to provide electricity to electric drive vehicles (EDV), but those plants are generally located away from congested urban areas. Net emissions may not decrease significantly, but they will certainly decrease significantly–and specifically–in dense urban areas, especially ones geographically restricted by surrounding hills or mountains like Los Angeles where smog is a big deal during inversions. Electric vehicles will significantly decrease smog in those areas. However electric vehicles are not cost competitive yet and it’s hard to imagine they will become so anytime soon.

  27. Lauren R. says:
    January 22, 2014 at 2:57 am

    “However electric vehicles are not cost competitive yet and it’s hard to imagine they will become so anytime soon.”

    It’s just battery technology that has to fall in price, it’s happening and will continue at an accelerated rate now that electric cars have caught on a bit…

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/19/ev-battery-prices-disruptive-drop-prices-will-continue/

    So that’s the main disadvantage however the cost advantage is that they are so much simpler, than car cars, just one moving part effectively, easier to build and service, dirt cheap to run and due to the low centre of gravity the driving performance is actually better. Batteries need to half in price and/or double in density and that’s not far away from here.

    I see electric cars winning, easily… over hydrogen or ethanol or bio-diesel… and of course gas cars… gas cars will eventually go like gas lamps were replaced by electric bulbs, the batteries just need to get a little cheap

  28. I live in a part of the country where you’re either running the heater or the air conditioner 10 months out of the year. Where do you get heat with an electric car? With an ICE, the heat for the passenger cabin or defroster is simply waste heat from combustion. The only extra power used is for the blower. In an electric car, you don’t have this natural heat source.

    How is the range on an electric car affected by running the heater or defroster? The high yesterday was in the teens, we expect an overnight low below zero tomorrow. BTW: Does that cold alone reduce the effective battery charge?

    Here’s a great business opportunity, and I’m willing to sell franchises to let everyone in on the ground floor. It’s call Charge Mobile. The business plan is to provided road-side charging services to EV owners who find themselves out of juice along the roadside. Maybe we’ll build the charging capabilities into the tow trucks, so we can charge the EVs while relocating them somewhere safe.

  29. SideShowBob says:
    January 22, 2014 at 4:34 am
    Lauren R. says:
    January 22, 2014 at 2:57 am

    “However electric vehicles are not cost competitive yet and it’s hard to imagine they will become so anytime soon.”

    It’s just battery technology that has to fall in price, it’s happening and will continue at an accelerated rate now that electric cars have caught on a bit…

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/19/ev-battery-prices-disruptive-drop-prices-will-continue/

    So that’s the main disadvantage however the cost advantage is that they are so much simpler, than car cars, just one moving part effectively, easier to build and service, dirt cheap to run and due to the low center of gravity the driving performance is actually better. Batteries need to half in price and/or double in density and that’s not far away from here.

    I see electric cars winning, easily… over hydrogen or ethanol or bio-diesel… and of course gas cars… gas cars will eventually go like gas lamps were replaced by electric bulbs, the batteries just need to get a little cheap

    So the only missing piece of the puzzle is non-existent technology that people have been trying to create for over a century. Maybe we can pass a law and force someone to invent it? We can just legislate or regulate it into being.

  30. Stoners do create way more jobs than bombers-N-chiefs.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/sep/06/bill-clinton/bill-clinton-says-democratic-presidents-top-republ/

    http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/BL-REB-2534

    Here’s a look at job creation under each president since the Labor Department started keeping payroll records in 1939. The counts are based on total payrolls between the start of the month the president took office (using the final payroll count for the end of the prior December) and his final December in office.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2014/01/obamas-numbers-january-2014-update/

    Stoner created more jobs in 4 years than his war is family business predecessor did in eight.
    He also had at least nine less Ben-gha-zi’s… Really twelve, but three would be kinda cherrypicking.

  31. SideShowBob says:
    January 22, 2014 at 4:34 am

    I see electric cars winning, easily… over hydrogen or ethanol or bio-diesel… and of course gas cars… gas cars will eventually go like gas lamps were replaced by electric bulbs, the batteries just need to get a little cheap

    You must have gotten your crystal ball from a different source than I did.

    To make pure EV’s practical we need not just an evolutionary improvement over current battery technology; we need a radical breakthrough. The following characteristics apply to all known rechargeable battery types:

    1) Capacity declines with age. Total failure occurs at some point, necessitating replacement.
    2) Output declines with ambient temperature. At temperatures currently experienced by many major US East Coast urban areas, effective output for many battery types is 50% or less of nominal capacity. At winter temperatures routinely experienced in Alaska and much of Canada battery output drops to zero.
    3) Output rate declines with remaining charge.
    4) Service lifetime is significantly reduced by repeated high discharge rates and repeated deep-cycle discharges.
    5) Energy density (KwH/kg) is 10% or less that of liquid fuel.
    6) Recharge rate (and therefore elapsed time to full charge) is always less than maximum discharge rate (i.e., it takes longer to recharge a battery than to run it flat).

    See here for some graphs showing effect of discharge rate, discharge depth and ambient temperature on capacity and lifetime. The specific curves will vary with battery type, but the relationships hold for them all.

    You can consult a table of energy density for various fuel and battery types here .

    Compare this with a liquid fuel internal combustion engine:

    1) Capacity of a fuel tank remains constant regardless of age; output capacity of an internal combustion engine does decline with wear, but properly maintained there are plenty of 30, 50, and even 100 year old IC engines that can still output 90% or better of their original factory rating.
    2) Output does decline in very cold temperatures, but assuming the fuel remains liquid, there is sufficient antifreeze in the coolant, and you can get it started common passenger vehicles can operate at -20°(F). Specialized vehicles will start and run in conditions considerably colder than that.
    3) Power output on the last litre of liquid fuel is identical to that for the first litre from a full tank.
    4) Engine wear is increased by prolonged high output, but most wear occurs within a minute or less after starting, before the lubrication system is fully functioning. As anyone will attest, engines last longer when used mostly on highways than when used in short urban stop and go conditions. And it makes no difference whether you refuel at three quarters empty or three quarters full.
    5) Energy density of liquid fuel much higher than any battery type.
    6) Recharge rate (refueling time) is always much less than the consumption rate — for every minute you spend refueling an internal combustion vehicle you can spend 100 or more minutes burning that fuel to propel that same vehicle. People endurance becomes the limiting factor for long trips with an internal combustion vehicle.

    So having current batteries become cheaper just pushes the curves a bit; it doesn’t change the fundamental properties, which at present show that batteries are fundamentally inferior to liquid fuel internal combustion engines for vehicle propulsion.

    This is not to say that a fundamental technology breakthrough can’t or won’t occur, just that the kind of evolutionary refinement you can reasonably count on isn’t enough to make pure EVs practical to replace internal combustion engines. Keep in mind that while you wait for the impossible to predict battery breakthrough to happen, evolutionary refinement continues to improve internal combustion systems.

  32. “emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide”

    I think “high-profile” in this context is the same as saying Justin Bieber is “high-profile”. ;->

  33. “Output does decline in very cold temperatures, but assuming the fuel remains liquid, there is sufficient antifreeze in the coolant, and you can get it started common passenger vehicles can operate at -20°(F).”

    Our Civic regularly runs at -40, though we plug it in during the day so the engine starts. The LCD gauges on the dash start to move really slowly at low temperatures, though.

  34. @MarkG:

    You are correct; I should have said “… common passenger vehicles will operate at -30° to -40° (F)”.

    I refuse to live anywhere I might need to operate a vehicle regularly at even -20°, although if this global warming we’ve experienced recently continues to move Canadian winter down to Atlanta, I might have to.

  35. In my original comment I mixed recharge rate and elapsed time comparisons in the same sentence. Since these properties are inversely related, the comparisons I made are ambiguous and confusing. For example:

    6) Recharge rate (and therefore elapsed time to full charge) is always less than maximum discharge rate (i.e., it takes longer to recharge a battery than to run it flat).

    Battery recharge rate is much slower than internal combustion liquid refueling, which means elapsed time is much greater. I apologize for sloppy writing, but I assume virtually all readers here would have correctly inferred my intended meaning.

  36. Let’s try this again:

    In my original comment I mixed recharge rate and elapsed time comparisons in the same sentence. Since these properties are inversely related, the comparisons I made are ambiguous and confusing. For example:

    6) Recharge rate (and therefore elapsed time to full charge) is always less than maximum discharge rate (i.e., it takes longer to recharge a battery than to run it flat).

    Battery recharge rate is much slower than internal combustion liquid refueling, which means elapsed time is much greater. I apologize for sloppy writing, but I assume virtually all readers here would have correctly inferred my intended meaning.

  37. The important benefit of EDVs is their impact on real pollution in cities. Replacing a million local sources with a handful of large point sources reduces ground level pollutants where people live. And point sources are easier to regulate. Forget CO2. SOx, NOx, and PM are all emitted at ground level literally feet from where people live. And noise pollution would be reduced somewhat.

    Of course, replacing large deisel engines will be more beneficial (commercial trucks, buses, trains) but the battery technology is unlikely to ever work at that scale. CNG or LNG would be huge improvements that are available today.

  38. Regarding energy density; that of batteries effectively declines within a journey as the weight of batteries is constant as they discharge ( you’re always lugging 500lbs of battery about), liquid fuel weight declines to zero as it is consumed.

  39. Colin.A says:
    January 22, 2014 at 8:43 am
    Regarding energy density; that of batteries effectively declines within a journey as the weight of batteries is constant as they discharge ( you’re always lugging 500lbs of battery about), liquid fuel weight declines to zero as it is consumed.

    An interesting aside — in the early days of aviation, when trying to set new speed records, those airplanes would carry the minimum amount of fuel possible in order to keep weight as low as possible.

    As you noted, a dead battery weighs as much as one that’s fully charged.

    The problem with have here is a conflict between day dreams and the laws of physics and nature. Energy density? Come on! Don’t you want a better world? Battery capacity declines with age? Old batteries are full of toxic waste? Batteries depend upon rare earth minerals controlled by China and harvested in some of the dirtiest mining operations imaginable?

    Don’t you want something better for your children? Why do you want to make people feed badly? Are you a neo-luddite?

    ~more soylent green!

    #there be some deep sarcasm here right at the end

  40. Goodness, hard to know what to say, after all that. Basically, the article itself already states the best conclusion — no matter what you do with car design, you’re not going to see a truly significant reduction of CO_2 production as long as electricity is produced by burning coal, and even if you dropped the CO_2 output of every car to zero it’s still only a small fraction of the total CO_2 being produced. According to the combined Bern model/GCM predictions, human production could go to zero and the climate would STILL warm with increasing CO_2 for decades. Therefore the best thing to do is let economics and light regulation do their thing and not oversubsidize some particular technology as if that technology is going to matter.

    Good advice for many things, actually.

    rgb

  41. My background is propulsion and energy technology. The best way to put the issue of electric vehicles into its proper perspective is to call them “coal-burners.” I think it is hilarious; they will generate more CO2 than the gas-burners they are supposed to replace. (Not that I give two shakes for that.)

  42. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
    January 22, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Answering your points

    1) So what, this also happens with a gas car, motors wear out and need replacing. Future batteries will be better than they are today and todays batteries are okay to win 100% sales grow rates for EVs.
    2) Not sure you got your facts right but these battery pack are cooled and warmed on board, evidence Tesla sales in California and Norway, can’t get colder than Norway
    3) So what, is all about the total charge
    4) So what is all about the total service life
    5) So what, gas engines are huge and heavy did you consider that? Electric motors are small and have regenerative braking.
    6) So what, Tesla cars are working just fine even after all your FUD,

    Almost all car manufactures are coming out with EVs and battery technology will only get better from here, I think my crystal ball is working just fine

  43. Lots of interesting comments. Here’s a couple more …

    The US govt spends … pick a number …. $50 billion? … $100 billion? a year of the defense budget to ensure a stable international oil market. We maintain 11 carrier groups. We have numerous air force bases around the globe. We are currently beginning to take delivery of 10 new aircraft carriers at $9 billion apiece. The primary driver for all of this is oil. There seem to be a lot of people who object to govt. DOE alternative energy programs that don’t have a problem with the govt military expenditures that go to support fossil fuel based transportation. IMO if the DOE programs in place now had the effect of downsizing one carrier group and a couple of air force bases they would more than pay for themselves.

    Most comprehensive environmental impact lifecycle studies conclude that the impact of driving EVs even with coal or NG power is less than ICE vehicles. However, they also conclude that the environmental impact of manufacturing EVs is significantly worse than ICE vehicles. And, contrary to what many seem to think, the environmental impact of disposal of EVs vs ICE is basically the same. For the greenies out there, a net positive environmental impact of EVs vs ICE is only realized with Nuclear, Hydro, Wind, and Solar power source. (And then only if you drive enough miles.) The environmental advantage for EVs vs ICE from Coal and NG power is not enough to significantly offset the initial environmental deficit from manufacturing that EVs have.

  44. I would love to drive an EV. However, here in Alberta, Canada it’s just not feasible. Unless that elusive global warming comes along, … which it isn’t. In the meantime, I’m stuck with my SUV, to get me through snow in my day to day activities.

  45. SideShowBob says:

    So that’s the main disadvantage however the cost advantage is that they are so much simpler, than car cars, just one moving part effectively, easier to build and service, dirt cheap to run and due to the low centre of gravity the driving performance is actually better. Batteries need to half in price and/or double in density and that’s not far away from here.
    ———————————————————————
    huh? That’s very far from here. Lithium -Ion battery chemistry has been around since the late 80′s. Just because people like you are just becoming acquainted with them in EV’s doesn’t mean that some hitherto unprecedented increase in capacity is just around the bend. There’s not going to be any drastic decrease in price for these EV batteries. In fact the EV prices are being artificially held low through massive subsidization from tax payers.

    A lithium -ion battery system and control circuitry of the size used in an EV is a complicated system and present manufacturing challenges that exceed those of assembly of a conventional gasoline engine. Batteries also have reliability issues, which you won’t find in a conventional car engine. Car/Truck engines can last +million miles. A battery has a very finite lifespan.

    You cannot name one aspect of a modern conventional car that presents any more of a maintenance or service burden than an EV. Show me an EV, and I will show you a conventional car that will outperform it in any real world performance category.

  46. Well electric cars don’t put out any pollution do they ? So who would expect them to have any effect on US pollutant emissions.

    Are you aloud to smoke if you drive a Tesla ?

    [Only if you smoke very, very quietly. Mod]

  47. When you look in the back of a Tesla model S chassis, you see what looks like two electric motors; one for port and one for starboard rear wheel.

    Goody goody, no need for a complicated,, heavy, and low efficiency differential..

    Well no; there is only one electric motor, and there is a conventional rear end differential; so what gives ?

    Evidently, the (DC) batteries, drive a DC-AC rotary inverter, which then puts out three phase AC, presumably at a variable frequency, so the one electric motor, is a nice (very nice) three phase AC motor.

    Now how do you generate 416 HP of three phase AC motor torque and power, from a rotary inverter, unless that battery to AC inverter has at least a 416 HP DC motor inside it somewhere; plus a 416 HP three phase AC alternator, some where else in that can.

    Surely one can generate 416 HP of three phase AC directly from DC batteries, using efficient semiconductor switching inverters. Don’t PV solar cell panels generate 60 (50) Hz AC to drop on the line, and that has to be phase locked to the grid.

    So duz somebody out there really know how Tesla model S drive train really is ?? Some folks would like to know.

  48. Justa Joe says:
    January 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    “There’s not going to be any drastic decrease in price for these EV batteries. ”

    I think you’re underestimating price reduction from larger scale production, that and there is a huge amount of research being carried out in battery technology, we’ve had incremental advances over the past decades, it’s not going to take much from here to double energy density.

    “Batteries also have reliability issues”,
    i think you’re making stuff up

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/hybrids-and-electric-vehicles-do-well-in-reliability-survey/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    “You cannot name one aspect of a modern conventional car that presents any more of a maintenance or service burden than an EV. ”

    Are you serious? not one component? how about the actual combustion motor itself?

    “Show me an EV, and I will show you a conventional car that will outperform it in any real world performance category.”

    Really?! is that why the Tesla Model S won car of the year, outperforming all other gas cars !
    Besides for most people it just about getting from A to B safely, comfortably and cheaply.

  49. wayne Job says:
    January 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    The only electric vehicles that have thus far been successful and invaluable are personal mobility scooters. I am getting older and my choice of mobility scooter will be a harley powered trike with the special white tyres that do not leave skid marks.
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Just drive carefully – besides skid marks wash out. :)

  50. This is the problem when non-car guys all of a sudden become EV enthusiasts, who usually don’t even own an EV.

    “I think you’re underestimating price reduction from larger scale production… it’s not going to take much from here to double energy density.”
    ———————————————-
    The cell used in the Tesla is an off the shelf Panasonic 18650 Li-Ion cell. You cannot get anymore mass production than that. There is no near term projection of that cell doubling in capacity. You’re just spouting uninformed cliché.

    Some NYT blog “survey” about reliability is BS. There are hundreds of millions of conventional gasoline vehicles logging ~trillions of miles in every kind of environment. You cannot even compare an EV’s meager track record to that. Look guy, a big Li-Ion battery system is not bullet proof. Cells and battery packs are recalled en masse for various reasons (including safety) annually. The Fisker was brought down in large part because of A123′s battery problems.

    “Are you serious? not one component? how about the actual combustion motor itself?”
    ————————————————–
    WTH are you talking about? Just explain what part of modern gasoline powered engine’s service or maintenance presents a problem. Keep in mind that an EV will be spend more time idly charging it’s battery than a conventional car will ever spend idle during routine maintenance or fueling.

    “Really?! is that why the Tesla Model S won car of the year, outperforming all other gas cars !”
    —————————————————-
    Gotta love the exclamation point. Winning car of the year means that you outperformed all other cars? The Tesla won car of the year the same way AlGore, Yasser Arafat, and Obama won Nobel ‘Piece’ prizes. Libtards hand out the rewards to libtard causes célèbre. Think of the Tesla as car of the year as a kind of Special Olympic’s award. Below are some other Cars of the Year award winners… yikes!

    1983 AMC / Renault Alliance
    1980 Chevrolet Citation
    1978 Chrysler, Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon
    1975 Chevrolet Monza 2+2

  51. Let’s review:

    – If EVs didn’t depend upon fossil fuels for charging…
    – And if we had battery technology that doesn’t exist…
    – And if we had some way to charge the batteries in a timely manner…
    – And if we gave up on using the A/C, defroster and the heater…
    – And if we had some way to safely dispose of the batteries…
    – And if batteries didn’t depend upon rare earth minerals…
    – And if the electric grid capacity was increased to handle the increased demand widespread use of EVs requires..
    – And if we had every home rewired to include an EV charging station..
    – And if we had every parking lot and parking garage rewired for EV charging…
    – And if they were only cost-competitive with conventional vehicles…

    Then EVs are the perfect form of personal transportation! I’m surprised we haven’t passed a law already that will make all this happen?

    All sarcasm aside, does anybody remember the hydrogen vehicle push from last decade? Dennis Weaver (TV’s “McCloud”) spent the last years of his life promoting the vehicle (and energy supply of the future). If the USA would only spend $20 billion dollars, the supporters told us, we would have the infrastructure in place to convert all our automobiles to hydrogen power.

    Except that never happened, and not for lack of trying or lack of wishful thinking, The hoped-for breakthroughs never happened. Wishing something to be true is not the same as having the science, technology and production capacity necessary to make things happen.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope that someday we will have cleaner fuels and greater energy efficiency. I wish we could just pull virtual particles out of the the ether like John Galt’s zero-point energy motor. So if that ever happens, you get a practical EV on the market, just ping me and I’ll buy one.

    ~more soylent green!

  52. more soylent green! says:
    January 23, 2014 at 8:15 am

    “Let’s review:

    Then EVs are the perfect form of personal transportation! ”

    Yet they work perfectly well already

  53. Justa Joe says:
    January 23, 2014 at 6:43 am

    The question originally was

    “You cannot name one aspect of a modern conventional car that presents ANY MORE of a maintenance or service BURDEN than an EV. ”

    Since an EV car does not have an engine the logical answer is an engine..

    but now you’ve changed it to

    “Just explain what part of modern gasoline powered engine’s service or maintenance presents a PROBLEM”

    My answer is I don’t think there is a problem with a gas engine, just that it’s an extra service BURDEN, which was my original point, so after all that we’ve come full circle and you’ve waisted my time, so thanks for waisting mine

  54. SideShowBob:

    At January 23, 2014 at 8:15 am ‘more soylent green!’ wrote

    Let’s review:

    – If EVs didn’t depend upon fossil fuels for charging…
    – And if we had battery technology that doesn’t exist…
    – And if we had some way to charge the batteries in a timely manner…
    – And if we gave up on using the A/C, defroster and the heater…
    – And if we had some way to safely dispose of the batteries…
    – And if batteries didn’t depend upon rare earth minerals…
    – And if the electric grid capacity was increased to handle the increased demand widespread use of EVs requires..
    – And if we had every home rewired to include an EV charging station..
    – And if we had every parking lot and parking garage rewired for EV charging…
    – And if they were only cost-competitive with conventional vehicles…

    Then EVs are the perfect form of personal transportation!

    At January 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm your reply to that says in total

    Yet they work perfectly well already

    which, of course, is deluded nonsense for all the reasons listed by ‘more soylent green!’.

    And you immediately follow that with a post at January 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm which complains that YOUR time has been wasted!

    SideShowBob, read the list from ‘more soylent green!’ and it is clear why the time has been wasted reading your posts by everybody who read them.

    Richard

  55. Yes SSB, I did have to re-phrase my question since you so miserably whiffed in your attempt to answer the 1st time.

    “Since an EV car does not have an engine the logical answer is an engine..”

    Not big on specificity huh?… What maintenance is it that you must perform on “the actual combustion motor itself” as you say that exceeds the maintenance required for the battery system and electric motor(s) of an EV?

    “Tesla Model S Service Contract: $600/Year, Or Warranty Voided”

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1079637_tesla-model-s-service-contract-600-year-or-warranty-voided

    To maintain the warranty, the suckers simply have to bring their Model S to a Tesla service facility every 12 months or 12,500 miles for an annual inspection/service. The base fee for this is $600. Who would have thought “maintenance free” would have been so expensive and time consuming.

  56. richardscourtney says:
    January 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    “which, of course, is deluded nonsense for all the reasons listed by ‘more soylent green!’.”

    Sure, there are no working EV on the road today, they simply don’t exist /sarc off

  57. Justa Joe says:
    January 23, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    LOL if you’ve never service a car or are incapable of using google to look up information on servicing a petrol engine I really can’t help your kind of stupid

  58. richardscourtney says:
    January 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    “SideShowBob, read the list from ‘more soylent green!’ …”

    I have read them! but let me answer those points more just for fun

    – If EVs didn’t depend upon fossil fuels for charging…

    So what ! If you don’t believe in global warming whats wrong with extracting and burning fossil fuels, puts mining communities to work and BTW lot of utility people on here would be very happy about that, ridiculous statement

    – And if we had battery technology that doesn’t exist…

    I’m going to assume you mean advanced battery technology, after all okay battery technology exists today… as I said we just need a doubling in energy density to double the range, and a drop in price, this can be achieved via incremental advances from here on in over the next decade

    – And if we had some way to charge the batteries in a timely manner…

    Overnight charging is good enough for most people, they don’t need the fast chargers

    – And if we gave up on using the A/C, defroster and the heater…

    Ridiculous thing so say, EV are very popular in Norway and California

    – And if we had some way to safely dispose of the batteries…

    It’s called recycling

    – And if batteries didn’t depend upon rare earth minerals…

    Again it’s called recycling

    – And if the electric grid capacity was increased to handle the increased demand widespread use of EVs requires..

    Absolute false assumption, the issue that utility provides will face in the future is demand erosion, not excess demand! Heaven forbid they sell too much electricity and need to upgrade the grid, utilities (which make money from grid upgrades) won’t like that at all ! /sarc off

    – And if we had every home rewired to include an EV charging station..

    LOL ridiculous statement, how on earth are EV charged today?

    – And if we had every parking lot and parking garage rewired for EV charging…

    You would wire every single one, every single parking spot ??? don’t you think that have just a few is enough for now and expanding as required

    – And if they were only cost-competitive with conventional vehicles…

    As with any new tech they’ll come down in price, I think they’ll be cheaper in the long run, certainly the cost of ownership is cheaper now in the long run

  59. I obviously know a lot more about cars than you since I’m not on here (like you) suggesting that EV’s or any other complex machine can be maintenance free while also exaggerating the amount of maintenance required by modern internal combustion engine equipped vehicles in an attempt to tout the alleged superior performance of the EV of which only you seem to be aware. You’ve been called out on this thread about spreading a lot of mis-information, and now apparently instead of substantiating the bull you’ve been spreading you want to be a jerk about it. I’ve met enthusiasts of various makes of cars. Some are quite partisan for their favorite car. Most still stay within the bounds of reality when discussing and comparing the relative performance specifications of cars but not the EV nutz

  60. SideShowBob says:
    January 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm
    “… certainly the cost of ownership [EV] is cheaper now in the long run”
    ———————————————-
    I guess it would be asking too much for any kind of numbers to back this up.

  61. Justa Joe says:
    January 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Joe I shouldn’t have to get these numbers for you, do a google search yourself, but see here for exmple

    http://www.plugincars.com/total-cost-ownership-cheaper-electric-cars-study-proves-127503.html

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomkonrad/2012/04/18/report-electric-cars-cost-less-but-watch-the-assumptions/

    Now look at the first you tube clip…

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/23/wheel-electric-motor-company-denmark-ecomove/

    Now I want you to look me in the eye and tell me if you think a petrol engine, comprising a

    large cooling system
    a motor/block/cam/crank/piston/timing bent/cylinders/distributor/ect
    fuel injection system
    differential/transmission/gear box
    exhaust system

    does not have any extra maintenance burden than a

    small cooling system
    and two or four such small and simple in-build electric wheel drives…

    If you say that all of those extra components do not have any extra maintenance burden, then I’ll say no more

  62. @Sideshow Bob:

    Why haven’t EVs taken over the world? Is it another corporatist conspiracy behind the continued predominance of the internal combustion engine? Even with millions of tax payer subsidies and other price supports, few EVs are sold. The buyers, BTW, are almost universally people with above average means.

    And I’m happy you know so well what I need or what the average person needs. It makes you wonder why they don’t sell more conventional cars with 5 gallon gas tanks that can be easily topped off every night when the owners get home? Could it be we actually need vehicles with more than 50 or 100 mile range between recharges? Could it be we actually need to sometimes travel away from home and can’t stop overnight and wait for a recharge after we drive 100 miles?

    What about people who don’t own their own homes? How will they possibly recharge their EVs if we don’t rewire the public parking lots?

    Then again, if you say we don’t need it, I guess we don’t.

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