Vehicle Electrification Common Sense

By Rud Istvan,

This is the first of two loosely related technology posts that ctm suggested might be interesting to WUWT. In full disclosure, the details stem from my financial interests in energy storage materials and related topics, having spent much time and money since 2007 on fundamental now globally issued energy storage materials patents for supercapacitance (the Helmholtz double layer physics that creates lightning in thunderstorms). Some of the info cited below is slightly dated because I was too lazy to make everything current. Some of this info was borrowed from my ebook The Arts of Truth and from a 2017 Climate Etc post. All conclusions nevertheless remain valid.

This post’s message (the abstract, if this were a normal clisci peer reviewed paper) is simple. Hybrid vehicles make economic and ‘climate’ sense. Plug ins may or may not depending on their architecture. Full electric vehicles (EVs) make neither economic nor climate sense.

Terms

There are various levels of vehicle electrification, so some definitions are needed. Hybrids all involve some degree of electrification of an otherwise fossil fueled vehicle. There are three generally accepted levels:

1. Simple engine off at idle, aka start/stop. This is not as technically easy as it sounds, since hydraulic fluid coupled automatic transmissions must be fully redesigned and starter batteries beefed up. Depending on drive circumstances, idle off can save about 5% fuel efficiency.

2. Regenerative braking, where the vehicle’s kinetic energy is recaptured to electrical storage and then reused in some fashion rather than dissipated as heat. Depending on vehicle size/weight and drive circumstances, regen braking can save about 7-9% fuel efficiency. Combined with idle off it is commonly known as mild hybridization, and typically cited mild hybrid values are something less than 15% net fuel efficiency gain. (There aren’t a lot of milds out there to provide real data.)

3. Full hybridization, which includes idle off, regen braking, and electric acceleration assist (plus some degree of electric only slow speed short distance motoring). Full hybrid fuel efficiency gains can be as high as 35-45%. Prius is the best known. Full details follow.

Then there are Plug in Hybrids (misleadingly aka PHEV), which can motor for some significant distance under battery alone. These come in two basic architectures. One is an ordinary full hybrid with a different or bigger battery, like the Prius Prime. The other is actually a range extended electric vehicle (not a true hybrid), like the Chevy Volt. The idea is to remove EV range anxiety, since a gasoline engine kicks in only when the battery is nearly exhausted. Details follow.

Then there are true electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt or Tesla models. These operate on battery electric power alone, must be recharged from the grid, and commonly present ‘range anxiety’ for some subset of ordinary car use.

This post develops common sense conclusions for the following practical economic and environmental categories/cases:

-Start/Stop may make sense for both cases, but Milds do not;

-Full Hybrids almost always make sense for both cases;

-Plug Ins do or don’t make sense depending on the architecture;

-EVs never make sense for either case.

Hybrids

Simple start/stop makes economic and environmental sense by itself when the automatic transmission technology is changed from hydraulic fluid coupling to electronic dual clutch mechanical transmissions (DCT). Ford has announced that by 2019 all Ford transmissions (including pickups) will be DCT (which can simulate manual). Even without start/stop, the DCT alone gains 5-8% fuel efficiency by eliminating hydraulic fluid coupling losses. With a beefed up starter battery enabling start/stop, the full fuel efficiency savings are 10-13% while the incremental cost is minimal, maybe $100 for a beefier starter battery.

Mild hybridization has been tried several times, but it has almost never worked economically. There are two problems: a battery capable of accepting regen charging energy is pretty big if having acceptable vehicle life, and the extra machinery for using that electrical energy for whatever purpose. The only present commercial mild system is Valeo (a belt driven bigger combined starter/alternator for both regen and traction boost, plus a supercap plus PbA ‘hybrid’ storage system). Valeo’s system is only on a few of Peugeot’s Citroen diesels in Europe.

Full hybridization like the Toyota Prius or my 2007 Ford Hybrid Escape [i] works in several synergistic ways to improve fuel efficiency, and makes more economic sense in larger vehicles. (Note, in 2007, both hybrid technologies were identical, just scaled to different vehicles. Ford traded its European small diesel technology to Toyota in return for the Toyota Prius hybrid technology, no cash exchanged nor royalties owed.)

Full hybrid idle-off saves ~5% depending on traffic. Regenerative braking saves another ~7-9% depending on traffic. The additional power and torque of the electric motor enables two further major savings. First, the internal combustion engine (ICE) can be downsized, saving both weight and fuel. My AWD Escape hybrid uses a small 1.5L I4 engine yet is functionally comparable to the heavier AWD Escape V6. Second, the ICE can be converted from the Otto cycle to the Atkinson cycle. Atkinson ICE saves about 20% in fuel economy, but at the expense of significant torque loss. (Typical Otto ICE vehicles are ~26-30% thermally efficient, the lower number from regular gas compression ratios, the higher from premium gas compression ratios. Higher octane rating enables higher compression ratios and more efficiency.) The newest Prius I4 5th generation 2018 Atkinson ICE gets an incredible 37% thermal efficiency on regular! Atkinson ICE torque loss doesn’t matter in a full hybrid; the electric machine provides more than the lost torque. The 2018 Prius family gets combined 52MPG. It couples a 95 HP 1.8L Atkinson I4 with a 71 HP electric motor for a total of 192 HP in a mid size sedan.

There are two 2018 Prius battery choices. All models except the Prime use NiMH, same as my Escape and as Prius from its 2000 launch. The Prius Prime is their Plug In. No different than the other 2018 models in any respect EXCEPT a lithium ion battery (LIB), onboard charging, and a different battery control software scheme. To get >10 year >100,000 miles life NiMH needs to be floated between about 45% and 55% state of charge (SoC). It is only possible to motor a couple of miles at speeds under 20MPH before the engine kicks in so the alternator can recharge the NiMH traction battery. LIB allows the Plug In Prius Prime to motor 25 miles at any speed before the ICE kicks in. Prime 240V recharge time is just 2 hours. Warranty is 10 years or 100,000 miles, same as the NiMH non-plug in versions. Toyota’s only real incremental Prime costs are the incremental LIB over NiMH and associated onboard AC/DC charging electronics. Yet Toyota charges a $3,100 Prime premium (starting Prime 2018 MSRP $27,300). Makes sense for Toyota, and for enviro customers who want plug in cache. Whether it makes climate sense is a question explored below using the Volt as the example.

Prius comfortably seats 5 along with 24.6 cubic feet (cf) of cargo space (or 65cf with the rear seat folded down). Range is 633 miles from ~52 mpg. 2018 price is ≥$24,200 depending on model and trim. Toyota unsurprisingly sold ~1,170,000 Prius from 2010 (year of Volt introduction) through yearend 2015.

Now compare the alternate architecture, a range extended EV like the Chevy Volt. The 2016 Volt is powered by two electric motors providing only 149 HP, fed from a 18.4 Kwh LIB providing a marketed ~50 mile EV only range, twice that of the 2018 Prius Prime. The original all-electric range was chosen because about 2/3 of US urban trips are under 40 miles. With a 240V charger, Volt recharging takes 4.5 hours (with 120V charging, it takes 13 hours). The battery is warrantied for only 8 years or 100,000 miles. The LIB battery weights 405# (189kg) and is a 5.5 foot long T shaped monster. The range extending gasoline engine is a 1.5 liter 101HP I4 driving an onboard 54 Kw generator. With a full tank of gas and a fully charged battery, Volt range is ~408 miles. Seating is essentially only 4, and cargo capacity is only 10.6cf. For those middling vehicle values compared to Prius Prime the MSRP is ≥$33170. Unsurprisingly, Chevy has only sold about 117,000 Volts from 2010 launch through YE 2015 (the same time frame as Prius sales above, so a fair comparison). The comparable sales data say the Volt does not make much economic sense.

Do plug ins make environmental sense? Lets take the Volt, because it is more reliant on the generation grid.

EPA fuel economy ratings are required by law to be prominently placed on all new vehicles for sale in the US. This familiar sticker provides three numbers: city, highway, and combined (55/45) mpg.

Ambiguity arises from the changed plug in meaning of ‘miles per gallon’. Plug in range extended EVs like the Chevy Volt operate partly on a battery recharged from the grid, so no gallons for those miles. Volt gets a combined 37mpg in extended range mode using its gasoline engine to generate electricity. If a Volt never traveled more than about 40 miles before being recharged from the grid, its engine would never start and it would never use any gallons of gasoline. Its combined miles per gallon would be very ambiguous since division by zero is mathematically undefined.

To solve this very fundamental problem the EPA did two things. First, they calculated an energy equivalent 93 MPGe for electric ‘no gallons’ mode. We shall see that this equivalence is based on faulty assumptions. Then they explicitly assumed the Volt travels about 45% on battery alone, giving a weighted average of 60 MPGe. Except in environmental reality the Volt cannot possibly get that ‘official’ EPA mileage.

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One gallon of automotive gasoline contains about 132 megajoules of heat energy. Volt’s combined ‘extended range’ (using its engine/generator) 37 MPG rating is about (132/37) 3.6 megajoules/mile. One KWh is also 3.6 megajoules; the gasoline rating is equivalent to 1 KWh/mile. This of course includes the engine/generator’s thermal losses, which are proven by the Volt’s exhaust and radiator.

The EPA sticker also says the Volt gets 36 KWh per 100 miles when the battery is powering the Volt’s electric motors! That is only 0.36 KWh/mile, 2.8 times the efficiency from the same electric motors! This discrepancy proves that the EPA MPGe rating does not include the fact that grid electricity generation is on average about 45% efficient (mixed now about half and half coal at 34% and CCGT at 61%), with up to 10% of that lost in transmission and another 10% or so in distribution. Power plants have smokestacks and cooling towers just like Volts have exhausts and radiators. Correcting for the laws of thermodynamics (which were only applied to Volt’s extended range mode), the Volt operates in battery mode about (.36/[0.45*0.8]) 1KWh/mile in comparable net energy/emissions equivalents. Of course moving the car takes the same energy in either gas or battery mode; Volt’s electric motors don’t care about their source of electricity.

EPA’s battery MPGe should be reduced to account for the thermal losses in generating and distributing grid electricity, since these were included in the 37mpg gasoline rating. The true energy equivalent battery mode is about (93*.45*.8) 33.5 MPGe. No surprise that this is even lower than 37 MPG using gasoline. Charging and discharging the Volt battery is inefficient, causing additional energy losses; the Volt battery is liquid cooled and has its own radiator partition. We can even estimate that EPA’s measured Volt battery energy efficiency is about (33.5/37) 90%. Using the EPA’s assumption about all electric driving, the final overall rating should be about (33.5*0.45+37*0.55) 35 MPGe. The 60MPGe EPA rating just nonsense, and clearly the better environmental choice by a factor of (52/35) almost 1.5x is a less expensive Prius of some sort.

A final observation. It follows without further analysis that the EV Chevy Bolt makes no sense either economically or environmentally. And by extension, neither do any other EVs. Economically the Bolt is horrible (and higher priced Teslas are worse). Range is only 238 miles. An hour of 240V recharging provides only 25 miles of range; to get 238 miles requires about 8-9 hours of charging. The Bolt essentially seats four, with only 16.9cf of cargo space. Yet the MSRP is ≥$37500. On a correctly compared environmental ‘global warming’ basis, Bolt has to be even worse than the Volt.


[i] Personal economic data from comparable vehicle functionality. My AWD 2007 Escape Hybrid (small true frame based SUV [not a crossover]) with a class 1 tow hitch is most comparable to the 2007 AWD Escape with a 3L V6 engine and class 2 tow hitch. V6 was 240 HP, my hybrid has a combined 247 HP–153 from the 1.5L I4 Atkinson ICE plus 94 from the electric motor. The 2007 MSRP hybrid premium over the V6 was ~$3400. BUT that year’s federal tax credit for this hybrid was $3500, so we were $100 better off on day one. Better, the AWD V6 EPA combined mileage was 23mpg, while my equivalent Hybrid is EPA combined 30mpg. That is 30% better mileage, saving gas for now 11 years and 85k miles. Best, the V6 used premium, my hybrid uses regular. The price difference in our area is over $1/gallon. So not only less gas, also cheaper gas. The fuel savings work out to about $6700 so far. The NiMH traction battery is still going strong and the vehicle has been basically problem free.

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273 thoughts on “Vehicle Electrification Common Sense

  1. I bought a 3 yr old Nissan Leaf for $9k with 21k miles and a 95% battery. 10k miles later still has 70 + mile range. Great for in town, I love it! No maintenance, never been in the shop. Costs less than $0.04 per mile to drive. My big Suburban costs well over $0.25 per mile to drive.

    Of course thank you to whoever covered the depreciation on the Leaf. 😉

    • oddly, my suburban costs closer to .90 per mile to drive. cost of car, gas, insurance, tires. etc to drive.

      • Outside of the USA, fuel is taxed exceptionally heavy to fill the government coffers to pay for all sorts of “infrastructure”. Sure, using non-taxed (i.e. SIN tax) electricity to fuel your car seems cheap now. But when EVERYONE is doing it, the government will need that money somehow. You will be billed for cost per mile [km] in your electric car, trust me.

          • Why give substantial rebates for electric cars when resources cost equal if not more than the ICE equivalent? Tesla has not made a profit in a decade while their can cars cost close to 60K-100K. Fuel taxes pay much more back into the system.

          • Since Governments will not cut spending, sooner or later the cost of recharging an electric car will have to be equal to filling up an ICE car.

            There is much pain to come as Governments seek to force a change over from fossil fuel to electric power. Governments are not being honest about this.

          • Correct, and the flip side is there is something wrong with paying taxes to support someone else’s subsidy.

        • Thar vindictive SEVENTY percent TAX element of the actual price at the pump in Europe does NOT get spent on even maintaining the roads let alone building new ones. It just disappears into the black hole of public spending.

      • I live in Quebec where we have cheap, abundant hydro power and expensive, tax-burdened gasoline. An e-gallon costs about one sixth the price of a gallon of regular. In my case, a Volt makes plenty of sense except that the initial capital outlay is too high. A used Volt would work out just fine.

      • Not odd at all, many ways to calculate costs. $0.04 and $0.25 are fuel costs. Then you can add in registration and insurance; tires and maintenance; mechanical and collision repairs; vehicle depreciation; recycling costs; and even total energy use and societal impacts.

        I focus on the fuel cost because it is easy and obvious. But you’re right, real costs are closer to $1 per mile, although I like to think I haven’t spent $160k on my Suburban… 😉

    • Greg

      Considering a new Nissan Leaf is about $30k, a $9k 3-year-old Leaf represents 70% depreciation. YIKES!

          • You have to be careful. It is a risk, but so is buying any used car. The battery on my Leaf was just down one bar when I bought it and it is still doing very well. A complete replacement is around $5k, and there are rumored to be shops who will rebuild a pack by replacing just the failed modules.

            The Leaf requires virtually no shop maintenance, unlike my Suburban that has had a transfer case rebuild, water pump, fuel pump, brakes 4 times, fluids, etc., each of which is $1000+. It was around $1k just to change all the fluids on my pickup! So there is some margin for battery servicing eventually.

          • You could have, you know, replaced the Suburban with a Honda Fit.

            Otherwise, it makes about as much sense as saying ‘I used to drive an M1 Abrams, now I drive a Leaf, and the Abrams used to cost $100 a mile.’

            And, yeah, as mentioned above, the Leaf is only so cheap because it has massive depreciation because so many owners don’t want to hang onto old electric cars.

    • I’ve seen a Tesla on northern Canberra roads. It looks great tootling along, sucking up my subsidies. I once saw it plugged into the free charging station at the Belconnen markets. Yes, paid for from my tax money again.

    • Electric vehicles may seem cheap now, but when you have to start paying for everything that regular vehicles are now paying for. They be not just a little more than a regular vehicle, but a lot more. Especially when you factor in the pension plans and the welfare from all the people who no longer have jobs. You’ll either pay, or you better get yourself and electric tank to drive, there will be anarchy in the streets.

      • And the latest plan to make EVs pay tax per Mile? Have a GPS device tracking all of your movements!

        And some people think it’s not about surveillance, of course. Idiots.

    • Greg

      There you have the nub of the matter. In town. Until the EV can make the transition from expensive (if you were the initial purchaser) second car runabout ) to a reasonably priced main vehicle it will remain a niche product.

      By main vehicle I mean one into which you can load goods and family and travel hundreds of miles through a rural and hilly area without checking the fuel gauge every five seconds and wondering if there is a charging point close by, whilst driving in a normal manner, often with lights, heating, radio, windscreen wipers and heaters full on

      • I just bought a tesla, interesting because it wasn’t in my nature. I am a performance car driver by heart, such as the Evo 8 I loved to drive. There is a whole line of gas cars that I’ve enjoyed and still enjoy.
        The tech in the tesla is pretty neat. The drive experience in the tesla is very nice. The performance is Very nice. The knowledge I can hop in the car and go ten miles and know I haven’t been in open loop the whole time is wonderful. I can hop in a cold car and race out of an uphill driveway and not consider cold engine internals.
        The reality is the tesla is an expensive car for what you get, except it delivers better than anything else. It is a toy, couldn’t buy one thinking it is an economic windfall. If you like having the best, being on the front then it might be for you.

        • Would love to have a Tesla and that will eventually happen, maybe when the pickup is available.

          But the used vehicle path is an alternate and very economical path to drive an (older, less advanced) EV with extremely low risk. Driving for $0.04 per mile energy cost and not having to stop at the gas station is very satisfying.

    • So Greg’s plan to save the world from evil CO2 is for every auto buyer in the country to wait for someone else to buy an electric vehicle and wait three years until it depreciates 60-70%. At the reduced price it would then be cost-justified. Problem solved!

      Golly, what could possibly go wrong with that plan?

      By the way, why are these Leafs losing 60-70% of their value in three years, as compared to a 46% loss for the typical vehicle? Could it be that they just don’t work well for most of the buyers?
      https://www.trustedchoice.com/insurance-articles/wheels-wings-motors/car-depreciation/

      • Part of that is the available tax credits only go to the purchaser of a new vehicle. So if you buy a Leaf on Monday and sell it on Tuesday, it has instantly depreciated by at least as much as all the combined tax credits.

    • Nissan Leaf =
      You’re driving a tiny, ugly “coal car”,
      perhaps “perfect” for crowded city streets ?

      Here in southeastern Michigan
      DTE electric power is about 65% from coal
      so I call Teslas “coal cars”.

      At least the expensive Teslas look good,
      and are fast.

      Two of my blog articles on electric cars:

      https://elonionbloggle.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-michigan-coal-cars-and-dirty.html

      https://elonionbloggle.blogspot.com/2018/04/why-electric-cars-are-no-good.html

      • Coal came from… plants, which came from energy from the sun.

        So my Leaf is actually Nuclear Fusion powered.

    • It costs you a lot more than $0.04. That may be the “variable” cost, but the fixed costs so far are $9000.00/10000mi = 90 cents per mile. Total is closer to $0.94 per mile to drive. Over time your big suburban will do better because it will drive many more miles, most likely, than you could ever get from your Leaf.

      My 2006 Chevy Impala cost me $15,000 in 2008. Certified Used, it had around 28,000 miles on it. Today it has over 300,000 miles on it, or roughly $0.05 per mile for fixed costs. Tires and oil and filters add around 2 cents per mile, and all other maintenance probably 1-2 cents per mile. I get around 31 mpg on the highway, meaning around another $0.08/mile. Total = around $0.17 per mile, and with a 17.5 gallon tank it has a range of over 500 miles.

      You’ve got around 60K miles to go to get to my total cost of 0.17 cents/mile, and I have a real car. I also have a suburban with over 200,000 miles on it.

      The IRS deduction for mileage is 54.5 cents per mile, by comparison, an average total cost.

      • Although I agree on the long life of heavy duty vehicles like Suburbans (which is why I own one, a 3/4 ton version), there isn’t anything to suggest that the Leaf doesn’t have a similar life span. No engine to wear out. Electric motors run forever, electronics have a long life. It is more likely they will become functionally obsolete because newer/better/cheaper models will become available.

  2. oddly, i have yet to see a car at the tesla charging station near my house. but it is 100 feet off I-90. near a restaurant.

    • A diesel fuel cell vehicle would be great. Is there a commercial one in existence?

      Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles lack filling stations, among other minor issues. It would be better to use natural gas from a thermodynamic perspective instead of hydrogen.

        • Fuel cells that can use hydrocarbons are solid oxide types. They are great devices for grid backup, but they are big, heavy, and operate at very high temperatures — typically between 500 and 1,000 °C.

          If you use a reformer to generate hydrogen so that a regular alkaline or Proton-exchange membrane fuel cell can use it you have added more machinery and energy use. The other problem is that those types of fuel cells use platinum group metals as their catalysts instead of stuff like nickle.

          Fuel cells just sound like a good idea.

          • The CSIRO has developed a technology of readily obtaining hydrogen from liquid ammonia. The idea is to store a “tank” of ammonia at your friendly service station where it is converted to hydrogen on site in a simple process, to fill up your fuel cell driven car.

          • And ammonia is produced by combinig hydrogen and nitrogen at high temperature (500 C) and high pressure (100 Atmospheres).

            So first you make hydrogen (usually from natural gas) by a very energy-intensive process, then you combine it with nitrogen in a very energy-intensive process, then you separate ’em again and use only the hydrogen.

            I wonder if CSIRO ever considered using the natural gas as vehicle fuel instead? Vastly more efficient. But ofcourse this is an already existing and functional solution, and therefore off-limits.

        • My dream is an alcohol burning fuel cell. Easy to handle, and environmentally friendly.

          George, I am an alcohol burning fuel cell. Quite an efficient one too!

          Unfortunately I’m not easy to handle (just ask the wife), and probably not environmentally friendly.

        • Given the real cost of alcohol production in the U.S. and the means of production, there is nothing environmentally friendly about alcohol as a fuel.

      • Pure hydrogen is a terrible way to transmit its energy. Combining hydrogen with carbon makes it much more tractable and easy to handle.

        Hydrogen, even liquid hydrogen, is so light that any given volume of it carries very little energy.

        One liter of liquid hydrogen contains 71 grams of hydrogen. By way of comparison, one liter of liquid natural gas (CH4) contains 103 grams of hydrogen and is at a temperature of -162 C which is 90 C warmer than liquid hydrogen (-253 C). At room temperature, one liter of gasoline contains 118 grams of hydrogen, and one liter of diesel, 130 grams.

        Of course liquid hydrogen costs lots of energy to make, is difficult to store (it will leak out of any container in a matter of days), and is 423 F below zero, so be careful when handling it.

        Compressed hydrogen is less dense than liquid, and kaboom.

    • CG. I did, extensively, in essay Hydrogen Hype in ebook Blowing Smoke. The Prius produces less CO2 because most hydrogen comes from steam reformation of methane.

      • Rud- very nice synopsis of why hybrid cars make sense, both economically and ecologically. By my seat of the pants analysis I’ve thought the same since the first version Prius. From the get go it’s been a marvelously designed and reliable vehicle.

        That’s why it’s been a relative sales success. If a compact sedan suits your life style there really was no other choice until recently.

  3. From what I deduce about hybrid systems, they should work well in heavy traffic. If one is lucky enough to not regularly get into start-stop traffic, a regular gas popper doesn’t have the batteries and electrics to haul around, taking energy to move.
    On the other hand, currently disfavored automotive diesels idle quite efficiently, so I wonder what the comparison to a hybrid would be in heavy traffic.

    • I now own a 2018 Accord Hybrid. When I’m driving locally, in traffic, the car gets 47+mpg. For the 1,700 mile trip I just completed, the car averaged 43mpg… It works very well in traffic, as far a mpg goes. It works respectably well, as far a mpg, in long distance freeway driving.

      • That is odd, because my car (a Kia Rio) gets 600 km per 40 L tank in the city, but country driving ups it to about 750 km. Ie, 42 MPG city driving, vs 53 MPG country. It’s as if your country driving is being held down to the same performance as your city driving?

        • ” It’s as if your country driving is being held down to the same performance as your city driving?”

          It’s a hybrid. In the city, you benefit from only running the engine when you have to. On the highway, you’re lugging around some fairly heavy electric gubbins which is pretty much useless when driving at 65mph.

          I’m always amused when I see someone on other forums saying ‘I bought a hybrid for better fuel economy, but it doesn’t do any better than my old car on the highway.’ Well, duh.

          • MarkG

            Gasoline is a very material cost in those countries of the world where we call it ‘petrol’ and it is up to four times the cost of the fuel in America

          • TonyB,
            It is not up to four times the cost, it is up to four times the tax. All the problems in France are due to the tax not the actual cost of fuel. If people think that EVs will escape such taxes then I have an ocean front property in Kansas to sell them. All these smart meters and sensors on ‘public’ recharge points will become tax points for any ‘plug in’ car. Not until the manufacture of ICE vehicles has been curtailed of course.

      • My 2014 Accord V6 gets an honest 30 mpg. Which is great in my book. I just returned from a 360 mi trip each way. I filled up once each way. $30 each. The hotel was $300/night. Heck dinner Saturday night ran $670 for 8 people. Gasoline is not a material cost.

          • I have a 150L fuel tank. I can save 10c a litre shopping around, that’s $15 ($14 really as you don’t go to empty).

      • My old 3 litre BMW diesel gets roughly similar consumption, About 40 mph around town, and 45 to 50 mpg on an open run.

    • I have owned 3 hybrids so far.
      A 2008 Prius.
      A 2012 Lexus RX450h.
      A 2013 Lexus ES300h.

      The Prius and the ES300h make economic sense if you’re paying close to $4/gal for gas.
      The RX hybrid needed above that to be justified, probably $5, but you don’t buy an RX450h for the gas mileage.

      Still all 3 were very nice automobiles to drive around town. It is so nice to have the engine quietly shutdown when stopped, and then kick in with both the battery and the engine almost immediately as the accelerator is depressed. The Prius sucked in cold weather of Boston winter though. On those bitter cold mornings, it never got warm in the car before I arrived at my work in the Prius, just 12 miles away. And when the temp is below 40 deg F for any hybird, the fuel economy sucks as the computer is running the engine lots to try to warm things up and charge a cold battery.

      My Ex got the RX450h. She loves it of course. I drove it for year when it was new, and it is a sweet ride. Both the RXh and ESh hybrid cruised on the interstates at 70-80 MPH with great gas mileage.

      The Prius though is very noisy on the interstate. Lower to the road surface and less insulation. The built-in hands free cell phone blue tooth microphone in the Prius picked up the road noise and made the other people is was talking to unable to hear me over the road noise. The Prius is good around town car, but is not a good interstate driving machine if you are going to do lots of long distance driving.

      Another huge factor: Hybrids are great when the air temps are between 65 F and 85 F. Above that, and the A/C is running which forces the computer to run the engine more. Below that and the gas mileage drops quickly as the engine runs lots more to run the heater and charge a cold battery.

      At $2.50 gal (today in Tucson), a hybrid’s cost premium will never pay for itself. And for any plug-in or EVs here in Tucson at night, you’re are certainly charging your car batteries with a combination of coal and/or natural gas made electricity. Tesla’s here in Tucson, charged at night, are fossil fuel powered automobiles.

      • I drove a friend’s 2007 Prius recently. Not a pleasant experience. Interior not big enough for 4 adults. Barely enough headroom for me driving. Boot (trunk) too small for all our climbing & camping gear. Pathetic ground clearance. Poor torque/acceleration and noisy ICE engine when running. Worst of all was the strange ‘hunting’ on a steady cruise, almost as if it couldn’t decide between applying power vs regenerative braking.
        OK as a town car.
        Four grown-ups plus kit on a jolly to the hills? No thanks.
        I’ll take my 2004 diesel Passat. 50+ mpg , quieter, bigger.

  4. $1 penalty for premium? Gads. Moving would be cheaper. Traditionally it’s about 10-15 cents differential per grade (87-91-93) here (Texas).

  5. If we converted the entire U.S. fleet entirely to all electric, how much electricity would be consumed recharging (mostly at night more or less all at once) and how many new power plants, windmill farms, and solar plantations would be needed vs. the existing electric power industry. Just asking? I sense this could be a significant bottleneck / hurdle.

      • The main impact of replacing most of our incandescent bulbs with LEDs is that I now no longer worry about turning lights off when I’m not in the room.

        Certainly I haven’t seen any noticeable impact on our electricity bills.

          • But all your other power consumption will overwhelm the savings. Just look at a quick list:
            washing machine
            dryer
            dishwasher
            cooktop
            oven
            TV/VCR (always on, even if the display is off)

            And these are just the individual big consumers. Add in all the miscellaneous items and you will see why you can’t identify the savings in your actual electricity bill.

          • I have changed to Leds in the two main rooms where lights are used for long hours and where I have quite a few bulbs-8 to 10 each in living room and kitchen.

            They certainly save a huge amount of expensive power. Not worth doing where lights are turned quickly on and off, such as bathrooms, loft spaces etc or where there are single lights

            tonyb

          • Several good aspects of LEDs in addition to power consumption, fittings don’t get hot, nice choice of different color temperatures, bulb replacement far less frequent. The frequency with which the incandescents died was really annoying, when we replaced all the lights in my friend’s house with LEDs she still wanted to get a load of replacements, I persuaded her not to and in 2.5 yrs no replacements have been necessary.

        • I agree.

          I now never switch off the outside lights. They now run 24/7.

          I rarely ever switch off the bathroom light. It too now runs 24/7.

          When I go out in the evening, I put on about a dozen lights whereas in the past, I would have put on only 1 or 2 lights to make the house seem occupied.

          The change in use means that there is no significant change in energy consumption. Incidentally, I note that as I am writing this in the lounge, at 11:30 am, I have 9 LED lights on! I guess that I switched them on at about 7:30 when it was dark, and 4 hours later I have not got round to switching them off!

      • Off by several orders of magnitude.
        Changing every bulb in the country to an LED might save 1 to 2% in energy production, where as converting every car in the country to electric would require more than doubling electric production.

        • Roughly equivalent to eight 60 watt bulbs on 24/7. Or 16 for 8 hours.

          Or it’s about 1/3 of the typical power used by a typical house. Efficiency lighting and other upgraded more than cover that.

          No new power plants needed, etc.

          • I think what you are trying to say here is that charging your EV overnight is the same as running both your cooktop and oven all night long.

          • There isnt 33% savings to be found in an average household, if it was just laying around people would have already done it.

            Rather than looking at households, look at how much gas is sold yearly and how much electricity it would take to replace that energy, even giving a generous bonus of only needing to replace half of it due to the increased efficiency of electric vehicles.

            You arent the first person to underestimate how much horsepower hits the road everyday in America.

          • If you truly believe that the energy from 8 60W bulbs running 24/7 is enough to power the average electric car, you are even more delusional than your other posts have led me to believe.

          • I’ve replaced almost all of the bulbs in my house to LED and the difference wasn’t noticeable on the bill. If you live somewhere where you never have to run the A/C and have few modern appliances, you might get a 33% savings.

          • Hardly.

            Do the math yourself, isn’t difficult.

            Figure out how much the average person drives in a day, which is about 30 miles. A Leaf uses roughly 0.34 Kwh per mile, so you’ll need about 10kwh to recharge overnight. Spread over about 15 hours that is 680 watts, about 6 amps. Close to what your computer and it’s peripherals use.

            Average house uses 30kwh per day and around 10% of that is lighting, or 3 kwh.

            So if you are average and switch to LED lighting that covers 1/3 of of your vehicle charging. Switching out inefficient appliances and wall warts makes up some more.

            Since you (hopefully) don’t leave your computer on at night, that is about the same power draw ad charging your car.

            So shouldn’t be a power plant issue….

            Now many people have multiple cars but then the likely have a bigger house too.

            So run the numbers, I find it isn’t as dire as many think.

          • You are confusing how easy it is for one house to charge one car with how easy it will be to replicate that feat nationwide.

            The purpose of electric cars isnt to get one small car into a house but to replace the entire gas powered fleet of cars. In short its purpose to replace gasoline.

            Some 390 million gallons of gas are sold daily in the US. Replacing even a fraction of that energy will not be as simple as upgrading some lightbulbs – which has already been done since incandescents are not sold anymore.

      • One area where your argument fails in in households that heat with electric. Where I live the heating season is 8 months of the year. During those months the reduced energy use of the LED with be compensated by increased energy use by the electric heater.

      • Don’t forget that in the summer you pay for the 60 watts to light an incandescent light bulb, then you pay for the air conditioning to move that 60 watts of heat outdoors. (In the winter it just reduces your heating bill.)

        Plus the cost of the bulbs and sometimes payone to have them changed…

  6. Nice write up. I’ve always wondered about all the terms bandied about in the press. Thanks.

    By the way the best use of electric is for low RPM because that is where the electric motor generates maximum torque. Ian Wright (X1 fame & was at Tesla but left long long ago) does drive trains for garbage/recycling trucks. A 5 ton vehicle stopping and starting movement every 30 feet, block after block. Perfect place for an electric.

    https://www.wrightspeed.com/

    • The traditional milk float used in UK cities to deliver the milk every morning was electric. Perfect application, slow, many stops, quiet (great at 5 in the morning, the milk bottles made more noise), duty cycle of morning delivery meant plenty of time to recharge.

  7. > EPA’s battery MPGe should be reduced to account for the thermal losses in generating and distributing grid electricity, since these were included in the 37mpg gasoline rating. The true energy equivalent battery mode is about (93*.45*.8) 33.5 MPGe. No surprise that this is even lower than 37 MPG using gasoline.

    The same should be but is not calculated in the energy consumption of various transit modes. Electric trains are magical chariots that whisk passengers using only fairy dust and unicorn farts.

  8. The big push now is for high performance cars to have hybrid electric motors. The advantage of an electric motor is the flat torque curve. Koenigsegg actually uses a torque converter and eliminates the gearbox. It is like pulling away from rest in 7th gear.

    Free enterprise actually finds an actual business application for the electric motor in a car.

    When I was young, British Railways actually had diesel electric engines – the diesel motor actually drove a generator that powered electric motors. Google Napier Deltic.

    • When I was young, British Railways actually had diesel electric engines – the diesel motor actually drove a generator that powered electric motors.

      Here’s a wiki page on British Rail locomotives. Of the classes still in use, almost all are diesel electric. Diesel electric is almost perfect for trains.

      One advantage that is almost never mentioned is that electric motors load share very well and are relatively easy to control. That means it is standard practice on this side of the pond to have very long trains, more than a mile long, pulled by multiple locomotives.

  9. I engineer ‘systems’ from fractional to 200hp [150kw] electric motors all day. They are lovely beasts, will outpace an ICE engine all day, from reliability (essentially 1 moving part), 0-rpm torque, speed and efficiency. Copper is expensive, an off the shelf industrial 200hp motor will cost over 10K (even with OEM discounts). With that said, motors I am buying can produce 200hp all day long, 24/7, not the same duty cycle a vehicle needs. A de-rated 100hp electric motor can produce 300hp but for short period of time, allowing the motor to cool in between.
    My point, electrification of vehicles can be a beautiful thing, just not for the reasons the green’s think. To get all that copper and rare metals, some top of a mountain needs to removed, mined, extracted, liquefied, purified, transported, processed…all using nuclear or fossil fuels. On top of that, where is the electricity coming from, potential more fossil fuels….

    • Duncan, I for one would be delighted to own a cheap, simple, straightforward EV for everyday use that I could charge at my fossil-fueled home.

      I know they can be made. I just don’t think they’ll be allowed.

      • You sure can, they make electric Golf Carts, great for short trips. Everything you are asking for. I agree, they are not allowed on the road, they cannot be safetied, cannot be licenced , cannot be insured and the government cannot charge you a road taxes. Why are they not allowed?

        • Golf carts are allowed on the streets of Laguna Beach, California, and, I believe, they are licensed. Don’t know how they meet all the safety rules.

          There aren’t many of them, but they are around.

      • That describes the Arcimoto. https://www.arcimoto.com/ $12K for a new vehicle that will out accelerate my Miata. Compare it to an electric motorcycle, not a small car. Beta units delivered and retail sales planned to start in early 2019.

    • Count me in when they can figure an acceptable power-to-weight ratio of units in the 6MW range and proper management of 600 to 1600+ miles of extension cord.

    • Duncan,

      “potential more fossil fuels….”

      Not potentially, actually. Any charging of an electric vehicle is an extra load on the grid. Renewable generators cannot respond to that extra load, fossil fuel generators can and indeed the grid could not function without them to keep demand and load balanced. (This does also apply to hydro generation )
      So, fundementally, E.V.s are fuelled from fossil fuel, it does not do a lot for the overall efficiency of them.

    • … an off the shelf industrial 200hp motor will cost over 10K …

      Suppose that it’s running full out 24/7 and electricity is 5 cents per kwh and assume 100% efficiency.

      150 x 0.05 x 24 x 365 = $65,700 per year

      You could build a lot cheaper motor but the efficiency would suffer and it would cost you a bundle.

  10. I wonder if quick swap batteries would be a good strategy for true electrics. It would be a cure for charging time and range anxiety. Batteries could be charged at an optimal rate. Swap pricing could reflect peak grid times, battery gluts and shortages. There could be a thriving road service swap sector. All the cheap computing power could keep track of them and account for wear and tear from home charging.

    • Spend a few minutes thinking about the equipment that would be needed to swap a battery pack in just a few minutes. Those puppies weigh hundreds of pounds.

      Not to mention how much heavier electric cars would have to be in order to allow the battery packs to be removed quickly.

      • It might still be a worth while trade off –especially if you had a lot of excess nuclear electricity and, perhaps, efficient dc power lines stretched out to a desert solar PV farm.

        • Who’s going to pay for all that excess nuclear power capacity?
          Even “efficient dc power lines” lose a significant fraction of the power over several hundred miles.

      • I don’t think the equipment would be that bad. Some double layer stalls like in a quick change oil place. Some hydrolic lift carts Teslas have a flat floor battery. A low profile cart could slide under and remove a battery. Another could slide the fresh one in. There could be trailers for emergencies or extended trips. The batteries could be stored in all those empty shopping malls.

        • “A low profile cart could slide under and remove a battery.”

          You just try that with a car that has just run a couple of hundred miles on a dirt road. Or a slushy salted road in winter.

          There are good reasons why Tesla only did that quick battery exchange routine once.

        • Once again, you aren’t thinking this through.
          First off, the cost of building these “double layer stalls” isn’t cheap, it would also mean a large increase in the amount of area needed for a “changing” station as you need room to maneuver your car in order to drive onto it. Gas stations you don’t need to park precisely because of the hose reach.

          Secondly you still haven’t considered the amount of equipment that will need to lift up to grab the old pack and then precisely place the new pack so that the electrical contacts will connect correctly. Then there’s the mechanism needed to move the pack from your car to the charging area.

          Thirdly you haven’t dealt with the fact that creating a mounting bracket that can be quick disconnected is going to be larger, heavier and a lot more expensive than the current mounting schemes.

    • The problem with this is that batteries deteriorate over time. Are you going to swap your six month old battery for a six year old one? Why would you? And what if you arrive at a swap station and the only batteries available are six years old.

      • BTW Elon Musk had a press conference where he demonstrated how quickly an automated Tesla battery swap could take place. The idea and method were never implemented. Why? Because it was all a PR stunt to allow them to get greatest tax credit from California.

        • 1) Yet another expense for a car that’s already uneconomical.
          2) It will take all of 30 minutes until someone figures out how to hack those chips so that all battery packs report as being brand new.

      • Because you PAY for refilling you will pay less a full six years old than a full six months old one.
        The problem is, IMHO, how many battery need to store a refilling station?
        If a battery needs 4 hours to recharge, how many cars will enter to the fill stations in that gap of time?

        • 4 hours is probably optimistic but I’ll go with that.

          Assuming it takes 10 minutes to park and fill up a car, a single pump could handle 6 cars per hour. Let’s make it 5 to be generous.

          So that’s 5 battery packs per hour times 5 hours, so 20 battery packs minimum per changing station.

          Most gas stations have at least 12 pumps, so you will need room for 240 battery packs. You will also need to have enough power to charge all of those battery packs at the same time.

          Let’s say you need about 5kW/hr to charge a battery pack, so the service to your charging station will need to be at a minimum around 1.2MW.
          Your changing station is going to need it’s own electric sub-station.

    • It’s been tried. I too thought that sounded like a great idea and was sold by Shai Agassi’s TED talk. But…

      “Better Place’s battery-swapping stations were projected to cost no more than $500,000 each; they cost $2 million. They’re now shut down.”
      https://www.fastcompany.com/3028159/a-broken-place-better-place

      How much does it cost to build a filling station? Probably something similar, to be honest, but it will serve customers from small, simple (relatively, given vapour recovery etc) pumps, rather than a complex piece of machinery for every car. And needing many of them to handle ‘refuelling’ several cars simultaneously. He really couldn’t do maths.

      Is this the way forward? I reckon it will either be forced to be something like Better Place for EVs – where you don’t own the battery, so don’t care if it’s new or old – or Mr Fusion. The forcing could only be political mandate making fossil fuelled cars illegal, because EVs don’t make sense for a lot of people. As I read recently, no-one forced people to change from VHS to DVDs, no subsidies were needed, it just made sense so it happened.

      Personally, I believe that if we really do have to reduce CO2 emissions any technological breakthrough will involve making Autogas (LPG) from excess electricity – renewables or more likely nuclear – because carbon based fuels are just so much more user-friendly. Autogas is already widely used in vehicles, it’s cheaper and it produces fewer nitrous oxides and particulates than more common fuels. Plus you can’t spill it on your boots – what’s not to like?

  11. It isn’t really clear what the MPGe is measuring in respect of the environmental impact anyway. Come to NZ where fossil fuel produces <20% of the electricity and the stooy is quite different. EVs make much more environmental sense than any of the others, and for short-haul the economics are closing quickly.

    • The problem is that hydro in NZ is tapped out. Switching to electrics means you are going to have to double (at least) your electric generation capacity. That’s going to have to come from either nuclear or fossils.

          • Up with some of the best quality wind resource in the world (we’re in the roaring 40s). As much raw resource as probably all of Australia.

          • The problem in NZ is winter when all of hydro, wind and solar are on holiday. Inter-seasonal storage isn’t easy, but the ability to reduce winter thermal loads looks quite practical.

            On the other hand inter and intra day supply and demand management is getting increasingly easy (particularly with high penetration of EVs ), so with a reasonably functioning market as we have in NZ you’ll just pay for what you buy.

      • The Socialist’s green solution to Climate Change is to beggar everyone into a common poverty of equal misery. Then everyone, except the uber-rich elites with their private jets and yachts and luxury cars, will not be able to afford a private vehicle. Problem solved.

        • That’s why it’s better to have rich capitalists. They have to actually sell tuff to a lot of people in order to be rich capitalists.

      • nope, to do the light duty cycle fleet (ev not sensible for heavy duty) would only require about 30-40% more generation (remember the electric supply chain only needs about 40% of the energy required by fossil fuel). Known geothermal (you did know we had that for baseload?) and currently consented wind would cover it.

        • While there have been some who claimed that less than doubling will be enough, all those claims are based on utterly unrealistic assumptions about how life styles will change in the future.
          Geothermal, like hydro, has already been developed about as much as it can be developed.
          Wind doesn’t blow when the power is needed.

        • nope, it’s just based on taking the PJs currently consumed by the light duty cycle fleet and adjusting it for the inherent greater efficiency of the electricity generator to wheel supply chain.

          There is 1GW of known unexploited geothermal capacity in NZ (more than doubling existing capacity), and considerable potential for improving conversion efficiencies and exploiting additional resources.

          See earlier comment about when renewable resources aren’t available, and I should add that with a high proportion of hydro Ingra seasonal variability isn’t a problem. It’s the winter demand before the snow melts and the spring winds arrive that are the problem.

  12. EPA – ya gotta love ’em.

    In the good old days, they tried to do something value-add that sounded sooooo simple: what MPG does that thing get? Then all the hanky-panky starts: assumptions about city/hwy ratios, how much corn is in your petroleum, plus assumptions about how real drivers actually drive. All gets boiled down to 2-numbers hardly anybody believes.

    Sounds like EVs of all stripes just make the calculations even more opaque.

  13. Had a good laugh today while in Seattle traffic. I was in my Honda Civic hybrid, reading an average 40.4MPG, sitting next to a Tesla model 3. It had New York plates!!
    I can only wonder how long it took them to drive here…🤔

    • I had a good laugh on a cold windy day picking up the beverage containers that blew across the parking lot to the Tesla charging station at a grocery center. There was a couple all bundled up and shivering as their Tesla got charged. I hauled my bottles and cans back to my car, all toasty warm from excess engine heat.

      • As you note, there are almost always coffee/cafe/restaurant/etc. at charge stations to keep you occupied and warm.

        My interstate gas stops always take 1/2 hour anyway, the typical fast charge time.

    • Nice try! 30 min fast charge. I can never get out of an interstate Love’s Travel Station in less than that time what with fueling, restroom stops, snacks or food, etc.

  14. Rud –

    I have always found your comments useful. They are always full of backed-up facts and well written. I don’t remember seeing a post from you before. But then I don’t catch every post. This post is like everything else I have read by you here at WUWT: very factual, well reasoned, and well written.

    So I want you to know I am not being facetious when I ask this question: Why worry about fuel economy at all?

    Back in 1973 with an oil embargo, continued fuel shortages looked like a distinct possibility. Thus, the gradually increasing fuel economy standards were born. When CAGW because of CO2 became the government position, even more stringent fuel economy standards were proposed to curtain CO2 emissions.

    Now that the president (and hopefully the executive branch of the government) is no longer a believer in CAGW, and fracking has brought on a fuel glut, why worry about regulating fuel economy at all. Let the market place decide what is “good” fuel economy.

      • MarkW-

        Agreed. If the different cars are the same weight and functionality. My comment was meant to be about government fuel economy standards, not fuel economy per se.

    • Correct.

      If I recall correctly, WUWT had a post or 2 back in the day that vehicle fuel economy had the perverse effect of actually increasing the amount of fuel burnt in a given area. People with very fuel efficient vehicles tend to do more leisure driving, likely since it is felt that it was so economical to drive that weekend trips were now much more affordable.

      So increasing fuel economy result in MORE fuel being burnt, meaning government has no place regulating fuel economy if the goal is to reduce to fuel burnt. THAT goal is achieved by high fuel tax – not the best way to get elected.

      PS – Ristvan, if you are unable to comment at the CTH, you may want to know that many old timers have been banished. They have re-congregated at wolfmoon1776’s new “refuge for refugees” at wqth(dot)wordpress(dot)com, in the event you are interested. Free speech is welcomed there.

  15. If the savings are so good then why do people in general not buy a hybrid a second time?
    When gas is relatively cheap, and you put high mileage on your car, you will not see much advantage to a hybrid or PHEV.

    I do own a Honda Clarity PHEV. With the $7500 tax credit it costs about the same as a turbo accord with similar driving characteristics. At the time the State of WA did not apply a sales tax, saving about 9%. I don’t drive much so I use electric almost exclusively. Not everyone’s best choice and probably not my most economical but it is fun to drive around town. I would not repeat the buy without the handouts. Probably a big reason the Chevy Volt will no longer be in production after march 2019.

  16. Fascinating stuff as always, Rud.

    I don’t know if this applies to electric cars, but the billionaire owner of the LA Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong, is claiming to have a new zinc air battery breakthrough:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/27/cheaper-battery-is-unveiled-as-a-step-to-a-carbon-free-grid.html?__source=sharebar

    I remember this comment you once made:

    ristvan February 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm
    GF, solve the fatal zinc dendrite formation shorting problem and you will be a multimillionaire. i bet you cannot, because is inherent in that electrochemistry.

    https://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/energy-storage-set-to-boom-in-2017-yawn/#comment-2428356

    Is Patrick Soon-Shiong going to be a multimillionaire?

  17. EV’s are not powered by Electricity, electricity is only a power transport medium, the term EV is a misnomer..
    If you plug your EV-car onto a coal electricity generation source your car is coal powered
    If you plug your EV-car onto a natural gas electricity generation source your car is natural gas powered
    If you plug your EV-car onto a nuclear electricity generation source your car is nuclear powered

  18. There has been a lot of spin lately on the much-sought after Space Elevator ( https://www.technology.org/2018/09/11/a-japanese-company-is-about-to-test-a-tiny-space-elevator-in-space/ ) which emphasizes the incredible tensile strength of carbon nano-tubes. As an ancillary, the nano-tube reinforced rim of an energy storage flywheel is predicted to bring electric cars up to several thousand miles between charges.
    Since you could probably spin them back up overnight with 120 VAC, or charge them quickly at a rest stop with
    higher voltages/currents, this could finally produce a (cheaper) electric car I might actually buy.

    • You for sure want to turn left and right and also drive up and down mountains. You also want to park your car for longer times while it is charged. The wheel is very stiff in this state and compared to it your car is like a feather. Unless your wheel has a cardanic suspension your car will move in unexpected ways even while parked. For instance, parked in east direction it will make one somersault per day.

      A wheel contained in a spherical container takes up huge space. Loading and consuming the energy wouldn’t be a trivial thing either. Good luck with your idea.

    • And if that flywheel ever fails, everyone in your car, not to mention those within 20 feet of your car will be instantly vaporized.

    • Flywheels have horrible energy storage densities. Work out the speed and moment of inertia to store anything meaningful and you’ll see what I mean.

  19. Fuel cell is the eventual winner, rip out the ridiculous batteries and replace them with a fuel cell, sort of like the compact florescent light were a bad idea as LED lights were already being produced.

    • See my comments above. Fuel cells either are obligate hydrogen users or are high temperature solid oxide. Hydrogen is a terrible transportation fuel and solid oxide cells cannot be used for mobile power.

    • “eventual’ is the right word. Back in 1995, when I was working on a project involving putting a fuel cell in a heavy duty truck, I confidently predicted to my colleagues that there would be lots of fuel cell cars on the road by 2010. Oh well, making accurate predictions is hard, particularly if they are about the future.

      Currently all fuel cell cars use hydrogen, and the main problem is fuel cost and availability. So yes, eventually, when fuel cell fuel costs are lower than gasoline or diesel fuel, and you can get it at your local service station, fuel cells will be the winner.

  20. A hybrid with a small ICE engine functionally equivalent to the full engine sized version ? No way. Just hook a trailer or take a long enough to deplete the battery road and see how different they are.

    Second misconception, power versus energy delivery. I don’t have the numbers in head but as many I also own a cobra electronic flash for my camera. Quite a good strong one, operates on 4 AA cells.

    During the flash impulse it can deliver an average power up to about 120 HP. That is during 1/2’000 second or so. Could I hook a trailer on it ? *laugh*

    Therefore stating the combined power of a hybrid vehicle is about as nonsensical as it gets if duration is omitted.

    Similar for the Teslarati math skills. On the autobahn I operate my modest ICE (lighter than a Tesla) vehicle at full power setting, that is about 100kW.

    Therefore I would deplete dead a Tesla 100kWh battery in one hour if all had a 100% efficiency.

    In practice, make that less than 40 minutes with a mindlessly optimistic putative 80% global efficiency, battery included.

    And if of course it does not trip some thermal concerns before. Because discharging a big battery at “Q”, that is in one hour or less, is something we are told to avoid on our on-board mega expensive and hyper certified to endure anything batteries.

    The confusion between power, energy and their relation to time is deeply exploited by about all somehow electrified vehicle makers and their herds of lobotomized supporters.

  21. I have a Niro PHEV, EV range 25-30mi. HEV mode 45mi/gal.

    I recharge overnight at off peak rates of $.035 / kwh. I get ~3.5 miles / kwh. Thus my cost is ~0.01/mile.

    I rarely travel more than 25 miles per day thus I rarely (once or twice per hr) purchase gas.

    PHEV tax credit ~$4500 makes the PHEV cost less than the HEV.

    Works for me.

  22. I think this is a flawed analysis. The post, for example, concludes that “EPA’s battery MPGe should be reduced to account for the thermal losses in generating and distributing grid electricity, since these were included in the 37mpg gasoline rating.”

    That’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. Gasoline isn’t pumped straight out of the ground, but requires quite a bit of energy-intensive refining activity to get from crude oil to fuel-grade gasoline. Those “losses” are most certainly NOT included in EPAs fuel economy ratings. The total cost of the refining process (which reflects the energy needed to refine the oil into gasoline) is however included in the price at the pump, just as the cost of electricity generation, with its attendant losses is included in the metered cost of fueling an EV. In other words, the efficiency of generating electricity is absolutely irrelevant to the vehicle fuel economy rating since the generation efficiency is accounted for in the price of the electricity itself, just as the efficiency of refining oil into gasoline is reflected in the price of gasoline.

    The bottom line is that at current electricity rates and current gasoline rates, it costs less money to move an electric vehicle a mile than it costs to move a gasoline powered vehicle a mile. The issue of whether electric vehicles are economically justified (and probably environmentally justified as well) boils down to whether the fuel cost savings over the useful life of the electric vehicle justifies the higher costs of manufacture. This post doesn’t address that issue.

    • Your point “That’s an apples-to-oranges comparison” may have merit; however, detailed calculations are required for both electrical and fossil fuel sources to determine if its a wash or there is a difference in fossil fuel use. For a more fair fuel efficiency comparison, the fuel economy for a Hybrid/EV should be adjusted to account for fossil fuels burned during the manufacture and maintenance (including mining of the battery materials and battery replacement at regular intervals).

      • The assertion of the main post was that electric vehicles would never make economic sense. It does not matter what fossil fuels were used to generate the electricity, or what rare earth metals were used in battery production. This is not a question of environmental impact. It’s only a question of money.

  23. Rud said: “to get 238 miles requires about 8-9 hours of charging”

    Another way of looking at this is that you are recharging at about 30 mph. If your use case is restricted to residential streets that is OK, but at highway speeds you are losing ground.

    • If you’re on the highway it only takes an hour and fifteen minutes to charge 238 miles. The 8-9 hour figure he was using refers to the slow garage chargers you plug into overnight. There are many, many fast chargers distributed along the highway system for long drives. It is still true that you waste about 1-2 hours a day on road trips by driving an electric car, even with the fast chargers, but ordinary in-tow driving more than makes up for that. With electric cars you spend a lot less time per year waiting to fuel your car because its refueling while you are sleeping and, except for that occasional road trip, you never have to pull into a station to waste any time filling a tank.

      • Ah yes, the legend of the fast recharger.

        This afternoon, I refueled my V6 Accord on my way home from the holiday. It was raining, snowing, and cold, with 30 mph winds. I spent about 30 seconds at the pimp getting it started, and then I ran inside the station to relieve myself. When I returned. It was done. Total time about 3 minutes. That was once for a 360 mi trip.

        • And for that same 360 mile trip in my electric car I would have driven the first 225-250 miles or so, found a supercharger, spent about 30 seconds at the charger getting it started, run into a McDonalds to relieve myself, eaten a snack for about 20 minutes to put the last 120-150 miles I needed into the battery (since charging from a low battery state , and driven home. And for the 20,000 miles a year I put on my car just driving to and from work, I never have to stop at a station at all regardless of the rain, snow, or wind.

          Certainly most rational people don’t refer to demonstrated technology as being a “legend” and since you didn’t seem to have disagreed with anything I said, I’m not seeing your point.

          • Or 30 or 40 minutes or 40 or 50 minutes. BTW, my car still has half a tank. I will refill next week.

            I am glad you are happy with your golf cart. I want more flexibility, and more performance from my automobile. It will run just fine in a month or two when the temperatures drop below zero. It has no problems when it is over 90 and I run the a/c on high all day.

            I spent $28,000 which is about half of what a comparable Tesla costs. I do not fit in mini-cars like the Leaf and the Bolt and will not buy them or their gas powered mates.

          • Further to my point. My car is a thing I use to make my life easier. I don’t spend time waiting for it or thinking about it.

            My trip this past weekend was for the four day holiday. We left town, drove 360 miles to a big city on Wednesday, drove around the big city for four days, and returned home Monday. The car carried my wife, me, and pies, casseroles, and presents for the holiday. We carried our hosts around in the car while we were there. The weather turned horrible on Sunday. We drove back with the heat on full blast to keep the windows clear.

            I gassed up the night before we left, once before we arrived, and once on the way home. Total time spent fueling 15 minutes. Total time spent thinking about fueling, 15 seconds.

            BEVs can’t do that. Not now. Not ever.

          • Sure – and now I’ll make my point. I have a daily commute of about 75-100 miles, almost all highway. I do anywhere from zero to two road trips per year where I would ever have to charge somewhere other than my garage. In a gasoline powered car I’d spend a small fortune driving to and from work, and even with the high up-front cost of buying a Tesla I crunched the numbers and figured I’d save money over the lifetime of the car.

            In my three and a half years of driving the car I’ve never once been worried about finding a place to charge, even when I drove it from Oregon to Nebraska, then to a fishing resort on Vancouver Island BC, then back to Portland. There were only a handful of times where charging the car was what I would call inconvenient, and those few instances are more than counterbalanced by the convenience of being able to fuel at home overnight for 90% of my driving, which is something I could never do with a gasoline powered car. Not now. Not ever.

            I don’t know of any rational person who thinks that electric cars are a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone’s driving needs, so the fact that you don’t think it’s practical for your driving routines comes as no shock. But based on my experience from owning one, and assuming they become economical for mass market sales (which is an open question at this point) a vast number of drivers would find them more convenient than gasoline powered cars.

            The idea asserted above that it takes 8-9 hours to charge up to 238 miles is wrong. Horribly so. Fast charging is not a “legend” and a Tesla (or a Leaf for that matter) is nothing comparable to a “golf cart.” There’s no need to disparage electric cars or to exaggerate the disadvantages they do have while dismissing their real advantages if your only point is that they don’t make practical sense in your life.

          • Kurt, when practically everyone (in the greenie utopia) has an EV, where are they going to put the Fast Charge vehicle bays that will be required when they all stop at the Motorway service station. At peak times for the same current throughput they are going to need between 12-15 times as many bays because it takes 12-15 times as long to fast charge an EV than to fill with FF.
            Or do you think that drivers will pay to use Pay & Stay Car Parks to charge their cars?
            Let’s not talk about the cost that this change is going to accrue over the next 30 years.

            At the moment those that are “milking” the current system of Subsidies & virtually tax free fuel are actually robbing everyone else who pays taxes for the privilege slightly cheaper motoring.

          • I live in Florida. When hurricane Irma decided to run the length of the state. As part of hurricane preparations I lay in a some jerry cans of fuel for the generator or for evacuation. My car will go 600miles on a tank without a lot of problem and I can carry nearly another tankful in jerry cans if needed. If I run out of fuel before finding a gas station I can be given some or walk to a gas station and walk back with some.

            As it was, with Irma, cars from the Keys and Miami were all refuelling around the same place and the power went out. Many gas stations have generators and can carry on supplying fuel. NONE of them can supply electricity especially fast charge. If an EV runs out it becomes a brick; you cannot carry a spare few gallons of power in the back and it cannot be recovered with a gallon of gas from a recovery vehicle.

            For townies who never have to consider really bad weather or emergencies – have an EV and virtue signal. For those that have to consider emergencies when power may be out for a couple of weeks or where an evacuation of several hundred miles is required it has to be a conventional gas/diesel powered vehicle.

          • “Kurt, when practically everyone (in the greenie utopia) has an EV, where are they going to put the Fast Charge vehicle bays that will be required when they all stop at the Motorway service station.”

            Like I already said, I don’t think that EVs will fit everyone’s needs. Although I will point out that, since most charging of EVs occurs in the owner’s home the need for fast charging stations won’t be as great as you likely think – especially if battery capacity increases. If very large numbers of people find electric vehicles more practical, the grid will adapt and the costs will again be reflected in the price for charging at the stations. I don’t understand why people have such little faith in the laws of supply and demand.

            “For townies who never have to consider really bad weather or emergencies – have an EV and virtue signal. For those that have to consider emergencies when power may be out for a couple of weeks or where an evacuation of several hundred miles is required it has to be a conventional gas/diesel powered vehicle.”

            See above, and note that many people like myself have two cars with only one of them electric. You guys really seem to like these straw man arguments. The only point I’ve been making is that there are practical and economic benefits to owning electric vehicles assuming that the production costs become cost competitive. Instead of responding to that, you presume that the only utility an electric car has over a gasoline powered car is for a “virtue signal.” You’re wrong.

            “At the moment those that are ‘milking’ the current system of Subsidies & virtually tax free fuel are actually robbing everyone else who pays taxes”

            If you would have limited your comment to the utilitarian point that subsidies distort the efficiency of the markets I would have agreed with you entirely. The tax code, however, is riddled with tax subsidies and your selective vituperation against those who take advantage of available electric vehicle subsidies is unwarranted. Thar is, unless you also accuse those who take the child tax credit of robbing from the childless or those who take the home mortgage deduction of robbing from those who can only afford an apartment.

        • If you use them a lot, yes, and I think most of that is from the deep discharge/charge cycle. If you only use them for the occasional vacation it’s not a problem at all. But again, this is just a cost issue that will be hashed out in the marketplace. If I can but an electric car with a motor that should last 30 years or so, avoiding all those engine gaskets and transmissions, and simply replace the battery every 12-15 years instead of a completely new car, I’d call that a win.

  24. BEVs are the technology of the past. My great-grandmother owned an electric car at the time of WWI. So did Mrs. Henry Ford. At that time, BEVs were a third of the cars on the road.

    BEVs are really are pretty much the same now as they were then. The basic mechanism hasn’t changed. Wire some batteries to an electric motor. Close the circuit and go. Want to go faster? Use bigger motors and bigger batteries. Better tires, and better aerodynamics help, but they are independent of the power train.

    BEVs are basically the same now as they were a century ago when my great-grandmother drove a BEV. Mrs. Henry Ford drove one too. By the time I knew her Granny had switched to Buicks.

    BEVs are like vinyl sound recordings and mechanical watches, Nostalgia technology for a very limited coterie.

  25. After reading the interesting article (thanks, Rud) and all the comments, my conclusion is that without subsidies at all layers, the market would sort this out by itself pretty quickly. IMHO hybrids would have a niche but full EVs would disappear, probably for decades. But I can’t see governments getting rid of all their subsidies any time soon, so we will be stuck with this mess for a long time.

    • BoyfromTottenham

      My thoughts as well.

      I heard something on the radio the other day that whilst London (predictably) is forging ahead with charging stations for the EV’s government have mandated will be sold from 2040, all other cities are lagging behind.

      Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Imagine that, the epicentre of the liberal green world (funny that, calling city dwellers green) with the country’s parliament at it’s hub being able to afford all sorts of things like EV charging, Crossrail etc. whilst all other cities are scratching for cash.

      I used to imagine my fellow Scot’s mad when they bitched about all the country’s money being spent in London, now I don’t think they’re quite as mad as I used to.

      And yet not one single, meaningful power station of any description is located within the M25 (the motorway about 20 miles out from London that encircles the city for those not familiar), all those nasty emissions are farmed out to power stations in the countryside because the country bumpkins don’t understand what it’s like living with London air pollution. Nor is there a meaningful wind farm or solar array operating in the green belt around London because, well, we don’t want our quaint Kent countryside sullied with those monstrosities. Send the horrible things up to the wilds of Scotland and Wales, or out to sea, just not near us.

      So how good are pure EV’s? Because make no mistake, when the bandwagon is rolling, London will ban everything except pure EV’s from it’s streets so the air is purer and cleaner than that surrounding the countryside power stations supplying all the charging.

      They are great until one has to do an 800 mile round trip from Dartford (SE of London) to Glasgow and everyone will be squabbling for the few charging stations outside London. EV’s won’t suit most people so it must be hybrids of one sort or another and the latest report I saw was that most hybrids are company owned and no one plugs the damn things in to charge them. They are functioning for most of the time purely on petrol or diesel. Hardly surprising though as 40% of people in the UK have no driveway so must park on the street.

      Imagine that, a perfect government theory predicated on human nature that doesn’t work in the real world because humans are, well…….human.

      I mean, the switch over to diesel because they produce less CO2 than petrol cars went well in the UK, didn’t it?

      None of this would be a debate were it not for bonkers politicians meddling in things they simply don’t understand. Remember, that in order to be a politician one (rightly) doesn’t need a qualification to ones name. So these ill educated nonentities hand pick their experts to advise them on how to get something done which seems like a good idea to them. If an expert doesn’t give them the answer they want, they simply move onto one that will. Stern Report anyone?

      • Hot Scot

        ‘I mean, the switch over to diesel because they produce less CO2 than petrol cars went well in the UK, didn’t it?’

        Back in the 1990’s the EU commissioned a report that stated that diesel was worse than petrol. The commission was starting to legislate when the german car makers and govt heard of this lobbied the commission and turned the advice on its head.

        So it was diesel vehicles that came out the winner in the legislation even though it was known at the time of the harm they did, and to live up to their lobbying VW had to falsify the software on their cars.

        Now of course it is diesel vehicles being demonised and those who bought these on the govt advice are being castigated.

        ironically I understand the very latest generation of diesels are now better than their petrol equivalents but I suspect its too late for the govt to do another somersault.

        Mind you, it seems it is the wood burning stoves used by virtue signallers that might be worse than the fossil fuel vehicles. we will have to wait and see how that one plays out

  26. This is slightly off topic. In 2022 for the Tokyo Olympics Japan is planning to demonstrate Hydrogen power for vehicles by installing infrastructure across Tokyo. In tandem there is a new technology – The Hazer process – which separates Methane to produce high quality graphite and H gas.

    • Yes, and there is another one developed by the CSIRO (also Australian, like the Hazer process) and I believe now licensed to Toyota (I think).

      I have seen only one reference to it in a talk by the then head of the CSIRO a year or two ago about current bleeding edge CSIRO tech. This one uses (if I am remembering correctly) Hydrogen Peroxide to transport the hydrogen and nano-filters to separate the hydrogen at the fuel cell point. The filtering tech was the big innovation. It effectively does cold power free electrolysis. My recollection was that the hyrogen feed was for the purposes of generating electric power in the fuel-cell. The key advantage of the hydrogen peroxide (again I hope I have remembered the “fuel” correctly) claimed was that existing petro-chemical infrastructure and transport facilities could be re-tasked with little effort, so petrol stations and pipelines would become hydrogen peroxide providers. It also eliminated the explosion risk, etc of hydrogen as a fuel. It sounded interesting at the time but was hush-hush so only limited details were provided in the talk. I haven’t heard or seen anything about it since then, but then I haven’t been looking either.

      Supposedly the tech was working at the time, but it required commercialization R&D (whatever that meant in this case – Probably filter construction and durability work, etc). I think it was a National Press Club (Australia) speech where I saw/heard all this. It was one of product in a series of innovations that he covered in the same talk. CSIRO have a very good track record in successful fundamental research leading to commercialization- the best known example is probably Wi-Fi, although there are literally hundreds of others.

      • ” It also eliminated the explosion risk, etc of hydrogen as a fuel. ”

        Are you (and CSIRO) out of your mind? Hydrogen peroxide is highly unstable and explosive. Ever heard of the german Me 163 “Komet” rocket fighter? Guess what it used for fuel? Right, hydrogen peroxide.

        • Yes – Good point. Silly me. Like I said – I was retelling this from memory of a once off speech, where I was actually interested in a different tech he was spruiking. I looked it up now (obviously it isn’t hush anymore since it was easy to check) – the fuel was Ammonia.

          Since I was reading up on rocket technology around that time the two ideas probably merged in my brain.

  27. “EPA’s battery MPGe should be reduced to account for the thermal losses in generating and distributing grid electricity, since these were included in the 37mpg gasoline rating.” The MPG gasoline rating describes how far you can generally expect to drive using a gallon of gasoline’s worth of energy, and The MPGe rating similarly describes how far you can generally expect to drive using an amount of electrical energy equivalent to a gallon of gasoline’s worth of energy. The MPG gasoline rating has nothing to do with the process of generating the gasoline fuel, only with how efficient the car is at converting that fuel to motion so why should the MPGe rating be determined any differently?

  28. A rather silly article that attempts to prove a hybrid is more fuel efficient than an
    all electric and somehow superior in other ways as well. Of course, as we speak a lot of
    the article’s aruments becomeless and less plausible as battery prices decline. For it is battery prces, and nothing else, which renders gas powered vehicles cheaper to build. Technologically, an electric car is far simpler, easier and cheaper to repair, requires virtually no maintenance, and is far more reliable. It also does not produce deadly small carbon particles. Arguing about energy efficiency is rather ridiculous, as an electric car can and oftenis powered by nuclear or hydro -in my state almost 60% power is nuclear and a gas powered car cannot run onnuclear power, the cleanest power available and with the advent of molten salt reactors, will also be the cheapest power. REgardless, electricity averages 12 cents per kWhr in this country and that is what EV owner pay, on average.
    Power from DC fast chargers is limited almost exclusively for travel. This author’s small hybrid gets 30MPG and using regular gas, costs about 8 cents per mile in fuel costs. An equivalent EV can be expected to achieve 3 ro 4 miles per kWhr, costing between 3 and 4 cents per mile or less than half
    the author’s fuel costs. He also is required to change the oil, filters, transmission fluid, cooling fluid, etc Tesla has a number of aged Model S vehicles which have acheved over a million miles with no repairs required. Tesla will warranty the electric motors on its semi trucks for one million miles. And reapirinng/replacing an electric motor is child’s play and no electric car requires a transmmission overhaul or replacement, an expensive proposition. Electric cars are inherently cheaper to repair and require far less drivetrain repairs. The author’s note that he has had no major repairs is meaningless – there are many,many major repairs required for the very complicated ICE engines and transmissions. The main points made by the author cherry pick the electric cars it references. It bemoans the Bolt’s 238 mile driving range , which is one of the shorter ranges showing up on recently developed EVs, many of which exceed 300 miles and, what’s more important, can be recharged at DC stations now at the rate of 80% capacity in less than 10 minutes. Slower recharge rates using 240Volt outlets at home are, quite frankly,irrelevant, given the fact that driving ranges are totally adequate for daily driving. Except for the battery costs, anelectric car will, over the next several years, be cheaper to build than a gas powered vehicle. All of the automakers are planning for EV-only products within a few years from now. Gas engines have
    run their course – they are too complicated, cost too much to fuel, emit emissions that are harmful
    and are too unreliable and require an expensive transmission.

    • kent beuchert

      Why have petrol/diesel vehicles dominated the market for over 100 years?

      Why is it necessary to subsidise EV’s to make them attractive to users?

    • kent beuchert

      I just looked at the price of a Nissan Leaf in the UK

      “£27,890 OTR (INCLUDING GOVERNMENT INCENTIVE)”

      This is a small family saloon which, as you point out, is far simpler than a conventional ICE vehicle to build yet I can buy a similar sized ICE car for around £15,000.

      So to my simple mind, remove the government subsidy and you’re getting on for £35,000. That would seem to suggest that in excess of £20,000 is the cost of the battery.

      Forgive me again if I’m wrong but, being that there have been over 1M Toyota Prius’s built, economies of scale have long since been reached in the EV/hybrid market yet there is still an enormous gulf in pricing, so where are more economies of scale to come from?

      I’m afraid the entire endeavour smacks of fascism, governments in bed with big manufacturers to impose ideological principles on the public, none of which are affordable or practical. These ideologies are already causing riots in the streets of France.

      Just take a look at the facts. The government and its agencies (like the IPCC), and the MSM, pushing climate change as impending doom, when we know nothing could be further from the truth, based on a dishonest concept that a single trace gas in the atmosphere is causing this disaster when there is no evidence that it does anything but good.

      The western world is now being told what to do by governments, not the other way around. Big business is agreeable to this because they can work with governments to maximise profits. The EU has perhaps accomplished this better than anyone else up until now by installing an unelected bureaucracy to make decisions ‘on behalf of’ 27 formerly independent nations. They pass laws in secret, tariffs are imposed on goods not coming from EU countries and the concept of climate change is making a lot of wealthy people even wealthier whilst the poor are enduring rising costs for energy.

      I’m far from a conspiracy theorist but unintentionally or otherwise, the western world, led by Europe is sleepwalking into fascism. And we know from Christina Figueres and others that there is a will to change the world order.

      Were it not for government mandates, EV’s would not see the light of day in any meaningful time frame despite their limited advantages.

      • Don’t forget that as many more batteries are required, so are the raw materials, just take a look at the cost increases in Cobalt & Lithium over the last 10 years.
        Batteries will soon start to get more expensive not less.

      • The subsidies are sham. Tesla buyers spending $80k to over $100k don’t need a $7.5k tax incentive.

        It sounds great to get $7500 off a $32500 car though. But what reall7 happens is that when the subsidy/tax credit goes away, you get $0 off of a $25,000 car. They don’t sellnfor $32500 anymore.

        The subsidy really goes to the manufacturer.

    • and with the advent of molten salt reactors

      so when are these molten salt reactors going online? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

  29. Here’s a comment by “T12432” I’m re-posting from the Seeking Alpha site, followed below the line by a comment of mine:

    T12432  @Brucie,
    The term hybrid and electric vehicles covers a broad range of technologies, some which take petrol or diesel, some that plug-in, and some that do both. So what’s what?

    We’ll start with the non-plug in hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius. These cars run exclusively on petrol (or diesel in some cases), but one or more motor-generators allow energy usually wasted, such as during idling or braking, to be recovered and used later to help acceleration. Many hybrids are capable of driving completely on electric power for very short distances at low speeds.

    If we take this concept and add a larger battery and an on-board charger, we can add some electricity (which is cheaper and cleaner than petrol) to further improve the concept- hence a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV.

    We then have the pure electric vehicles [BEVs]. A much larger battery and motor replaces the combustion engine and fuel system, and the car can be charged at home overnight and driven during the day. The vast majority of models feature DC rapid charging so that long journeys can be completed without having to stop for several hours to recharge en route.

    If we add an on-board generator to an electric vehicle, we can drive the vehicle locally on electric power, and then use petrol on a longer journey- this means the car benefits from silent and cheap driving in daily use, but has the flexibility to use either charging points or petrol stations on longer trips- hence the term extended range electric vehicle, or EREV. [This is also known as a serial hybrid, as contrasted with a parallel hybrid like the Prius.]

    BMW’s i3 is available as a pure electric vehicle, or with an optional range extender- a 650cc motorcycle engine that charges the battery with no connection to the wheels. The electric motor has 170bhp, but the petrol engine produces just 33bhp. Theoretically this would mean the petrol engine would have no chance of filling up the battery as quickly as the motor can empty it. However, the 170bhp figure is of course the peak power available during hard acceleration. When cruising, the power consumption is far less, and when braking, the vehicle can actually recover energy and put it back into the battery. Because the range extender can run at a constant speed regardless of vehicle conditions, it only needs to top the battery up at the same rate as average consumption, not the consumption at that moment in time.

    So, what’s the difference between a PHEV and an EREV? The answer is that it’s a bit of a grey area- some are nearly all electric with a small backup engine, whereas others are essentially a hybrid car with a large battery that can be plugged in. The government lumps them all into the same category. The generally accepted view is that a vehicle that can drive at full power on electricity (such as the Vauxhall Ampera) is a range-extended electric. Cars that need the combustion engine’s help during hard acceleration (such as the Mitsubishi Outlander) are in the plug-in hybrid category.

    The last thing to mention is driving modes- all PHEVs and EREVs use electricity preferentially. The ICE will cut in when the battery is low. 

    The EREV currently seems to be winning the investment $ from the larger manufacturers.
    ====================

    The comment above fails to mention the 48-volt “mild hybrid,” in which regenerative braking and a small petrol engine top up a 48-volt battery that in turn supplies juice to power-hungry modern accessories and takes control of certain accessories traditionally powered by belts connected to the engine or by hydraulics (e.g., water pump, power braking, power steering, fan) and controls their operation more flexibly, based on digital inputs. It is claimed to provide 2/3 of the benefits of a hybrid (in terms of efficiency) at 1/3 of the cost. See https://www.google.com/search?num=50&newwindow=1&client=safari&rls=en&ei=szh_W5veA6mL0gK-053gAw&q=48v+mild+hybrid+cars&oq=48-volt+car+electrical+systems&gs_l=psy-ab.1.5.0i71k1l8.0.0.0.618545.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1..64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.gtrX2Z5fFTI

    There are also big efficiency improvements among new Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs). These include, starting with the most likely to succeed soon:

    Bosch-tweaked clean diesel engines. See http://bit.ly/2I1MRC1

    Mazda’s SkyActiv-X and SkyActiv-3 Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCI) petrol engine. See https://gas2.org/2018/01/30/mazda-says-new-skyactive-3-engines-will-clean-electric-cars/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD1mPPkuRIE

    Achates Opposed Cylinder 2-stroke, 3-cylinder, no-valve diesel engine. See:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D-WUD1CqlE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf6OH4iVUkY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF5j1DvC954

    https://youtu.be/JoQkTIfAB2U

    Opposed Piston Opposed Cylinder (OPOC) engine (backed by Bill Gates)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y8QqeuvArE

    Free-piston linear engine range extender by Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research at Newcastle University and Toyota. YouTube video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4b0_6byuFU

    LiquidPiston mini X improved rotary engine having the size of a smartphone and not needing oil or pistons.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtDXNEn-hFA
    The company’s website is http://liquidpiston.com. 

  30. PS: Rud: I believe the word is spelled “cachet,” not “cache.” (The latter is a stored-away bunch of food, supplies, valuables, etc.)

  31. Rud -interesting article but the following caught my eye:

    with up to 10% of that lost in transmission and another 10% or so in distribution

    I’m an electrical engineer in electrical T&D and have done considerable work in energy losses in public grids. Typically, transmission losses are 1-2% and distribution around 5-7%. From memory, the US is about 7-8% for T&D combined on average.

  32. The moment I read that a hybrid made sense I stopped reading and went to the comments.

    It will never makes sense to carry a spare engine and energy source around with you. Either an electric car can do what a fossil fuelled car can or it cannot. A milk float is great if all you ever do is 20mile trips. Hybrids frequently do less to the gallon on longer trips than petrol or diesel.

    • Stephen Richards

      In one of my earlier comments I mentioned a study done on usage of plug in hybrids in the UK. Most of them are company vehicles and virtually none of them were ever plugged in, instead the drivers relied on the petrol/diesel engines.

    • Hybrids to date have proved their worth in city driving, where they capture and regenerate braking energy, and get nearly 50 mpg. They make sense as taxis. Toyota has sold over a million Prius’s, and its March 2019 Rav4 hybrid crossover will get 39 mpg vs. its previous gas-only Rav4’s 29 mpg.

      And here’s a supplemented reprint-extract from my long comment a little bit above:

      the (inexpensive) 48-volt “mild hybrid,” in which regenerative braking and a small petrol engine (Mazda’s forthcoming 2021 version will use a tiny (50-pound) rotary engine running at constant optimal speed (no seal losses)) top up a 48-volt battery that in turn supplies juice to power-hungry modern accessories and takes control of certain accessories traditionally powered by belts connected to the engine or by hydraulics (e.g., water pump, power braking, power steering, fan) and controls their operation more flexibly, based on digital inputs. It is claimed to provide 2/3 of the benefits of a hybrid (in terms of efficiency) at 1/3 of the cost. See https://www.google.com/search?num=50&newwindow=1&client=safari&rls=en&ei=szh_W5veA6mL0gK-053gAw&q=48v+mild+hybrid+cars&oq=48-volt+car+electrical+systems&gs_l=psy-ab.1.5.0i71k1l8.0.0.0.618545.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1..64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.gtrX2Z5fFTI

    • Not if you consider the advantage of regenerative braking. Also a hybrid allows the ICE to be run more often at its ‘sweet spot’ which also leads to more efficiency.

  33. Now almost 92 I no longer drive a car, instead I use Taxi’s. We are amazed at how much better off we are financially.

    In todays world running a car with all of its extra costs, Maintaince, Insurance, registration, lincence, plus fuel, is a very expensive business for the actually travelled distance.

    True we do occasionally miss the car, but not all that much.

    I think long term governments will tax private travel out of existance and we will be forceed to use public transport.

    MJE

    • True. The whole system penalizes the light car user, and benefits the heavy user. Fixed costs of owning a car are probably around £1000 a year, and much higher if your car is new. Fuel costs for the occasional user probably don’t even amount to this. Since public transport is not a universal solution and taxis are crazy expensive, that creates a situation where have car, will use car.

      Worse still are the residential parking zones where residents without driveways have to pay to park onstreet, usually 8am to 6pm. That forces residents to drive to work every day or else pay a penalty for leaving the car at home, even if work is within walking distance. I can’t think of any measure worse for creating unnecessary traffic.

  34. Why burn natural gas to generate electricity to charge a battery to move a vehicle? Instead use compressed natural gas powered vehicles.
    NG plant’s (ccgt) are only about 45% efficient. It may be true that a dated individual compressed natural gas engine is about 15%, giving the plant a 3x advantage, but state of the art CNG is more like 22%. A 2x plant advantage is more realistic. The cost advantage of CNG vs EV. Compressed natural gas at $5.00 mcf is half the cost of EV at $0.15 kwh (do the math with these current Cali prices) even at 22% engine conversion efficiency. Transportation of NG via pipelines is much more economical than electricity through wires. CNG refilling is fast and simple so the $100’s of billions of new electric distribution for home recharging is avoided. EV’s are a serious waste of money now that NG is once again abundant…they are a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist, the same as >30 MPG fuel requirements. Want to really be smart? Convert all USA vehicles to CNG and export refined gasoline to the rest of the world for their gasoline powered cars…except of course for those markets using coal-fired generation to power their EV’s.

    • What makes a lot of sense is to use natural gas cogeneration plants which will improve the energy efficiency up into 80%+ range.

  35. Another factor to be considered is domestic supply capacity. In the USA, many houses have 200A at 2x120v, in the UK it’s typically 80A at 240V single phase. Either would charge an EV in a reasonable time so long as you don’t expect to run other heavy loads at the same time. However in Europe it’s a very different situation, with French or Spanish houses often having no more than 40A supplies. The limit on this is quite strict too, even a few amps over will cause a tripout.

    On all supplies some allowance will have to be left for other household uses, so the situation on the 40A supply is actually a LOT worse than on the 80A or 200A supply.

    Are all such houses to be upgraded? How much will this cost? The UK smart meter rollout is projected to cost £14 billion, and I can imagine that a full cabling upgrade would cost a whole lot more than that, including digging up roads, etc.

    • Ian Macdonald

      It’s worse than you thought!

      40% of UK households don’t have off street parking so there would need to be on street charging facilities.

      I’m one of those 40% and we have three cars in our household. One of the proposals is to use lamp posts as charging points, but I believe these are conventional single phase 240V supplies. Our street is lined with, probably 20 cars, and there are 2 lamp posts convenient for conversion. But a single phase supply won’t charge 10 EV’s any time soon, quite apart from the ‘huddle’ of cars around them for which there are no parking facilities. So that means 3 phase cabling must be run to dedicated charging points which presumably means a dedicated parking spot for each vehicle.

      So use long cables…….with all this demand for copper the price will soar. There will be scrap metal gangs roaming the streets with heavy rubber gloves and cutters snipping lengths of cable to strip and sell. They do it right now on the railway network and with the transport Police patrolling, what chance do we have with a depleted Police force already suffering unbearable strain?

      So what if each household in our street adds another car to their ‘fleet’? We were a 4 car family but I sold mine as I wasn’t using it. Where are the new charging points going to be situated? How are the parking spots to be allocated? Or is it just a free for all and if you can’t charge your car for work the next morning do you call in saying your car’s taking a sick day?

      Then there’s visitors. Weekends and holidays are a joke for parking where we are, how is that to be accommodated?

      The answer always seems to be that a single charge will last a week for a commuter from the smug EV loyalists. Oh yea? My wife travels around twenty miles to work and back every day. A one way trip is usually around an hour, stuck in traffic with either the heater or air conditioning on, never mind lights, radio, mobile phone charging etc. around four months of the winter. Then we have to use the car for shopping, visiting and numerous other domestic tasks.

      Remember, this is not an isolated case, 40% of the UK population suffer this inconvenience.

      Nor will our government provide solutions, they never do, these things always turn into mayhem when those blighter’s get their sticky mitts on them.

      • Having upgraded the House and Street Electrical system to cope we then get the Snowball effect, you have to upgrade the Sub Stations, then the Power Stations.
        It is Utter MADNESS when we already have a system in place that works.
        We have thousands of homeless, thousands using Food Banks, millions of old age pensioners on subsistence levels, lack of housing, schools, police, hospital beds, nurses doctors etc etc and they want to completely WASTE Billions on this boondoggle.

        The word CRIMINAL comes to mind.

      • Instead of stealing the cable they might just steal the electricity to charge their car or run their house. Less obvious than cutting the cable, and if done stealthily the victim won’t even notice it going on. Not sure if there is any security built into these charging systems but even if there is, the crooks will find a way round it.

        • Ian Macdonald

          Aye, they’ll do that as well. But the criminal mind works in mysterious ways. They would generally far rather nick a bit of cable than bother with anything sophisticated like nicking the leccy. These are not bright people.

          I was a cop many years ago and nicked a guy who had spent hours one night stealthily cutting through a pub roof. He climbed in, stole the till float and tried to climb out again. He couldn’t reach the hole again despite stacking tables and chairs he kept falling from. So he pondered his predicament over a free glass of whisky, then another, then another. He spent the rest of the night and morning drinking until he passed out.

          The barman opened the pub at 10:30 am or so and found him and called us. We realised what had happened, by this time he couldn’t move never mind speak, and walked (dragged) him out the front door, passing a set of 10′ ladders on the way, more than high enough for him to clamber out with a £5 till float.

          He was well known in our community and never lived that one down, we made sure of it. 🙂

    • The power requirement is about the same as your computer and peripherals to charge overnight, on average. Did you have to upgrade the grid when you got your computer???

      • Two things: (1) The Volt can and does use both electric and gas at the same time.

        (2) The power requirements to charge the Gen I Volt vary from 900 watts to 3300 watts depending on whether you use 120V at 8 amps, 120V at 12 amps, or 240V at 14 amps.

        3300 watts is about how much a 15 SEER 48,000BTU central air conditioner uses–indoor fan and outdoor fan/compressor. It’s less than the 5000 watts a water heater or electric dryer use.

        As far as electric grid capacity…probably the BIGGEST power user you’ll find in a residence is the electric aux heat used as backup for the heat pump. 20kW for mine. I guarantee you that when it got down to 0F here last year, pretty much all of those heat pumps around here were using the aux heat, every single one of them pulling between 40 and 80 amps. There were no brownouts nor did the power fail.

  36. Start-stop systems are hardly economically and ecologically feasible – I have one in our Mazda 3 and while it saves maybe 1-2 minutes of idling each day, it destroyed the battery only after 3 years. And battery for start-stop costs about twice as much as a normal one, not to mention the recyclation costs and ecological impact.
    Problem is that if the start-stop system should save any fuel, the battery drain can’t be compensated by recharging during normal driving, only when rolling (unless the charge drops below certain level). Therefore the battery in modern cars with start-stop system is almost empty most of the time, which drastically reduces its lifetime.

    • To say nothing of the wear & tear on the Engine & Starter Motor.
      There is also a safety issue with some cars, my son’s Zaffira switches off at roundabouts, so he sees a space in the traffic to pull into, puts his foor down and nothing, he has to wait a few second while the Engine restarts. I hav ealso seen a young lady in a BMW Mini have a really close call due to the same thing.
      This is bad enough in most areas, but somewhere like Hyde Park corner must be terrifying as all the drivers rely on the other drivers knowing exactly where they are going and fitting in to the “flow”.
      I would never own a car that has it fitted unless it can be permenantly switched off.

      • Nonsense, or you should fix the car.
        I’ve driven many cars with start/stop. My MB also has the feature.
        The engine starts immediately when you release the brake, before you have a chance to push the accelerator. Fitting in a small gap at a roundabout was never a problem.
        Modern starters are direct drives. There is no reductors, so there is nothing to “wear & tear”

  37. You are forgetting one very important point about EV’s like the Tesla – they are FAST. Mind bendingly quick off the line, and silently! Thats got to count for something?

    • “they are FAST”

      But the fast doesn’t last. Thy poop out if run with the pedal to the metal for more than 15 minutes or so. Perhaps a better term would be quick, which is useful in passing situations, and in entering a traffic-stream situation.

  38. Boring post here. Traded in my 64,000 mile Citroen Picasso 5 seat plenty space for identical copy 1800 miles for £8000 total, getting 52.5m/English gallon with Urea tank for exhaust cleaning. EVs not on my horizon

    • Coeur de Lion

      One of the best cars I ever had, 2007, 1.6L turbo diesel Grand Picasso. Pounded up and down to Scotland from Kent frequently with 2 adults, 2 children, 2 dogs, a roof box full of family kit, at 95 MPH when I could, and still got high 40’s MPG. Over 400 miles each way and no more than a splash and dash for the last 50 miles or so. My 2015 Mercedes E class estate was faster, but I didn’t go any faster, was no more comfortable or secure, but cost about £20K more.

      I haven’t seen an EV which can compete with that.

  39. Indeed a good article; but it makes me wonder whether all this technology is achieving very much. My 1987 Merc. diesel does about 37mpg. Range 500 miles. with 173000 on the clock. My last Merc. clocked up 859000 miles before corrosion finally hit. OK improvements can be made on consumption/ gadgets etc.; but ride, comfort and reliability are brilliant.
    Seems to me that the diesel hybrid with regen braking, and electric propulsion in urban areas is a sensible way forward, with reliability being a main factor; as total lifecycle is where our attentions should be. Obsolescence being a major emitter; but that is a very different subject as we need to wean ourselves off this weird obsession with CO2.

  40. Very informative. Thank you!

    A couple of things that I haven’t seen discussed with regard to EVs and hybrids:

    1. In many places in the country, we get WINTER. This means the need to heat the passenger cabin and defrost the windshield. In a pure electric vehicle, my guess is that this would absolutely kill the range.

    2. Hybrids have essentially two drive systems. Does this complexity mean less reliability and more maintenance issues?

    • My Honda Hybrid gave great mileage and I didn’t notice any difference in winter. maintenance costs were actually less than conventional ICE of similar capacity.

  41. We are looking at Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan. Gets 33 miles on a charge before gas kicks in. 7500 tax rebate.

    We have Yukon for long trips.

    But it is still hard to justify with gas being 1.97 a gallon like I saw yesterday. I live in Tx. Take away state and fed gas tax that would be 1.50 a gallon.

      • It is an Incentive to encourage the market to do something faster than it otherwise would.

        Kind of like when you pay your kid to empty the garbage. 😉

      • That rebate ends for each manufacturer after they sell 200,000 plug-ins in the US. Tesla’s subsidy will drop to $3750 in January 2019, and GM will follow 3 months later.

  42. Thank you for the article. It helps in comparison shopping when you have something like that to review first.

    I no longer own a car because renting one as needed is a lower cost per month than my auto insurance rates were, and that provides an opportunity to “test drive” many different kinds of vehicles. Mostly, I just run errands locally. Gas in my area is so much lower per gallon now than it was 6 years ago that with the “economy” factors added to a vehicle’s gas mileage, I found several that could run for a very long distance and show high MPG results. However, if I”m going to take a car on a road trip, I’d prefer something more solid and likely to suffer less damage than a Hyundai econobox.

    If/when I ever get a car again, I’m going to stick with Ford. Not impressed with Chevrolet and do NOT under any circumstance want a car that has the fatal rep that the Tesla has developed.

    Thanks for the article.

  43. The amount of co2 used by ev’s depend on source of electricity. Is it nuclear, coal, gas, solar etc

    There is huge range here. If you get electricity from old coal plant then this is not very efficient so EV won’t help much with co2

    • If you get electricity from old coal plant

      In the US the sources are all mixed together onto the distribution network. One can’t distinguish any individual source.

  44. German Diesel technology beats the Prius mileage and efficiency. I am driving MB E200d and getting 1000 km (633 miles) or more on single fill is normal.
    Pure ev cars are interesting. Of course, these must be SUVs and not the funny small cars. The SUV can carry a big battery and saves the weight of combustion engine.
    Chinese have shown a set of excellent full electric SUVs recently with mileage of 400 miles and more on single charge.
    The price tag is somewhere around $15k for Chinese market.

  45. Why buy an electric car, if it is going to cost the same to drive as a conventional ICE car?

    I have mentioned before on WUWT, that the west coast governments of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California are thinking about mileage taxes for electric cars. Electric car owners don’t buy gasoline. So, that lost tax revenue will be have to be collected somewhere else.

    Here are two examples
    ———————————–
    Metro Vancouver’s mobility pricing commission starts consultations
    No firm proposals on the table yet but new revenue sources needed for transportation system, mayors say
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mobility-pricing-metro-vancouver-1.4371429
    Moving around Metro Vancouver: EXPLORING NEW APPROACHES TO REDUCING CONGESTION (36 pages)
    An exploration of the regional baseline, and implications for mobility pricing
    https://www.itstimemv.ca/uploads/1/0/6/9/106921821/its_time_e1_research_report_-_moving_around_metro_vancouver_-_oct_24.pdf

    Washington Road Usage Charge Pilot Project
    Test Drive the Road Ahead
    GAS TAX WON’T MEET FUTURE NEEDS
    https://waroadusagecharge.org/

  46. Plug in range extended EVs like the Chevy Volt operate partly on a battery recharged from the grid, so no gallons for those miles. Volt gets a combined 37mpg in extended range mode using its gasoline engine to generate electricity. If a Volt never traveled more than about 40 miles before being recharged from the grid, its engine would never start and it would never use any gallons of gasoline.
    A friend of mine bought one of this type as his wife’s daily commute vehicle, they’ve had it more than a year and not had to use gasoline at all, they’re delighted with it.

  47. Would like to point out that the Chevy Volt is capable of operating in both parallel and series hybrid mode, and the reason the battery is heated/cooled is because extreme temperatures are bad for the battery, reducing it’s life. Lithium-ion batteries used in other vehicles are not immune to this problem.

  48. The tax incentives are social engineering. The socialists are directing
    the population to concentrations that are more easily controlled.
    The design for concentrating urban populations were a part of UN
    2020 now 2030 plans for the world.

    ICE with unlimited range and cheap fuel represent freedom which
    fascists do not like. I just paid $202.00 US for a gallon of gas,
    and I will not drive a vehicle that weighs less than 4000 lbs.

    Removing the shackles on hydrocarbons threaten bureaucrats
    control. (Extreme taxes as in France)

    Even Rush Limbaugh has recognized that hydrocarbons are
    not fossils and are continuously renewable.

    Hydrocarbons will be found wherever the shield is deep
    and there are layers of shale to capture hydrocarbons
    as they rise from great depth. There is no imit.

  49. Current cars:
    All internal combustion engine (ICE) – typical gas / diesel powered. Exclusive power from the liquid fuel.

    Electric boosted ICE – Prius….a typical hybrid. Electric supplements and levels the load on the prime power source, which is an ICE. Generally none of the battery stored energy in this type of vehicle comes from the grid – it all comes from either the ICE alternator or regen, which ultimately is from the ICE.

    Half and Half – the Volt. Neither fish nor fowl. Runs on battery until exhausted, then ICE. Battery charged from grid. Must have big enough of both systems to drive without using the other. Worst of both worlds. Note the above on the Volt engine – over 100 HP.

    All electric – Tesla or Leaf or similar. Exclusive power source is grid generated electricity stored in the battery.

    What is missing?
    Bueller? Bueller?

    The ICE boosted electric. That is, a vehicle where grid charged electric is the primary, or equal, source of energy for vehicle propulsion and operation, which is supplemented with an on board ICE powered generator pack.

    Listing from most ICE to Most Electric:
    Standard ICE
    Current Hybrids like Prius (electric boosted ICE – all energy from fossil fuel)
    Neither fish nor fowl – the Volt, which is both ICE and electric, depending on range, but doesn’t use both at same time (regulation).
    ICE boosted electric (doesn’t exist on the market at this time – half to most energy from electric grid).
    All electric – energy all from grid.

    So, why doesn’t ICE boosted electric exist? In a word, regulation. The Google will reveal that this potential design solution isn’t allowed (hint – California). I’ll leave it to the readers to find it – it took me a couple of minutes to find.

    Conceptually, an ICE boosted electric would have a small (5-10kw, roughly 10-20 HP) ICE driven generator that adds power to a power bus on the vehicle, the remainder of the energy coming from a (normally) grid charged battery. This power bus then powers all systems on the vehicle. The prime drive train is electric – similar to a Tesla or Leaf. Prime power source for a trip would depend on the exact balance of the design & trip parameters – could be from grid, could be from ICE, could be about equal, could depend on the intended range of the trip (short trips all electric, long trips have the ICE boost on from the get go, mid-range trips could have a low boost or run a partial boost during the trip.) Main recharging of the battery would be from grid similar to a Tesla / Leaf, however, if needed, the ICE could recharge the battery pack independent of the grid (e.g. out in the middle of the forest, etc – push “off grid recharge” button, get out and lock doors and the ICE just putters away charging up the battery.)

    With a design range of 360 miles (6 hours driving time @ 60MPH) in fully boosted mode which is comparable to a Toyota Corolla range, about 7kw of “boost” combined with a ~40kw battery would provide the same total energy (80-85kwh) as a Tesla battery pack. This is just ROM / scoping level of the split. A Leaf has 20kw battery pack and has ~70-90 mile (~1.1-1.5 hr) range at highway speed. Telsa 80-85kwh pack for ~4-5 hours driving range at highway speed.

    One thing a small ICE can do on an ICE boosted electric is provide process heat to the vehicle. Window defrost, car heating and battery pack heating are obvious uses for this heat which is a free byproduct of the ICE boost. These all eliminate loads on a traditional all electric vehicle in cold weather, allowing battery energy to be used for propulsion.

    Small diesel engines optimized for one speed are quite efficient little ICE’s and could be an excellent choice for a boost pack.

    Anyways….one spot on the design spectrum from all ICE to all electric that isn’t filled.

  50. A lot of unfolding technologies favor the urban populations of the developed countries to go along with the political power centered at those sites. More rapid electrification of vehicles, demise of internal combustion models and model choice, self driving cars, autonomous deliveries, 5G networks, and carbon taxes are all on the menu. The smaller cities and rural areas will suffer from adverse policy directives and industry shifts. Global trade will fill in the gaps also at the expense of domestic rural areas.

  51. For the car as a whole it’s hard to say yet, but for the components it’s easy.

    Motor — electric wins, hands down, in every way.
    Motor and transmission, same thing.

    Energy storage — gasoline and diesel by a mile.

    Trains were mentioned above. The progression has been from steam to diesel electric. And don’t forget the TGV and similar high speed passenger trains — all electric. There were also electric trolly busses, maybe some cities still have those.

    And don’t leave out e-bikes, the pedal/electric hybrid.

    The e-cars may have a strong future, meanwhile there is still a niche for them. R&D should precede politics. Invent the future before you decree it.

  52. “Simple start/stop makes economic and environmental sense by itself when the automatic transmission technology is changed from hydraulic fluid coupling to electronic dual clutch mechanical transmissions (DCT).” What have you got against slushboxes? A lock-up torque convertor beats a dual-clutch auto hands down.

  53. There are a handful of mistake in this article. To pick one, the author’s 2007 Ford Escape is absolutely a crossover.

    • DougB, you are absolutely wrong. My Escape MY 2007 is NOT a crossover unibody. Our Escape frame rail design saved us totaling the vehicle when we slide off a mountain road down into a steep mountIn ravine in North Georgia Christmas morning going to Church some years ago. Everything front of the frame rail attachment got replaced. Behind, only one driverside door and the auto hood.
      A not so quiet suggestion: shut up unless you know what you are taltking about. You just proved definitively you do not.

      • Yes, the 2007 Escape IS a unibody vehicle. It does NOT have frame rails. I just looked at a few pictures of the underside to confirm it. (Not to mention a big clue about this ought to be the fact that it’s a FWD vehicle with a transverse engine–most everything else with frame rails is RWD with a longitudinal engine).

        Unibody vehicles do have a subframe which supports the engine and transmission and to which the front control arms are attached, but this is not to be confused with the frame rails that run the length of the vehicle as you’ll find on a body-on-frame vehicle.

        Don’t believe me? Try jacking your Escape up with a regular floor jack under the middle of the driver’s door.

        You’ll either dent up the pinch weld or the floor.

        A body-on-frame vehicle has a solid metal rail there, which won’t be dented when you put a jack under it and raise the vehicle.

  54. I thought I heard on the radio this morning that GM would be discontinuing production of both the Bolt and the Volt, but in a more detailed press release what I found was:

    The company will also be discontinuing production of low-selling models made at those plants throughout 2019, including the Chevrolet Impala, Cruze and Volt, the Cadillac CT6 and the Buick LaCrosse.

  55. If it costs more it is worse for the environment. Try to understand that. There is no way around this truth.

    • As a loose guideline, that’s fine, but only if all environmental costs are interalized would that be universally true. Say state number 1 (California) mandates additional scrubbers to take out SO2 from power plants while neighboring state 2 (Nevada) does not. Power plants in Nevada sell at a cheaper rate, but their environmental impact per MW production are higher.

      I would agree however, that the most economically efficient process is usually the least environmentally damaging process, especially over the long term. I just don’t think it is a universal rule.

  56. How about my diesel-powered 40,000 lb farm tractor (8-wheel, 6.5 ft diam. tires) and 38,000 lb combine? How will you electrify them along with those of the 2 to 3 million other farms that use decades-old equipment for economy? I am certain I am joined to strenuously object to electrifying our equipment to more expensively produce your food to satisfy a few green campaigners.

    Second question: Use of electric vehicles presumes the silly purpose of reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, so adjusting your MPG for coal-generated electricity causes the nearly the entire EV or PEV purpose to disintegrate: For the 20 states (WY, UT, CO, NM, MT, ND, NE, KS, AR, MO, IA, MN, WI, IL, TN, KY, IN, WV, OH, and MD) that generate more than 50% of electricity from coal, with 8 of the listed states generating more than 75% of their electricity from coal, or the other 11 states that generate 25%-50% of electricity from coal, just what is saved, if any by using an EV or PHEV?

    And finally, I will not diminish the value of CO2 in my CO2 fed grain crop, nor will our consumers lowered expense in producing their food for the thinly-veiled purpose of reducing the fertilizer value of CO2.

  57. Fascinating article, Rud. Thanks. A couple of comments (not criticisms) in case you write more.

    You have expressed some concepts in terms of MPGe (miles per gallon equivalents), especially electricity. However, all sources of electricity are not equivalent in terms of CO2 emissions. Of course, different people have different ideas of how much CO2 emissions should cost. However, in the final analysis, I think $ is the more important appropriate metric, not MPGe, broken down into two components so that those who insisted CO2 emissions are cost free can enter zero and those who don’t can use convert from something equivalent to either $10/ton or $100/ton.

    You ignore the benefits of EV’s in term of maintenance cost and time and reliability. I believe that the infrastructure for 20 minute EV recharge could be scaled up. IIRC, the cost of a parking spot (land, asphalt and pavement) is similar to the cost of adding a fast charger to that parking spot (excluding the cost of the electricity, of course. Over the past few decades, every gas station has become a mini-mart with some fast food. There is every reason to believe that fast food restaurants (and other businesses) will be eager to make additional revenue off of their parking spots by adding EV charging facilities. Of course, there is the “chicken and egg problem”, the cars won’t sell without wide-spread charging infrastructure and the infrastructure won’t appear without the cars.

    The combination of an Atkinson’s engine for high thermal efficiency and an electric motor to provide the missing torque is a technological “sweet-spot” I hadn’t heard about before.

  58. “Following the launch of their R1T all-electric pickup truck last night, EV startup Rivian is following up today with an all-electric SUV built on the same platform.”

    “We are talking about quad electric motors, 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds, battery packs from 105 kWh to 180 kWh for up to 410 miles of range, and more.”

    https://electrek.co/2018/11/27/rivian-rs1-electric-suv/

    “Like the others, the skateboard houses a massive lithium-ion battery pack between the frame rails. The largest MegaPack features a dozen 15-kW-hr modules of 864 cylindrical 21700-type cells each for 180 kW-hr and “410-plus” miles of range.”

    https://www.motortrend.com/news/2021-rivian-r1s-ev-electric-suv-first-look-review/

  59. I suspect that if you fitted the cheap crappy interior from the Prius, along with the narrow low resistance tires, to a Toyota Corolla the Prius fuel economy advantage would be around 10%. Zero in freeway or country running and maybe less than zero as the Corolla wouldn’t have the battery mass.

  60. Depending on vehicle size/weight and drive circumstances, regen braking can save about 7-9% fuel efficiency. –>

    Depending on vehicle size/weight and drive circumstances, regenerative braking can save about 7-9% fuel efficiency.

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