Another electric car company bites the dust

From Slashdot:

After years of beautiful concept cars, envy-inspiring demos, and missed production targets starting in 2008, high-efficiency car startup Aptera is liquidating its assets.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Apteracar1.jpg/320px-Apteracar1.jpg

Aptera 2e electric three wheeler

A pointed excerpt from Wired’s account:

“The truth is, Aptera always faced long odds and has been in trouble for at least two years. The audience for a sperm-shaped, three-wheeled, electric two-seater was never anything but small. It didn’t help that production of the 2e — at one point promised for October 2009 — was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream.

Aptera had a small window in which to be a first mover in the affordable EV space, and that window closed the moment the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt hit the market. At that point, Aptera teetered on the brink of irrelevance.”

While I like the idea of electric cars for city travel (I have one a bit more practical than that above) I’ll admit that they don’t make much sense for an everyday family car, and making a car that looks like something out of a Woody Allen movie puts an even greater damper on the marketability issue.

The reason that many electrics are three wheelers are due to arcane laws in the USA that allow three wheelers to be licensed as motorcycles, with no upwards spped limit or crash testing required, while four wheelers must be limited to 25mph (40km/hr) as NEV’s (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) or must go through crash testing that cost upwards to half a million dollars. While Leaf and Volt have passed that (Since Nissan and GM have deep pockets) it leaves the smaller companies struggling to find a niche outside of the limited “Ed Begely Junior” market.

Here’s a look at Leaf and Volt EV sales in the US from The Daily Bayonet:

===================================================

Nissan sold 672 Leaf vehicles and GM sold 1139 Volts.

Nissan is still far in the lead with a grand total for the calendar year at 8720, though GM is slowly closing the gap at 6142 sales. Note that for comparison purposes, the 326 Volts sold in December 2010 are not included. To balance this, Volts which spontaneously combust are not deducted from total sales, despite the total loss of vehicle, and sometimes the home too.

Whether or not stories of fiery Volts will affect future sales remains to be seen, though for a car in its early stages of adoption to require complex ‘power-down’ procedures in the event of accidents isn’t a good sign. Imagine if Ford had advised Pinto owners to follow a protocol to drain the gas tank after a collision. Not good.

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132 thoughts on “Another electric car company bites the dust

  1. Many years ago I was involved in trying to build a practical electric car for UK use.

    I wrote about for Jeff Id here:

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

    It is not a perfect account, with hindsight I could have explained some things at greater length and dropped others. Ah well none of us are perfect.

    Nevertheless it taught me all about electric cars and I have kept up my interest.

    Mostly for amusement: we did all that and learnt from it over thirty years ago.

    Still vast fortunes, mainly of the taxpayers money are to be paid to reinvent the wheel: usually square ones. If it is private money well; that’s fine.

    I don’t know what it is that has got into the heads of an older generation such as myself who saw the technology back then as the future after the oil crisis of 74.except that it did not work then as we found out: and will not work today.

    It is all a dream of what, I suppose, they think should have happened in some thirty years time. But it did not because it cannot. Life is not the movies where wonders happen. And yet these people believe in Hollywood miracles. And imagine by passing laws they can make it so.

    Beyond this I have little to say other than Lithium is too thermally unstable to make of a good traction battery. I merely await the time when some Glitterati gets incinerated by their latest whatever.

    Kindest Regards

  2. I designed and built an electric bicycle many years ago, and have been keeping track of electric vehicles ever since. I would own an electric now, but it just doesn’t make sense. My daily commute is 5 miles round trip and that only takes 7 gallons of gas per month. Therefore, an electric would never pay off its up-front cost. So the niche for an all-electric car is a longer commute than mine, but not too long as to shorten battery lifetime. Plus it has to be a second car because it just can’t do all the jobs a typical American uses a car for. These factors determine that electrics will always be niche cars, but at least the advent of lithium batteries makes them far more competitive than the lead-acid powered GM EV1.

  3. Silly and impractical. Less worthy than those dangerous mini-coopers that infest the roads and must be avoided lest a real car hurt someone. Someone watched too many The Jetsons shows.

  4. A little unfair to the Chevy Volt, which won’t burst into flames until a few days after the event. Apparently something of a trickling time bomb

    “The fire broke out seven days later. Not seven minutes. Not seven seconds,” Akerson said, adding that the company wants to fix the problem so people continue to have faith in Volts and other advanced technology cars. The company is notified of any Volt crash through its OnStar safety system and dispatches a team with 48 hours to drain the battery, preventing fires, he said.

    I don’t know if that 48 hours is two business days. ;-)

    Note to crash-repairers: Keep any crashed Chevy Volt well away from other vehicle and flammable materials. And don’t inhale if the smoke blows your way.

    RIddle me this: With all the known lithium resources (roughly 2kg/capita globally) locked up in “environmentally friendly” batteries, will the only pink flamingos we see be made out of plastic?

  5. redc1c4 says: December 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm
    did they only waste the investors money, or were there tax dollars involved also?
    ————————————————————
    Not much taxpayer money in the Aptera. Big Government money (about $1 billion) did go to Fisker and Tesla. The high dollar Fisker (about twice the price of a Chevy Volt) is built in Finland but they keep saying they will open an assembly plant in the US. The $105K Tesla is assembled in the US, but heavily based on the British Lotus Elise.

  6. pat says:
    December 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I guess you haven’t seen a Smart car. The first one I saw was on its side. It apparently couldn’t handle an exit ramp from CDG north of Paris. The bus driver stopped briefly to photograph it with his cell phone. That’s a toy car that can kill real people. I prefer a solid steel Suburban.

  7. Motoring enthusiasts (like myself) won’t like electric cars until they figure out how to make them with a standard manual transmission.

    The real fundamental problem with them as I see it is that with a car that runs on liquid (or gas) fuels, you can “recharge” them within the space of 4-5 minutes, whereas an electric requires many hours to fully recharge the battery.

  8. Aptera (genus), a genus of cockroaches
    Another bottom feeding adventure in gay alternative energy and motive marketing, without engineering or economic credibility, ‘another one bites the dust’! It’s socialist cronyism dressed up in capitalist drag.
    “…And another one gone (Solyndra) and another one gone (Evergreen Solar) and another on bites the dust (Aptera)! Hey! Hey!”

  9. Even with deep pockets these EV’s are no where near “ready for prime time”, if they ever will be….

  10. They need to get over to the UK it’ll be Electric car heaven here. Latest headline in the Sunday Times “Huhne plans 32,000 more wind turbines and new nuclear plants……The energy secretary wants to convert all Britain’s vehicles and homes to run on electricity by 2050.”

    Link here (but behind paywall).
    http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Environment/article835755.ece

    I climbed on the back of a giant albatross which flew through a crack in the cloud to a place where happiness reigned all year round;>)

  11. John Brookes says:
    December 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Why the snide & gleeful tone?

    Because it was not only predictable, but inevitable – but the “green” team refused to hear us. “Hey! There’s a cliff over there! You’re heading right for it! LOOK OUT!”
    Now we’re supposed to act surprised?

  12. A while back, I visited the Aptera website, and was very turned off by the deceptive claim regarding gas mileage. Many readers would have said: Oh, isn’t that wonderful! But it wasn’t. The figure was based on an assumption that most of your energy consumption while driving would come from electric power that the batteries stored while the infernal machine was plugged in. They could have said that if were able to plug in whenever you wanted, and if you drove at a sufficiently slow speed, that you could drive across the USA, with zero petrol consumption. That would have been more honest. The number that they gave was garbage. I think that Aptera deserves to go belly-up.

  13. I am not sure why you would bother, when you can get an old Porche 911 and fit it with a decent electric engine. It can even give the original model a decent challenge, apparently as the engine is that much lighter, I am told. The balance is better because the batteries re mid-car, and the rest is pretty much the same. As batteries get cheaper, so will these.

    I’d imagine the car could benefit from brakes that recharge the battery, but that probably requires some safety testing.

  14. When I need to add miles to my vehicle, it takes about five minutes to put enough chemical potential energy into it for 300+ miles of non-stop driving (sans bio-breaks).

    At the time when EV can meet or beat that, they will become viable.

  15. Very cute looking coal-powered vehicle. I’ll admit they are snappier looking than your average golf cart.

    I wonder if all the little children at SlashDot are still calling them Electric rather than Coal powered. Kids. You gotta love them.

  16. That’s a shame as the hybrid version was going to do over 300mpg (358mpg imp)
    Back in 2008 I worked out that it would pay for itself in 4 years with just the Fuel Duty and VAT I wouldn’t then be paying to Her Majesties UK Gov from travelling to work.

    That’s why these projects fail .

  17. As soon as the eco-nutters find out that no battery will take you more than 50 miles and that CO2 does not drive climate these stupid toys will all go the way of the dinosaurs.

  18. The range of modern electric cars is around the same as those made in 1895 – nothing like Green Government funding, using taxpayers money, to prove how utterly out of touch with reality our Western Politicians are!

  19. @John Marshall et al

    You see that’s where this one was different. It has that Jetson shape because it is more efficient allowing the batteries to take you further than 50 miles (and at real driving speeds) The hybrid (tiny ic engine in the nose) wasn’t going to be used to power the wheels but only to recharge the battery. So the battery charging problem and the hours it takes are solved while you are away from home.

    That’s why I am sad to see the Aptera bite the dust, This one genuinely made more efficient use of resources. An improvement over our current technologies.

    Going forward doesn’t always have to mean more of the same

    Dave

  20. This is the first year of the only series production EV: NIssan Leaf. Sales cannot exceed production and Nissan will naturally price gouge early adopters and suck up the subsidies.

    Chevy Volt is just a poor quality hybrid with a large battery. It’s a reminder of how far behind US car technology has slipped. nobody outside the US is going to buy one no more than non-americans want to buy a chrysler or a cadillac. Hybrids lose one advantage of EVs which is the low depreciation and maintenance costs of a car with no engine.

    Gasoline price in Europe is 2X US pump price ($7.50-$8/ US gallon), so that changes the decision to purchase. Many families have a 2nd car used for city driving which a leaf can handle. Nissan has clearly made progress at reducing the $/kwh but we don’t know how far they’ve gone or will go.

    Electric cars balance well with a heavy wind infrastructure, allowing intermittent charging at cheap rates during the average 23 hours per day when a car is not in use. There is also the possibility of the car battery being used to arbitrage electricity for domestic use; Leaf has both AC & DC connectors so your domestic electricity could come from your car battery which had stored the power during a cheap period.

    So, early days yet. Range is only half what it should be and fast charging stations are not rolled out yet and not fast enough. When there are a few more cars in the marketplace and production is over 1million/year and we have 5 minute charging stations at every gas station then we’ll see how it goes.

  21. If you like electric, it makes a whole lot more sense to buy a golf cart. Same short range, same total lack of safety, same low cost of operation when used within its proper limits. But the initial cost is vastly less than these super-fancy concept cars, and it uses plain old lead-acid batteries available everywhere.

    Many cities are making golf carts legal for travel inside residential zones.

  22. This is what Jerry Pournelle said about Ed Begley Jrs’ wind mill when asked recently:

    http://jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=3751

    “Ed took down his little wind turbine the last time he had the roof worked on. It just wasn’t cost effective, which is hardly surprising; winds strong enough to generate real power are rare in Los Angeles except in a Santa Ana season and when that happens the wind may be too strong. It was an experiment.

    Ed is not naïve about all this, and he keeps good records about the cost of living off the grid, or trying to. I’m trying to get him and Niven together to do solar panels for Niven’s house: given the tax credits and subsidies it might be a good idea for Niven, who doesn’t live in the LA power district. Without the subsidies it wouldn’t be a consideration, but if you are already paying a lot in taxes, the tax credits for doing “green” can cover a great deal of the capital costs, and that changes the picture a lot. Solar works for some times and places; wind is a great deal less likely to be cost effective or even affordable.”

  23. Here in the UK, slavering ecoMENTAList Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Chris (I was not driving that speeding car!) Huhne plans 32000 more bird shredders and has equally rabid plans to replace all petrol and diesel powered cars and vans (30 million of them) by 2050.

  24. The Sunday Times
    …’Huhne plans to build 32,000 wind turbines.’ And many thousand more transmission pylons.
    …The energy secretary wants to convert all Britains vehicles and homes to run on electricity by 2050. Doubling electricity production. Almost all of it to come from wind and nuclear.

    …End of the road for petrol cars.

    He announced this from Westminster while jumping up and down furiously on a pogo stick, and playing a sousaphone. Several doves flew out out of a large green balloon as it exploded high over the speakers chair, as he waved his report in the air, which changed unexpectedly into a bunch of begonias, to great cheers and clapping from the benches.

  25. People are at last realising that as long as we have fossil fueled electrical production, a European turbo-diesel is much more efficient (and practical) than an electric vehicle.

    When we finally go to 100% Thorium power the scales will tip in favour of electric vehicles, but we will still be in need of a much better energy storage medium.

    .

  26. As far as federal subsidies, they had been trying for two years to get 150 million dollars. They said they were close ……. Thankfully not close enough.

    This article does not comment on any previous subsidies they may have obtained. They definitely would have qualified for some form of tax credits or tax break or both which is probably what kept them in “business” for this long.

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20111202/AUTO01/112020441/1361/California-auto-start-up-Aptera-shuts-down

  27. It really is hard to beat gasoline as a way of storing energy. Coal powered car? Most of Germany’s fighter aircraft in WWII were coal powered. They made aviation gasoline from coal.

  28. Arnold Ring (@ArnoldRing) says:
    December 4, 2011 at 2:40 am
    “So, early days yet. Range is only half what it should be and fast charging stations are not rolled out yet and not fast enough. When there are a few more cars in the marketplace and production is over 1million/year and we have 5 minute charging stations at every gas station then we’ll see how it goes.”

    The problem is not the charging station but the batteries who just refuse to be charged in five minutes. But let’s just assume we pump 50 kWh into a battery in 5 minutes. What amperage do we need? Let’s assume 200V DC, a typical voltage for larger battery bundles.

    200V at 1A would charge 200W, or 200 Wh per hour.
    At 5A we would charge 1 kWh per hour. At 250 A we would charge 50kWh per hour.

    Sounds realistic. Let’s now assume a 90% efficiency of the charging process, so we have 10% heat loss, some in the battery and some in the charger. We lose a total of 5kWh (10% of 50 kWh), and we lose these 5kWh within 5 minutes (our charging time) – so we have a heating power of 1kWh/minute or 60kW.

    Now imagine 10 cars at the E-station charging simultaneously, on a hot summer day, 100 deg F outside temperature, together heating up their environment with a grand total of 600 kW…

    I could go on for hours like this… Next imagine the wiring you have to install to supply all the E-Stations in a city with electricity.

    Electric car proponents simply have no idea what huge amounts of energy constantly flow through our gas pipelines, and how much cables and transformers and pylons would be needed to replace that with electricity infrastructure…
    realtime energy im + export for Denmark; electricity and Natgas pipelines:
    http://www.energinet.dk/Flash/Forside/index.html

  29. Jer0me says:
    December 4, 2011 at 1:44 am
    “I am not sure why you would bother, when you can get an old Porche 911 and fit it with a decent electric engine. It can even give the original model a decent challenge, apparently as the engine is that much lighter, I am told. The balance is better because the batteries re mid-car, and the rest is pretty much the same. ”

    Jerome, do you have any idea how heavy a Li-Ion battery is? The battery used in current Mercedes S class hybrids is Li-Ion; 42 kg of these batteries contain, when charged, as much energy as 100g TNT, as we once computed for fun.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

    The weight of the engine becomes rather irrelevant in this regard.

  30. Simeon Higgs says:
    December 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    The real fundamental problem with them as I see it is that with a car that runs on liquid (or gas) fuels, you can “recharge” them within the space of 4-5 minutes, whereas an electric requires many hours to fully recharge the battery.

    ======

    A valid point. If you read the article a.jones links to above http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/electric-cars/ , It’s entirely possible that you will never be able to charge an electric battery at that rate. Too many watts. Too little time. Their answer — which might work — was that you haul into a “gas” station and a machine swaps your (standardized) battery for a fully charged battery in a couple of minutes.

    Might work.

    It’s a good article.

  31. DirkH says:
    December 4, 2011 at 5:29 am
    “200V at 1A would charge 200W, or 200 Wh per hour.
    At 5A we would charge 1 kWh per hour. At 250 A we would charge 50kWh per hour. ”

    Oh – I completely forgot, we wanted to charge the battery not in an hour, but in 5 minutes; so make that 12*250 = 3 kA. How big will the cable be? At 30 A/mm^2 we get 100mm^2. Not too impractical. Heat loss will be the bigger problem, as detailed above.

  32. “Gary Mount says:
    December 4, 2011 at 3:19 am
    …..but if you are already paying a lot in taxes, the tax credits for doing “green” can cover a great deal of the capital costs,”

    At who’s expense? About 2 years ago, there was an article in in our local newspaper. A local auto dealership owner had solar system installed at his home. Cost $50,000.00. His cost $26,000.00: Taxpayer’s cost $24,000.00. And, he is allowed to sale electricity to AEP.

  33. I just wanted to clarify that in no normal situation did the Ford Pinto explode after being rear ended by another vehicle. However, in some cases the gas tank was punctured by the steel bumper hitting it and gas was released from the tank. This issue was over hyped by some ABC reporters that could only get the vehicle to explode if they detonated a small amount of explosive after the impact and well, there is no story if there is no big boom or fire. This sounds a lot like what is happening right now with regards to the Volt. Oh, and the factory recall fix for the Pinto was to bolt a 1/4″ piece of plastic between the bumper and the gas tank.

  34. What I find astounding is that companies like Aptera thought there was actually a profitable market for this kind of thing. Didn’t they do any market research?

  35. First the good stuff. Electric motors are great! They acheive nearly 100% efficient power conversion, produce tremendous torque even from standstill, are beautifully quiet and emit no nonsene fumes. Unfortunately, they will never replace the dirty inefficient internal combustion engine.

    There is no solution to the battery problem. Any attempts to increase charge capacity is little more than tinkering with the problem. Unless you can get recharging times down to the order of 5 minutes, then rolling out recharging stations is an expensive waste of effort. Imagine the queues that would form with even a 30 minute recharging time.

    The idea that has been floated, of swapping batteries instead of recharging them, also won’t work. These batteries weigh 200kg. How many cars visit an average filling station every hour? Several stations I know almost always have queues of cars waiting impatiently for the ranks of 8 or more pumps to become free. Where they are going to store thousands of batteries each bigger than the suitcase a celebrity takes on holiday beats me.

    Then there is the ownership issue. At the moment, all batteries are the property of the car owner who is ultimately responsible for replacing them. No motorist would allow a new battery to be swapped for an older one. So before you even begin such a program, battery ownership would have to be separated from car ownership, a matter that has not even been considered so far.

    Batteries suck!

  36. Bernd Felsche says:
    December 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm
    “A little unfair to the Chevy Volt, which won’t burst into flames until a few days after the event. Apparently something of a trickling time bomb”

    I guess that depends on the severity of the accident.
    Reminds me of the Man vs Wild episode, where Bear Grylls cuts into a cell phone Lithium battery to start a fire. Lithium reacts with the O2 in the atmosphere with fiery results.

  37. GM’s pockets are only as deep as the American tax payers pockets are deep, and my pocket is getting shallower and shallower.

  38. old construction worker says:

    December 4, 2011 at 6:17 am

    “Gary Mount says:
    December 4, 2011 at 3:19 am
    …..but if you are already paying a lot in taxes, the tax credits for doing “green” can cover a great deal of the capital costs,”

    Just to clarify, this is what Jerry pournelle says, not I.
    I hope none of this foolishness makes its way to my province (B.C.), our carbon tax and forced carbon offset regime for schools and hospitals is bad enough.
    The next election in B.C. will be lost to the socialists N.D.P. if we join the Western Climate Initiative.
    Let Christy Clark know that everybody ;-) (The BC Conservative Party will be stealing her votes, already at 13%, enough for her to lose) Thank goodness the election isn’t until 2013.

  39. Vince Causey says:

    Batteries suck!

    ==============

    Indeed they do.

    The battery the British were looking at for their EV was a Nickel-Zinc Drumm Cell. Might be cheap enough for battery exchange to be feasible. … If the mechanics of who is liable for the cost of defective batteries can be dealt with. Maybe the cost of battery failure insurance is built into the cost of the recharged battery … Maybe … or maybe that can’t work.

    ===============

    I’m a bit skeptical that a reliable 5 minute recharge of a battery that can trundle a vehicle hundreds of kilometers is possible. That seems a lot of Energy that has to drive chemical reactions without exploding anything, boiling working fluids, creating metallic whiskers that short the battery, or welding stuff that wasn’t intended to be welded together.

  40. Vince Causey says:
    December 4, 2011 at 6:42 am
    First the good stuff. Electric motors are great! They achieve nearly 100% efficient power conversion…

    You have missed the component where an original energy source such as coal has to be converted to electrical power, then transmitted to the charging station to charge the battery, loosing quantities of energy all along the way.

    As for the battery swap idea. I grew up in the manufactured energy crisis years of the 70’s, had a keen interest in all things renewable energy back then, did a presentation to my science class in grade 11 (plus or minus 2 years) on solar power. It would be a couple of decades before “green” replaced “energy efficient”. And that battery swap idea was mentioned in articles I read during the energy crisis era. 40 plus years later and its all Déjà Vu to me today.

  41. none of these ever seem to account for needing to heat the vehicle.
    in maine I see -15f or lower easily, and heating with a battery fails.

  42. Pure EVs that only rely on stored energy will never be prime-time as a result of lacking energy density and recharge times. They’ll have a niche in short and mid-range transportation. To bring the benefits of EV to bear, a limited amount of storage capacity must be combined with on-board generation of power (comparable to diesel-electric trains). A useful partner would be a generator powered by compressed natural gas, a small turbo-diesel engine and at the end of the decade hydrogen fuel cell technology should be ready to deployment.

  43. My view was that until cars have a 400 mile range, and quick recharging times, they will never become popular.

    However, I read something recently that made me change my mind. What matters is hybrids, with batteries for a 50 mile range. That covers most journeys, and with regenerative breaking, it becomes longer. You don’t need the long range, you need a short range in an existing car, so that most journeys become electrical, and so long as the cost is cheap, people will go for it.

  44. Don K says:

    A valid point. If you read the article a.jones links to above http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/electric-cars/ , It’s entirely possible that you will never be able to charge an electric battery at that rate. Too many watts. Too little time. Their answer — which might work — was that you haul into a “gas” station and a machine swaps your (standardized) battery for a fully charged battery in a couple of minutes.

    This isn’t even a new idea. I recall seeing an artist’s impression of such a station 30 odd years ago. Though there are some rather difficult engineering issues when it comes to being able to have a 50kg battery which can be easily replaced, but will stay firmly in position at all other times. (Including in the case of a collision.)

  45. dmacleo says:
    December 4, 2011 at 7:40 am

    none of these ever seem to account for needing to heat the vehicle.
    in maine I see -15f or lower easily, and heating with a battery fails.

    =======

    Right on. And how are you supposed to keep your windshield clear of frost without heat? The answer is probably either a simple kerosene heater, or heat from a so called “serial hybrid” where the battery is continuously charged by a small gasoline engine that runs at a fixed speed and is tuned for maximum power at that speed.

  46. >>dmacleo says: December 4, 2011 at 7:40 am
    >>None of these ever seem to account for needing to heat the vehicle.
    >>In Maine I see -15f or lower easily, and heating with a battery fails.

    No problems, Dmacleo, its all in the small-print of your car owners manual.

    Summer range of vehicle — 80 miles.
    Winter range of vehicle, with cabin heater, seat heater, lights, windscreen wiper and window de-misters all in operation — 5 miles.

    Come, come, now Sir – did you not read the small print when you bought the vehicle??

    .

    Oh, these Greens, don’t you love-em? I regard this as Darwin’s Evolution in action – science operating in front of our very eyes, with the stupid and gullible going bankrupt and back to the Dark Ages in quality of life.

    A colleague (a physicist) has already suffered a divorce and complete loss of quality of life due his Green obsession. He went for solar heating, but stupidly disconnected the gas heating system. After two winters with no heating, his wife divorced him – and, this being the UK, it was he that was kicked out of the house.

    What did Darwin call it? Ah, yes, I remember — Survival of the Skeptical.

    .

  47. In 2011 “GM sold 1139 Volts.”

    Down with the 0.03%! To make us equal we must all be “given” Volts!

  48. Mark says:
    December 4, 2011 at 8:23 am
    “This isn’t even a new idea. I recall seeing an artist’s impression of such a station 30 odd years ago. Though there are some rather difficult engineering issues when it comes to being able to have a 50kg battery which can be easily replaced, but will stay firmly in position at all other times. (Including in the case of a collision.)”

    A Jones experiences date back to the 70ies. Also, “a 50kg battery”? Well that’s a battery for a hybrid with a few km of electric range. Make it more like 1000kg for an EV with 100 miles range. 40, 50kg give you 5 kWh.

  49. Has no one on WUWT ever heard of Better Place? Their model won’t work everywhere right off the bat but it should fulfill the needs of most of us.

  50. John Brookes says:
    December 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Why the snide & gleeful tone?
    ___________________________________
    Because of the insanity.

    The USA is closing down Hydro electric plants because of the little fishes and “Scenic Wild Rivers.” The USA is closing down Coal plants because of the EPA. The USA is has not brought any new Nuclear on line for decades and is planning to close at least one Nuclear plant (Oyster Creek ) early. NIMBYs are agitating to have the rest of the US nuclear plants shut down. Over 14,000 wind mills have been abandoned in the USA and Abandoned Solar Farms Clutter California Desert

    So where the heck are we going to get our electricity? TREADMILLS in every school???

    We are looking at major brownouts across the country and you want to ADD the power draw of a few million electric vehicles?

    Because of the physics and engineering.

    When you produce electric energy the conversion efficiency is from 40% to 85% to 90% (hydro) the world average is 39%

    “…lead-acid batteries dominate the energy storage markets is that the conversion efficiency of lead-acid cells at 85%-95% is much higher than Nickel-Cadmium (a.k.a. NiCad) at 65%, Alkaline (a.k.a. NiFe) at 60%…” http://www.vonwentzel.net/Battery/00.Glossary/

    …Lithium chemistry batteries are replacing Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) and Nickel Metal-hydride (NiMH) types in many fixed and portable applications due to their higher energy
    storage density relative to both weight and volume. As larger Lithium chemistry batteries are designed, managing the waste heat generated by the ever higher high charge and discharge currents becomes an increasing challenge. Prevention of excessive temperature rise in Lithium chemistry cell packs has always been a major design issue. Most Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cells must not be charged above 45°C or discharged above 60°C. These limits can be pushed a bit higher, but at the expense of cycle life….

    The waste heat energy that causes temperature rise
    in Lithium chemistry batteries comes from several sources….
    70% conversion efficiency.
    http://www.micro-power.com/userfiles/file/mp_tempcharge-1250026530.pdf

    Electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml

    So the conversion efficiency is ~40% X ~70% X ~ 75% or about 20% That is about the same as a stock gas engine.

    Combustion engines are 10-50% Stock gas engine is 20% efficient (high performance 34%) http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/102spring2002_web_projects/z.yates/zach%27s%20web%20project%20folder/eice%20-%20main.htm

    Research on Internal Combustion engines and Hydrogen as fuel: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/28890yy.pdf

    It would seem from this paper the poor energy efficiency of Internal Combustion engines is due to nothing more than poor engine design. I know of a researcher (old boy friend) who had been part of the team who came up with an engine modification that turned a 12 MPG 8 cylinder gas guzzler into an efficient 50-plus mile an hour car. We went out to dinner to celebrate the successful pilot tests on a stock vehicle in 1986. But as usual the invention disappeared. Heck my 8 cylinder 1976 cutlass got better gas milage (27 MPG) than any of my recent 6 cylinder, lighter weight vehicles.

    From my point of view, if you want an electric car couple it with back yard solar panels that either charge a second set of batteries or are used to charge the batteries in the vehicle. That makes a lot more sense than all the chasing our tails with feeding back and forth to the National grid.

    Also I sure as heck hope you are pushing thorium nuclear.

    It is a most interesting line of research. They are even looking at thorium for ships and for cars. Should work for locomotives too.

    U.S. Researcher Preparing Prototype Cars Powered by Heavy-Metal Thorium: http://wardsauto.com/ar/thorium_power_car_110811/

    A Metal for the U.S. Navy (2009) http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4376842

    Thorium Nuclear report for UK Gov’t (The issue was brought up to the House of Lords) http://www.thorea.org/publications/ThoreaReportFinal.pdf

  51. Mark

    This isn’t even a new idea. I recall seeing an artist’s impression of such a station 30 odd years ago. Though there are some rather difficult engineering issues when it comes to being able to have a 50kg battery which can be easily replaced, but will stay firmly in position at all other times. (Including in the case of a collision.)

    Just put wheels and a tongue on the battery packs and tow them around as little trailers. ^_^

    Then we can all watch secretaries try to parallel park in the middle of city traffic.

    The only solution to the battery problem is to get rid of the batteries by using electrified roads, but the problems with that are probably even worse.

  52. Buy all you can, you rich(er than you think) 25-year olds):in 30 years these will be historic, worth-a-fortunes. Like the DeLorean. Or an Edsel. Unfortunately, unlike my current Jeep-with-a-snorkel gas-guzzling pig.

  53. Here’s another thought: Just act as if the electric car is a “horseless carriage” and limit the speed to 5 MPH. At that speed you no longer need a windshield (and probably don’t need doors, either). Everyone just bundles up for whatever the ambient temperature is. Your battery would probably last about the same amount of time that you could stand being in the car. And after your trip, you would probably put off being in the car long enough that the battery could easily be recharged. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  54. Arnold Ring (@ArnoldRing) says:

    I’m not sure why you feel the need to promote “EV’s”, but I have many disagreements with some of the things that you have stated, which are completely unrealistic. I won’t even mention your inaccurate disparagement of US auto manufacturers.

    Electric cars balance well with a heavy wind infrastructure, allowing intermittent charging at cheap rates during the average 23 hours per day when a car is not in use.

    Since when does “wind infrastructure” provide for cheap electricity? My daily driven car is not in use for only one hour per day, and I don’t think that most people will be able to charge their car unless they are at their personal residence. Even if you can look at the average amount of daily time that a car is not in use and come up with a low number you still must allow for the times when the car is in use for extended periods of time like ALL DAY LONG.

    domestic electricity could come from your car battery which had stored the power during a cheap period.

    This is the kind of nutty retionalization, which is the staple of green zealots worldwide. NEWS FLASH; batteries are expensive. The life of a battery pack is quantified by cycles. A battery has a finite number of times that it can be charged and discharged. Why would I degrade my very expensive car battery in a likely futile attempt to save a couple a bucks on my domestic electricity bill… FAIL

    …we have 5 minute charging stations at every gas station then we’ll see how it goes.

    FYI; Lith-Ion and lead acid batteries have charging profiles, which don’t allow them to achieve full charge in very short periods of time. High rate charging is ineffecient, dangerous, and destructive to batteries, Think about it. We can’t even do this with our small rechargeable devices. Other posters have already poited out various other problems with your ‘plan’.

    My suggestion is to get in your Nissan Leaf, which by all accounts is a sales loser, and drive off into the sunset.

  55. There are still many places in the US where a 50 mile charge won’t get us to the grocery store and back. I live 25 miles from the nearest grocery store. When I go to “town” I do all my errands at that time, stopping at the library, hardware store, drug store etc. That 50 mile charge wouldn’t allow me to even get the basics done and get home without having to re-charge the battery. Then I would want heat in the winter. And what of battery life when it approaches 0 degrees? If I spend an hour shopping, would I even have power when I got back to the car? And if I had to head into a 20 MPH wind on my way home, how much would that drain the battery?

    Probably not too many people on those back country dirt roads have a long enough extension cord to help out if you run out of power.

  56. Justa Joe says:
    December 4, 2011 at 10:34 am
    [to Arnold Ring] “My suggestion is to get in your Nissan Leaf, which by all accounts is a sales loser, and drive off into the sunset.”

    No need for snark, Joe; Arnold was polite, and his misconceptions are what ordinary people get from the media.

  57. INFRASTRUCTURE.

    I mean, even if you get past the weight, charging time, cost and hazard issues, and get the public to either pay a huge premium or swallow huge subsidies, the infrastructure is barely adequate for the power use we have now. We’re going to double or triple it in a few years?!?!

  58. “I guess you haven’t seen a Smart car. The first one I saw was on its side.”

    Can’t be any worse than a Reliant Robin:

    From the look of it, I’m guessing the Aptera would have been more stable than that three-wheeler.

  59. Core issue: like politics, diet, and climate science in general, “the electric car” as an idea has transformed from an idea into an article of faith – a religion whose tenets people will accept once they adopt the idea, and they will respond to criticism as if it was heresy, and they will press to impose it as a “good idea” on others even if it happens to be a spectacularly bad idea.

    No real way around it, unfortunately.

  60. Vince Causey says:
    December 4, 2011 at 6:42 am

    “There is no solution to the battery problem.”

    Never say never. Nothing on the horizon but 50 years ago no one imagined a smart phone. Now you’ve got more computing power in your pocket than the starship Enterprise had on its bridge.

    “Any attempts to increase charge capacity is little more than tinkering with the problem. Unless you can get recharging times down to the order of 5 minutes, then rolling out recharging stations is an expensive waste of effort.”

    A fuel cell where you merely replace some fluid would work fine.

    “Imagine the queues that would form with even a 30 minute recharging time.”

    They wouldn’t. That’s not practical and would never be rolled out. The idea is to recharge while the vehicle isn’t being used which of course isn’t practical either in large scale because of insufficient grid capacity.

    “The idea that has been floated, of swapping batteries instead of recharging them, also won’t work. These batteries weigh 200kg. How many cars visit an average filling station every hour? Several stations I know almost always have queues of cars waiting impatiently for the ranks of 8 or more pumps to become free. Where they are going to store thousands of batteries each bigger than the suitcase a celebrity takes on holiday beats me.”

    Presumably the drained batteries would be recharging so with a one-hour charge time about 10 batteries would service as many customers as a single gas pump. A typical gas station has 8-16 pumps and a really large gas station might have 64 pumps.

    “Then there is the ownership issue. At the moment, all batteries are the property of the car owner who is ultimately responsible for replacing them. No motorist would allow a new battery to be swapped for an older one. So before you even begin such a program, battery ownership would have to be separated from car ownership, a matter that has not even been considered so far.”

    People swap 5-gallon propane tanks all the time. You own the tank while it’s in your possession. Tanks have a 10-year service life (here anyway) after which they must be taken out of service. The reason people don’t care is because if they get an old tank they know they can go trade it for a better one because no one insects the trade-in.

    “Batteries suck!”

    For transportation at this point in time that’s true enough.

  61. Devon says:
    December 4, 2011 at 10:39 am
    @son of mulder”
    Interesting …are wind turbines for the home in widespread use in Great Britain presently?”

    No, I’ve seen a house with a shark sticking through the roof but I’ve never seen a domestic wind turbine or a straight banana. Some wealthier people have invested in a roof covered in Solar Cells but the government has just reduced the grossly high feedin tariff so it will be bye-bye to new investment in them soon.

    On the larger scale I’ve seen quite a few land based and sea based wind turbines, interestingly they were mainly stationary.

  62. “People swap 5-gallon propane tanks all the time. You own the tank while it’s in your possession.”

    A five-gallon propane tank always holds five gallons of propane, whether it’s a day old or ten years old. A battery might hold enough charge to drive you a hundred miles or it might hold enough charge to drive you five miles. A defective five-gallon propane tank probably won’t leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to get home, and doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to replace.

    Swapping driver-owned batteries simply will not work when you might be swapping a day old battery on your new car for a ten year old battery that’s been charged three times a day throughout its life. Are you going to pay thousands of dollars to replace that battery — after all, no charging station will knowingly want to take it from you if it’s worn out — and then hand it over to the first charging station you stop at?

    As mentioned above, swapping can only work if drivers don’t own the batteries and just rent them somehow. But then you’re tied into what will probably be a single-source charging network which will gouge you to the point where there’s no longer any fuel cost benefit over buying gas.

    Electric cars are just a crazy idea for general use. There’s a reason why we abandoned them over a century ago when the internal combustion engine came along.

  63. Let me present a sorta opposing, better view of the electric car.
    Here’s a video of a local Florida company, Rebirth Auto, that makes conversion kits and does conversions of ICE cars to electric.

    RebirthAuto Classic Beetle Lithium Conversion. Highway run.
    Evnetics Soliton1 Controller
    Netgain Warp9 Motor
    179V GBS 100AH Lithium Battery Pack.

  64. Lost the Aptera, did we? That’s a shame. They had some interesting ideas. I suspect they might have wanted to sell their patents to a big car company instead of finish developing the infrastructure themselves. But they started with the question what it would take to make a car that could actually get 100+ MPG. Like Messerschmitt 40 years ago (see wikipedia), they began with no-excuses aerodynamic design. Never mind details like rearview windows or mirrors, or being able to roll down the funny shape windows inside the funnier-shape door. Airplanes don’t need those frills, either. They had some ideas about how to solve those things without conventional design. And the results will keep rolling a long, long time. I for one will miss ’em.

  65. That these electric cars can avoid safety assessments is a scandal. I don’t know the exact criteria under which they can be given a free pass on to the roads here in the UK, but I do know that the G-Wiz (four doors, supposedly four seats, no crash protection whatever) qualified. When a reputable accident-testing facility ran the G-Wiz through the standard tests, anyway, the UK “Daily Telegraph” observed that the results indicated that the driver in an equivalent real-life crash would, at the very least, have lost his or her legs. The Telegraph went on to point out that the rear seats, able to accommodate only small children and presumably intended for that purpose, are even more vulnerable to rear shunts, the most common form of urban collision. I am not aware that the DT’s revelations had any impact whatever on the privileged status of the G-Wiz deathtrap.

    And here is an example of why it matters. The G-Wiz may look like a joke, but it isn’t:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/science-obituaries/8135403/Judit-Nagy.html

  66. John Brookes asks (December 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm)
    Why the snide & gleeful tone?

    Because the remedies to (nonexistent) global warming are doomed to failure. The quicker this becomes apparent the smaller the damage to society by green taxes, gravy-train subsidies, pie-in-the-sky renewables, brownouts, and ten thousand parasites jetting to a jolly in Durban to talk bollix. Another One Bites The Dust indeed. Yee-hah!

  67. D.Marshall says:
    December 4, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Has no one on WUWT ever heard of Better Place? Their model won’t work everywhere right off the bat but it should fulfill the needs of most of us.
    ============================================================

    You’re assuming that “most of us” will continue to reside within 5 miles or so of all of our needs (work, food, entertainment, etc. ) in ever larger megalopolises. I was under the impression that the leftie utopia was 500,000,000 total population spread around the globe in tiny little “self-sustaining” villages. In which case, no motorized transport of any kind would be needed. And in the rare event that someone had to go someplace else, a 100 mile range would be totally inadequate. Think trucking, or visiting grandma, among other things. Make up your mind.

  68. Old fashioned pre-computer cars at least had other options possible in case of drastic situations. I had a friend who ran a VW bug all over Hungary during the war on schnapps.
    Also, during the war, in Russia they converted trucks to wood burners, I assume steam generators. Then there are old VW diesels converted to biodiesel. I understand some Italian tractors can be converted to run on olive oil. Lots of options there with old technology.

  69. I am supprised that no one has brought up the fact that we seem to be regressing in technology when using electric vehicles. If you look at automotive history some of the first non-horse drawn carriages were powered by batteries and the battery technology really has not changed much. At this rate we all may have to pull that carriage out of the barn and get some real horses in order to be environmently friendly.

  70. DirkH says:
    December 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

    No need for snark, Joe; Arnold was polite, and his misconceptions are what ordinary people get from the media.

    Sorry about that, but the guy didn’t think twice about trashing US auto engineering.

    Are EV’s given a waiver for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Not only would this Aptera not pass any type of collision test it doesn’t even have a front (or rear) bumper.

  71. @CuriousGeorge It seems that you gave either an off-the-cuff response without fact-checking.

    Please try again, after looking into the Better Place plan. Founder Shai Agassi has numerous interviews, presentations, a website, etc. There are YouTube vids, an interview with Charlie Rose, if you’re interested in learning more.

  72. “I designed and built an electric bicycle many years ago”…..

    In temperate climates with small quiet roads they are probably the answer for people who don’t want to drive a car. They are relatively inexpensive, as safe a cycling because little faster, the power to weight ratio is acceptable because there’s no shell to carry around.

    But, you are exposed to the elements, you won’t be able to carry much shopping, the range is limited to probably 20 miles (which is quite enough anyway in the colder weather). I am enthusiastic about the idea in those terms, and if I were unable to afford a car, and lived in the country in Europe or even in some US cities would probably buy one. But haven’t done so yet. The modest sized car still has all the advantages of comfort and range and ability to transport. And its warm in winter!

  73. How about a federal Law that ALL Government purchased vehicles (State, local and federal) be required to be all electric vehicles. No “hybrids”, which are just overly complicated gasoline vehicles.

  74. @George E. Smith My opinion from the outset was that, at least initially, that EVs should be targeted towards gov’t / utilities / taxis /company fleets rather than individuals – with incentives to match.
    Their usage is quite predictable, they’re usually not far from home base, even when logging lots of miles and they would mostly charge overnight. The consumer car market is tough to break into and hard to please. The commercial market wants utility and reliability, style and amenities are secondary.
    The recent launch of the Renault Kangoo ZE was followed with an announcement of an order for over 15000 units, spread across 19 companies, with 2/3 going to the post office

  75. @George E. Smith EVs should have been targeted, from the outset, to gov’t / utilities / company fleets, etc instead of Joe Consumer. The commercial vehicles have more predictable usage patterns and won’t be paying 30k+ for a vehicle that will mostly be parked.

    The consumer market is difficult and fickle – commercial buyers want utility and reliability; the frills and styling aren’t a show stopper.
    Renault recently announced an order for 15000 of their Kangoo ZE van spread across 19 companies, 2/3 going to the post office.

  76. Maxbert says:
    December 4, 2011 at 1:11 am
    “Two cheers for coal-powered cars. Oh well; nobody’s going to buy the silly things anyway.”

    Actually, there have been coal-powered cars. One of the many factors contributing to Germany’s defeat in WW2 was a shortage of petrol. Apparently they did not have enough Fischer-Tropsch plants to satisfy their needs. During the Battle of the Bulge, some of their tanks ran dry, and had to be abandoned on the battlefield.

    Anyway, the Germans adapted coal power for some of their smaller military vehicles. A cannister fllled with coal was fitted on the side of the car. The carbon monoxide fumes therefrom went directly to the engine. Although that wasn’t very energy-efficient, it was a lot more practical than wind-turbine-powered cars! :-)

  77. Bernd Felsche says:
    December 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm …

    Spontaneously igniting cars? Great, let’s market them in Berlin. Those Germans are suckers for the dumbest kind of green bull[snip . . you know the rules here] anyone might care to cook up.
    And blazing cars are the coolest craze over there.

  78. What the electric cars need is to be able to do in route re-fueling, like fighter aircraft (which are fast and short range) do when distance is a problem. We could have massive iron-nickel batteries (they don’t wear out, can last 100 years) on semi-trailers roving the highways with charge cables flying out the back. When your battery was low you simply pull up to a few feet behind one of these units and link-up and charge without stopping. The semi-trailers could transport the electons from solar arrays in the deserts of the west to the highways without the need for long power lines (like home oil delivery does not require a pipeline to each house). We would only need 1 or 2 of these iron-nickel semis per car. We could even have special ‘charging-lanes’ and it would cost less per day then teraforming Mars.

  79. DirkH says:
    December 4, 2011 at 5:37 am

    Jer0me says:
    December 4, 2011 at 1:44 am
    “I am not sure why you would bother, when you can get an old Porche 911 and fit it with a decent electric engine. It can even give the original model a decent challenge, apparently as the engine is that much lighter, I am told. The balance is better because the batteries re mid-car, and the rest is pretty much the same. ”

    Jerome, do you have any idea how heavy a Li-Ion battery is? The battery used in current Mercedes S class hybrids is Li-Ion; 42 kg of these batteries contain, when charged, as much energy as 100g TNT, as we once computed for fun.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

    The weight of the engine becomes rather irrelevant in this regard.

    IIRC, the weight of the engine and the average weight of the fuel are definitely comparable to the weight of the batteries and electric engine. The overall performance is also comparable because of the lack of need for gears, I am also told.

    I’ve not tried, it, but I know someone who has, and what they say is sensible.

  80. I’ve always said that the easiest way to spot a malcontent (liberal greenie progressive socialist neo-comm whatever) is by their lack of a sense of humor. Fortunately we normal people do not have this problem, on the contrary some of the funniest stuff ever written comes from the skeptic (true science) community. Both of these guys are responsible for soda stains all over my computer …

    Ralph [December 4, 2011 at 8:31 am] says:

    “Summer range of vehicle — 80 miles.

    Winter range of vehicle, with cabin heater, seat heater, lights, windscreen wiper and window de-misters all in operation — 5 miles.

    Come, come, now Sir – did you not read the small print when you bought the vehicle??

    Oh, these Greens, don’t you love-em? I regard this as Darwin’s Evolution in action – science operating in front of our very eyes, with the stupid and gullible going bankrupt and back to the Dark Ages in quality of life.

    A colleague (a physicist) has already suffered a divorce and complete loss of quality of life due his Green obsession. He went for solar heating, but stupidly disconnected the gas heating system. After two winters with no heating, his wife divorced him – and, this being the UK, it was he that was kicked out of the house.

    What did Darwin call it? Ah, yes, I remember — Survival of the Skeptical.”

    ROTFLMAO! And seriously, Survival of the Skeptical is brilliant!

    Andrew30 [December 5, 2011 at 3:21 am] says:

    “What the electric cars need is to be able to do in route re-fueling, like fighter aircraft (which are fast and short range) do when distance is a problem. We could have massive iron-nickel batteries (they don’t wear out, can last 100 years) on semi-trailers roving the highways with charge cables flying out the back. When your battery was low you simply pull up to a few feet behind one of these units and link-up and charge without stopping. The semi-trailers could transport the electons from solar arrays in the deserts of the west to the highways without the need for long power lines (like home oil delivery does not require a pipeline to each house). We would only need 1 or 2 of these iron-nickel semis per car. We could even have special ‘charging-lanes’ and it would cost less per day then teraforming Mars.”

    Excellent visual. Someone has got to make a photoshop illustrating this! An electron tanker fleet. LOL.

  81. There are better and safer batteries on the rather short term horizon (Kung – Northwestern University – commercialized circa 2015-2017) , but, much more importantly, much cheaper
    batteries (75% to 90% cheaper), which are both lighter weight and can recharge plenty fast
    enough. Tesla Motors has spent a lot more time and has a lot more experience that either GM or Nissan in this game with respect to safety. Their roadsters have clocked millions of miles with no fire problems – their design isolates each cell and doesn’t allow one that experiences “thermal runaway” to affect the others. The main problem with the $35 to $45K electrics out there today is their restricted range (75 to 100 miles) and most importantly, their very costly batteries. The Leaf is essentially a $11K vehicle selling for three times that. With the promised Kung (or DBM-Energy) batteries selling for 10% to 20% of current prices, gas powered cars become hopelessly obsolete.
    And good riddance – they are extraordinarily complicated machines that are very expensive to both buy, maintain and fuel. A 30MPG gas car could easily obtain, as an electric, 4 to 5 miles per kilowatthour (about 10 cents). I won’t miss gas powered cars with their transmissions, exhaust systems, etc.

  82. … short term horizon … circa 2015-2017 … the promised … selling for 10% to 20% of current prices…yada, yada, yada

    That and $4.50 will get you a coffee in New York today.

    …good riddance

  83. Ralph, A lot more goes into producing a car that is marketable, safe, and reliable (36 – 100 mile warrantee) than what some guy can piece together in his garage. Heck, Honda probably doesn’t make much on a conventional S2000 seeing that it is a 2 seat roadster, which is a niche vehicle. The creator of the electric S2000 admits that the performance still has as yet unresolved issues.

    “… Power steering is electric assist. Air conditioning isn’t installed yet but coming later. I haven’t test range or top speed yet but hope too soon after I finish my cell balancers…”

    Ramon Leigh, Just like we’ve been hearing about solar for at least the last 50 years we are also constantly hearing that some new miraculous battery technology that is just around the corner. Generally if something sounds too good to be true that is because it’s not true. The proof is in the implementation.

    Some people like to malign internal combustion engined equipped vehicles. I think that perhaps the modern car performs so well and is so ubiquitous and reliable that people take it for granted. It probably is the difference between people that regard the car as a utility and don’t really know or care much about how it works and actual car enthusiasts who spin wrenches.

  84. Blade says:
    December 5, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I’ve always said that the easiest way to spot a malcontent (liberal greenie progressive socialist neo-comm whatever) is by their lack of a sense of humor. Fortunately we normal people do not have this problem, on the contrary some of the funniest stuff ever written comes from the skeptic (true science) community. Both of these guys are responsible for soda stains all over my computer …

    Ralph [December 4, 2011 at 8:31 am] says:

    Sorry different Ralph.

  85. Justa Joe says:
    December 5, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Ralph, A lot more goes into producing a car that is marketable, safe, and reliable (36 – 100 mile warrantee) than what some guy can piece together in his garage. Heck, Honda probably doesn’t make much on a conventional S2000 seeing that it is a 2 seat roadster, which is a niche vehicle. The creator of the electric S2000 admits that the performance still has as yet unresolved issues.

    It simply shows the car makers aren’t any further ahead in their designs for electric vehicles than a doit-yourselfer.

  86. >>Ralph says: December 5, 2011 at 6:57 am
    >>A Honda S2000 converted to electric. Funny the
    >>manufacturers can’t do this.

    The name ‘Ralph’ has already been taken, please use something else. You are making me look like a schizophrenic here !!

    .

  87. >Justa Joe says:
    > …
    >Ramon Leigh, Just like we’ve been hearing about solar for at least the last 50 years we are also
    >constantly hearing that some new miraculous battery technology that is just around the corner.
    >Generally if something sounds too good to be true that is because it’s not true. The proof is in
    >the implementation.

    Right on the money Joe, I’ve been waiting 4 years for my Coleman Flashcell Screwdriver (http://www.ultracapacitors.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=76&task=view). No telling how long I’ll have to wait for a “miracle” battery that does away with the ICE.

  88. Any R/C electric plane pilot (like myself) can point you to online boards like rcgroups.com where you can find lots of posts and videos on the problems we still have with lithium cells. Puffing, fires, explosions and even cells just plain wearing out after a couple of years are still major issues. And no car company has standardized ANYTHING to do with the battery packs including replacement or even charging…. lets see how just just the evolution of packs every couple of years will make that $15-25K battery obsolete and likely irreplaceable when it wears out (or the salesman tells you it’s trade-in value is zero when you go to get your next vehicle….)

  89. From Dan in California on December 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm:

    I designed and built an electric bicycle many years ago, and have been keeping track of electric vehicles ever since. (…)

    Check eBay for “electric bicycle kit”, they have plenty. Voltages are in 12V increments from 24 to 48V, ratings from 250 to 1000W. Brushless hub motors, actually the assembly is a replacement spoked rim, 26″ normally (others available) with reported top speeds of 24 to 60 km/hr (15 to 37 mph). Rear wheel units with a 5 or 6 gear sprocket, sprocket-less front wheel units. Prices vary, expect with shipping to be around US$250 without batteries, expect many sellers to ship “sea mail 7-8 weeks” from China or thereabouts although there are “local” US sellers with faster shipping. Included is controller w/ charger function, brake and “throttle” controls, LED headlight/battery meter unit with key lock… Just turn signals and a speedometer short of being an electric moped conversion. All the packages look so much alike, I could believe they all come from the same Chinese factory.

    Put one or perhaps two units on an “adult tricycle” like a nice Schwinn Meridian, under $300 with a 300# weight limit (Target listing) although I’ve read elsewhere they can take more weight. With the large rear basket you can haul groceries and stuff, use it for the daily commute. Actually there’s a review on the linked Schwinn company site where someone did that, 36V 500W, at 15mph got 20 miles to a charge, saved $95 in gas in a month.

    So for under $1000, well under with just one motor, you have a nice little fair-weather commuter vehicle, which doesn’t need vehicle insurance or registration and is easy to park, which will keep going even if the battery runs out (you can pedal), and will let you brag about your Greener-than-thou credentials.

    Heck, use 12V batteries with some creative wiring and switching, you could bring along a common 12V automotive solar panel and charge when possible when not in use, I found a 50W unit for $180, a 20W for $80. You could go for the full voltage, even charge during use, but that’s the range of golf cart chargers and much more expensive. For example, here’s one that’s 36 or 48V, 100W, for a mere $1100 with shipping.

    How would you carry that panel? You don’t, you mount it above the seat with lightweight metal tubing, it’ll help keep the rain and sun off your head, then you can ride it even more.

    Everything together would be cheap to acquire, cheap to keep, versatile and suitable for many daily tasks, never use a drop of gas, and if you conscientiously use it instead of a car whenever possible then you’ll undoubtedly save money, with a potential payback period of under one year. Plus all your Green friends will be incredibly jealous.

    And this represents the height of current electric vehicles being truly affordable and worthwhile, and the only one I’d consider getting, which I am btw. You could give a new one to at least 30 different people for what one 2012 Prius plug-in will cost. They even have a decent shot at being truly run by 100% renewable energy, with low-cost at-home chargers as needed. If you’re really truly worried about “carbon emissions” then you’d support these, as it’s very possible for the only in-use emissions traceable to them to be extra CO2 from the users themselves when they accidentally get some exercise and manually pedal them.

    But will any national or local governments get behind the concept with fiscal support to reduce carbon emissions? Nah, it makes more sense to them to give people, who already have the money and/or credit to buy new hybrid and all-electric vehicles, even more money and/or credit to buy those vehicles, even though those vehicles will yield just a tiny fraction of the possible energy and emissions savings of the systems I’ve proposed. For them it’s not about saving the planet, but saving election votes, and especially saving the campaign contributions of those who can most afford to pretend to be Green.

  90. Arnold Ring,
    I’ve doing a little research on your idea about using EV batteries to charge during “off-peak” hours and discharge during “peak” hours for domestic electricity consumption. I can see where you’ve got that idea as the internet is littered with guy’s suggesting this. This idea originates from Nissan promoting the use of the EV for emergency back-up power during black-outs. As far as I can tell, however, neither Nissan nor Toyota has recommended using their battery for general electricty consumption.

    In addition to the problems with using an EV battery for this purpose previously outlined in this thread. There is an inherent problem with the charge/discharge efficiency of batteries in general. Basically depending on Myriad factors the amount of energy you put into a battery during charging is greater than the amount of energy received during discharging. Lithium Ion batteries, which the Nissan has, are best in regard to efficiency, but you’re still talking as low as 90% efficiency depending on rate of discharge.

    This link explains details of lithium-Ion charge/discharge characteristics.
    http://www.large-battery.com/news/373.htm

  91. My 1996 geo metro got me an honest 40 mpg in rural driving. Auto with a 1.3 liter motor made for a quick vehicle. GM bought up Suzuki and slowly screwed the brilliant Geo metro into the ground. Ford had a similar 40+ mpg. The Geo 1.0 gets up to 50mpg or more with the 5-speed transmission. Don’t give me any garbage on how GM or Ford care. Old Man Ford AND Grandpa Chevrolet would climb out of their graves and strangle those responsible for the utter decay and destruction of the American auto industry.

  92. Justa Joe
    Yes, charge/discharge has an overhead. Savings from cheap offpeak electricity will at times exceed that overhead.
    Nissan didn’t invent the idea of using car batteries as distributed storage. There is literature going back at least a decade. Recent paper here looks at the tradeoffs http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775309017303

    EVs are inherently more fuel efficient than ICE. So the price of fuel is all important in the decision to switch from ICE to electric.

  93. Dan in California says:
    December 3, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    The $105K Tesla is assembled in the US, but heavily based on the British Lotus Elise.

    None of the government loan relates to the $109K Roadster. It was and is specifically targeted to the new $57K Model S original design 5+2-seater sedan (plus advancing their already world-beating battery and drive system, the ESS). The ‘S’ is spectacular, and has sold out more than the first full year’s production in advance.

  94. Arnold Ring (@ArnoldRing) says:
    December 10, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Yes, charge/discharge has an overhead. Savings from cheap offpeak electricity will at times exceed that overhead.
    Nissan didn’t invent the idea of using car batteries as distributed storage…
    ———————–
    Guy, You’re living in a fantasy world.

    #1 I never said Nissan recommended using the Leaf battery for “distributed storage”. In fact I said they did not recommend using the Leaf battery in this way rather only for emergency back-up. There’s literature out there about just about everything. Who cares?

    #2 Do you really think that John Q. Public is going to have the time and desire to engage in this nonsense? My guess is even the normay DAILY charging of the EV’s battery will be considered too tedious for the average person.

  95. Justa Joe says:
    December 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Arnold Ring (@ArnoldRing) says:
    December 10, 2011 at 9:10 am
    ///
    #2 Do you really think that John Q. Public is going to have the time and desire to engage in this nonsense? My guess is even the normay DAILY charging of the EV’s battery will be considered too tedious for the average person.

    Say what? Speaking of fantasies …
    In the real world, owners of EVs find spending the few seconds required each night to plug in their car, with the consequence that they start out EVERY day with a FULL charge, is immensely rewarding — resulting in involuntary smirks and cackles of glee as they drive past the gas pumps they’ll never again have to visit.

  96. Brian H says:
    December 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm
    ——————-
    Talk about Fantasy? Most people visit a gas station about once or twice a week. They don’t have to fiddle around with plugging in and unplugging their car daily, but you’re right most present EV owners probably don’t mind it… because they’re nerds.

    Arnold Ring (@ArnoldRing) says:
    December 16, 2011 at 9:33 am
    People charge their iphones every night. Even Americans can manage that much hardship
    ——————-
    Remember that time when you wanted to charge your “iphone,” but there was a driving rain storm and your daughter’s boyfriend’s car was blocking your access? How about the evening you were just too dog tired to shovel the snow from the entrance to your garage so that you could plug in your “iphone”? Remeber the time that you meant to go into the gargage and plug in your “iphone” but you got distracted and just forgot?

  97. JJ;
    your mental models seem to be full of all sorts of debris.

    In case you missed it, I referenced actual current ongoing real-world feedback (mostly from the Tesla Motors forums, etc.) . People spend a few seconds after entering their garage plugging in, a few seconds unplugging before leaving, and that’s it.

    They love it, notwithstanding your nonsense fantasies.

  98. Brian,

    You’re talking Tesla fanboys and the most ardent and vocal Tesla fanboys at that. If I go to the recumbant bicycle forum I’m sure that they’ll be in love with their bikes too. So what? Actually there is probably significant overlap between those 2 groups already.

    All I did was give real world examples that people will encounter who are just people that want convenient transportation, and aren’t volunteering to take one for the ‘green’ team.

  99. @JustaJoe Despite 100 years of dominance by the ICE, many people still run out of gas every day, lock the doors when the engine’s running, find it too much trouble to go out of their way to fill up because they “think” they’ll have enough (with predictable results) and have trouble starting their gas guzzlers in bad weather.
    Not to mention pumping gas when it’s freezing and windy outside.
    None of those problems, which we had to cope with for decades prevented the proliferation of ICEs and none of your fanciful objections will prevent “iphones” from becoming popular.

  100. DMarshall says:
    December 17, 2011 at 8:22 am
    @JustaJoe Despite 100 years of dominance by the ICE, many people still run out of gas every day,
    ———————–

    Running out of gas isn’t a daily occurance for the average person. I’ve only run out of gas twice in my life, and I was a broke young adult at the time. Imagine the increased likelyhood of running out of fuel when your car only has about 50 miles of range, and you can’t just walk to a gas station and bring back a gallon of gas. I hope that you’re not trying to sell me the idea that battery Guzzlers are immune to mechanical problems or running out of juice?

    Anyway I never said that these relatively minor inconveniences would prevent EV’s from becoming popular. EV’s have other problems. That’s why they were originally swept from the roadways 100 years ago by the ICE. I find your prejudices about gasoline powered cars to be quite antiquated they sound like some propaganda from the 70’s.

    I only brought up the inconveniences involved with daily charging because some other EV-phile on this thread was selling the point of using EV’s as “distributed storage.” I’m merely pointing out that your average Joe is not likely to want to worry about charging the car and trying to game the electric company for a few fractions of a cent per KWh on his electric bill.

  101. @JustaJoe With sufficient numbers of EVs in an area, the use of them as distributed storage is potentially valid. But some car owners will want to play, if the price is right, and many (or most) won’t.

    Of course there’s potential for running out of charge – it’s called range anxiety. But you were bringing up the potential hassles of home charging and I’d sooner have to deal with those than with trying to get fuel in bad weather when the stations are well out of my way.
    .

  102. Wow, this post is still alive!

    The market is passing judgement on EV’s. Probably because gasoline powered cars are just too convenient. Refueling in 3 minutes is a huge advantage, and so is the much greater range of gas powered cars. I’m also opposed to the gargantuan taxpayer subsidies poured into EV’s.

    EV’s are like curly tube fluorescent bulbs. The bulbs may save some energy, but who wants ’em? There are too many advantages to incandescent bulbs, including added warmth in winter, no mercury, and despite the claims, my experience is that incandescent bulbs last as long. Plus, I can buy them four for a buck at the local dollar store.

    I’ll wait for cheap, affordable LED bulbs – and for EV’s that can go 300 miles on a 5-minute charge. Until then, they’re just too much hassle.

  103. Well Smokey part of your waiting may not be too long.

    A former student of mine is very much involved in LEDs and has been for twenty years. He is sanguine about their future.

    Apparently the problems are threefold.

    The first is to use a very cheap silicon base rather than expensive materials like gallium.

    The second is what they call droop, that efficiency falls off very quickly with increased current density.

    The third is getting the spectrum right.

    Nevertheless he seems to be confident that they have solved all these problems and it is only a matter of moving towards mass production. CFLs he thinks will be as extinct as dinosaurs within a few years. He may well be right.

    Which raises another question. A friend of mine is electrical superintendent for a ship management company which used to manage my bottoms before i sold them all: some of us saw the slump coming.

    He is fascinated by LED technology not only for its low voltage and high efficiency but its lifetime too, with perhaps 50,000 hours of life they approach the lifetime of the ship itself which implies that the luminaires will also change because you do not need to renew the bulb regularly. Effectually you only need to replace the bulkhead fitting complete with its built in LED.

    And of course it is very well suited to continuous monitoring, the basic technology of which they already have, so you can spot a failing unit and replace it when docked well before it conks out. With savings on crewing, it becomes a simple shore job, as well as on board supplies.

    As to EVA’s you know my views set out in my above post.

    Kindest Regards

  104. a jones,

    Thanks for that information. I suspected that LED’s would become affordable because they are so much superior to the competition regarding energy use.

  105. Justa Joe says:
    December 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Brian,

    You’re talking Tesla fanboys and the most ardent and vocal Tesla fanboys at that.

    Ludicrous. The distinction between “fanboy” and “satisfied user” is exactly what, pliz??
    And I doubt you can find many/any examples of people who dislike, much less gave up, their EVs, especially Tesla Evs, because of the horrifically onerous drudgery of spending 20 seconds plugging in and 20 seconds unplugging each day.

    I should also note that for the vast majority, even “each day” is unnecessary, as a full charge will cover several days driving/commuting. At, I again remind you, about 1/10 of the marginal cost per mile of gasoline.

  106. DMarshall says:
    December 17, 2011 at 9:57 am
    @JustaJoe With sufficient numbers of EVs in an area, the use of them as distributed storage is potentially valid. But some car owners will want to play, if the price is right, and many (or most) won’t.
    ———————————————
    I don’t see how the number of EV’s in an area can relate to an individual making a decision to attempt to save some money by using their EV as “distributed storage”. In fact more EV’s would seem to mitigate against “distributed storage” savings because it would lessen the differential betweem peak and off-peak rates. Peak rates would become 24 hrs. a day.

    Brian H says:
    December 18, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Ludicrous. The distinction between “fanboy” and “satisfied user” is exactly what, pliz??
    ———————————————-
    You’re kidding, right? Try as you may you’re not going to be able to present a self selected sample of owners of a $109000 – $128500 novelty act limited edition roadster and extrapolate that to the wants and needs of the general public. enough already

    The $109000 – $128500 Tesla roadster would get it’s doors blown off by a $50K C5 Corvettes so if you’re looking for performance the bang for the buck isn’t there. The early adopters of the Tesla of which there are only some 2000 are in it for the novelty of the technology. For reference There were 13,596 Corvettes produced during the 2011 model year alone.

    Almost every car has it’s devoted fans. There are actually people who love the 70’s era Mustang II and praise it to the hilt… So what.

  107. @JustaJoe Not the individual, but the utility. If there are enough EVs with enough charge in an area of high demand, the utility might decide to purchase power from the car owners rather than fire up a peaker plant (which are usually the most inefficient) for a brief period.

  108. JaJ;
    More nonsense. Comparing a personal sports car to a touring racecar, with 7-liter V8! And I think the Roadster’s doors are safe. 0-60 in 3.7, vs 3.8 for the C5.

  109. P.S.;
    The Model S, now entering production, is their first actual “general public” oriented product. Deliveries begin mid-year, and are sold out well into 2013, with reservations (with large deposits) accelerating. Next up, the Model X crossover, same “flat-bed” platform, with first prototypes due to be shown any day.

  110. Brian, You’re getting in way over your head. In real world performance I’m sure a Corvette C5 (1997 through 2004 model years) would shame a Tesla roadster, but let’s go with with a Corvette that is actually contemporary with the Tesla, the C6 Corvette (2005 – present). BTW a C5 Corvette never had an engine bigger than 5.7L. Only Since you brought up the monster 7L LS7 equipped C6 Corvette, the 2 respective cars are similarly priced (The Tesla costs much more), and they’re both supposed to be 2 seater sports cars let’s let the Tesla carnage begin.

    Naturally aspirated 2007 Corvette Z06
    The Z06’s LS7 7.0L engine delivers 505 horsepower (377 kW) in a 3,132-pound (1,421 kg) package – a combination that delivers 0-60 performance of 3.7 seconds in first gear, quarter-mile times of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph and a top speed of 198 mph (as recorded on Germany’s Autobahn).

    Supercharger Corvette 2009 ZR1
    2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 priced at $105,000
    ZR1’s supercharged, 6.2-liter LS9 engine that pumps out an SAE-certified 638 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque
    * 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds
    * Quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.3 seconds at 131 mph
    * 205 mph top speed

    2008 Tesla Roadster – 4.6 seconds (0 to 60) 13.4 seconds E.T. 1/4 mile
    2010 Tesla Roadster 2.5 – 3.7 seconds (0 to 60) E.T. 1/4 mile none found
    The Roadster Sport starts at $128,500
    The Roadster Sport does 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, compared with 3.9 seconds for the standard Roadster.
    2012 Tesla Roadster Final Edition
    net power of 248 HP.(snicker) The car will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds

    There’s a dirth of actual performance info on the Tesla out there. The best E.T I can find is Factory Tesla Roadster runs a quarter mile in 12.76 @ 104.7 mph.This is slower than the base C6 Corvette (12.6 seconds at 114 mph),and the trap speed indicates that Tesla is making much less power.

    I’ve found top speed numbers for Tesla roadster ranging from 122mph – 130mph. Not very impressive especially compared to the c6 Vettes, which range from 190 – 205 mph. Corvette blows the doors off Tesla. Let theTesla excuses begin.

  111. Yawn. Like I said, you’re comparing a monster gas-gulper touring Le Mans racecar with a personal sportscar. Your comments, a fortiori, would apply to the actual comparable 2-seaters which cost up to 2 or 3X as much as the Roadster.
    As for the top speed, it’s electronically limited. It’s a single gear transmission; adding additional gears was impossible because there’s too much torque, and none of the transmission specialist companies could make a gearbox for them that didn’t break.

  112. Brian H says:
    December 20, 2011 at 10:41 am
    Yawn. Like I said, you’re comparing a monster gas-gulper touring Le Mans racecar with a personal sportscar.
    ——————–

    Yawn… Definition of SPORTS CAR: a low small usually 2-passenger automobile designed for quick response, easy maneuverability, and high-speed driving

    I’m not sure where you’re from, but A Corvette, and a Tesla/Lotus Elise fall into the same category of car. They’re both 2 seater sports cars. Of course, the Corvette is MUCH faster as everyone can see. A Vette isn’t a Racecar. There is the C6-R, which is a racecar, but it’s not sold to the general public. The Z06 & ZR1 Vettes could be considered super cars, but they cost much less than the Tesla.

    Too bad that they can’t make a gear box capable of handling that massive 250 HP. Of course, if they did it would also cost the Tesla on it’s acceleration numbers and weight.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sports%20car

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